Network access control (NAC) is a critical security solution for modern businesses. It combines device visibility and profiling with security policies to ensure that only approved devices connect to a proprietary business network.
Increasing reliance on remote work and Bring-Your-Own-Device practices has made it necessary for CISOs to unify endpoint security technology, user or system authentication, and security enforcement within a single platform. Here are some key benefits of an NAC solution.
One of the advantages of network access control is security. Network access control helps prevent data breaches by tracking users and devices and ensuring they adhere to security policies. This prevents cybercriminals from exploiting vulnerable devices and user accounts, which can lead to costly fines or financial losses.
NAC systems can also help limit access to specific areas of the corporate network. For example, a visitor may connect to the company intranet. Still, they can only access internal files or sensitive customer data if their role authorizes them. This prevents hackers from stealing data and then spreading malware throughout the network.
Additionally, NAC can track and protect Internet of Things (IoT) devices. This includes devices such as smart sensors that monitor utilities, security systems, and more. NAC solutions can scan and identify these devices, automatically authenticate them and assign security policies. They can also encrypt, quarantine, or deny access to the corporate network if they don’t comply with security policies.
Many NAC solutions offer pre-admission control, which applies security rules to a device before it’s admitted to the corporate network. These rules can include authentication, profiling, and granular segmentation. They can also update those policies as people and devices change.
This type of NAC is beneficial for BYOD and other remote and mobile workforces. It’s also helpful for granting temporary access to non-employees such as consultants, vendors, and partners.
Malicious actors constantly devise new methods to breach network defenses and gain access to sensitive data. With more employees working remotely, Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) policies, and an ever-expanding collection of Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices entering the workplace, it’s challenging for CISOs to keep up with granting access and identifying those devices that are allowed on the network.
Network access control systems act as sentinels that stand guard at the gates of an organization’s digital infrastructure, ensuring that only those authorized to enter can pass through.
Most NAC solutions utilize pre-admission control, meaning that devices are assessed, authenticated, and admitted to a network before any user can connect. These solutions also provide visibility into all devices connected to an organization’s networks so that any abnormal behavior can be spotted quickly and action is taken.
NAC also provides the capability to grant access on a per-user or device basis. This is especially helpful for organizations that must comply with strict cybersecurity regulations like GDPR and HIPAA, which require limiting unauthorized access to their networks and data.
This could be as simple as allowing contractors to use their own devices for work but preventing them from connecting to internal databases that contain personally identifiable information. Alternatively, it may be as complex as implementing role-based access control to allow non-employees to touch but not have access to the most critical parts of the internal network.
Network access control is designed to limit the availability of network resources to devices that follow an organization’s security policy. This prevents the spread of malware by blocking and isolating non-compliant machines without administrator attention, thus mitigating security threats.
The solution can enforce pre-admission and post-admission access controls and change policies on the fly during high-stakes situations like ransomware outbreaks or data breaches.
Malicious actors continuously develop new techniques to breach an organization’s defenses and gain unauthorized access to sensitive data. These new risks require a more fortified perimeter, where network access control comes in. The controls act as sentinels, standing guard at the gates to an organization’s digital infrastructure and ensuring that only authorized personnel can enter.
The visibility features of network access control enable organizations to identify all devices and users on their network, even those granted access to a particular area. This helps maintain a robust security posture by providing an overview of the assets and identifying anomalies.
This can be especially helpful during compliance audits when an organization must demonstrate that it follows stringent government norms and data privacy regulations. It also gives an IT department confidence that their deployed systems protect their data and other infrastructure from unauthorized infiltration.
Network access control is a good fit for organizations managing diverse users and devices. It combines pre-admission endpoint security policy checks with post-admission controls over where users and devices can go on the network, what they can do, and how long they can stay there. This approach helps prevent data breaches by reducing an organization’s digital attack surface.
Authenticating and authorizing various endpoints (including laptops, smartphones, tablets, printers, and the Internet of Things) is crucial for organizations dealing with remote or mobile workers, guests and contractors, vendors, and temporary workers.
NAC also provides visibility into a network’s assets, providing a solid tool for incident response and helping CISOs understand what is on their network to make informed decisions about handling threats.
Unlike other IT security solutions, network access control is a proactive solution that works on the LAN and WAN by finding devices and connecting them to networks based on preset criteria.
This includes user roles, device types, and other information. It then takes action if the device violates security policies. For example, if a device isn’t updated on security patches or is suspected of being infected with malware, it will be denied connection to the network.