OVERVIEW OF THE PENNKEY AUTHENTICATION TOOL

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PennKey is the new way that the Health System has chosen to authenticate who you are. It is a process already in place within the University community. This authentication is a permanent identification that you will use to access to a growing number of online applications within the Health System. The Quick Links below give you immediate access to the major functions associated with setting up and managing your PennKey and password. For details on PennKey registration, usage, and passwords, please follow the links in the menu bar to the left.

 

Within the PennKey authentication system, an individual's username is known as a PennKey. Paired with an associated password, a PennKey is required to authenticate an individual's identity to many of Penn's networked systems and services. Note that PennKeys are all lower case, i.e., if a person whose PennKey is "smith" enters "Smith" or "SMITH", authentication will fail.

ELIGIBILITY

Faculty, staff, and students of the University of Pennsylvania; employees of the University of Pennsylvania Health System (UPHS).

KEY BACKGROUND

PennKey is the latest evolution of the University's longstanding commitment to securing critical online services.

Security requirements for critical services are outlined in the University's Critical PennNet Host Security Policy, commonly referred to as the Critical Host policy. One way the policy strives to protect Penn's systems and services is by mandating that passwords sent between users and critical host systems be "strongly encrypted," or protected by certain ciphering methods, rather than sent over the network "in clear text." The PennKey authentication system satisfies this requirement and provides a foundation for even stronger forms of authentication that may be required in the future. PennKey authentication is only one of several forms of secure authentication that meet the Critical Host policy. Other forms of secure authentication are being used on campus services as well.

The PennKey system is based on Kerberos, a security technology developed at MIT. The Kerberos protocol enables individuals to demonstrate that they are who they claim to be without ever transmitting passwords over the network, even in encrypted form. Thus there are fewer opportunities for password theft or unauthorized access to Penn's network, systems, and confidential or personal data. Kerberos also lays the foundation for the evolution towards a "single sign-on" environment over time -- one in which a user would enter a unique ID and password only once a day in order to access several different online services.

 

 
 


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