Paranoid Penguin - Securing WLANs with WPA and FreeRADIUS, Part I

Upgrade your wireless network from the old, insecure WEP to the new standard—and integrate the authentication with your Linux network.
TKIP and WEP Keying

If a supplicant is authenticated by way of EAP-TLS or some other encrypted version of EAP, that authentication traffic also is encrypted. But the wireless LAN frames themselves are not; that can't happen until WEP is enabled on the connection between the supplicant system and the access point. As it happens, from the implementor's standpoint, this is the simplest part of WPA. Upon successful authentication, the server, authenticator and supplicant use the Temporal Key Integrity Protocol (TKIP) to negotiate and transmit WEP keys securely for use between the authenticator and the supplicant system. This process largely is transparent: you do not need to configure anything on the server or supplicant for this to work. However, most access points, including hostapd on Linux, can be configured with custom settings for things such as WEP-re-keying interval.

The other thing to remember about TKIP is, as I mentioned earlier, the server is optional. If you've configured your supplicants and authenticator to use pre-shared key (PSK) mode, TKIP still is used to key and re-key WEP encryption dynamically between your supplicant and access point.

Conclusion (for Now)

That's WPA in a nutshell. Next time, we'll apply these concepts of using FreeRADIUS to create a Linux-based authentication server for WPA. If you can't wait until then to get started, check out the on-line Resources for more information. Be safe!

Resources for this article: /article/8070.

Mick Bauer, CISSP, is Linux Journal's security editor and an IS security consultant in Minneapolis, Minnesota. O'Reilly & Associates recently released the second edition of his book Linux Server Security (January 2005). Mick also composes industrial polka music, but has the good taste seldom to perform it.



Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

"Securing WLANs ..." Online Resources

bbatten's picture

The resources link just keeps looping me back to the article itself.


marilene's picture

Hi, I'm Marilene. I'm from Brazil and I was doing the steps of this tutorial, but the tutorial doesn't say how I can configure the linux clients.
And I am with dificulties to configure the windows xp clients. I configured the mmc, but the cliente can't autenticate in the radius server. I did an update in the windows, tryed with two differents wireless LANs, but don't works.

Someone could help me????

Thanks a lot,

Part 2 of this guide can be

Anonymous's picture

Part 2 of this guide can be found here:

One Click, Universal Protection: Implementing Centralized Security Policies on Linux Systems

As Linux continues to play an ever increasing role in corporate data centers and institutions, ensuring the integrity and protection of these systems must be a priority. With 60% of the world's websites and an increasing share of organization's mission-critical workloads running on Linux, failing to stop malware and other advanced threats on Linux can increasingly impact an organization's reputation and bottom line.

Learn More

Sponsored by Bit9

Linux Backup and Recovery Webinar

Most companies incorporate backup procedures for critical data, which can be restored quickly if a loss occurs. However, fewer companies are prepared for catastrophic system failures, in which they lose all data, the entire operating system, applications, settings, patches and more, reducing their system(s) to “bare metal.” After all, before data can be restored to a system, there must be a system to restore it to.

In this one hour webinar, learn how to enhance your existing backup strategies for better disaster recovery preparedness using Storix System Backup Administrator (SBAdmin), a highly flexible bare-metal recovery solution for UNIX and Linux systems.

Learn More

Sponsored by Storix