Introduction Prerequisites Dynamic VLAN Assignment with RADIUS

Introduction Prerequisites Dynamic VLAN Assignment with RADIUS


This document introduces the concept of dynamic VLAN assignment. The document describes how to configure the wireless LAN controller (WLC) and a RADIUS server to assign wireless LAN (WLAN) clients into a specific VLAN dynamically.



Ensure that you meet these requirements before you attempt this configuration:

Have basic knowledge of the WLC and Lightweight Access Points (LAPs).

Have functional knowledge of the AAA server.

Have thorough knowledge of wireless networks and wireless security issues.

Components Used

The information in this document is based on these software and hardware versions:

Cisco 5508 WLC that runs firmware release

Cisco 3502 Series LAP.

Microsoft Windows 7 Native Supplicant with Intel 6300-N Driver Version 14.3.

Cisco Secure Access Control Server (ACS) that runs version 5.2.

Cisco 3560 series switch.

The information in this document was created from the devices in a specific lab environment. All of the devices used in this document started with a cleared (default) configuration. If your network is live, make sure that you understand the potential impact of any command.


Refer to Cisco Technical Tips Conventions for more information on document conventions.

Dynamic VLAN Assignment with RADIUS Server

In most WLAN systems, each WLAN has a static policy that applies to all clients associated with a

Service Set Identifier (SSID), or WLAN in the controller terminology. Although powerful, this method has limitations because it requires clients to associate with different SSIDs in order to inherit different

QoS and security policies.

However, the Cisco WLAN solution supports identity networking. This allows the network to advertise a single SSID, but allows specific users to inherit different QoS, VLAN attributes and/or security policies based on the user credential.

Dynamic VLAN assignment is one such feature that places a wireless user into a specific VLAN based on the credentials supplied by the user. This task of assigning users to a specific VLAN is handled by a

RADIUS authentication server, such as Cisco Secure ACS. This can be used, for example, to allow the wireless host to remain on the same VLAN as it moves within a campus network.

Therefore, when a client attempts to associate to a LAP registered with a controller, the LAP passes the credentials of the user to the RADIUS server for validation. Once the authentication is successful, the

RADIUS server passes certain Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) attributes to the user. These

RADIUS attributes decide the VLAN ID that should be assigned to the wireless client. The SSID

(WLAN, in terms of WLC) of the client does not matter because the user is always assigned to this predetermined VLAN ID.

The RADIUS user attributes used for the VLAN ID assignment are:

IETF 64 (Tunnel Type)—Set this to VLAN.

IETF 65 (Tunnel Medium Type)—Set this to 802

IETF 81 (Tunnel Private Group ID)—Set this to VLAN ID.

The VLAN ID is 12-bits, and takes a value between 1 and 4094, inclusive. Because the Tunnel-Private-

Group-ID is of type string, as defined in RFC2868 for use with IEEE 802.1X, the VLAN ID integer value is encoded as a string. When these tunnel attributes are sent, it is necessary to fill in the Tag field.

As noted in RFC2868 , section 3.1: The Tag field is one octet in length and is intended to provide a

means of grouping attributes in the same packet which refer to the same tunnel. Valid values for this field are 0x01 through 0x1F, inclusive. If the Tag field is unused, it must be zero (0x00). Refer to RFC

2868 for more information on all RADIUS attributes.


In this section, you are presented with the information to configure the features described in this document.

Network Diagram

This document uses this network setup:

These are the configuration details of the components used in this diagram:

The IP address of the ACS (RADIUS) server is

The Management and AP-manager Interface address of the WLC is

The DHCP servers address

VLAN 253 and VLAN 257 are used throughout this configuration. The Student-1 is configured to be placed into the VLAN 253 and Teacher-1 is configured to be placed into VLAN 257 by the

RADIUS server when both users connect to the same SSID ―goa‖.

VLAN 253: 192.168.153.x/24. Gateway:

VLAN 257: 192.168.157.x/24. Gateway:

VLAN 75: 192.168.75.x/24. Gateway:

 This document uses 802.1x with PEAP as the security mechanism.

Note: Cisco recommends that you use advanced authentication methods, such as EAP-FAST and

EAP-TLS authentication, in order to secure the WLAN.


Switches are configured for all Layer 3 vlans.

DHCP server is assigned a DHCP scope.

Layer 3 connectivity exists between all devices in the network.

Lightweight AP is already joined to the WLC.

Each vlan has /24 mask.

ACS 5.2 has a Self Signed Certificate installed.

Configuration Steps

This configuration is separated into three categories:

1. RADIUS Server Configuration

2. WLC Configuration

3. Wireless Client Utility Configuration

RADIUS Server Configuration

Configuration on Radius server is divided into 4 steps. a) Configuring Network Resources. b) Configuring Users. c) Defining Policy Elements. d) Applying Access Policies.

ACS 5.x is a policy-based access control system. i.e ACS 5.x uses a rule-based policy model instead of the group-based model used in the 4.x versions.

The ACS 5.x rule-based policy model provides more powerful and flexible access control compared to the older group-based approach.

In the older group-based model, a group defines policy because it contains and ties together three types of information:

 Identity information—This information can be based on membership in AD or LDAP groups or a static assignment for internal ACS users.

 Other restrictions or conditions—Time restrictions, device restrictions, and so on.

 Permissions—VLANs or Cisco IOS privilege levels.

The ACS 5.x policy model is based on rules of the form:

If condition then result

For example, we use the information described for the group-based model:

If identity-condition, restriction-condition then authorization-profile.

So this gives us flexibility to limit under what conditions the user is allowed to access the network and at the same time what authorization level is allowed when specific conditions are met.

a) Configuring Network Resources.

In this section, we configure the AAA Client for the WLC on the RADIUS Server.

This procedure explains how to add the WLC as a AAA client on the RADIUS server so that the WLC can pass the user credentials to the RADIUS server.

Complete these steps:

1. From the ACS GUI, click Network Resources.

2. Then Click Network Device Groups.

3. Click Location  Create (at the bottom )

4. Add the required fields and Click submit.

5. It should look like :

6. Now, Click Device Type -> Create

7. Click Submit. Once completed it should look like :

8. Next, Network Resources > Network Devices and AAA Clients.

9. Click Create and fill in the details as below.

10. Click Submit. Page should look like below.

b) Configuring Users.

In this section, we will create local users on ACS. i.e Student-1 and Teacher-1. Student-1 is assigned in group called ―Students‖ and Teacher-1 is assigned in group called ―Teachers‖.

1. Click Users and Identity Stores Identity Groups  Create

2. Once you click submit the page should look like as :

3. Next step is to create and assign users Student-1 and Teacher-1 to their respective groups.

4. Click Users and Identity Stores Identity Groups  Users  Create

5. Similarly Create Teacher-1.

6. Finally, the page should look like :

c) Defining Policy Elements.

In this section, we will define IETF attributes for users.

1. Go to : Policy ElementsAuthorization and Permissions  Network Access Authorization

Profiles  Create


3. Add the IETF attributes.

Tunnel-Type = 64 = VLAN

Tunnel-Medium-Type = 802

Tunnel-Private-Group-ID = 253 (Student-1) and 257 (Teacher-1)

For Group Students:

For Group Teachers:

4. Once both attributes are added the page should look like :

d) Applying Access Policies

In this section we will select which Authentication methods are to be used and how the rules are to be configured. We will create rules based of above steps.

1. Access PoliciesAccess ServicesDefault Network AccessEdit: "Default Network Access"

2. You can Select which EAP method you would like wireless Clients to Authenticate. In our example, we will use PEAP- MSCHAP-V2.

3. Click Submit.


Verify Identity group that you have selected. In our case we will use Internal Users which we created on ACS and then save changes


5. Next verify the Authorization Profile under :

Access Policies Access Services Default Network Access Authorization.

You can customize under what conditions you will allow user access to network and what authorization profile (attributes) you will pass once authenticated. This granularity is only available in ACS5.x . In our example we have selected Location,Device Type, protocol, identity

Group, EAP Authentication Method.

6. Click OK in the window. Save Changes.

7. Next step is to create Rule. If no Rules are defined Client is allowed access without any conditions.

8. Click Create  Rule -1. This Rule is for Student-1

9. Similarly we create a Rule for Teacher-1

10. Save changes. The page should look like.

11. Last step is to do define Service Selection Rules. Use this page to configure a simple or rulebased policy to determine which service to apply to incoming requests. We will have the following rule based in our example.

WLC Configuration

This configuration requires these steps:

Configure the WLC with the Details of the Authentication Server

Configure the Dynamic Interfaces (VLANs)

Configure the WLANs (SSID)

Configure the WLC with the Details of the Authentication Server

It is necessary to configure the WLC so it can communicate with the RADIUS server to authenticate the clients, and also for any other transactions.

Complete these steps:

1. From the controller GUI, click Security.

2. Enter the IP address of the RADIUS server and the Shared Secret key used between the RADIUS server and the WLC.

This Shared Secret key should be the same as the one configured in the RADIUS server.

Configure the Dynamic Interfaces (VLANs)

This procedure explains how to configure dynamic interfaces on the WLC. As explained earlier in this document, the VLAN ID specified under the Tunnel-Private-Group ID attribute of the RADIUS server must also exist in the WLC.

In the example, the Student-1 is specified with the Tunnel-Private-Group ID of 253 (VLAN =253) on the RADIUS server. Similarly, the Teacher-1 is specified with the Tunnel-Private-Group ID of 257

(VLAN =257) on the RADIUS server. See the IETF RADIUS Attributes section of the User Setup window.

From the controller GUI, under the Controller > Interfaces window, the dynamic interface is configured.

1. Click Apply on this window.

This takes you to the Edit window of this dynamic interface (VLAN 253 here).

2. Enter the IP Address and default Gateway of this dynamic interface.

3. Click Apply.

4. Similarly we will create dynamic Interface for VLAN 257 for Teacher-1.

5. Interfaces configured should look like :

Configure the WLANs (SSID)

This procedure explains how to configure the WLANs in the WLC.

Complete these steps:

1. From the controller GUI, choose WLANs > Create New in order to create a new WLAN. The

New WLANs window is displayed.

2. Enter the WLAN ID and WLAN SSID information.

You can enter any name to be the WLAN SSID. This example uses ―goa‖ as the WLAN SSID.

3. Click Apply in order to go to the Edit window of the WLAN goa.

4. Enable the Allow AAA Override in the controller for each WLAN (SSID) configured. The Allow

AAA Override option of a WLAN allows you to configure the WLAN for identity networking. It allows you to apply VLAN tagging, QoS, and ACLs to individual clients based on the returned

RADIUS attributes from the AAA server. In our example we will use it for assigning VLAN to


Most of the configuration for allowing AAA override is done at the RADIUS server. Enabling this parameter allows the controller to accept the attributes returned by the RADIUS server. The controller then applies these attributes to its clients.

Note: When the interface group is mapped to a WLAN and clients connect to the WLAN, the client does not get the IP address in a round robin fashion. The AAA override with interface group is not supported.

Wireless Client Utility Configuration

In our test client we are using Windows 7 Native supplicant with Intel 6300-N card running 14.3 driver version. It is recommended to test using latest drivers from Vendors.

Creating a Profile in WZC – Windows Zero Config:

1. Control Panel  Network and Internet  Manage Wireless Networks.

2. Add

3. Click manually create network Profile.

4. Add the details as configured on the WLC. SSID is case sensitive.

5. Click Next

6. Click Change Connection Settings to double check our settings.

7. In our example, we are not validating Server certificate. If you check this box and are not able to connect, try disabling the feature and test again.

8. Optionally, you can use Windows credentials to log. However in our example we are not going to use that. Click OK.

9. Now Click Advanced settings to configure Username and Password.

Once you have finished testing Student-1 test using Teacher-1. Hit OK.

Your Client utility is ready to connect.

Verify- Student-1

WLC GUI : Monitor  Clients  Select the MAC address.

WLC Radius Stats:

(Cisco Controller) >show radius auth statistics

Authentication Servers:

Server Index..................................... 1

Server Address...................................

Msg Round Trip Time.............................. 1 (msec)

First Requests................................... 8

Retry Requests................................... 0

Accept Responses................................. 1

Reject Responses................................. 0

Challenge Responses.............................. 7

Malformed Msgs................................... 0

Bad Authenticator Msgs........................... 0

Pending Requests................................. 0

Timeout Requests................................. 0

Unknowntype Msgs................................. 0

Other Drops...................................... 0

ACS Logs:

1) View the Hit counts:

If you are checking logs within 15 minutes of authentication, make sure you refresh the HIT count. On the same page, at the bottom you have a tab for ―Hit Count‖.

2) Monitoring and Reports  New pop up window appears  Authentications –Radius –Today.

You can also Click details to verify which Service selection rule was applied.

Verify- Teacher-1

WLC GUI : Monitor  Clients  Select the MAC address.

ACS Logs:

3) View the Hit counts:

If you are checking logs within 15 minutes of authentication, make sure you refresh the HIT count. On the same page, at the bottom you have a tab for ―Hit Count‖.

4) Monitoring and Reports  New pop up window appears  Authentications –Radius –Today.

You can also Click details to verify which Service selection rule was applied.


1) If you run into issues run the following commands on WLC : debug client <mac add of the client> debug aaa all enable show client detail <mac addr>. Verify the policy manager state. show radius auth statistics. Verify the failure reason. debug disable-all . To turn off debugs. clear stats radius auth all. This command is used to clear radius statistics on the WLC.

2) Verify the logs in the ACS and see the failure reason.

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