Remote Authentication Dial In User Service (RADIUS) is a networking protocol that provides centralized Authentication, Authorization, and Accounting (AAA) management for computers to connect and use a network service. RADIUS was developed by Livingston Enterprises, Inc., in 1991 as an access server authentication and accounting protocol and later brought into the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) standards.
Because of the broad support and the ubiquitous nature of the RADIUS protocol, it is often used by ISPs and enterprises to manage access to the Internet or internal networks, wireless networks, and integrated e-mail services. These networks may incorporate modems, DSL, access points, VPNs, network ports, web servers, etc.
RADIUS is a client/server protocol that runs in the application layer, using UDP as transport. The Remote Access Server, the Virtual Private Network server, the Network switch with port-based authentication, and the Network Access Server (NAS), are all gateways that control access to the network, and all have a RADIUS client component that communicates with the RADIUS server. The RADIUS server is usually a background process running on a UNIX or Microsoft Windows server. RADIUS serves three functions:
- to authenticate users or devices before granting them access to a network,
- to authorize those users or devices for certain network services and
- to account for usage of those services.