Cyber Security

EAP (Extensible Authentication Protocol)

Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP) is an authentication framework frequently used in wireless networks and point-to-point connections. It is defined in RFC 3748, which made RFC 2284 obsolete, and is updated by RFC 5247.

EAP is an authentication framework for providing the transport and usage of keying material and parameters generated by EAP methods. There are many methods defined by RFCs and a number of vendor specific methods and new proposals exist.

EAP is not a wire protocol; instead it only defines message formats. Each protocol that uses EAP defines a way to encapsulate EAP messages within that protocol’s messages. 6 EAP is in wide use. For example, in IEEE 802.11 (WiFi) the WPA and WPA2 standards have adopted IEEE 802.1X with one hundred EAP Types as the official authentication mechanisms.

PEAP (Protected Extensible Authentication Protocol)

The Protected Extensible Authentication Protocol, also known as Protected EAP or simply PEAP, is a protocol that encapsulates the Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP) within an encrypted and authenticated Transport Layer Security (TLS) tunnel. The purpose was to correct deficiencies in EAP; EAP assumed a protected communication channel, such as that provided by physical security, so facilities for protection of the EAP conversation were not provided.

EAP-NOOB (Nimble Out-of-Band Authentication for EAP)

Nimble out-of-band authentication for EAP (EAP-NOOB) is a generic bootstrapping solution for devices which have no pre-configured authentication credentials and which are not yet registered on any server. It is especially useful for Internet-of-Things (IoT) gadgets and toys that come with no information about any owner, network or server. Authentication for this EAP method is based on a user-assisted out-of-band (OOB) channel between the server and peer. EAP-NOOB supports many types of OOB channels such as QR codes, NFC tags, audio etc. and unlike other EAP methods, the protocol security has been verified by formal modelling of the specification with ProVerif and MCRL2 tools.

LEAP (Lightweight Extensible Authentication Protocol)

The Lightweight Extensible Authentication Protocol (LEAP) method was developed by Cisco Systems prior to the IEEE ratification of the 802.11i security standard. Cisco distributed the protocol through the CCX (Cisco Certified Extensions) as part of getting 802.1X and dynamic WEP adoption into the industry in the absence of a standard. There is no native support for LEAP in any Windows operating system, but it is widely supported by third party client software most commonly included with WLAN (wireless LAN) devices. LEAP support for Microsoft Windows 7 and Microsoft Windows Vista can be added by downloading a client add in from Cisco that provides support for both LEAP and EAP-FAST. Due to the wide adoption of LEAP in the networking industry many other WLAN vendors claim support for LEAP.

EAP-TLS (EAP Transport Layer Security)

EAP Transport Layer Security (EAP-TLS), defined in RFC 5216, is an IETF open standard that uses the Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol, and is well-supported among wireless vendors. EAP-TLS is the original, standard wireless LAN EAP authentication protocol.

EAP-TLS is still considered one of the most secure EAP standards available, although TLS provides strong security only as long as the user understands potential warnings about false credentials, and is universally supported by all manufacturers of wireless LAN hardware and software. Until April 2005, EAP-TLS was the only EAP type vendors needed to certify for a WPA or WPA2 logo. There are client and server implementations of EAP-TLS in 3Com, Apple, Avaya, Brocade Communications, Cisco, Enterasys Networks, Foundry, Hirschmann, HP, Juniper, Microsoft, and open source operating systems. EAP-TLS is natively supported in Mac OS X 10.3 and above, wpa_supplicant, Windows 2000 SP4, Windows XP and above, Windows Mobile 2003 and above, Windows CE 4.2, and Apple’s iOS mobile operating system.


EAP-MD5 was the only IETF Standards Track based EAP method when it was first defined in the original RFC for EAP, RFC 2284. It offers minimal security; the MD5 hash function is vulnerable to dictionary attacks, and does not support key generation, which makes it unsuitable for use with dynamic WEP, or WPA/WPA2 enterprise. EAP-MD5 differs from other EAP methods in that it only provides authentication of the EAP peer to the EAP server but not mutual authentication. By not providing EAP server authentication, this EAP method is vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks. EAP-MD5 support was first included in Windows 2000 and deprecated in Windows Vista.

EAP-POPT (EAP Protected One-Time Password)

EAP Protected One-Time Password (EAP-POTP), which is described in RFC 4793, is an EAP method developed by RSA Laboratories that uses one-time password (OTP) tokens, such as a handheld hardware device or a hardware or software module running on a personal computer, to generate authentication keys. EAP-POTP can be used to provide unilateral or mutual authentication and key material in protocols that use EAP.

The EAP-POTP method provides two-factor user authentication, meaning that a user needs both physical access to a token and knowledge of a personal identification number (PIN) to perform authentication.

EAP-PSK (EAP Pre-Shared Key)

EAP Pre-shared key (EAP-PSK), defined in RFC 4764, is an EAP method for mutual authentication and session key derivation using a pre-shared key (PSK). It provides a protected communication channel, when mutual authentication is successful, for both parties to communicate and is designed for authentication over insecure networks such as IEEE 802.11.

EAP-PSK is documented in an experimental RFC that provides a lightweight and extensible EAP method that does not require any public-key cryptography. The EAP method protocol exchange is done in a minimum of four messages.

EAP-PWD (EAP Password)

EAP Password (EAP-PWD), defined in RFC 5931, is an EAP method which uses a shared password for authentication. The password may be a low-entropy one and may be drawn from some set of possible passwords, like a dictionary, which is available to an attacker. The underlying key exchange is resistant to active attack, passive attack, and dictionary attack.

EAP-PWD is in the base of Android 4.0 (ICS), it is in FreeRADIUS and Radiator RADIUS servers, and it is in hostapd and wpa_supplicant.

EAP-TTLS (EAP Tunneled Transport Layer Security)

EAP Tunneled Transport Layer Security (EAP-TTLS) is an EAP protocol that extends TLS. It was co-developed by Funk Software and Certicom and is widely supported across platforms. Microsoft did not incorporate native support for the EAP-TTLS protocol in Windows XP, Vista, or 7. Supporting TTLS on these platforms requires third-party Encryption Control Protocol (ECP) certified software. Microsoft Windows started EAP-TTLS support with Windows 8, however, Windows Phone 8 does not support EAP-TTLS while version 8.1 supports it.

EAP-IKEv2 (EAP Internet Key Exchange v2)

EAP Internet Key Exchange v. 2 (EAP-IKEv2) is an EAP method based on the Internet Key Exchange protocol version 2 (IKEv2). It provides mutual authentication and session key establishment between an EAP peer and an EAP server. It supports authentication techniques that are based on the following types of credentials:

Asymmetric key pairs
Public/private key pairs where the public key is embedded into a digital certificate, and the corresponding private key is known only to a single party.

Low-entropy bit strings that are known to both the server and the peer.

Symmetric keys
High-entropy bit strings that are known to both the server and the peer.

It is possible to use a different authentication credential (and thereby technique) in each direction. For example, the EAP server authenticates itself using public/private key pair and the EAP peer using symmetric key. In particular, the following combinations are expected to be used in practice:

EAP-IKEv2 is described in RFC 5106, and a prototype implementation exists.

EAP-FAST (EAP Flexible Authentication via Secure Tunneling)

Flexible Authentication via Secure Tunneling (EAP-FAST; RFC 4851) is a protocol proposal by Cisco Systems as a replacement for LEAP. The protocol was designed to address the weaknesses of LEAP while preserving the “lightweight” implementation. Use of server certificates is optional in EAP-FAST. EAP-FAST uses a Protected Access Credential (PAC) to establish a TLS tunnel in which client credentials are verified.

EAP-SIM (EAP Subscriber Identity Module)

EAP Subscriber Identity Module (EAP-SIM) is used for authentication and session key distribution using the subscriber identity module (SIM) from the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM).

GSM cellular networks use a subscriber identity module card to carry out user authentication. EAP-SIM use a SIM authentication algorithm between the client and an Authentication, Authorization and Accounting (AAA) server providing mutual authentication between the client and the network.

In EAP-SIM the communication between the SIM card and the Authentication Centre (AuC) replaces the need for a pre-established password between the client and the AAA server.

EAP-AKA (EAP Authentication and Key Agreement)

Extensible Authentication Protocol Method for Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) Authentication and Key Agreement (EAP-AKA), is an EAP mechanism for authentication and session key distribution using the UMTS Subscriber Identity Module (USIM). EAP-AKA is defined in RFC 4187.

EAP-GTC (EAP Generic Token Card)

EAP Generic Token Card, or EAP-GTC, is an EAP method created by Cisco as an alternative to PEAPv0/EAP-MSCHAPv2 and defined in RFC 2284 and RFC 3748. EAP-GTC carries a text challenge from the authentication server, and a reply generated by a security token. The PEAP-GTC authentication mechanism allows generic authentication to a number of databases such as Novell Directory Service (NDS) and Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP), as well as the use of a one-time password.

EAP-EKE (EAP Encrypted Key Exchange)

EAP with the encrypted key exchange, or EAP-EKE, is one of the few EAP methods that provide secure mutual authentication using short passwords and no need for public key certificates. It is a three-round exchange, based on the Diffie-Hellman variant of the well-known EKE protocol.

EAP-EKE is specified in RFC 6124.

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