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I'm having troubles understanding the differences between the 3.

As far as I understand, with EAP-TLS, the client (peer) and the server (authenticator) both need a certificate. The authentication is done by performing basically a TLS handshake (which guarantees that the client is who he claims to be)

Whereas with EAP-TTLS, client authentication seems optional according to the RFC and the TLS handshake is only done to create a secure tunnel which can be used to perform other authentication methods. Is that right?

And how does PEAP now differ from EAP-TTLS? To my understanding, it does basically the same thing.

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On EAP-TLS you are right, both sides require a certificate. With a client-side certificate, a compromised password is not enough to break into EAP-TLS enabled systems because the intruder still needs to have the client-side certificate.

On EAP-TTLS, you are right again. After the server is securely authenticated to the client via its CA certificate and optionally the client to the server, the server can then use the established secure connection ("tunnel") to authenticate the client.

PEAP is an encapsulation, is not a method, but you are almost right again. PEAP is similar in design to EAP-TTLS, requiring only a server-side PKI certificate to create a secure TLS tunnel to protect user authentication, and uses server-side public key certificates to authenticate the server. It then creates an encrypted TLS tunnel between the client and the authentication server.

The difference is: PEAP is a SSL wrapper around EAP carrying EAP. TTLS is a SSL wrapper around diameter TLVs (Type Length Values) carrying RADIUS authentication attributes.

All of this info available at Wikipedia

  • The proper word for Client used here is supplicant. – Alexis_FR_JP May 10 at 2:52
  • From reading this, it seems like I can use both EAP-TLS / EAP/TTLS and PEAP at the same time to allow defense in depth, am I correct? – Ng Sek Long Aug 24 at 12:42

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