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Though it is possible to allow anonymous access to dCache it is usually desirable to authenticate users. The user then has to connect to one of the different doors (e.g., GridFTP door, dCap door) and login with credentials that prove his identity. In Grid-World these credentials are very often X.509 certificates, but dCache also supports other methods like username/password and kerberos authentication.

The door collects the credential information from the user and sends a login request to the configured authorization service (i.e., gPlazma) Within gPlazma the configured plug-ins try to verify the users identity and determine his access rights. From this a response is created that is then sent back to the door and added to the entity representing the user in dCache. This entity is called subject. While for authentication usually more global services (e.g., ARGUS) may be used, the mapping to site specific UIDs has to be configured on a per site basis.