MIT to launch Kerberos Consortium

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is to launch the Kerberos Consortium to provide funding and input for development of the protocol

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is to launch a consortium to further the development of Kerberos, its single sign-on authentication protocol.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) said the Kerberos Consortium, which will be launched on 27 September, is being formed to "provide a mechanism to permit greater industry participation in the funding and development of Kerberos, and thus allow it to evolve into the universal single sign-on mechanism users need, but do not yet have".

Kerberos was initially developed by MIT in the 1980s, and was released under an open-source licence in 1987. MIT has funded the project since then, but said it has reached a stage where it can no longer meet the demand for development.

"Kerberos has become one of the most widely adopted authentication methods in the history of computer networks. It's become successful beyond MIT's internal capacity to respond to the world's demands for development, testing and support. So we need a new organisational structure that can accommodate the demand," reads the Kerberos Consortium website.

MIT claims that Kerberos protocols are built into all major operating systems, including those from Microsoft, Apple, Red Hat and Sun, and that a conservative estimate would be that it has 100 million users worldwide. However, MIT said that not all Windows or Apple customers actively use Kerberos, as it is mostly used for enterprise authentication.

Search giant Google joined the Kerberos Consortium on Tuesday. Kerberos Consortium donors will form the sponsor executive advisory board, which can influence Kerberos standards development.

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