Short for Password Authentication Protocol, the most basic form of authentication, in which a user’s name and password are transmitted over a network and compared to a table of name-password pairs. Typically, the passwords stored in the table are encrypted. The Basic Authentication feature built into the HTTP protocol uses PAP. The main weakness of PAP is that both the username and password are transmitted “in the clear” — that is, in an unencrypted form. Contrast with CHAP.