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Authentication Solutions

So what other options exist to secure your wireless LAN? Several vendors offer proprietary solutions to the authentication/scalability problem, such as 3COM and their SuperStack II Router. The wireless client requests authorization from the access point, which forwards the request to a RADIUS server. Upon authorization, the RADIUS server sends a unique encryption key for the current session to the access point, which transmits it to the client. Although this standard offers a solution to the authorization and encryption problem, it requires you to buy all your equipment from one vendor.

This authentication solution resembles prestandard implementations of the pending IEEE 802.1x standard that will eventually solve this problem in a vendor-interoperable manner. 802.1x is being developed as a general-purpose access-control mechanism for the entire range of 802 technologies. The authentication mechanism is based on the Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP) in RADIUS. EAP lets a client negotiate authentication protocols with the authentication server. Additionally, the 802.1x standard allows encryption keys for the connection to be exchanged. This standard could appear in products as early as 2002.

While waiting for 802.1x, there are a few other approaches you can take to increase the security of your wireless LAN.

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