5.2.d Describe 802.1x

5.2.d [i] 802.1x, EAP, RADIUS

With 802.1X port-based authentication, the devices in the network have specific roles.

Client—the device (workstation) that requests access to the LAN and switch services and responds to the requests from the switch. The workstation must be running 802.1X-compliant client software such as that offered in the Microsoft Windows XP operating system. (The client is the supplicant in the IEEE 802.1X specification.)

Authentication server—performs the actual authentication of the client. The authentication server validates the identity of the client and notifies the switch whether or not the client is authorized to access the LAN and switch services. Because the switch acts as the proxy, the authentication service is transparent to the client. In this release, the Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service (RADIUS) security system with Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP) extensions is the only supported authentication server; it is available in Cisco Secure Access Control Server version 3.0. RADIUS operates in a client/ server model in which secure authentication information is exchanged between the RADIUS server and one or more RADIUS clients.

Switch (edge switch or wireless access point)— controls the physical access to the network based on the authentication status of the client. The switch acts as an intermediary or proxy between the client and the authentication server, requesting identity information from the client, verifying that information with the authentication server, and relaying a response to the client. The switch includes the RADIUS client, which is responsible for encapsulating and decapsulating the Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP) frames and interacting with the authentication server.

When the switch receives EAPOL frames and relays them to the authentication server, the Ethernet header is stripped and the remaining EAP frame is re-encapsulated in the RADIUS format. The EAP frames are not modified or examined during encapsulation, and the authentication server must support EAP within the native frame format. When the switch receives frames from the authentication server, the server’s frame header is removed, leaving the EAP frame, which is then encapsulated for Ethernet and sent to the client.

The devices that can act as intermediaries include the Catalyst 3550 multilayer switch, Catalyst 2950 switch, or a wireless access point. These devices must be running software that supports the RADIUS client and 802.1X.

Adam, Paul (2014-07-12). All-in-One CCIE V5 Written Exam Guide (Kindle Locations 5435-5437).  . Kindle Edition.