Private PSK (PPSK) Overview


  • MESHdesk and APdesk now include support for Private PSKs.
  • This feature has been available from some vendors for a while although each vendor has their own unique implementation and sometimes they also have their own terminology.
    • Cisco calls it Identity PSK.
    • Aruba calls it Multiple Pre-Shared Key (MPSK).
    • Ruckus calls it Dynamic PSK.
  • Some of the names and technologies have been branded and trademarked.
  • This feature provides two main functions.
    • The ability for each device that connects to a single SSID to have a unique WPA2 Shared Key.
    • The option for each device to be assigned to a predefined VLAN after authentication.


Your next question might be “OK, so why would I want to use this feature?” or even “Where do you use this feature?”

  • The Private PSK allows you to use secure, device-bound credentials.
  • This allows clients to securely authenticate and join the network using a specific device and PSK combination.
  • This enhances security and deployment flexibility for headless IoT devices.
  • Optional dynamic VLAN assignment further enhances the security and manageability.
  • RADIUSdesk is used to centrally manage device and PSK matching.
  • A PSK on the device owner's profile is the most generic solution.
  • A more granular option will be a PSK on the device owner.
  • Finally there is an option for a PSK on the device itself.
  • Other features included with RADIUSdesk are available also to use:
    • Future date activation.
    • Expiry date.
    • Time slots when the network can be used by the device.
  • One SSID can support all these features.
  • Using one SSID improves bandwidth utilization and provides a simplified user experience.
  • The easy to use on-boarding Captive Portal minimize support calls.


  • We will split this into two categories. One for small deployments and another for large deployments.

Small deployments

  • In a small deployment you need a minimum of one Access Point.
  • Private PSK is also supported in the mesh networks managed by MESHdesk.
  • You don't need any VLAN aware equipment, the VLAN assignment will be internal.
  • You will typically have:
    • A Single SSID that is configured for Private PSK security.
    • The On-boarding Captive Portal.
    • A LAN bridge
    • Zero or more NAT+DHCP networks
    • Zero or more OpenVPN bridges.
  • Includes small offices or home deployments

Large deployments (MDU - Multi-dwelling building, Apartments, Hotels. etc)

  • With large deployments you can potentially have thousands of Access Points all centrally managed using MESHdesk and APdesk.
  • These deployments will include working together with other components to provide an integrated solution.
  • You will typically have
    • A common SSID that is configured for Private PSK security on all the Access Points.
    • External / Central on-boarding Captive Portal.
    • Multiple VLAN enabled switches.
    • A firewall that hosts multiple networks, each of which is linked to a different VLAN.
  • Includes Multiple Dwelling Units (MDU), Schools, hotels and conference facilities and WiFi networks with IOT devices.
  • You might have noticed that the Access Points in the picture are the Aruba AP105.
  • RADIUSdesk provides a solution for networking and does not sell hardware.
  • The Aruba AP105 along with many other older and current hardware are supported by OpenWrt and can thus be used in your deployment.
  • No vendor lock-in :-)

Why not 802.1x?

  • WPA2 Enterprise are definitely more secure but there are two issues which usually turn people off from implementing it.
  • Certificate management. The Certificate Authority (CA)'s certificate needs to be installed on the client connecting.
  • Not all WiFi devices support it.
    • Many IOT devices do not support WPA2-Enterprise
    • Many printers and WiFi cameras do not support WPA2-Enterprise.
  • RADIUSdesk along with MESHdesk and APdesk however also offer WPA2 Enterprise support should you wish to rather implement it instead of Private PSK.