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1.3 Overview

When users or devices are attached to a network, network administrators often require them to be authenticated and authorized before they access the network. For example, a wireless network administrator might allow only known users to connect to the network. Similarly, a virtual private network (VPN) operator might require that only known and authorized users have remote network access.

The Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP) enables extensible authentication for network access. EAP methods operate within the EAP framework to support a variety of authentication techniques. For example, an administrator who requires digital certificate-based authentication might deploy the EAP-TLS method. For more information, see [RFC2716].

Strong credentials such as digital certificates offer many security benefits. However, in many environments these credentials can be prohibitively expensive to send to clients. In such environments, an administrator might use a simple password-based EAP method where the client and server have shared authentication.

The Extensible Authentication Protocol Method for Microsoft Challenge Handshake Authentication Protocol (CHAP) is an EAP method that is designed to meet this need. It does so by having the client and server use MSCHAPv2 to mutually authenticate each other.

To understand the Extensible Authentication Protocol Method for Microsoft CHAP, it is necessary to understand both EAP and MSCHAPv2, as specified in [RFC3748] sections 3 and 4, and [RFC2759] section 1, respectively.

The flow for successful authentication with Extensible Authentication Protocol Method for Microsoft CHAP is as follows:

  1. An EAP session is established between a client (EAP peer) and an EAP server.

  2. The EAP server and EAP peer negotiate the EAP method to use. The Extensible Authentication Protocol Method for Microsoft CHAP is selected.

  3. The EAP peer and EAP server continue to exchange EAP messages with MSCHAPv2 packets encapsulated in the payload.

  4. After the MSCHAPv2 packets successfully authenticate the client and the server to each other, the EAP authentication finishes.

The Extensible Authentication Protocol Method for Microsoft CHAP is exposed to the same security threats as MSCHAPv2 and should be protected inside a secure tunnel, such as the one provided by PEAP [MS-PEAP].

The Extensible Authentication Protocol Method for Microsoft CHAP is typically deployed in an environment such as the one that is shown in the following diagram. The EAP peer mutually authenticates with an EAP server through a network access server, for example, a Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP) dial-up server, wireless access point, or VPN gateway.

The Extensible Authentication Protocol Method for Microsoft CHAP messages are carried from the EAP peer to the network access server (NAS) over lower-layer protocols, such as PPP or 802.1X (Port-Based Network Access Control, which is an IEEE standard for local and metropolitan area networks) [IEEE802.1X].

The Extensible Authentication Protocol Method for Microsoft CHAP messages are then carried from the network access server to the EAP server over a higher-level protocol, such as Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service (RADIUS). For more information about RADIUS, see [RFC2865] and [RFC2869].

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Figure 1: Typical deployment of Extensible Authentication Protocol Method for Microsoft CHAP

 
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