Reaching out for Enterprise Security Help

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Aug 6th, 2009
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My current environment is a medium size hospital with mulitple campuses. We have a number of different types of devices; Laptops, CoW's (Computer on Wheels) 7921's, BlackBerry's. Currently the majority of my clients are running WPA/WPA2-PSK. Personally, I'm sick to death of PSK. It's an easy and samll footprint, but managing keys is a major pain in the butt. At any one time I have an average of 500 clients connected to my WLC's (4.2.205). I've been trying to run a project on moving the devices to an EAP scenerio. Laptops work fine in EAP-TLS as do BlackBerry's but as everyone knows, EAP-TLS has some authentication overhead. Here's my problem, the CoW's. The CoW is simply a mini-pc put into a specialized cart that the nurses pull from room to room for BedSide Meds and such. With EAP-TLS testing I'm having a lot of issues with the authentication taking to long and the user getting kicked out of their app, Meditech. Our version of Meditech is basically a crap telnet application and if it doesn't get a response quickly it'll throw you to the desktop. Also, although I know EAP-TLS had some overhead, I'm dissapointed in it's roaming ability and how slow it is. As I see it, the users I have testing EAP-TLS on laptops and Blackberry's are not truely mobile. They typically don't attempt to use their device while on the move versus's the CoW. Here are a few things I've ran into in trying to figure out a security solution and hopefully you guys can help me out and suggest somethings I haven't thought of:

EAP-TLS - Obvious overhead issues as stated above. Is anyone running this in a similiar environment, how do you deal with it?

PEAP - Rely's on a strong user/pass which does not work in our world. The nurses log into the CoW witha generic username/password that pretty much everyone is aware of. Although Windows it's self is locked WAY down, your still on the network if you have access to this user/pass.

EAP-FAST - As I understand it, with EAP-FAST and MSCHAPv2, there's a PAC for each user. If the user logs in more then once from different locations, I suspect this would be a problem. Not to mention I'm not sure how the manageability on usernames would work. I looked at using the Certificate on the machine to do the authentication and setting EAP-FAST to require this for autehntication and it works fine for my laptop and the IntelPro/Set Wireless utility but on the CoW's, not so.. The Cow's have an Atheros AR5006x chip and with the Atheros Client Utility, the utility will only allow you to select a personal cert, not a machine certificate for anything. Does anyone know of an Client Utility that will allow me to do this with out spending $$$$ or of Atheros Client that will allow me to do this?

How is everyone else providing an enterprise solution with manageabillity and stability?

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ldardon Wed, 08/12/2009 - 13:34
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Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP) is an IETF RFC that stipulates that an authentication protocol must be decoupled from the transport protocol used to carry it. This allows the EAP protocol to be carried by transport protocols such as 802.1X, UDP, or RADIUS without having to make changes to the authentication protocol itself.

•PEAP MSCHAPv2-Protected EAP MSCHAPv2. Uses a Transport Layer Security (TLS) tunnel, (the IETF standard of an SSL) to protect an encapsulated MSCHAPv2 exchange between the WLAN client and the authentication server.

•PEAP GTC-Protected EAP Generic Token Card (GTC). Uses a TLS tunnel to protect a generic token card exchange; for example, a one-time password or LDAP authentication.

•EAP-FAST-EAP-Flexible Authentication via Secured Tunnel. Uses a tunnel similar to that used in PEAP, but does not require the use of Public Key Infrastructure (PKI).

•EAP-TLS-EAP Transport Layer Security uses PKI to authenticate both the WLAN network and the WLAN client, requiring both a client certificate and an authentication server certificate.

raun.williams Thu, 08/13/2009 - 04:05
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Yeah... I know the definitions...

I'm looking for real world experience recomendations, feedback...

George Stefanick Wed, 08/19/2009 - 19:59
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I feel your pain with PSK. PSK is nice and has a managed security level with small deployments, however when you have mid to large deployments it can get out of hand.

There is software applications that can manage PSK keys on your clients, although i have never used them myself.

I consulted for a number of years and just got off the road a few months ago. I consulted mainly in healthcare.

I would say 70% of hospitals today use or plan to migrate to PEAP as one means of wireless data security getting away from wep, leap and psk.

PCs are deployed using PEAP / with machine authenication. Once the PC is authenicated to the wireless / wired network it has a secure wireless connection. At which point the user would enter their logon.

With machine auth you get a comfort level that the pc itself is approved. At which point the user can logon and as you said is generic, which wouldn't really matter... cause the connection is secure.

maybe im off target from your question... i hope this helps


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