Captive Portal

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What Does Captive Portal Mean?

A captive portal is a webpage that a user must view and interact with before being given access needs to a public network.

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It is mainly used for authentication purposes and is usually in place for free Wifi hot spots, business centers, airports, lounges and lobbies. A captive portal also can restrict users on a public network on the basis of usage and services they can render.

Techopedia Explains Captive Portal

Features of Captive Portal:

  • Most captive portal keeps an idle and hard time out, i.e. a minimum time that a user has by which to interact or use services, in order to maintain basic level of security.
  • Only selected MAC or IP addresses are allowed to access the network.
  • Can place bandwidth restrictions on users.
  • Different user authentication choices are provided along with https authentication.
  • Capable of providing customizable content on the portal page.
  • Allows for local user management options
  • Requires customers to read and accept the acceptable usage policy.
  • All Internet traffic is blocked until the user finishes the authentication process. In cases of a logout or other technical issues, a redirection url is provided.
  • Can indirectly help in winning more customers for business, especially when free Wifi is provided.
  • Browsing patterns also can be indirectly be captured using the same.
  • Can help in generating revenue. The customizable page can be shown with deals and advertisements. Another way is to make customer pay for usage of the Internet plan.
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Margaret Rouse
Senior Editor
Margaret Rouse
Senior Editor

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.