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Credentials are

[i]nformation that includes identification and proof of identification that is used to gain access to local and network resources. Examples of credentials are user names, passwords, smart cards, and certificates.[1]

Credentials are "[d]ata that is transferred to establish the claimed identity of an entity."[2]


In an information system, credentials are widely used to control access to information or other resources. The classic combination of a user account number or name and a secret password is a widely-used example of IT credentials.

An increasing number of information systems use other forms of documentation of credentials, such as fingerprints, voice recognition, retinal scans, X.509 Public key certificate, and so on.


  1. Privacy Technology Focus Group Final Report, App. B, at 52.
  2. ITU, "Compendium of Approved ITU-T Security Definitizons," at 14 (Feb. 2003 ed.) (full-text).

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