By Vince Lujan Posted April 8, 2019
Online RADIUS servers are proving to be quite useful for securing network access in modern IT organizations. With so many on-prem tools transitioning to the cloud, shifting RADIUS authentication to the cloud can make a lot of sense. Of course, security is a huge factor when considering cloud solutions. The threat of a breach is constant in the cloud era, and remote resources can be especially difficult to secure. However, for many IT organizations, having a RADIUS-as-a-Service solution in place would actually enhance security and convenience.
How Does RADIUS Work?
RADIUS (Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service) is a network authentication protocol that is used to provide secure access to wireless networks. It works by requiring each user to authenticate their identities by leveraging core user credentials. These credentials are stored within a core identity provider (IdP), also known as directory services, which acts as the source of truth for authenticating user identities. RADIUS servers are typically integrated with a core IdP. As a result, a RADIUS server can authenticate credentials submitted by the user against the core IdP, and subsequently grant or prevent network access depending on the outcome.
Benefits of RADIUS
The primary benefit of RADIUS authentication is enhanced WiFi security. This is especially evident when compared against the shared SSID and password, in which network access credentials are shared across a given user base. While sharing credentials is perhaps the most convenient approach to network security, it is far from secure. There is simply no way of knowing that only the correct users have access to a secure network at any time. RADIUS authentication, on the other hand, leverages core user identities. This means that each user must authenticate individually, using their core user credentials. In other words, each set of credentials is unique to each user. As a result, IT admins can ensure that only the correct users can gain access to a RADIUS-enabled network.
Of course, implementing RADIUS has certain challenges in and of itself. Traditional RADIUS solutions are on-prem implementations that require heavy investment into on-prem identity management infrastructure. Not only do IT organizations need a dedicated RADIUS server, but they also need an existing identity management infrastructure to integrate with. Then, the challenge becomes integrating the RADIUS server throughout an environment, not to mention ongoing maintenance. The choice in IdP can impact the end result as well. Active Directory® (AD), for example, is basically limited to on-prem networks of Windows-based IT resources. Consequently, IT organizations may require additional solutions to extend RADIUS functionality to non-Windows resources.
Advantages of an Online RADIUS Server
Thankfully, everything old is new again in the cloud. Online RADIUS servers are breathing new life into what used to be an aging on-prem implementation. The key advantages of an online RADIUS server are basically that you can enhance network security via RADIUS authentication, and add convenience by eliminating on-prem hardware and ongoing maintenance. It’s so convenient, that what was once an entire category of IAM solution (RADIUS) is now offered as a feature of next generation IAM platforms. The JumpCloud® Directory-as-a-Service® platform is a great example, which offers RADIUS, LDAP, SAML, SSH, REST, and other secure authentication protocols as a cloud-based service. Solutions like JumpCloud effectively enable IT organizations to shift their entire on-prem identity management infrastructure to the cloud.
Discover Online RADIUS Servers
Sign up for a free JumpCloud account to see the functionality of an online RADIUS server in action today. Provide secure RADIUS authentication for up to 10 users free forever. JumpCloud also offers single protocol pricing, if cloud RADIUS, SAML, or LDAP is all you need. Contact a member of our team to learn more about the Directory-as-a-Service platform.