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Difference Between NTLM and Kerberos

Difference Between NTLM and Kerberos

When it comes to computer security, the battle between NTLM and Kerberos can feel like a never-ending tug of war. Both are effective authentication protocols with various advantages and disadvantages depending on your unique environment and needs. In this blog post, we’ll explore what sets these two mechanisms apart from each other and why you should consider using one over the other for certain applications in your own network. Dive in now to learn more about NTLM vs Kerberos!

What is NTLM?

NTLM, or NT LAN Manager, is an authentication protocol developed by Microsoft for use in Windows networks. NTLM helps protect users from online hackers and viruses by allowing networks to authenticate user credentials immediately before granting them access. Additionally, NTLM offers secure encryption that helps secure a network connection between client computers and network services. NTLM also supports a single sign-on feature which allows users to be authenticated across multiple computers on the same network with just one password. NTLM is highly efficient and secure, making it an ideal choice for Windows-based networks.

What is Kerberos?

Kerberos is a popular ticket-based authentication protocol that enables secure access to services and networks. This system verifies the identities of users on digital systems, securing the data and protecting it from unauthorized access.

  • Kerberos works by issuing tickets that serve as tokens for network access. These tickets are securely transmitted between user devices or services and a Kerberos server.
  • Authentication is accomplished using an encrypted key exchange, thereby ensuring strong security and improved privacy across all Kerberos systems.
  • Kerberos has long been a preferred choice for granting secure access to networks and other digital resources, due to its effective authentication strategies and efficient use of cryptographic protocols.

Difference Between NTLM and Kerberos

NTLM and Kerberos are two types of network security protocols used for authentication and authorization on many networks.

  • NTLM, or “NT LAN Manager,” is a challenge-response authentication protocol that was introduced by Microsoft in 1993. NTLM is simpler to implement than Kerberos, but it is less secure and provides no privacy protection at all.
  • On the other hand, Kerberos was designed by MIT and has become an industry-standard in network security since its first use in 2000.
  • It works by requiring clients to supply encrypted tickets when they need access to a certain service. These tickets contain information that only the server can decrypt using a secret password known only to them.

NTLM is still used today in some situations, while Kerberos remains the more favored choice for more robust and secure authentication methods.


In conclusion, NTLM is a proprietary authentication protocol while Kerberos is an open standard. NTLM uses two-way encryption while Kerberos only uses one-way encryption. NTLM does not support delegation while Kerberos supports delegation. Finally, NTLM is slower than Kerberos.

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