Historically, RADIUS has been used as a protocol to authenticate and control access to networking gear. It first started for dial-up user access and accounting management. Nowadays, we are a long way from dial-up and everybody managing all of their own networking gear. A new generation of online RADIUS solutions is emerging to help IT organizations manage their WiFi infrastructure.
The move to WiFi has been an important transition for organizations. WiFi is not only a game changer for how organizations work, it has changed the face of IT. Employees inside of an organization now have more flexibility and agility in how they work and function. Collaboration can increase, and workers can literally work from wherever they like.
On the IT side, WiFi has effectively changed the shape of networks. Instead of thinking of WiFi networks as a one-to-one replacement for wired infrastructure, many organizations used it as a catalyst to shift to the cloud. While there didn’t necessarily need to be a connection between WiFi and shifting to the cloud, the move enabled IT organizations to think about their on-prem network differently. Many started to think of their networks more like café style, where users would connect to the Internet but their infrastructure would live in the cloud.
Security Concerns With WiFi
Of course, another reason that IT organizations started to shift their infrastructure to the cloud was because of security. WiFi networks are inherently less secure because you can’t control where the signal can go. Also, with weak security mechanisms in place, it only caused IT admins to need to find a way to increase security even more. Because the popular WiFi equipment (Meraki, Aruba, etc.) was being manufactured by networking organizations that supported RADIUS, it became a key authentication protocol. By integrating RADIUS, each user could uniquely login to the network, similarly to how they would with a wired network. Unfortunately, most WiFi networks used shared logins with group SSID and passphrases.
The challenge for IT organizations was that implementing RADIUS was always painful, and not a task that they took lightly. Second, they were trying to shift to the cloud, so placing a RADIUS server and integrating it with the core directory service was going the wrong way. IT admins were looking for a way to have an online RADIUS solution. The solution that many IT admins were looking for was to have the ability to point their WiFi authentication to a cloud RADIUS server. That way the IT group wouldn’t need to manage the RADIUS server, and ideally they didn’t have to manage their directory service either.
The Cloud Online RADIUS Platform Directory-as-a-Service
Fortunately, that cloud RADIUS platform is available today from Directory-as-a-Service®. The integrated RADIUS and directory service combination ensures that IT admins can offload as much of the heavy lifting as possible. No need to implement FreeRADIUS, Microsoft Active Directory®, or a bridge between the two. Monitoring, uptime, backups, and security are all handled by the cloud identity provider. Additionally, there isn’t a local client that needs to be installed on each device, and the RADIUS-as-a-Service platform supports the common RADIUS PEAP authentication approach.
If you would like to learn more about online RADIUS and how it can help you secure your WiFi network, drop us a note. Or, feel free to sign-up for a Directory-as-a-Service account and check out how it works with your infrastructure. Your first 10 users are free forever.