Authentication Protocols Provide Additional Security for Console Server Management Applications

When implementing an out of band management solution, it’s important to make certain that remote access to console port command functions is adequately protected. Obviously, this means that your console server management ( unit should include basic security features such as password protection. But in order to properly ensure that sensitive command functions are protected from unauthorized access, your console server management device should also support one or more of the popular remote authentication protocols.

The are many reasons why user authentication protocols are important in out of band management applications. While password security features generally just provide assurance that each user has a valid account and password, authentication protocols go a step further in ensuring that each potential user is indeed who they claim to be. When properly configured, a good authentication protocol will check user data against a master list before allowing access to command functions. Most security professionals agree that the best approach to network security is to include several layers of security challenges that must be overcome in order to gain access, and the combination of password security and authentication presents a formidable challenge for unauthorized users who may be attempting to gain access to devices that they have no legitimate business accessing.

Although support for one authentication protocol is a good start, it’s more helpful if the console server management unit offers multiple different authentication protocols. When a console server management device supports multiple authentication protocols this makes it easier to adapt the device to the requirements of a wider range of potential console server users. The most commonly encountered authentication protocols in most industries are LDAP, TACACS+, Kerberos and RADIUS; if a console server management product supports these four authentication protocols, this generally provides compatibility with the majority of users who need secure access to out of band management functions.

When a crashed device at a remote network equipment site brings network communication to a halt, an intelligently deployed console server management unit can save the day by providing quick, reliable access to console port command functions on remote network elements. Often, all it takes to get a troublesome network element up and running again are a few quick commands or a reboot. But as important and valuable as the capabilities provided by a console server management device can be, it’s even more important to make certain that access to critical console port command functions is adequately protected from unauthorized access. The best way to ensure that your out of band management solution is safe from unauthorized access, is to make certain to choose a console server management unit that supports both basic security functions such as password protection, as well as authentication protocols such as RADIUS, Kerberos, TACACS+ and LDAP.

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