Network Access Control  – Security Boulevard | #itsecurity | #infosec


The recent variant of Covid has ensured that the pandemic is here to stay, and it has halted the intention of organizations to open up any sooner. It means that remote-based services need robust network security in the long run to protect and authenticate their devices. Network Access Control is just as it sounds, a method of controlling access to the network. It’s achieved by having a means of identifying users and devices and authorizing (or denying) varying levels of access to the network.

Network Access Control (NAC) is the need of corporations to strengthen their network by protecting their employee devices from unauthorized entities such as hackers and spyware. There are a variety of ways of controlling access to a network. Almost always, it’s achieved with 802.1x (also known as WPA2-Enterprise) and enterprise network infrastructure (firewalls, switches, gateways, access points). NAC can take on many forms, such as secure digital certificates used extensively by many satisfied SecureW2 customers.

In this article, we’ll be examining how NAC works and its benefits.

Network Access Control Solutions

Network access control (NAC)  consists of techniques applied to computer security to unify endpoint security technologies with the end goal of restricting access to viruses, spyware, and similar attack vectors. NAC-based services can enhance overall network security for any company by excluding unauthorized users or devices from private networks or domains. 802.1x is the heart of NAC, and it’s a networking protocol that allows individual users and devices to have their own unique credentials/certificates, which then allows for unique levels of network access.

Access is decided by a server (called a RADIUS server) that will choose to either accept or deny network access and apply policies that will decide how much access each user/device is allowed to have and send this data to the switches and access points which will open a port for network access. Lastly, the RADIUS server will “Account” for all the network access activity and optionally forward the information to the network’s firewall. 

An organization’s network should have an appropriate management program to control wireless data traffic as part of its security compliance requirements. A wide variety of NAC software is available for this exact purpose, and they perform various functions with network-based computers. Network operators utilize NAC solutions to specify endpoint security policies for devices. 

NAC Use Cases

Organizations need to ensure their NAC policies include these elements:

  • Internet of Things (IoT)
  • BYODs
  • Vendors
  • Healthcare Security

Internet of Things

Recent developments in the field of machine learning and embedded systems have enabled enterprises to enhance their connectivity via IoT devices in multiple domains. It has exponentially increased the entry ports of various devices connected to the network.

Unfortunately, hackers can cache these weaker links to attack the organization’s servers. NAC addresses this issue by authenticating these IoT devices and providing optimum protection to these overlooked vulnerabilities. 

BYOD

Remote-based jobs have opened various dimensions of businesses and allowed employees to work by themselves using their personal devices, such as smartphones and other mobile devices. It poses a serious challenge to corporate network security as hackers can get access to numerous endpoint devices on the network.

NAC tools can secure these endpoint devices from various risks. It also makes users adhere to the organization’s access policies.

Vendors

Many organizations collaborate with various service providers, which might require network sharing for a smoother experience. Sometimes it’s necessary to provide network access to an outsider or vendor, which can open up a few loopholes for cybercriminals to cache on.

A NAC System acts as a rescuer here by providing policies third parties must follow to access the network, such as using a VPN. Network Access Control makes sure that there are reasonable restrictions to these external devices and that each device is in line with the organization’s security policy.

Healthcare Security

The pandemic’s casualties have emphasized the need to focus more on strengthening the existing security controls of medical devices. Global need for vaccines will surely increase in the future, which will lead to nations sharing critical healthcare data.

NAC solutions offer concrete protection to shared medical data and records,  preventing unauthorized access. Furthermore, NAC solutions provide healthcare facilities with critical network visibility to ensure resources are only accessed by the people who need them.

Benefits of Network Access Control System

Here are just a few of the reasons for deploying NAC for your network security

  • NAC enables corporations to have a well-defined set of variables for authorizing and authenticating access requests made by different users through its network access control policy.
  • Network Access Control enables network administrators to utilize multi-factor authentication (MFA) to authenticate users instead of traditional methods such as passwords or IP address-based authentication.
  • NAC provides deep protection to individual components of the network access server by utilizing innovative encryption techniques.
  • Network Access Control helps the organization segment groups and policies of their employees in an organized manner according to their network security infrastructure needs.

Who Should Invest in Network Access Control (NAC)?

NAC solutions are designed for business applications involving numerous devices being used simultaneously for communication. Without network access control, using BYODs in this scenario increases your risk since you otherwise have little control over users’ personal devices.

NAC technology indeed requires some initial investment, but the solution generally proves its worth after a few years. The NAC solution addresses emerging technical challenges that pose serious threats to IT security experts. It allows access to only the authorized users in the organization and restricts access to those users only.

Types of Network Access Control

NAC is generally classified based on the timing of its NAC solutions, which fall into two different categories: pre-admission and post-admission.

  • Pre-Admission NAC:

    As the name suggests, this type of network access control performs its action before granting access to the request made by users and devices. It permits the user only if the request made to access the network complies with the policies of the organization.

  • Post-admission NAC:

    This type of NAC usually takes action within a network only when endpoint users or devices try to access the network access server components in the system. It generally acts as backup protection if the pre-admission NAC fails to perform in the primary stage. Here the users need to verify their identity to receive access privileges.

How does NAC Work?

As either software or concept, NAC’s inner workings are exhaustive, which involves identifying and authenticating various devices in both wired or wireless networks. NAC varies according to the nature and orientation of the organization. It can also vary greatly depending on numerous factors, such as physical infrastructure, locations, internal resources, and the data and resources of an organization to be accessed.

Since there are multiple ways to practice Network Access Control, a good network administrator generally adopts Role-based access control (RBAC) to strengthen network security. It enables the organization to group the employees and policies according to their designated roles in a judicial way. RBAC is an efficient way to categorize an organization’s hardware and software, which helps the organization in developing separate access policies for them.

Due to the versatility of security operations, corporate networks might have a hard time planning the optimal access control strategies and implementing them. This is where SecureW2 comes to the rescue with its ever-advanced and innovative network authentication solution. These role-based network access controls (NAC) can empower any organization to develop a rigid security framework and perform secure and seamless authentication.

What is Role-Based Access Control?

As the size of any organization increases over time, division of powers and roles certainly need to be systematically assigned to various employees. Just like there are different divisions within an organization to perform separate functions, it will be futile to expect any person to randomly perform a task (unless he is Elon Musk!). Similarly, devices need different levels of access to maintain an optimum security level.

Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) is the mechanism in which separate users are granted unique access levels according to predefined roles to effectively implement the organization’s security policies. The “defined role” of the user is given the maximum preference over any other attributes in this access control. Remote work culture has seen Role-based attributes given priority by organizations of varying shapes and sizes.

Still, many organizations face a hard time implementing efficient Role-Based Access Control practices, and many continue to follow traditional security controls techniques. It certainly limits the potential of RBAC, which results in a surge of many compromised devices within an organization. SecureW2’s JoinNow suites help organizations deploy WPA2-Enterprise security and effectively use X.509 certificates beyond Wi-Fi for VPN protection.

How to Implement Efficient Network Access Control

Many organizations are still hesitant to implement NAC due to inefficient technical support or its extra-budgetary nature. Here  SecureW2 offers a wide range of onboarding solutions with its user-friendly and unique Managed PKI services, making NAC implementation seamless.

Certificate-based authentication is considered the most secure due to its encrypted EAP tunnel among the authentication protocol options. It also strengthens the users to configure their network by using the RADIUS server certificate. SecureW2’s Cloud Radius facilitates the entire complex process with its dynamic policy engines that come in handy with enterprises like Azure and Intune and provide the best network access control.

Today the importance of digital certificates is not only acknowledged by the network admins or large corporations but also by new startups and mid-level enterprises. Even we at SecureW2 started with the motto of providing enterprises a safer and more secure network solution for the same. Today our RADIUS provides smooth onboarding for BYOD, ManagedDevices, K12, higher education, and so on.

Importance of NAC in Modern-day Enterprises

Network access control may not work in all organizations and might not always complement current security controls. Virtualization may pose specific obstacles to NAC because virtual servers may roam the data center. 

Virtual machines move between locations, causing various safety challenges. The security for application-side services in business and enterprise networks is becoming the focus. Virtual computer systems can be protected via unauthorized access in any data center and not by physical access control.

With the exponential surge in cyber crimes cases, Network access control (NAC) is the necessity of the modern-day IT infrastructure. SecureW2 offers a wide range of efficient and budget-friendly solutions to cater to the needs of the modern-day network access control system. Click here to check out the pricing for the solutions we can offer to any business.

The post Network Access Control  appeared first on SecureW2.

*** This is a Security Bloggers Network syndicated blog from SecureW2 authored by Vivek. Read the original post at: https://www.securew2.com/blog/network-access-control



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