In the fifth and final installment of our series on WPA-Enterprise for small businesses, Eric Geier offers step-by-step guidance for configuring computers on your wireless network with WPA and 802.1x settings. (Suggested reading: Part 3 to learn how to set up an Elektron RADIUS server; Part 4, to learn how to configure a wireless router and/or access points (APs) and install a digital certificate.)
Configuring Windows for WPA and 802.1x
Unlike when using WEP for encryption, a network profile or preferred network entry must be configured with the appropriate WPA and 802.1x settings before Windows will connect to a WPA Enterprise network. Once initially configured, users can connect to the network just like any other using the list of available wireless networks.
Follow these steps to configure Windows XP with the appropriate settings:
Similar guidelines apply in Windows Vista when configuring WPA Enterprise; however, the exact steps differ. Follow these steps to set up the WPA and 802.1x network in Vista:
Connecting to WPA Enterprise networks in Windows
After configuring the network settings in Windows, right-click on the wireless icon in the system tray, select View Available Wireless Networks (in XP) or Connect to (in Vista), and then double-click the network from the list. Click the notification in the lower right corner of Windows.
On the Enter Credentials dialog box that appears, enter the user name and password of an account set up on the RADIUS server, leaving the Logon Domain field blank (unless Domains are specifically set up on the network and the server), and then press Enter. The client should successfully connect within a few seconds.
Connecting to WPA Enterprise networks in Mac OS X
Connecting to 802.1x networks in Mac OS X is much easier than in Windows. To get started, connect to the network as normal; choose the desired network from the wireless icon in the upper right corner of the desktop. In the password dialog box, enter a user name and password thats set up on the RADIUS server and click OK.
If a self-signed certificate is loaded on the RADIUS server, or if the certificate wasnt obtained from a third-party CA, like VeriSign, that Mac OS X automatically trusts, the Verify Certificate dialog box appears. If this is the case, click the Show Certificate button and verify its the legitimate certificate by reviewing the details. To prevent the certificate verification on further connections to the network, select the always trust checkbox. When finished, click Continue to connect to the network.
A job well done
We started this tutorial series with a basic overview of WPA Enterprise. We discussed why WPA Enterprise encryption provides better protection than its easier-to-setup cousin, WPA Personal or Pre-Shared Key (PSK), and explored methods to obtain the required RADIUS server to make WPA Enterprise and 802.1x possible. In addition to mentioning hosted services and APs with built-in RADIUS servers, we discussed the main steps of setting up an actual RADIUS server. Lastly, we configured a particular server, the Elektron RADIUS server, and setup the computers.
If youve followed the steps correctly, you should now have a fully functional WPA Enterprise wireless network, providing bulletproof encryption for your small business. Wireless eavesdroppers should not be able to connect or decrypt network communications.
Eric Geier is the Founder and President of Sky-Nets, Ltd., a Wi-Fi hotspot network. He is also the author of many networking and computing books, including Home Networking All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummies (Wiley 2008) and 100 Things You Need to Know about Microsoft® Windows Vista (Que 2007).
This article was first published on WiFiPlanet.com.
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