What is Network Access Control? Definition, Benefits, and Functions
Network access control (NAC) keeps unauthorized users and devices away from a private network. Organizations that occasionally grant network access to specific devices or users outside the organization can use network access control to ensure that these devices comply with corporate security regulations.
The increasingly authorized use of devices outside of the organization that access corporate networks requires organizations to pay special attention to network security, including who or what has access. Network security protects network functionality by ensuring that only authorized users and devices have access, that those devices are clean, and that users are who they say they are.
Network Access Control (NAC) is one aspect of network security. Many NAC tools are available, and a network access server often performs the functions. Effective network access control restricts access only to devices that authorized and comply with security guidelines. This means that they have all the necessary security patches and anti-intrusion software. Network operators define the security guidelines that decide which devices or applications meet the security requirements of the terminals and granted access to the network.
Also Read: What is Multiple Access? And It’s Types
What Are The Benefits Of Network Access Control?
One advantage of network access control is that users may need to authenticate using multi-factor authentication. This is much more secure than identifying users by IP addresses or username and password combinations.
Secure network access control also provides extra levels of protection for parts of the network after a user has been granted access, thereby ensuring application security. Some network access control solutions may include compliant security controls such as encryption and increased network visibility.
What Are The Common Use Cases For Network Access Control?
When a company’s security policy allows any of the following circumstances, it is necessary to think carefully about network access control to maintain the security of the company:
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD): Any association that allows employees to use their expedients or take corporate devices home must think beyond the firewall to ensure network security. Each device creates a security flaw that could allow cybercriminals to bypass traditional security controls.
Network access for non-employees – Some organizations must provide access to people or devices that are outside the organization and are not subject to the same security controls. Vendors, visitors, and contractors may need access to the corporate network from time to time, but not all parts of the network and not all time.
Use of IoT policies: The Internet of Things has given rise to a multitude of devices that can fly under the radar of traditional security checkpoints and are often outside of the physical corporate building, but are still connected to the corporate network. Cybercriminals can easily exploit these overlooked devices to find their way to the heart of the network without proper network contact controls. Network access control is a central aspect of edge security solutions.
What Functions Does Network Access Control Offer?
An essential function of NAC is to restrict network access to both certain users and certain areas of the network. A visitor might be able to connect to the corporate network but not be able to access internal resources. This type of security clearance would have helped Target avoid the 2013 attack, when hackers gained access to a third-party network and attacked Target when the
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It can also prevent unapproved access by employees to data. In this way, an employee who needs to access the company intranet will not have access to the confidential data of the customer unless his role warrants it, and he has been authorized for such access.
In addition to restricting user access, network access control also blocks access from end devices that do not comply with the company’s security guidelines. This warrants that a virus cannot enter the network from a machine outside the company. All employee devices that used for corporate business must comply with the corporate security policy before they can gain contact with the network.
What Is The Meaning Of Network Access Control?
Network access control does not work for all organizations and is not compatible with some existing security controls. However, for organizations that have the time and human resources to implement network access controls properly, this can provide a much more robust and comprehensive layer of protection for valuable or complicated resources.
IT sections that use virtual machines as part of their data centre can advantage from NAC, but only if they observe the rest of their security controls. Virtualization poses particular challenges for NAC as virtual servers can move through a data centre, and a dynamic virtual local area network (LAN) can change when servers move. Not only can network contact control for virtual machines open unwanted security loopholes, but it can also make it difficult for organizations to comply with data audit control standards. This is because traditional security methods locate the endpoints using their IP addresses. Virtual technologies are dynamic and move from place to place, which makes them more complicated.
Furthermore, virtual machines can start very easily and quickly. This means that inexperienced IT administrators can start a virtual machine without all the necessary network access controls. Another vulnerability occurs when recovering virtual machines from hibernation. If new patches were shown while the server was down, they might not be applied when the team redeployed. More and more companies are adding application security to their network security controls to ensure that everything on their network is secure down to the application level.
Also Read: Nanophotonic: What it is and How it Works?
What Types Of Network Access Control Are There?
There are two basic types of NAC. Both are important aspects of network security:
Prior Authorization – The first type of network access control is known as prior authorization because it occurs before access to the network is granted when a user or device initiates a request to access a network. A network controller evaluates the access attempt before approval and only allows entry if the device or user making the request can demonstrate that it complies with company security guidelines and is authorized to access the network.
Post-admission: Post-admission NAC occurs within the network when the user or device tries to enter another part of the network. If network access control fails before admission, post-admission network access control can restrict lateral movement within the network and limit the damage caused by a cyber attack. A user or device must re-authenticate each time it asked to switch to a different part of the network.