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In this paper, we consider a new class of unconditionally secure authentication codes, called linear authentication codes (or linear A-codes). We show that a linear A-code can be characterized by a family of subspaces of a vector space over a finite field. We then derive an upper bound on the size of the source space when other parameters of the system, that is, the sizes of the key space and the authenticator space, and the deception probability, are fixed. We give constructions that are asymptotically close to the bound and show applications of these codes in constructing distributed authentication systems.