The Impact of Network Access Control on Network Security
As organizations grow and expand, more devices will inevitably seek network connections. NAC solutions can help to block those that don’t meet security requirements from connecting in the first place and identify those that did by providing post-admission control.
These controls help prevent unauthorized access and mitigate malware attacks. NAC also allows for centralized visibility and management of temporary users and devices.
Network access control can strengthen security by ensuring only compliant devices can access your organization’s network infrastructure. It enables the continuous monitoring of hardware and software on each device connected to the network. When it identifies a change in status, such as an out-of-date patch, it can reduce or revoke the device’s network privileges until users navigate automated remediation processes.
With Bring Your Device policies and remote work becoming commonplace, it’s difficult for organizations to keep tabs on the vast array of endpoints connecting to their networks. Many of these endpoints are owned by third parties or are personal devices that employees use for professional and private purposes. These devices, not subject to the same security controls as corporate-issued equipment, pose a unique threat to cybercriminals seeking unauthorized access to sensitive data or systems.
Different types of network access control enable organizations to take a zero-trust approach, ensuring every device, regardless of its owner, is protected at the network’s edge. By preventing malicious behavior on these devices from reaching the heart of the web, it protects against costly data breaches and other cyberattacks that would otherwise go unnoticed.
Network access control identifies and protects devices at scale, meaning that malware threats and cyberattacks are automatically blocked and prevented. This eliminates the need for IT teams to manually monitor and protect devices, saving companies on labor costs.
Furthermore, network access control solutions can reduce costs by allowing businesses to limit users’ and devices’ network access. This ensures that third-party devices, employees’ devices that double as work tools, and software-as-a-service applications can only connect to specific resources rather than the entire corporate network. This helps prevent hackers from stealing sensitive information or attacking the organization through a device that has already breached a company’s network.
Businesses can also use their NAC solution to reduce the number of SSIDs they broadcast, which allows them to get back 10-15% of bandwidth lost by unnecessary traffic. This granularity is especially useful in large organizations with numerous departments where IT staff and managers require different network access levels. The ability to track the identity of each user and device on a granular basis is crucial in these situations.
As the number and variety of endpoints connecting to your network grows, it can be a challenge to maintain visibility and control. NAC allows you to verify a device’s identity and ensures security policies are followed – automatically, without requiring the intervention of IT resources.
NAC also improves performance by reducing the number of devices connecting to your network. Many companies use multiple SSIDs to provide different employee access levels and instruments. Each SSID takes up bandwidth and can slow down your network. NAC solves this problem by limiting the number of connected devices based on their role in your business.
NAC solutions can also help you meet regulatory compliance requirements by following gold-standard security policies. These can protect customers’ personal information and reduce the risk of cyber attacks that may result in financial losses for your organization. You can achieve greater business confidence by ensuring consistent protection for all endpoints. This is important for BYOD and work-from-home policies, where users use their devices to complete work-related tasks.
As attacks become increasingly sophisticated, a defense-in-depth approach to cybersecurity is necessary. NAC provides an effective way to achieve this by delivering pre-admission endpoint security policies and post-admission controls over where and how devices connect to a network.
With pre-admission network access control, every device that attempts to connect to a business’s network is assessed for compliance with security standards. If a device fails the initial assessment, it is denied network access or quarantined in a separate security zone until it is compliant.
As a bonus, many NAC solutions also automatically apply other necessary security standards (e.g., installing and operating essential software) to the device’s configuration. This eliminates a significant IT and Help Desk burden, freeing them to focus on more critical tasks. In addition, NAC reduces bandwidth consumption by limiting the number of SSIDs in the air and restricting users’ wireless connectivity to the most essential applications. This improves network performance for everyone. Additionally, NAC can monitor the status of each SSID and report back to the central management server on whether or not it is performing correctly.
The modern network’s perimeters continue to expand and mutate as users and devices connect from various sources. The Bring Your Device (BYOD) and work-from-home policies of today’s enterprise require IT teams to manage a large ecosystem of corporate and personal devices that use personal and professional data. Third-party users and devices like guests, contractors, or suppliers may be granted access to the company’s networks. Internet of Things and Operations Technology (OT) devices collect, store, and transmit mission-critical data that must be secured.
Network access control solutions enable IT to fine-tune the network access level granted to these different user groups and types of devices, ensuring they only have the information they need without damaging the company’s cybersecurity posture. NAC systems can also monitor these devices and prevent lateral movement within the organization’s network by forcing users or devices to re-authenticate each time they try to access another part of the system. When vulnerabilities are found, NAC solutions can quarantine devices in a Virtual Local Area Network (VLAN) without disrupting business as usual until the issue is remedied.