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Updated:March 17, 2008
Cisco® Secure Access Control Server (ACS) provides a comprehensive, identity-based access policy system for Cisco intelligent information networks. It is the integration and control platform for managing access policy for network resources.
Cisco Secure ACS provides central management of access policies for both network access and device administration and supports a wide range of access scenarios including wireless LAN, 802.1x wired, and remote access. Cisco Secure ACS is the leading authentication, authorization, and accounting (AAA) platform in the market and is deployed by 90 percent of the top 500 Cisco customers. Cisco Secure ACS is available as a rack-mountable, dedicated appliance-Cisco Secure ACS Solution Engine-or as software that runs on Windows platforms, Cisco Secure ACS for Windows.
With the ever-increasing number of methods and opportunities for accessing networks today, security breaches and uncontrolled user access are of primary concern among enterprises. While the wide deployment of wireless LANs and remote access have increased security challenges at the perimeter, security risks inside the enterprise exist as well. Identity networking technologies such as 802.1x that can mitigate both internal and external security vulnerabilities have become of prime interest to customers worldwide. Network security officers and administrators need solutions that support flexible authentication and authorization policies that are tied to the user identity as well as context such as the network access type and the security of the machine used to access the network. Further, there is a need to audit network use and monitor corporate compliance.
Cisco Secure ACS is a highly scalable, high-performance access policy system that centralizes authentication, user access, and administrator access policy and reduces the administrative and management burden. Cisco Secure ACS is a central point for administering security policy for users and devices accessing the network. Cisco Secure ACS supports multiple and concurrent access scenarios including:
• Device administration: Cisco Secure ACS authenticates network administrators, authorizes commands, and provides an audit trail.
• Remote Access: Cisco Secure ACS works with VPN and other remote network access devices to enforce access policies.
• Wireless: Cisco Secure ACS authenticates and authorizes wireless users and hosts and enforces wireless-specific policies.
• 802.1x LAN: Cisco Secure ACS supports dynamic provisioning of VLANs and access control lists (ACLs) on a per user basis and 802.1x with port-based security.
• Network admission control: Cisco Secure ACS communicates with posture and audit servers to enforce admission control policies.
Features and Benefits
Cisco Secure ACS is a powerful access policy system with management and scalability features for the growing organization. Table 1 lists the key features and benefits of Cisco Secure ACS 4.2.
Table 1. Key Features and Benefits of Cisco Secure ACS 4.2
Cisco Secure ACS supports two distinct protocols for authentication, authorization, and accounting (AAA). Cisco Secure ACS supports both RADIUS and TACACS+ for the concurrent support of network access and network device access control. Cisco Secure ACS is a single system for enforcing access policy.
Cisco Secure ACS provides an onboard database while supporting Windows Active Directory, Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP), and Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) for integration with existing user databases. Support for RSA SecurID Authentication Manager and RADIUS-enabled token servers allows integration with strong authentication systems. Multiple databases can be used concurrently for maximum flexibility in enforcing access policy.
Cisco Secure ACS supports a wide range of authentication protocols including Password Authentication Protocol (PAP), Challenge Handshake Authentication Protocol (CHAP), MS-CHAP, Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP)-MD5, EAP-Generic Token Card (GTC), Cisco LEAP, Protected EAP (PEAP), EAP-Flexible Authentication via Secure Tunneling (FAST), and EAP-Transport Layer Security (TLS) to support all your authentication requirements.
Network access policies
Cisco Secure ACS allows the configuration of complex network access policies that may include authentication protocol requirements, device restrictions, time of day restrictions, posture validation, and other access requirements. Cisco Secure ACS may apply downloadable access control lists (dACLs), VLAN assignments, and other authorization parameters.
Centralized configuration management
Cisco Secure ACS replication allows administrator-defined configuration items to be replicated across ACS servers in the network, providing both flexibility and ease of administration for large networks. Provisioning is facilitated through a secure, web-based GUI, command-line interface (CLI), and relational database management system (RDBMS) synchronization to allow Cisco Secure ACS to fit in your workflow.
Cisco Secure ACS logs are viewable and exportable for use in other systems. Cisco Secure ACS logs support troubleshooting and diagnostics, compliance and auditing, and other reporting and billing activities.
Cisco Secure ACS is available as a closed and hardened appliance or as Windows Server software for customers with existing practices for server/OS management. Cisco Secure ACS for Windows may be used with VMWare ESX Server for customers deploying virtual servers.
Cisco Secure ACS is available as Cisco Secure ACS for Windows and as the Cisco Secure ACS Solution Engine-a one-rack-unit (1RU), security-hardened appliance with a preinstalled Cisco Secure ACS license. Table 2 lists the specifications of Cisco Secure ACS Solution Engine 4.2.
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