To assess 802.1X/NAC support, we developed six scenarios that describe roles a switch might play as part of the NAC infrastructure. In this case we attached the switch to a Windows 2003 server running Juniper Steel-Belted Radius Enterprise Edition 6.1 (SBR). The SBR configuration used Windows Active Directory credentials to authenticate users.
In the first scenario, the switch places an authenticated client (in all cases, a PC running Windows XP Professional and Juniper Odyssey client software) into a previously configured VLAN. The second case is like the first, but requires authentication of multiple clients attached to a single port. In the third case, the switch dynamically assigns a VLAN after authentication. In the fourth case, the switch dynamically applies an access control list after authentication. In the fifth case, the switch places a client into a guest or restricted VLAN upon authentication failure. Finally, the sixth case determines whether a switch port concurrently supports 802.1X and media access control authentication support.
To assess storm control, we used common attack techniques such as broadcast and TCP SYN flooding as generated by a Mu Dynamics Mu-4000 security analyzer and by Spirent TestCenter. We configured the Juniper switch to limit forwarding rates of attack traffic, and verified these limits using real-time rate counters in Spirent TestCenter.
We measured power consumption using Fluke 322 and Fluke 335 clamp meters. This test involved three measurements: AC line voltage; AC amperage when idle; and AC amperage when fully loaded. We fully loaded the switch control and data planes by configuring Spirent TestCenter to offer traffic at line rate to all ports consisting of IPv4 packets with IP options set. We derived wattage by multiplying voltage and amperage.
Our tests of switch manageability, security and usability had objective and subjective components. In the objective component, we determined which management methods the switch supported over IPv4 and IPv6, as well as its ability to conform to best security practices (for example, by disabling vulnerable services such as telnet and enabling secure service such as SSHv2). We also determined which management methods were enabled by default, and which could be enabled/disabled by users. In addition, we determined whether erasing configuration files would remove all personally identifiable information, a regulatory requirement and security best practice.
The subjective part of our assessment consisted of our judgments on ease of accomplishing these and all other tests described here.
To assess the final area, switch features, we asked vendors to complete a detailed questionnaire. We did not verify every answer to this questionnaire.
Newman is president of Network Test, an independent test lab in the US. He can be reached at email@example.com.