Businesses should use the Enterprise mode of Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA or WPA2) encryption for their wireless connectivity, instead of the Personal or Pre-Shared Key (PSK) mode. The Enterprise mode uses 802.1X authentication. Wi-Fi users can log into the wireless network with usernames and passwords (or client certificates) instead of long static encryption keys.
The Enterprise mode offers more access control and provides better overall security. However, the downside is that it is much harder to configure. The administrator must set up a RADIUS server and configure the wireless controller and/or access points (APs) with the 802.1X authentication settings. Then end-users must configure their computer with the authentication settings — this is where Quick1X comes in.
Administrators running a domain network with Active Directory can push wireless profiles (including 802.1X settings) with Group Policy to computers. However, this doesn’t help if they aren’t running a Windows Server, have Macs or Linux machines, or end-users are using their own computers and devices. For these instances, administrators can use a third-party solution to distribute and auto-configure the encryption and authentication settings — Quick1X is one of these solutions.
What is Quick1X?
The Windows OSs also include Wired settings, such as Figure 4 shows, which include the general network and 802.1X settings.
To customize the configuration wizard, you can go to the User Interface. There you can input a title for the wizard, company name to display, and logo to display. Plus you can input a Reset Password URL and Help Desk Contact URL, which are given to the end-users when they run into problems.
Throughout the configuration process, I noticed there are no on-screen tips or links to documentation. Some settings need to be explained. Avenda does have a Jumpstart Guide, but even it could be improved with more details on the settings.
Additionally, the navigation of the portal could be improved to highlight that the Applications, Certificates, and User Interface settings are global and apply to all networks.
Generating and deploying the wizard
After I configured a network, I clicked the Deployment tab and hit the button to generate the package.
Again, here it would have been nice to get more on-screen tips or help on deployment options and instructions.
Next, I unzipped and uploaded the files to a web server. Then I visited the URL, like an end-user would do. Figure 5 shows an example. When I clicked the Start button it simply let me download the configuration wizard.
Running the end-user wizard
When I ran the wizard in Windows, I got the screen pictured in Figure 6. To continue, you click Next. If there are multiple networks defined in Quick1X, you’ll be prompted to choose the desired network. If the PEAP or TTLS methods are used, you’ll be prompted to enter a Username and Password.
If any applications were included, it will prompt the user and launch them.
After it configures the network profile in Windows, as shown in Figure 7, you can hit Connect or Finish. I don’t have any real concerns with the wizard and end-user experience; it went smoothly.
Avenda did deliver on their promise of a simple and painless process for end-user configuration. However, I did find a couple items they could improve upon, mostly on the administrator’s side dealing with help/documentation and user-friendliness. Avenda did mention they are working on an Implementation Guide; hopefully this will have more depth. Quick1X’s functionality is also more simple and basic compared to similar solutions from other companies, however it does support NAP.
I recommend considering Quick1X to help configure users for 802.1X, especially if you’re interested in their eTIPS solution.
- Integrates with Network Access Protection (NAP) functionality.
- Can include third-party applications with the end-user wizard.
- Distributes Personal (PSK) mode keys as well.
- Lacking on-screen help or tips for admins.
- Configuration not very user-friendly for admins.