What is WiFi Authentication?

wifi authentication

WiFi is all around us. It has become an essential IT resource in the modern office and in our personal lives. With so many modern devices sending and receiving information via WiFi at any given moment, it’s a marvel how our devices make sense of it all so quickly.

Yet, while WiFi has revolutionized the way we access information worldwide, WiFi authentication has also introduced new security risks. The challenge for IT today is securing their wireless networks, ensuring that only the right people are authorized for access. We’ll explain how this is possible by using the RADIUS protocol, but first we’ll take a step back and answer the question, “What is WiFi authentication?”

From Wired to WiFi

privileged identity management RADIUS

WiFi has a long and fascinating history stretching back to the 1970’s, which was largely experimental until the term WiFi was coined for commercial use in 1999 and subsequently distributed worldwide. Prior to that, systems communicated by network cables physically attached to their systems.

There were a few approaches to authenticating user identities to gain access wired networks. However, there wasn’t a standard for users authenticating for access to networks until Microsoft Active Directory® (AD) was released in 2000.

AD was built to manage on-prem infrastructure including managing access to wired networks. AD accomplished this by implementing a domain controller, which was essentially the gatekeeper controlling access to the network.

This approach was great for wired networks. However, WiFi also began to take off around the year 2000 and brought about major changes throughout the industry.

The Challenge with WiFi

remote employee management

The trouble with WiFi was that it presented new challenges for authenticating user identities. Users no longer needed to be physically tethered to the network by cable. Instead, users could wirelessly access the network from anywhere in range of the wireless access point (WAP).

AD, which was new at the time, struggled to control access to these resources operating outside of the AD domain. Thus, presenting a security risk as IT admins could no longer authenticate user identities with traditional approaches.

There were a few paths to solutions at this (Read more...)

*** This is a Security Bloggers Network syndicated blog from JumpCloud authored by Vince Lujan. Read the original post at: https://jumpcloud.com/blog/what-is-wifi-authentication/

Vince Lujan

Vince is a documentation and blog writer at JumpCloud, the world’s first cloud-based directory service. Vince recently graduated with a degree in professional and technical writing from the University of New Mexico, and enjoys researching new innovations in cloud architecture and infrastructure.

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