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Cisco Employee
Cisco Employee


ISE 2.1 introduced a new feature called Easy Connect where Microsoft Active Directory (AD) logins are used to passively map user information onto existing network sessions initiated with MAC Authentication Bypass (MAB).  This is similar to a Centralized Web Authentication (CWA) or CWA Chaining scenario where ISE combines an active MAB or 802.1X authentication session with the identity obtained from a Web Authentication.  ISE leverages the identity and group memberships from the passive identity (PassiveID) to be used as conditions to assign policy.

The benefits of Easy Connect over 802.1X are:

  • No 802.1X supplicant required for user authentication
  • No Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) required for trusted credential transport
  • Can be used as primary user identity or supplement another active identity such as MAB or 802.1X


Get Started

How to Configure Easy Connect on ISE 2.1


802.1X vs Easy Connect Comparison

  802.1X Easy Connect
Requires Microsoft Active Directory No Yes, with WMI access allowed from ISE
Identity Stores
  • ISE Local User Accounts
  • RADIUS server Proxy
  • Microsoft Active Directory
  • LDAP
  • ODBC
  • Token server
Microsoft Active Directory
Machine Authentication Methods
  • Certificates (EAP-TLS, etc.)
  • Windows Domain Credential
User Authentication Methods
  • Username + Password
  • One-Time Password (OTP) tokens
  • Certificates (EAP-TLS, etc.)
  • Protected Access Credential (PAC)  such as EAP-FAST)
Kerberos User login - not Machine
User Logoff Detection Yes.
Note: Fast User Switching (FUS) not detected
No - not detected via WMI, but AD login from different user will overwrite Passive Identity for endpoint.
Note: Fast User Switching (FUS) not detected.
Session Expiration RADIUS Session-Timeout (configurable in ISE authorization policy results) User Session age (configurable in ISE Active Directory settings)
Supported Operating Systems
  • Windows
  • MacOS
  • Linux
  • Microsoft Windows
  • MacOS (with Login Option for Network Server)
  • Native OS supplicant
  • Cisco AnyConnect
None (Microsoft Windows OS)
Network Devices
  • Wired Switches
  • Wireless controllers
  • Wired switches
  • Wireless controllers not QA tested.
NAD Configuration 802.1X
See the ISE Design Guides for best practice switchport configs
MAB or 802.1X (required for ISE to stitch RADIUS session with PassiveID info)
Enforcement VLANs, dACLs, SGTs VLANs, dACLs, SGTs
Identity & Session published to pxGrid Yes Yes
Scale Depends on the Authentication Method's encryption requirements and round-trips.
See ISE Performance & Scale



Enable Easy Connect

How to Configure Easy Connect on ISE 2.1

To enable Easy Connect in ISE:

  1. Navigate to Administration > System > Deployment > (node) > General Settings
  2. Enable Passive Identity Service on PSN
    Note: It is recommended to enable Easy Connect on two PSN nodes for high availability but no more than two.
    Note: Dedicated PSNs are recommended for Easy Connect Passive Identity Mapping
  3. Navigate to Administration > PassiveID > AD Domain Controllers
  4. Select Add and provide the credentials to your Active Directory domain controllers for PassiveID. Alternatively, you may Import a list of AD controllers via a CSV file.
  5. You may customize your Passive Identity caching options under Active Directory General Settings.
    The User Session Timer is reset when there is a 1) new AD login with the same username or 2) Kerberos ticket renewal


Easy Connect Authorization Policies

Here are a few examples of ISE authorization policies using the PassiveID attributes from Easy Connect :






Hi Thomas,


Thanks for the wonderful article.


May i please check with 2 things :

1. Does Easy Connect Supported on Wireless network also (CISCO AP & WLC).

2. Can Easy Connect & BYOD Solution co-exist on the same ISE box (With Different AUTHE & AUHTO Profile).




James L

When will support for Mac come about?

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