Authenticate Details

In the field of business, authenticate can be used to refer to the validation of a certain product/service offered by a company. If a business is authenticated, a legitimate body or entity has seen and can prove the business is operating up to standard.

In computer science, authenticate means to prove the identity of someone. You may be familiar with two-step authentication log-in procedures, also called multi-factor authentication or two-step verification, already. This usually involves you logging in with your credentials and then entering in a unique and temporary passcode that the service sent to your phone or backup email.

As with the other contexts, to authenticate something in law means to prove the validity of evidence or other court documents. A witness can authenticate a signature on a contract, for example. An expert witness can authenticate claims of illness, psychological status, or ballistic forensics.

Authenticate Example

For this hypothetical example, we'll look at the context of authenticate through legal terms. In December 2020, during the height of flu season, a woman received the flu shot to take a job. She's never received the flu shot before and only agreed to it because she needed to work. A week later, the woman falls ill with a little-known and little-advertised side effect of the vaccine: ITP. She's rushed to the hospital and ultimately saved from the acute onset of the immune disorder.

After she is allowed to go home, she calls a lawyer and brings a lawsuit against the flu vaccine manufacturer. In the meantime, she is let go from her job because she cannot receive the vaccine, nor can she wear a mask due to debilitating asthma. Findings from her stay at the hospital show that she suffered internal bleeding and permanent nerve damage.

A couple of years go by until she receives a notice from her lawyer that they are officially going to trial for her case. The lawyer calls in an expert witness to authenticate her illness was actually caused by the flu vaccine. Because of this authentication, the court rules in her favor, and she receives a settlement of a few million dollars.

Significance of Authenticate

When you authenticate something, you automatically increase its chances of doing well in the marketplace. You legitimize it. It is proof that your product, identity, or story are true, original to your brand, and not fraudulent. Without the concept of authentication, it would be hard to differentiate originals from these counterfeit products—and even you against someone who may have stolen your identity.

Authenticate vs. Verification

Verification asks you to prove you are who you say you are. It is a process that you usually only need to do once. Authentication is a repeated process. When you interact with someone personally, you can verify their identity and now know that they are who they say they are. The next time you see them, you "authenticate" their genuine existence through recognition.

However, when you log into a website, there is no person to scan your face and automatically confirm you are you. That's why secure log in portals ask you to authenticate your account with an extra step, usually a code or captcha.