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TACACS (Terminal Access Controller Access Control System) is an older authentication protocol common to UNIX networks that allows a remote access server to forward a user’s logon password to an authentication server to determine whether access can be allowed to a given system.
Terminal Access Controller Access-Control System (TACACS, usually pronounced like tack-axe) refers to a family of related protocols handling remote authentication and related services for networked access control through a centralized server. The original TACACS protocol, which dates back to 1984, was used for communicating with an authentication server, common in older UNIX networks; it spawned related protocols:
- Extended TACACS (XTACACS) is a proprietary extension to TACACS introduced by Cisco Systems in 1990 without backwards compatibility to the original protocol. TACACS and XTACACS both allow a remote access server to communicate with an authentication server in order to determine if the user has access to the network.
- Terminal Access Controller Access-Control System Plus (TACACS+) is a protocol developed by Cisco and released as an open standard beginning in 1993. Although derived from TACACS, TACACS+ is a separate protocol that handles authentication, authorization, and accounting (AAA) services. TACACS+ and other flexible AAA protocols have largely replaced their predecessors.