Information About Private Preshared Key
With the advent of Internet of Things (IoT), the number of devices that connect to the internet has increased multifold. Not all of these devices support the 802.1x supplicant and need an alternate mechanism to connect to the internet. One of the security mechanisms, WPA-PSK, could be considered as an alternative. With the current configuration, the PSK is the same for all the clients that connect to the same WLAN. In certain deployments, such as educational institutions, this results in the key being shared to unauthorized users leading to security breach. This necessitates the need to provision unique PSKs for different clients on a large scale.
Identity PSKs are unique PSKs created for individuals or groups of users on the same SSID. No complex configuration is required for the clients. It provides the same simplicity of PSK, making it ideal for IoT, Bring your own device (BYOD), and guest deployments.
Identity PSKs are supported on most devices, in which 802.1X is not, enabling stronger security for IoT. It is possible to easily revoke access, for a single device or individual without affecting everyone else. Thousands of keys can easily be managed and distributed through the AAA server.
During client authentication, the AAA server authorizes the client MAC address and sends the passphrase (if configured) as part of the Cisco-AV pair list. The Cisco Wireless Controller (WLC) receives this as part of the RADIUS response and processes this further for the computation of PSKs.
When a client sends an association request to the SSID broadcast by the corresponding access point, the controller forms the RADIUS request packet with the particular mac address of the client and relays to the RADIUS server.
The RADIUS server performs the authentication and checks whether the client is allowed or not and sends either ACCESS-ACCEPT or ACCESS-REJECT as response to the WLC.
To support Identity PSKs, in addition to sending the authentication response, the authentication server also provides the AV pair passphrase for this specific client. This is used for the computation of the PMK.
The RADIUS server might also provide additional parameters, such as username, VLAN, Quality of Service (QoS), and so on, in the response, that is specific to this client. For multiple devices owned by a single user, the passphrase can remain the same.