Network Engineer

Network Engineer

What Is Network Access Control?

by

Syed Ali

|

August 13, 2020

Network Access Control (NAC) is a term that effectively describes itself. If you have a network,, then the NAC controls who has access to what parts of that network and when. It is, primarily, a security feature that is designed to ensure that whoever accesses the network has the right authorization to do so. NAC solutions go on to enforce the policies of controlling devices, data, and user access to them.

The Importance of Having an NAC Solution

NAC Network Access Control is essential for ensuring that the users who gain access to networks, data, devices, and software resources are properly authorized to do so. In many cases, this is fundamentally a security concern, making sure that sensitive data and functions do not fall in the hands of people who might purposefully or inadvertently use them.

Network NAC is important, for that reason, for its ability to manage the policies that define and execute access requirements, making sure that there is a consistent approach to access from various endpoints. It makes sure that any endpoint connecting to a network adheres to a security state baseline, while also allowing administrators to grant, revoke, and quarantine access on a case-by-case basis.

How An NAC Solution Works

Network access control (NAC) works on wired and wireless networks by finding and identifying the different devices that are connected to and can access the existing system. When setting up an NAC network security solution, administrators will determine which protocols are put in place, effectively dictating how devices and users are authorized for the right level of authorization. This process should be done in large part by the digital security personnel of the company.

The rules by which an NAC network admission control works can differ greatly. Different rules can be made based on the device used, the location accessed from, the access rights of various individuals, as well as the specific data and resources being accessed. As mentioned, administrators of this system can decide to open, close, and quarantine access on a regular basis, too.

How NACs are Growing Essential with the Rise of BYOD

Many business owners and independent contractors are living with the reality that not everyone is accessing a network from the same controlled eco-system, such as the office environment with all of the readily available digital devices expected to be found there. BYOD, or Bring Your Own Device, is a policy that is widely implemented not only physically, but through remote working arrangements, as well. It has also made Network Access Control (NAC) essential.

If an employer or manager intends to allow workers to access networks with any device, then they need controls to ensure both the user and device do not compromise the safety of the network. As such, outsider devices and remote workers can be controlled to ensure they are configured for proper data protection, use updated security software, and don’t open other vulnerabilities in the network by acting an insecure endpoint.

The Road To Network Access Control

Network Access Control has to be built holistically, with considerations made for all of the business’s IT scope, including the devices that are both kept internally and brought in as part of a BYOB policy. It’s also a tool that might incorporate protocols and solutions previously in place, such as authorization processes to prevent intrusion. As such, a business may already have some of the policies that would inform their NAC use in place. NAC can simply serve, in this case, as the means by which it is unified. Many modern NAC solutions take into account not only the wide range of devices that may need to be made compatible in a safe way with existing networks, but also the comprehensive protection the network needs in terms of commonly used protocols and tools.

Top Network Access Control (NAC) Solutions

Top Network Access Control (NAC) Solutions
  • Cisco ISE: An NAC network access control Cisco option that allows for up to 500,000 individual sessions with NAC oversight, supporting major enterprise-level networks.
  • Impulse SafeConnect: A highly flexible solution with features like the automated discovery of new devices
  • FortiNAC: A versatile NAC solution that also has specialized NAC options for IoT devices.
  • Aucotnet BICS: As well as offering NAC for over 60,000 endpoints, it also offers asset management and network monitoring options.

Which NAC solutions work best for a business depends largely on the unique needs of that business. However, in a modern digital workplace setting, it is clear that Network Access Control is becoming more and more critical to data security.

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