Guide to Web3 authorization & authentication

Published by Alex Olivier on March 19, 2024
Guide to Web3 authorization & authentication

The shift from Web 2.0 to Web3 is one characterized by a shift toward decentralization with user-centric controls powered by the blockchain among the technologies redefining authorization and authentication. Within the Web3 paradigm, this new take on bread and butter access protocols will provide secure, user-centric access to DApps, reinforcing user autonomy while bolstering interoperability and neutralizing privacy concerns. In this brief guide, we take a look at the evolving role of authorization and authentication in the Web3 context.

Web3 authentication

Unlike in traditional systems where a centralized entity is used to manage user credentials and access, authentication in Web3 leverages blockchain technology. With DID (decentralized identity) standard including W3C’s DID and verifiable credential specifications, users can exercise comprehensive, sovereign control over their identity.

When a Web3 user creates a decentralized identity, it essentially becomes a cryptographic key which is then stored in a digital wallet where it remains under their control only. When the Web3 user needs to authenticate themselves to a DApp they invoke this cryptographic key which smart contracts on the blockchain network then verify. This type of system eliminates the need for a centralized authority to lord over the authentication process which, in turn, enhances user privacy and security.

Web3 authorization

As is the case with traditional authorization, Web3 authorization is all about determining the level of access a particular user has to different components of the decentralized ecosystem. Smart contracts enable the use of DAC (Decentralized Access Control) mechanisms to ensure only authorized users are allowed to interact with a given resource or execute certain functions by defining access conditions and rules. 

For example: a given DApp may have an associated smart contract that specifies which addresses can execute which functions. An address, verified via the blockchain consensus mechanism, contains within it all relevant permissions thereby eliminating the need for traditional RBAC (Role-Based Access Control) which had been managed by a centralized entity.

The bottom line

Web3 authorization and authentication will enable a decentralized future where users have sovereign control over their identities via proven blockchain technologies. But the decentralized Web3 is not without its challenges. Areas such as scalability, the quality of the user experience and the management of private keys will need continual refinement and improvement.

Nonetheless, Web3 authorization and authentication is poised to empower users to enjoy a more secure and private experience within the decentralized Web3 paradigm, while traditional centralized control hierarchies are gradually phased out. 

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