Deploying a Windows Server 2008 R2 Network Policy Server

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The Windows Server 2008 R2 server role that handles NAP is the Network Policy Server role. Installing this role on a server effectively makes it an SHV and an Enforcement Server. The specific role added to the Server Role Wizard is called the Network Policy and Access Services role, and includes the following components:
  • Routing and Remote Access Service (RRAS)— The server role that provides for virtual private network (VPN) capabilities, allowing for clients to “tunnel” their communications in an encrypted fashion across an insecure network such as the Internet. The role services included with this role include the Remote Access Service, which provides VPN support, and the Routing service, which provides software-based routing capabilities on the server itself.

  • Host Credential Authorization Protocol (HCAP)— An industry-standard protocol that is used when integrating Microsoft NAP with the Cisco Network Access Control Server. This allows the Windows NPS role to examine Cisco 802.1X access client health.

  • Health Registration Authority (HRA)— A server that distributes health certificates to clients that pass health policy checks. The HRA is only used in Microsoft’s NAP implementation for IPSec enforcement.

  • Network Policy Server— The Windows Server 2008 R2 role that acts as a NAP Health Policy Server and a Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service (RADIUS) server for authentication and authorization.

Exploring NPS Concepts

The Network Policy Server role in Windows Server 2008 R2 allows for the creation of enforcement policies that apply to the following types of network access:

  • Internet Protocol Security (IPSec)— IPSec encryption allows for all communications, even those that would normally be unencrypted, to be highly secured through PKI-based encryption. IPSec can be configured to be required between servers, and a system configured with the NPS role can regulate which clients are allowed as IPSec clients based on their local health.

  • 802.1X authentication— 802.1X is a network-based authentication method that uses PKI-based certificates to authenticate that the user who attaches to the network is who he claims to be. 802.1X authentication is often used on wireless fidelity (Wi-Fi) networks. A system with the NPS role in Windows Server 2008 R2 can add clients to the 802.1X network based on their health status.

  • Virtual private network (VPN) connections— A VPN connection allows for traffic to be sent in an encrypted tunnel across an untrusted network such as the Internet. VPNs are often used by roaming users to connect to the internal local area network (LAN) of an organization. The NPS role includes support for restricting client VPN access based on system health.

  • Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) addresses— One very useful NPS enforcement method is the ability to restrict which clients get DHCP addresses based on their system health. Although this is the easiest NAP policy to set up, this is also the easiest to circumvent as clients could set their own IP addresses.

Understanding RADIUS Support on a Network Policy Server

As previously mentioned, installing the Network Policy and Access Services role adds support for the RADIUS protocol, an industry-standard authentication mechanism supported by a wide range of clients.


The NPS role in Windows Server 2008 R2 is the replacement for the legacy Internet Authentication Service (IAS) role. The old IAS role provided simple RADIUS authentication support to Active Directory sources.

RADIUS authentication allows for Active Directory users to be authenticated using RADIUS authentication, rather than AD DS authentication. This is commonly used in scenarios where VPN access requires RADIUS authentication, or when other devices cannot use AD-based authentication.

RADIUS client support is limited to a maximum of 50 clients and two remote RADIUS server groups with the Standard Edition of Windows Server 2008 R2. Enterprise and Datacenter Editions offer unlimited support. Windows Web Server 2008 R2 does not support NPS.

Installing a Network Policy Server

Installation of the Network Policy and Access Services role installs the Network Policy Server component and the RADIUS role. To install, perform the following steps:

Open Server Manager (Start, All Programs, Administrative Tools, Server Manager).

Click the Add Roles link in the Actions pane.

On the Welcome page, click Next to continue.

From the list of roles to install, select Network Policy and Access Services from the list, and click Next to continue.

Review the information provided on the Welcome page, and click Next to continue.

On the Select Role Services page, shown in Figure 1, select which role services to install on the server. Click Next to continue.

Figure 1. Installing the Network Policy and Access Services roles.


Adding the Health Registration Authority role service requires the IIS Web Server Role to be installed on the server. Selecting the role service might prompt you to install these services as well.

On the Certificate Authority page, choose whether to install a local CA for issuing health certificates or to use an existing remote CA. If using a remote CA, make sure it is dedicated to issuing only health certificates. In this example, we install a local CA; this will install AD Certificate Services (AD CS) on the system. Click Next to continue.

Select whether to configure the HRA to allow only domain-authenticated users to get health certificates, as shown in Figure 2. This can improve security, but might not be wanted in environments with untrusted domains or with workgroup members. Click Next to continue.

Figure 2. Choosing HRA client authentication requirements.

If installing AD CS on the server, the wizard will lead you through the AD CS installation process.

If installing the IIS role on the server, the wizard will lead you through the IIS installation process.

On the Confirmation page, click Install.

Click Close when the wizard completes.

  •  Understanding Network Access Protection (NAP) in Windows Server 2008 R2
  •  Programming .NET Security : Cryptographic Keys Explained
  •  Windows Server 2008 : Transport-Level Security - Using IPSec Encryption with Windows Server 2008 R2
  •  Windows Server 2008 : Transport-Level Security - Active Directory Rights Management Services
  •  Understanding Active Directory Certificate Services (AD CS) in Windows Server 2008 R2
  •  Deploying a Public Key Infrastructure with Windows Server 2008 R2
  •  Introduction to Transport-Level Security in Windows Server 2008 R2
  •  Windows Server 2008 : Using Windows Server Update Services
  •  Programming .NET Security : Programming XML Signatures (part 3) - Verifying an XML Signature
  •  Programming .NET Security : Programming XML Signatures (part 2) - Embedding Objects in the Signature
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