Ah, the good old username and password! “Saved” on the post-its stuck to the wall, in the notes app or just…in our memory! Although passwords have served us for a while, they are vulnerable to multiple types of cyberattacks (phishing, man-in-the-middle attacks) and are just no longer the best way to establish your connection.

Safer ways companies can use include SSO (single sign-on), MFA (multi factor authentication) and Key Pair authentication. Today, we are focusing on the latter as a simple and inexpensive (or better said: completely free!) way to establish safe connections.

What is Key Pair Authentication

Key pair authentication is a method that uses a pair of digital keys, consisting of a public and a private key, to authenticate.

The public key is available to anyone, and can be thought of as a mailbox standing in front of your house. The private key is kept secret and known only to the owner, just like a mailbox key. The public key and private key are mathematically related to each other, and anything encrypted with one key can only be decrypted with the other key in the pair.

How are the two keys used? Let’s take the example of using Key Pair Authentication for connecting Snowflake to dbt.

When establishing a connection using key pair authentication, the one side of the connection (e.g. Snowflake) sends your public key to the other (e.g. dbt). Snowflake uses the public key to encrypt a message and dbt uses the private key to decrypt the message, proving that you are who you say you are.

How to set up Key Pair authentication

If you are interested in setting up a connection with key pair authentication, you can follow my new video and be done in just a few minutes! Here is the link. Enjoy!

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