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Port roles in 802.1X Port based Network Access Control (PNAC)



Article ID: KB10839 KB Last Updated: 11 Aug 2010Version: 5.0
What are the three port roles in a 802.1X Port based Network Access Control (PNAC)?
802.1X is part of the IEEE 802 group of protocols that provides a mechanism to authenticate devices/users attached to a LAN port and restrict access only to those who provide the correct credentials. Devices/users that are verified in a user database (local or remote) will be allowed to access the network, all others will be denied for access.
  • Authenticator PAE (Port Access Entity): An IEEE term for the switch or router ports to which clients are connected. These ports form the control gate blocking all traffic to and from the clients until they are authenticated.
  • Supplicant: An IEEE term for the clients who are trying to access the network and who need to be authenticated. They are connected to Authenticator PAEs.
  • Authentication Server: The backend “database” containing information about valid users allowed to connect to the network. The credentials supplied by the supplicants are sent to this server for authentication. Even though the standard allows any authentication server to be used, the most prevalent one is a RADIUS (Remote Access Dial-In User Service) server as it is easy to configure and use. It also provides a flexible option to define proprietary (vendor specific) attributes that can be exchanged between the switch and the server. Other options include LDAP and Diameter servers. Only RADIUS will be supported in our implementation.
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