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Passwordless Authentication for Wi-Fi Networks

EAP-TLS stands for Extensible Authentication Protocol-Transport Layer Security. It is a passwordless standard for wireless network authentication that uses digital certificates to verify the identity of both the client and the server. By eliminating the need for traditional passwords, EAP-TLS significantly reduces the risk of password-related vulnerabilities, such as phishing, brute-force attacks, and password reuse. Instead, it employs digital certificates for authentication, which are much harder to compromise. This method ensures a higher level of security since certificates are cryptographically strong and can be centrally managed and revoked if necessary. EAP-TLS prevents unauthorised access, protects data from eavesdropping and tampering, and supports mutual authentication. It is widely supported by various devices and operating systems, such as Windows, Linux, Android, iOS, and macOS.


Passwordless authentication also simplifies the user experience by removing the need to remember and regularly update passwords, thereby reducing the administrative burden on IT departments. It also streamlines the connection process, allowing for faster and more seamless access to Wi-Fi networks.


Solution Components

To enable EAP-TLS authentication the following infrastructure components are required:


EAP-TLS architecture and infrastructure components.
  • PKI (Public Key Infrastructure) is essential for establishing a secure, scalable, and manageable authentication framework. It facilitates the secure creation, management, distribution, and revocation of digital certificates and public-private key pairs. PKI underpins secure communications by enabling encryption and digital signatures, ensuring data integrity, confidentiality, and authenticity. It relies on a trusted Certificate Authority (CA) to issue and verify digital certificates, which bind a public key to an entity's identity, such as a user, device, or organisation.

  • RADIUS (Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service) integrates seamlessly with probably all network devices like Wi-Fi access points and controllers. It manages user access policies and supports extensive logging for auditing purposes. Rather than configuring authentication policies on each network access server or access point, network administrators can manage user authentication centrally. When a user attempts to connect to the network, the access request is forwarded to the RADIUS server, which handles the authentication process.

  • Wi-Fi Access Point is a networking hardware appliance that allows wireless devices to connect to a wired network using Wi-Fi. It serves as a bridge between wireless clients, such as laptops, smartphones, and tablets, and the wired local area network (LAN), enabling these devices to communicate with each other and access internet resources.

  • Device Management a solution which ensures that all machines requiring Wi-Fi access have proper network profiles automatically deployed and maintained. It also enables automatic enrolment of certificates on client devices including desktops, laptops, phones, and tablets. This eliminates the need for preparation of complex procedures for end users on how to configure their computers to connect to the network.


Conclusion

Overall, EAP-TLS enhances network security, reduces operational costs, and improves user satisfaction, making it a superior choice for modern Wi-Fi network authentication. Our consultants can help you plan, design, deploy and maintain such passwordless solution for your network. We use the following technologies:

  • In the cloud: Microsoft Cloud PKI, Microsoft Intune, AppViewX, RADIUSaaS.

  • On-premises: Active Directory, Certificate Services, NPS Server.

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