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Access to salesforce data from an external system

Hello guys,
I am trying to access and manipulate the salesforce data from an external system using salesforce API.
I see that  before I can access the data using api, I need to authenticate the access either by username/password or sessionid/serverurl. Potentially my application can be used by multiple organizations via
1. To gain access to a client organization's data using api, do I have to collect their super-user's username/password ?
2. If I simply pass the session id and server url over the querystring to my application and use it in the
api to gain access to their data, it works in some cases but might fail if the logged-in user has limited access/permissions to the data that I need to access.
Am I missing something here? Is there any other way accomplish this?
I appreciate any help in this regard.
Access to Org data will be limited to the privileges of the user that is used to log in to salesforce data. Typically you need to use admin account to log into Salesforce using API.


Thanks for the response. Collecting and storing the admin uid/password from interested parties seems to be the way to go. Any idea how common is this practice in Salesforce? Are people generally comfortable with sharing their admin account access info with external applications?