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Many security mechanisms for mobile communications have been introduced in the literature. Among these mechanisms, authentication plays a quite important role in the entire mobile network system and acts as the first defense against attackers since it ensures the correctness of the identities of distributed communication entities before they engage in any other communication activity. Therefore, in order to guarantee the quality of this advanced service, an efficient (especially user-efficient) and secure authentication scheme is urgently desired. In this paper, we come up with a novel authentication mechanism, called the nested one-time secret mechanism, tailored for mobile communication environments. Through maintaining inner and outer synchronously changeable common secrets, respectively, every mobile user can be rapidly authenticated by visited location register (VLR) and home location register (HLR), respectively, in the proposed scheme. Not only does the proposed solution achieve mutual authentication, but it also greatly reduces the computation and communication cost of the mobile users as compared to the existing authentication schemes. Finally, the security of the proposed scheme will be demonstrated by formal proofs.