OPC UA Applications support Authentication of users by providing the necessary Authentication credentials to the other entities. As described in the ActivateSession service in OPC 10000-4, the OPC UA Client accepts a UserIdentityToken from the user and passes it to the OPC UA Server. The OPC UA Server authenticates the user token. OPC UA Applications accept tokens in any of the following forms: username/password, X.509 v3 Certificate (see [X509]), or JSON Web Token (JWT).

As specified in the CreateSession and ActivateSession Services in OPC 10000-4, if the UserIdentityToken is a Certificate then this token is validated with a challenge-response process. The Server provides a Nonce and signing algorithm as the challenge in its CreateSession response. The Client responds to the challenge by signing the Server’s Nonce and providing it as an argument in its subsequent ActivateSession call.