Lately, I've been playing with Kerberos, which is an interesting protocol designed to solve a number of problems with mutual authentication. In larger networks, it's very convenient to have a central authentication database so users can use their same credentials across many machines. This would ordinarily be a simple problem to resolve; however, workstations and other services can't be trusted. Since one rogue workstation can compromise everyone's credentials, you need a system to verify both the authentication server and the client, which is where Kerberos comes in. Kerberos uses a "ticket-granting-ticket" system in which users authenticate with a password to a centralized server, which gives them a token that can be used to prove their identity to any "Kerberized" service. This is extremely convenient for single-signon applications in which it's a pain to have to enter a password for each service; additionally, users can manage a single password for all applications ins a Kerberos realm without any security risks.

One thing I've found useful is Kerberized SSH access, which lots of large institutions (e..g. university departments) happen to offer. Ordinarily, you have to install a SSH key on all machines you'd like to use or remember a password for all of those; under best-practices use, users have encrypted keys that require a password at each use. Kerberos can maintain a more secure environment while generally being more convenient, since tokens last for 24 hours and can't easily be stolen like SSH keys. Also, if a key needs to be revoked, Kerberos can destroy all tokens at once, which is beneficial if you forget which servers your key is on.

If you happen to have Kerberos credentials, it's generally fairly simple to setup with SSH. I only needed to include this line in my $HOME/.ssh/config:
Host *
    GSSAPIAuthentication yes
    GSSAPIDelegateCredentials yes
Getting a Kerberos token tends to only require running kinit user@REALM like such :
matt@badwolf> kinit user@ECE.VT.EDU
Password for user@ECE.VT.EDU:
matt@badwolf> klist
Ticket cache: FILE:/tmp/krb5cc_1000
Default principal: user@ECE.VT.EDU
Valid starting     Expires            Service principal
12/20/12 17:30:36  12/21/12 17:30:32 krbtgt/ECE.VT.EDU@ECE.VT.EDU
and then you can ssh without a password. You need to run kinit -R before your tokens expire if you don't want to have to enter a password to authenticate again. I've been meaning to daemonize this for convenience, but haven't had a need to lately. As a shameless plug, VTLUUG now offers free Kerberized shell accounts for those that come to meetings.