Written by Rajat Bhargava on December 2, 2015

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RADIUS is a key protocol in just about any network. RADIUS has been used for years as the protocol for authenticating, authorizing, and accounting for user access to networks and network infrastructure equipment. The protocol was developed in the 1990s and was primarily used to provide a single platform to manage access to routers, switches, VPNs, and other network gear. The challenge with RADIUS has been that it is hard to implement and manage. A SaaS-based RADIUS solution is a strong option to alleviate the issues with running RADIUS in your infrastructure.

Expanding the RADIUS of WiFi Security

As organizations move away from having their own network gear and data centers on-premises, the need for RADIUS has shifted to integrating with WiFi equipment. RADIUS is a key component that helps to secure and connect the WiFi network to the core directory service infrastructure. Essentially, RADIUS serves as the middle layer in between the wireless access points and the directory. In order for users to access the network, they need to enter their credentials; a common SSID and passphrase shared office wide is not enough to gain access. This approach is popular with IT admins as it greatly enhances the security of the network.

WiFi network security is a serious topic and one that has gained a lot of attention. Anybody parked on the street or in a parking lot can hack WiFi access, as there are plenty of open source tools that can be downloaded to do that. Of course, there are even easier ways to gain access. Since the SSID and passphrase are common to everybody in the office, anybody could hand that information out – inadvertently or intentionally – allowing a third party to gain access to the network. Some will argue that there is nothing of value on-premises any longer because the high-value servers and applications are all in the cloud. That belies the fact that endpoints that are connecting to those high-value items are found on the network. A compromised endpoint can ultimately lead to compromised servers and applications. That’s why it’s important to ensure that only the right people are on your network.

Far-Reaching Benefits of Saas-Based RADIUS

RADIUS is the solution that IT admins turn to when thinking about this problem. Often they will implement a solution based on the open source FreeRADIUS solution. While a perfectly acceptable approach, this forces IT admins to put servers on-premises, implement a complex piece of software, and then manage it on an ongoing basis. Recently, a SaaS-based RADIUS platform began doing the heavy lifting for IT admins. WAPs are simply pointed to a cloud-hosted RADIUS endpoint. There is no infrastructure on-premises, software to manage, and maintenance to be done. Organizations get to utilize what they need and pay for what they use – both hallmarks of SaaS-based solutions.

If you would like to learn more about SaaS-based RADIUS solutions, drop us a note. We’d be happy to discuss it with you. Or, feel free to try JumpCloud’s Directory-as-a-Service platform which provides SaaS-based RADIUS capabilities.

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