How an Effective NAC Solutions Help Businesses Monitor and Protect Data
Network access control helps businesses monitor and protect users, devices, and data. It is important because every new connection to your network creates a potential entry point for attackers. Effective NAC solutions enable organizations to authenticate, authorize, and profile every device that connects to your network. They also help enforce security policies based on role.
With bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies and the proliferation of the Internet of Things devices, many organizations have more endpoints than they can easily manage. Network access control solutions reduce those problems by ensuring only compliant, authenticated devices connect to the organization’s infrastructure. These tools also limit the lateral movement of non-compliant devices within the network, further decreasing cyber threats like malware attacks. Network access control is designed to inspect devices and enforce security policies based on various criteria, from the type of device and user to what the device tries to do. It can do so pre-admission — when a device tries to connect, it’s denied access if it doesn’t meet policy conditions — or post-admission — when the device is already connected but must be re-authenticated for every attempt to go anywhere new. It is particularly crucial in large businesses where visitors, vendors, and other external parties occasionally need access to sensitive data. Good access control in networking can ensure that these users are only granted the minimal permissions they need for their work and then revoke them once their time on the company’s network is up. These tools can also track what users are doing on the network and automatically report those activities to IT, making the management of remote and mobile workers a much easier task for networks and IT teams.
Security Policy Enforcement
Network access control helps to prevent cyberattacks and unauthorized devices from entering your corporate network. With Fortinet, it reduces the attack surface by monitoring and controlling devices that connect to the network, such as BYOD, IoT, mobile, laptops, servers, printers, and more. The automated tracking and protection of these devices at scale translate into cost savings for companies. Additionally, preventing malware threats from infiltrating the network reduces financial risks. NAC can be deployed as an out-of-band solution or an inline tool. Out-of-band NAC solutions make decisions from a remote policy server, while inline NAC solutions take action directly within the traffic flow. Whichever strategy you pick, the most important thing is to ensure that your NAC tool matches the gravity of the device or user breach with the right enforcement choice. For example, after a policy violation has been identified, the NAC solution could block the user and their device from accessing different network parts, quarantine the device to a separate VLAN, or notify the users that they are in violation. Once the Audit, Inform, and Educate phases are complete, your NAC tool can enter full enforcement mode. At this point, the tool can use personal identifying information to directly communicate with policy violators and inform them of their status. Even better, it may be configured to send emails to managers and human resources directly related to the offender’s employment file.
Detecting and securing the devices on your network is a critical component of any network access control solution. Having this data allows administrators to verify users’ identities and their device(s) so they can apply the right policy for them. Whether the policy is for BYOD or a work-from-home program, it will help prevent cyber attacks that may infiltrate the organization from unauthorized devices and servers. NAC can pre-admit or quarantine devices based on the policies set up, which gives administrators more control over who enters their internal network. It can be as simple as allowing guests to access the internet but not your internal applications or as complex as giving employees different access levels to certain SSIDs in the wireless network.
In many cases, reducing the number of SSIDs can give companies back 40%-50% of their bandwidth. Another important consideration is the ability to check for malware and other threats on endpoints, which are the points at which two devices interact (like laptops or IoT devices). It is an especially crucial capability because a compromised endpoint could become a gateway for cybercriminals into your internal systems. The best NAC solutions have a feature that alerts IT staff to any unusual activity that might indicate an attack, so they can take immediate action, like isolating the offending device.
Many modern NAC solutions come with extensive integrations and built-in artificial intelligence capabilities. It allows them to do the hard work for IT and quickly spot anomalous activity that would take a human security analyst longer to identify. Varonis, for example, uses behavioral anomalies to spot devices and users not following your data security policies and responds to them automatically. Another benefit of network access control is securing endpoint systems without disrupting business. A typical NAC solution will offer temporary solutions like sandboxing or quarantine virtual local area networks (VLANs) that can be used to carry on working while a device is under repair. It reduces the impact of a vulnerability and ensures that work can continue without any disruption or delay.
Large organizations often work with contractors, guests, third-party suppliers and other external stakeholders that must connect to the organization’s private network. This type of flexible working has increased in recent years with the rise of Bring-Your-Own-Device practices and the expanded use of IoT devices. It can make it difficult to monitor and manage all the devices connecting to the network and pose a risk to corporate information assets. NAC can help ensure that these devices are only connected to the private network once they have been fully authenticated and authorized by IT.