Network access determines the security situation of your data and resources. When you limit user access, you narrow the volume of data that can be accessed, and incidentally compromised, even without having to pass through any of your network defenses.
Network access control (NAC) is a critical aspect of network security as it enables organizations to control the diverse access points to a corporate network. This approach to data security helps to prevent them from being compromised and attacked.
Network Access Control Defined
Network Access Control (NAC) is a network security tool that companies utilize to control how corporate network data and resources are accessed. Gartner says NAC technologies help organizations implement policies restricting network access by user-oriented devices and the Internet of Things (IoT).
And some of the tops highlighted benefits of NAC include increasing network performance, increasing network visibility, and cutting down on cyber attacks. In essence, you can dispel fears over your IoT devices overrunning your network or about your significant network security audit.
How Does Network Access Control work?
To understand how best to benefit from the NAC security technology, you’ll need to know how it works. NAC is of different kinds and performs diverse functions based on the needs and expectations of an organization for performing daily operations.
1. Agent-Based Network Access Control
This NAC unit has installations operating from the user endpoint, offering more secure network resources and implementing secure access from the user’s end. It runs steadily in the background of the access device to ensure complete compliance with security policies and then updates the policy server periodically.
2. Agentless Network Access Control
This NAC does not need to run with added installations. Instead, it ensures compliance on both endpoints before access is granted to a potential user. This NAC type simply assesses traffic from the individual network and authorizes based on that. However, this approach can lead to porosity.
3. Hardware-Based Network Access Control
A hardware-based network access control functions via an installed network appliance and works along with network traffic. The hardware-based network access needs to be changed in its operations and infrastructure to offer a potential access request defined access. However, it has a higher possibility of failing compared to. other control systems because to implement demands considerable configuration.
4. Dynamic Network Access Control
This network system is the most straightforward deployment method for controlling how users access a network. Dynamic network access control doesn’t require any adjustments in network configuration or installed hardware or software appliances. Before approving user access, the system first restricts the entry and communicates to the central policy server.
Benefits of Using Network Access Control
1. NAC Boosts Network Access Visibility
Network Access visibility is one of Network Access Control benefits. A company network asset can become highly vulnerable to attacks when user activities cannot be monitored over the network. If users accessing the network aren’t watched to see where they are going or what they are doing on the network, it would create free activities that would jeopardize sensitive data and open doors for diverse attacks. Click here to learn more about the benefits of Network Access Control.
NAC allows users to monitor and identify who is accessing a network, what they are doing there, which aspect they were when they visited, and in general, how a device or user is accessing the network.
Questions the Network Access Control answers include the Who, What, Where, When, and How of the access request.
Who: Who is requesting access to the internal network? Are they recognized users in your active directory?
What is the end-user finding valuable information on the network and building a connection with?
Where: Where is the connection built from? Is it a public space, a cafeteria, hotel, office, dorms, or room?
When: When is access being generated to the network? With this, you’ll also be able to know when your users are most active and least active, helping you circulate bandwidth better.
How: How are your end-users accessing the network? Are they leveraging smartphones, tablets, laptops, or other devices? This part also answers the question of what IoT devices/systems are visiting the network. These include scanners, security cameras, printers, vending machines, HVAC, POS systems, and so on. In a situation where each employee in your company accesses the corporate network using an average of 3 devices, combined with the IoT devices your business has, then it is essential to understand how the devices access your systems.
2. NAC Frustrates Cyber Attacks
A report showed that the COVID era saw a rise of about 600% in cybercrime. This means that any potential vulnerability in the network can be leveraged by hackers to steal data. However, NAC frustrates this access by limiting the scope of malware and role-based access control.
RBAC, a Role-based Access Contro feature assigns the proper corresponding role to every device/user. The functions assigned are based on the part of the users in the company.
NAC uses security standards’ authorization and authentication process to frustrate cyber threats. Authentication includes assessing the user’s credentials to determine if they are eligible for access or not, while authorization is when the system considers the security policies to either grant access to a user or deny it. A user must pass both levels to get access to a network.
Network Access Control also frustrates hackers’ activities by limiting the scope of malicious behavior. It secures unauthorized access and secures intellectual property from being improperly accessed.
3. NAC Solves the Challenge with Expanding Network
Network Access Control solves the problems faced with expanding remote work, third-party collaborations, and IoT connectivity by mapping out every connection built over the network and executing network security policies to secure every authorized user and device from attacks.
4. NAC Improves Network Efficiency
One of the top benefits of NAC is to improve network performance and control. On many occasions, business owners add multiple SSIDs for their employees to get around by implementing a NAC tool.
While this may work at a basic level, without the NAC granularity, every SSID used consumes bandwidth, crippling your network performance. However, implementing NAC has improved companies’ bandwidth by 40-50%. It also allows the creation of role-specific bandwidth contracts limit or reserve rates based on user roles. Hence, NAC is also a performance enhancement, not just a security enhancement.