What is Network Access Control? A Detailed Explanation
When you are building an organization, there are various areas that you should take care of. One of them is your network security, and network access control falls under that category. Many companies feel the need to handle their network security using different tools and management methods. Companies use antivirus programs, firewalls, a different system for managing access permissions of the network, and more. And sometimes, their different network control tools come from different providers. But network access control (NAC) solutions are more advanced than the earlier ones, and they can improve the overall security of your network and its devices. Network access control (NAC) solutions are designed to protect you from cyber-attacks and data losses. In this post, we are going to focus on that only and discuss everything about network access control that you need to know.
What is Network Access Control?
Network access control means preventing unauthorized users from accessing your private or organizational network. These users can also be physical devices, and they should meet the corporate security compliance regulations to be able to enter into the network. The corporate security compliance regulations determine whether or not the user or device is safe to enter into the network from within the private network or outside of the network. Since businesses need to pay attention to whatever traffic comes and goes through the network, access control makes it easier for you to keep your network safe. The control determines what device or what users are allowed to enter the network, and it also protects the functions of the network to ensure access to authenticated users. They use various methods such as password protection, fingerprint sensor, etc. to ensure the identity of the user and device.
There are some NAC tools available that make sure your network and its functions are working properly. Moreover, the network’s functions are most of the time performed by the network access control because it follows a set of rules or policies to restrict unauthorized devices. This means the network access control has an in-built anti-intrusion software that limits the number of unauthorized access.
There are two main types of network access control solutions, and both are an important part of the network security process.
Types of Network Access Control
There are two main types of network access control solutions, both of them are important.
1. Pre-admission Access Control
Pre-admission network access control is applicable before the user is granted access to the network when the user or the device sends a request for entering into the network. The pre-admission network access control only allows devices and users to access the network when it proves to be part of the network according to the security policies.
The post-admission access control takes charge when the pre-admission access control fails. Post-admission access control can restrict devices and users from further taking actions on the network to prevent fraud and cyber attacks.
Both of these methods for network access control have their importance, and both are needed to keep your network safe.
Why is NAC Important for Organizations?
It is now always possible for different devices and different users to access your private or enterprise network if they have the access credentials. But that does not mean the users are always authorized or have good intentions to try to get into your network. With network access control solutions, you can prevent frauds or malicious people from accessing your database or launching a cyberattack. Network access control compiles a set of tools that provide visibility, compliance capabilities, and access control to make your network more powerful against potential threats.
Even though network access control is not suitable for every organization, it is, in fact, possible to implement within a well-maintained company’s security infrastructure. For example, if your company has disciplined and dedicated staff, then applying the right security measures such as NAC will be worth it. It will help you add another protective layer to your company’s valuable database. Moreover, if your company uses virtual machines, you can apply network security control to gain more advantages over the security terms. But you can only do that when your company knows about other security measures.
Here are the basic things that a basic network access control management tool can do:
- It enforces the existing security policies for all the operating services without applying any new security requirements or additional products and modules.
- Recognizes the devices and users when they try to enter the network and restricts access if it finds them malicious. That way, no security code can corrupt your IT infrastructure.
- You can manage guests’ network access using authentication, registration, and many other guest management tools that will help you keep the network safe from outside trouble.
- The security-policy compliance is examined according to the type of device that is trying to access the network, the type of user, and their running operating system.
- Create security policies that can block, quarantine, and repair non-compliant machines. But in this case, no additional admin permission is needed.
- Also, it applies other relevant security policies and solutions with the open/RESTful API.
The benefits of Network Access Control are only applicable in various use cases and not outside of that.
Use Case of Network Access Control
There are various capabilities of the network access control solutions, especially in a cloud environment, to defend the security processes of a network. But NAC tools are also equally beneficial for the physical IT infrastructures. This is because they act proactively, which means they can block or prevent attacks even before they happen. Here are the basic use cases of NAC for companies:
1. For Guests
The access privileges of a company’s network for guests are different from the employees or authenticated users.
2. NAC for BYOD
NAC for BYOD provides compliance to all the users using various devices for accessing the network. And as a matter of fact, the employees can use different devices to access the network instead of just sticking to only one.
3. For Internet of Things
IoT devices give attackers the chance of attacking the database of companies, but network access control applies defined profiling and a set of policies to restrict access of different devices that fall under different categories.
4. Incidence Response
The NAC vendors can share their user ID or device information to the third-party security components and can enforce security policies to quarantine the vulnerable end-points whenever an attack is released.
The NAC system stores the security policies and access information of the organization and applies the same whenever access is requested to the database. Authentication and authorization are the two main processes of the network access control system. When the authentication fails to stop the suspicious attempt of access, authorization tries again to prevent it. But if both the processes fail, then the zero-trust security standard is applied. Here, the access request is blocked so that the network can stay safe. You can set up a NAC list for your network and use every hardware you have. And the hardware in your network’s infrastructure will determine the security settings.
This is the way network access control works on your company’s IT infrastructure. But if you have any questions or confusion about the same, feel free to drop us a comment below.