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The Importance of Network Access Control in Modern Business Operations

With bring-your-own-device policies, employees using personal devices double as work devices, and a host of Internet of Things (IoT) devices on your network, network access control is more important than ever. Network access control solutions offer significant security and operational benefits. Network access control combines endpoint security technology, user or device authentication, and network security enforcement. It restricts access to private networks from users and devices not compliant with security policies.

Security

User or system authentication, network security enforcement, and device visibility and profiling are all integrated into a single system through network access control. It enables organizations to provide access to temporary users such as contractors, consultants, and guests so they can connect seamlessly without requiring IT intervention. It can also help protect networks from rogue devices by allowing only compliant, authorized, and authenticated devices to connect and automatically denying access to those not meeting corporate security policies. Most networks use various systems to manage permissions and access for users and devices. Using multiple systems leads to fragmentation, which makes it difficult to maintain centralized management. In addition, when a system is not managed centrally, it can create gaps that are easy pickings for hackers.

Administrators can quickly implement and enforce centralized policy management with different types of network access control. It reduces IT costs and allows for more consistent delivery of services to users. The solution can be integrated with other technologies like firewalls, security information and event management (SIEM), identity and access management (IAM), and advanced threat prevention to deliver a unified network security posture. Role-based access control is a crucial feature of most network access control solutions. It provides users with the right level of authorization based on their job role in the company. For example, it is possible to give IT team members higher access than senior managers. It helps reduce costs by eliminating the need for many SSIDs on a wireless network. 

Compliance

Network access control discovers all devices connecting to a network and acts based on preconfigured protocols and rules. NAC can either be pre-admission (inspecting and enforcing policies before devices gain access to the corporate network) or post-admission, blocking lateral movement within the network once a device has already gained preliminary access. Both are important to protect the business from malware threats and other cyberattacks that have successfully infiltrated a corporate system. Bring Your Device (BYOD) and remote work policies increase the number of non-corporate owned, managed devices trying to connect to company systems. NAC helps reduce the risk of these devices stealing data and exploiting unsecured vulnerabilities by ensuring they comply with security policies before allowing them to connect to the corporate network.

NAC solutions also allow for the segmentation of the corporate network to prevent guests from being able to access sensitive data or applications on the organization’s internal networks. It’s important for organizations that host many events where guests might have to use the network. This way, the NAC solution can ensure that only users and devices on the guest network can access the Internet, not the corporate network. In some cases, this has given companies 40-50% of their bandwidth back by reducing the amount of unnecessary traffic on the WAN and local area networks.

Automation

Network access control, or NAC, provides a centralized way to manage all the security tools and processes that protect connected devices. These can be conventional PCs and servers or IoT devices and network routers. NAC combines device visibility and profiling with policy management, threat detection and mitigation, and automation. It helps organizations manage the risks of unauthorized and risky devices entering the organization’s networks and mitigates the risks of attackers exploiting these vulnerable connections. Large companies often work with contractors and suppliers who use BYOD policies to bring their devices into the corporate network. These devices may not be secure and could contain malware. NAC enables organizations to validate these devices before granting them access to the corporate network and its resources by checking that they are authorized and compliant with security policies.

Another benefit of NAC is that it reduces the number of Service Set IDs (Service Set Identifiers) that a company uses, which cuts down on the bandwidth each SSID consumes. Some companies got back 40%-50% of their bandwidth by reducing the number of SSIDs used in the business. It translates to better performance for everyone on the network, including guests and mobile employees. NAC solutions can also segment guests from users based on their roles, helping improve performance for all.

Performance

Network access control, also known as network admission control (NAC), keeps unauthorized users and devices out of your private network or gives them restricted access using pre-established protocols designed by your security team. Its centralized administrative platform houses these rules and helps you determine permissions based on usernames, passwords, digital certificates, context, and behavior. Large organizations regularly work with contractors, third-party suppliers, and non-employees who must connect to the network during their duties. They may use their laptops or take work devices home, and they can be connected to the corporate network through Internet of Things (IoT) devices like IP printers or biometric intelligent door locks that transmit sensitive data.

A robust network access control solution will detect and identify these connections without interfering with the business processes they facilitate. It will then verify their authenticity – or lack thereof. It is critical to reduce the number of unauthorized connections that could be exploited by cybercriminals who are constantly looking for new ways into your corporate ecosystem. It will then help you limit their level of access to what is necessary, and it will help you quarantine non-compliant devices in a virtual local area network (VLAN) to keep the business running until they can be remediated.

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