A Guide to Choosing the Best Radius Server Solution for Your Business

If you are determined to enhance your organization’s cybersecurity and enforce better authentication practices, investing in robust and functional radius server software might be just the right move. However, before you rush to buy the top-shelf, feature-packed RADIUS solution that costs a fortune, take time to analyze your immediate business needs and financial capabilities. Perhaps, you’d be just as well off with a sturdy, low-cost alternative, of which there are many?
To help you make up your mind and also explore the subject a bit deeper, here is what you need to know about radius servers, their operating principles, and more.

Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service, aka RADIUS, is an application-layer network protocol whose job is to connect clients with servers. Thus, a radius server and a radius client are the two most essential components of the RADIUS ecosystem.
A RADIUS server is a process that runs in the background via a UNIX or Windows server and allows you to decide who will have access to your network and who will not. In other words, it is a type of server that enables centralized authentication and accounting for your network users.
A RADIUS client is a network device (i.e., a switch or a router) that verifies users trying to access the RADIUS server.

How do these interact?
In practice, the RADIUS protocol acts as a sort of virtual bouncer. Any user trying to connect to the RADIUS client will have their request sent to the RADIUS server first. If the request gets authenticated and authorized by the server, the connection will be allowed.
To know who is or isn’t allowed to connect to a RADIUS client, a RADIUS server compares the user’s credentials and digital certificates against a list of user accounts authorized for remote network access via a dial-up connection, Wi-Fi hotspot, or VPN connection. The use of RADIUS servers is necessary since it enables organizations to protect the safety and confidentiality of their networks and users.
The key benefits of using a RADIUS server for authentication, authorization, and accounting (AAA) purposes are as follows:
  • Centralized management of the authentication and authorization for computers that seek to access the network and use the services it provides.
  • Controlled access to the Internet, internal networks, wireless networks, or embedded email services.
  • Enhanced reporting and tracking capabilities.
  • Personalized network access restrictions/permissions based on the user.
  • Uniquely encrypted sessions prevent unauthorized access to private or sensitive information.
  • Used together with RADIUS authentication and authorization or independently, RADIUS accounting capabilities help collect valuable data on the network usage for the purposes of monitoring, billing, and others.
Top-3 RADIUS Server Solutions Worth Looking Into
There are many powerful and robust open-source RADIUS server solutions for multiple OS platforms. Each one of the three best open-source and proprietary software products listed below will help you identify and verify users easily, control how much network access they should be allowed to have, and account for all of their actions on the network.
1. daloRADIUS
Written in PHP for both Windows and Linux, daloRADIUS is a handy and manageable web-based RADIUS administration tool designed to make managing PPPoE RADIUS servers and network access servers easier. This expert open-source software solution offers user management, reporting, accounting and billing features, Google Maps integration for geo-locating, multiple database system support, etc.
2. CloudRadius
The CloudRadius server platform is a scalable, reliable, and secure AAA radius billing solution used by ISPs. The most prominent features of CloudRadius include subscriber account management, invoices/payments/billing management, and others.
Available for Linux, UNIX, and Windows, FreeRADIUS is a fine RADIUS suite with outstanding AAA capabilities. The solution can be customized according to your unique business requirements. It includes the radius server, a client library with BSD licenses, a PAM library, and an Apache server module.
Hydra Billing is an advanced and flexible recurring billing and subscription management solution for ISPs, telcos, and digital service providers of any size. The software performs tasks related to accounting of subscribers and contracts, billing of communication services, and invoicing. Hydra utilizes RADIUS (FreeRADIUS server) for subscriber authentication by IP, port, and VLAN ID and relies on RADIUS accounting to monitor subscriber traffic.