Protected Access Credentials(PAC)

Protected Access Credentials (PACs) are credentials that are distributed to clients for optimized network authentication. PACs can be used to establish an authentication tunnel between the client and the authentication server (the first phase of authentication as described in the "Two-Phase Tunneled Authentication" section). A PAC consists of, at most, three components: a shared secret, an opaque element, and other information.

The shared secret component contains the pre-shared key between the client and authentication server. Called the PAC-Key, this pre-shared key establishes the tunnel in the first phase of authentication.

The opaque component is provided to the client and is presented to the authentication server when the client wants to obtain access to network resources. Called the PAC-Opaque, this component is a variable length field that is sent to the authentication server during tunnel establishment. The EAP server interprets the PAC-Opaque to obtain the required information to validate the client's identity and authentication. The PAC-Opaque includes the PAC-Key and may contain the PAC's client identity.

The PAC might contain other information. Called PAC-Info, this component is a variable length field that is used to provide, at a minimum, the authority identity of the PAC issuer (the server that created the PAC). Other useful but not mandatory information, such as the PAC-Key lifetime, can also be conveyed by the PAC-issuing server to the client during PAC provisioning or refreshment.

PACs are created and issued by a PAC authority, such as Cisco Secure ACS, and are identified by an ID. A user obtains his or her own copy of a PAC from a server, and the ID links the PAC to a profile.

Persistent PACs, such as machine PACs, are stored in the EAP-FAST registry and encrypted. These PACs are also protected with access control lists (ACLs) so only designated users (the owners of the PACs) and members of privileged user groups (for example, administrators) can access them. Machine PACs are stored globally so that all users of a machine can use the PACs.

All PACs are encrypted and tied to the host machine with Microsoft Crypto API (CryptoProtectData). PACs cannot be copied and used on other machines.

All non-persistent PACs, such as User Authorization PACs, are stored in volatile memory and do not persist after reboot or after a user has logged off.
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