Server Fault is a question and answer site for system and network administrators. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I'm reading about 802.1X, mainly on Wikipedia, but can't quite get it. So here is a very basic question:

What is meant, when they say that 802.1X is "port-based"?

share|improve this question
A "port", the place where the network wire physically plugs into the switch. – Chris S May 4 '12 at 18:12
So it's all about physical wired ports. 802.11i (wpa2) uses 802.1X as it's access control mechanism. In that context 802.1x is suddenly not port-based at all, or what? That is what made me question my initial understanding. – Tom Atkinson May 4 '12 at 18:41
See Jeff's comment to Lucas' answer. That solves it. – Tom Atkinson May 4 '12 at 18:53
There was no WiFi when the standard was written... so yeah, WiFi changed things a bit. – Chris S May 4 '12 at 19:20
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Well as the standard says:

"Port-based network access control makes use of the physical access characteristics of IEEE 802 LAN infrastructures in order to provide a means of authenticating and authorizing devices attached to a LAN port that has point-to-point connection characteristics, and of preventing access to that port in cases which the authentication and authorization fails. A port in this context is a single point of attachment to the LAN infrastructure."

share|improve this answer
... though that attachment may be a virtual port such as over a wifi connection. It doesn't have to be a direct hardware port. – Jeff Ferland May 4 '12 at 18:38

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.