network access control

Updated on : January 10, 2024

network access control

Implementing Network Access Control – Best Practices and Considerations

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Network connection has become the first priority for all industries in this advanced tech age. To identify and profile gadgets when they attempt to connect, a robust system like Network Access Control (NAC) is necessary. 

NAC systems scan for valuable information, like if a device has up-to-date antivirus software or firewalls or not. A machine may be isolated until administrators can fix the issue if it doesn’t meet certain criteria.

How does network access control work? It automates the tracking and protection of endpoint devices at scale, reducing organizational costs and risk. 

This article will help you learn more about implementing NAC security solutions for the best performance and constant growth of your organization.

Identifying Users

Best Practices of Network Access Control

Authentication and verification are two of the most necessary aspects of network access control. 

NAC solutions can verify users and their gadgets before giving them admittance, relying on traditional username/password credentials or more advanced methods like multi-factor authentication. 

They also monitor and ensure that connected devices meet certain safety standards, such as having up-to-date antivirus software or patches for operating systems.

Once users are on the network, NAC solutions can prevent lateral movement within the organization. They do this by monitoring user behavior, ensuring that they follow policy, and detecting suspicious traffic or a machine attempting to infiltrate something it shouldn’t be allowed to touch. 

When that occurs, the networking tool can revoke privileges and quarantine the gadget or block the connection to protect the rest of the corporate ecosystem from damage caused by an attack.

It is becoming more significant as the number of machines in the corporate environment continues to increase – including Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and IoT. 

Many organizations use NAC to monitor and enforce the principle of least privilege, limiting each employee to the minimum number of internet resources they need to do their jobs. 

It can also automatically remediate non-compliant machines by requiring them to install missing patches or antivirus software before being granted admission to the connection again. 

Consider assigning roles to multiple users, making it easier to manage permissions for a group of users who perform similar job functions.

Identifying Devices

Securing your device data with encryption

Besides verifying user identities, NAC also helps identify different types of gadgets. It can prevent unauthorized devices from immediate entrance while identifying those already on the network for offline or proper security. 

This is often done by integrating with online safety tools, like intrusion detection systems or firewalls, to provide a layered defense against threats.

A comprehensive detecting solution may use multiple methods to identify machines, including examining access logs, interviewing system users, and reviewing the  configuration. 

This helps to create a picture of all the gadgets connected to the network and how they are used. Then, permission policies can be created that apply different invitation levels to various groups based on identity and context. 

For example, a policy could ensure that users can access only the applications they need to complete their work, ensuring that everything else remains protected.

Many large organizations work with contractors, partners, and third-party suppliers, all of whom need entrance to the network. However, this can also be used to launch attacks on the organization’s resources. 

An effective NAC solution can help prevent such attacks by requiring these third parties to authenticate themselves and communicate securely over a VPN before being granted permission to the internal connection. 

The graph below shows the growth of the NAC market of the U.S. since 2020, which is predicted for further improvement in the coming years.

The U.S. Network Access Control Market from 2020-2030.

Creating Policies

Many cyberattacks leverage admission to online resources as their primary attack vector. By enforcing stronger network controls, businesses can make it more difficult for these criminals to penetrate the company’s system and steal valuable information or expose sensitive systems.

It is a safety measure that verifies the identity of users and gadgets before granting them entrance to the corporate connection. 

This is done to prevent unauthorized machines from connecting to the same network, which can minimize the risk of malware threats that may exploit them. 

It allows security teams to keep an eye on the connection and detect any unauthorized activities by machines or users.

It also prevents employees from bypassing security measures by using personal devices to use work-related information or services. This helps companies to support BYOD policies without sacrificing employee productivity and satisfaction.

Robust teams must record all authorized users and their permission levels as part of the NAC process. This will include user roles, device types, and other relevant information. 

They should also enforce policies that limit the usage to specific data and applications based on job functions and duties. The detecting tool can change the entrance privileges of tens of thousands of users and gadgets on the fly. 

This allows businesses to contain cyberattacks like ransomware while protecting their valuable data rapidly. This capability also makes it easier to implement a defense-in-depth strategy, reducing the number of vulnerabilities attackers can exploit. 

Different Ways of Conducting Regular Access Reviews

Creating Permissions

NAC provides an additional layer of security by enhancing visibility, enforcing policies, and blocking unauthorized entrance. It’s commonly used to address common safety use cases, including remote working, bring-your-own-device (BYOD), and guest admissions.

It helps to identify what gadgets are connected to your network, what type they are, and who owns them. You can also monitor and enforce BYOD policies to authenticate non-company-owned machines before connecting to your corporate systems.

Some networking solutions offer pre-admission controls, which scan and inspect computers to verify their postures before allowing them onto the network. Others employ post-admission controls, which monitor and enforce policies once a gadget has joined the connection.

Many vendors require agent software installed on end devices for information gathering. Still, there are also agentless designs that operate without the need for client software. 

Regardless of architecture, a robust network security solution should be capable of determining the user identity and account details while linking to your internal directory system for verification.

To minimize the impact on business operations, consider rolling out NAC in a pilot or monitoring mode before implementing full enforcement. Then, monitor for any changes as the organization and threat landscape improves. 

It’s also relevant that any NAC implementation aligns with your zero-trust identity and access management policy to enable a defense-in-depth approach.

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