WIRELESS ENTERPRISE AUTHENTICATION: 802.1X
Due to the prevalence of cyberattacks, cybersecurity measures have risen to the forefront of concern for companies of all sizes. Their purpose is to prevent the loss, misuse, or alteration of any kind of information belonging to the company.
This article will delve into the logistics of setting up and running Wireless Enterprise Authentication, emphasizing the significant forms of Wi-Fi security protocols and which fits best for your business needs. When choosing wireless equipment for large organizations, having a comprehensive understanding of Wi-Fi security is critical, and this article offers just that.
What Is Enterprise Authentication?
Enterprise Authentication Service is a centralized authentication platform that verifies a user’s identity across various enterprise applications. When users enter their credentials into an application using the Enterprise Authentication Service, the app contacts the Authentication Service to verify their identity.
Eliminating the need to store password files on each company’s application server increases security. In addition, it helps cut down on costs by consolidating the administration of user credentials.
How Is It Different From Personal/Individual Authentication?
Both authentication mechanisms use strong encryption called AES-CCMP to protect data transmitted over the air. The primary differences between different security types become apparent in the authentication stage. IEEE 802.1X is the basis for the enterprise-level security provided by WPA2 Enterprise, while WPA2 Personal is a pre-shared-key (PSK) variant of WPA2 intended for domestic usage.
Although WPA2 is intended for usage in both homes and businesses, WPA2 Enterprise is exclusively tailored to the needs of companies.
Considerations for Enterprise Network Security
Consider the factors below to ensure your business network is as secure as possible.
Security for Endpoints in the Internet of Things
The demand for wireless internet access has skyrocketed as the number of connected devices grows. According to research firm Gartner, the number of Internet of Things (IoT) endpoints in business and transportation will hit 5.8 billion this year.
Mobility for IoT Devices
Some examples of mobile IoT devices include smartwatches, health monitors, fitness trackers, and blood pressure monitors. In addition, people who come to work for you or visit your office may bring in their gadgets. It’s also possible that your workplace already uses intelligent devices and equipment that may share data.
Business-Grade Security Applications
Installing and maintaining enterprise-grade security software on any company-owned devices and any employee equipment as part of a BYOD program is crucial in the fight against the security threats posed by the Internet of Things.
Network for Wireless Internet Access by Guests
Creating a guest Wi-Fi network is another strategy that has proven successful for certain businesses. Guests and visitors are only able to use the internet; your internal network and its resources remain hidden from them. Most importantly, they won’t inadvertently expose your systems to viruses or otherwise endanger your data. Thus, the vital business network is shielded from unwanted visitors.
What Are WPA Protocols?
Wireless Protected Access (WPA) was launched in 2003 as a replacement for the less secure WEP protocol. WPA is a more secure Wi-Fi protocol than WEP since its encryption key is 256 bits long as opposed to 64 bits or 128 bits in the WEP system. Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) is a standard developed by the Wi-Fi Alliance for wireless network security. WPA operates in both enterprise and personal settings through separate modes. WPA-EAP is the newest enterprise mode, and it requires a strong authentication method called 802.1X. WPA-PSK, the most recent personal mode, employs a secure handshake based on Simultaneous Authentication of Equals (SAE). In the enterprise setting, customers must first establish a secure connection with an authentication server before entering their credentials.
In the sections below, we will compare the WPA authentication protocols in different modes:
One of the requirements for implementing WPA2-Enterprise is installing a RADIUS server, which is required to verify users before providing them with network access. Various EAP systems, which follow the 802.1X policy, drive the authentication procedure. To join a network, a device must first go through an authentication process establishing a private, one-to-one tunnel.
When X.509 digital certificates validate authentication, the WPA2 (Enterprise)-RADIUS combo offers maximum network security. Therefore, while configuring the web, utilizing the most secure authentication procedures possible makes sense, mainly because an 802.1X authentication server is necessary for WPA2 Enterprise.
WPA3-Enterprise is an update to WPA2 that will ultimately replace it. This solution delivers a secure wireless network for businesses using 192-bit encryption and the 802.1X security standard.
In addition, there is now a more secure method for encrypting data: WPA2-PSK
A WPA2-PSK network, also known as a Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 Pre-Shared Key network, is secured by a single password shared among all users. Using a single password to access Wi-Fi is secure, as a general rule, but only to the extent that you can trust the people using it. Because of this, WPA2-PSK is considered an unsafe encryption method.
To maximize security, companies should ideally use WPA2-PSK for home networks or coffee shops.
WPA3-PSK is an improved form of PSK that increases security by strengthening the authentication process. One method leverages Simultaneous Authentication of Equals (SAE) to thwart brute-force dictionary attacks. The need for user interaction in each authentication attempt severely hinders brute-force attacks against the protocol.
Is 802.1X & WPA2-ENT the Best Solution?
802.1X provides an authentication mechanism between a RADIUS server, such as an access point (AP), and client devices, such as laptops or smartphones, connected to the network via a wireless connection.
The 802.11 standard also describes how communications can be encrypted between these two components using WPA2-Enterprise, which is based on AES encryption technology and is more secure than any previous version of the Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) protocol family.
The Extensible Authentication Protocol, sometimes known as EAP, is one of the most frequent authentication techniques used to transfer client information over the air using the 802.1X protocol. There are many different EAP techniques; however, only EAP-TLS enables certificate-based authentication, which is the gold standard for authentication. This is because all of the other EAP methods utilize the EAP tunnel to transport information via a channel that is encrypted.
How Do You Deploy WPA2-Enterprise & 802.1X?
The authentication of wireless clients over an enterprise network requires an 802.1X RADIUS server. By enforcing user authentication, keeping activity logs, and implementing access control policies, Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service (RADIUS) helps keep wireless networks safe.
The necessary hardware for 802.1X deployment is minimal. If you already have access points and some unused server space, you likely have everything you need to implement secure wireless. Some access points already have the necessary 802.1x software installed, eliminating the need for a server entirely (though only for the smallest of small deployments). The quality and simplicity of 802.1x is essentially a function of design, regardless of whether you buy professional solutions or construct one yourself using open-source tools.
To read the steps involved, refer to this article.
How Does 802.1X Authentication Help Your Business?
When it comes to safeguarding a network, authentication is paramount. Preventing potential disasters like hackers breaking into your network is a top priority. If a company’s defenses are weak and its service providers don’t have sufficient authentication measures, it might face severe fines and a damaged image in global markets.