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First, 802.1x should not be confused with the 802.11x term that is commonly used to refer to all wireless specifications that have not yet reached the point of being voted an IEEE standard definition.802.1x is an authentication protocol definition that provides for sending EAP over a wireless or wired LAN.The Extensible Authentication Protocol, or EAP, was designed to reside inside of the PPP authentication protocol.It defines a general framework that can use a number of authentication methods.The motivation behind the development of a standardized EAP was to eliminate costly reliance on proprietary authentication solutions.Properly implemented, EAP can support the full range of methods to validate an online session to include public-key infrastructure certificates, passwords, and challenge-response tokens.
Since the original use of PPP for dial-up modem connections, it has become commonly used to provide a means for authentication between computers over a network.
The authenticator is a network device such as a wireless access point or switch, while the required authentication server is typically a host computer that has compatible software running that supports the EAP and RADIUS protocols.
802.1X authentication involves three parties: a supplicant, an authenticator, and an authentication server.
In 802.1x, the authenticator will perform a role equivalent to protecting the network.
It will not permit a supplicant to access the protected side of the network until the identity of the client device has been validated and authorized access.