July 16, 2024

Network Access Control: Managing Access to Corporate Networks

As technology becomes more ingrained in our lives and businesses, managing access to corporate networks has become increasingly important. Network Access Control (NAC) provides organizations with a way to securely manage who and what connects to their internal networks. This article will explore the need for NAC, how it works, and the benefits it provides to businesses.

The Need for Network Access Control
With more employees working remotely and an ever expanding array of connected devices, corporate networks face a growing threat landscape. Network Access Control Traditional perimeter-based security is no longer adequate as threats can now come from inside the network. Whether it’s a malicious insider, a compromised home PC of a remote worker, or a vulnerable IoT device, organizations need visibility and control over everything accessing their networks. Moreover, compliance regulations in many industries mandate strict access control policies.

Without NAC in place, IT teams have little insight into the status and security posture of devices connecting to the internal network. This poses security risks from unpatched or misconfigured systems. NAC addresses these challenges by providing continuous monitoring and enforcement of access policies based on a system’s security state.

How NAC Works
When a new device attempts to connect to the network, the NAC system performs an assessment to evaluate the security posture of that device. This usually involves checking if the latest patches have been applied, antivirus is enabled and up-to-date, and other security requirements are met. The assessment results are then compared against the organization’s access policies which define compliance rules.

Based on policy rules, the NAC system will either allow full access, restrict access with limited network privileges, or completely isolate the non-compliant device. For devices granted restricted access, administrators can use network segmentation to funnel traffic to update servers where necessary patches or software can be automatically installed. Once a system is remediated, it gets full network access.

The NAC system then continuously monitors all connected devices to ensure ongoing compliance. If any changes are detected, such as disabled antivirus or the appearance of vulnerabilities, access policies are re-evaluated and enforced. Comprehensive logging and reporting provides administrators with visibility into network activity and compliance posture over time.

Benefits of Implementing NAC
With the right NAC solution in place, organizations gain many security and operational benefits. Here are some of the key advantages:

Reduced Risk Profile
By continuously monitoring the entire connected environment and enforcing real-time policy, NAC helps bolster the overall security posture of the network. Only compliant and trusted systems are permitted full access, while high-risk devices are quarantined.

Increased Visibility & Control
Administrators have granular visibility into every endpoint and IoT device accessing the network. They can identify security issues, apply policies, trigger automated remediation, and isolate problematic devices as needed.

Compliance Assurance
NAC facilitates meeting compliance regulations by validating and enforcing technical controls. Audit logs also help demonstrate adherence to policies over time.

Simplified Asset Management
Wireless and remote access is streamlined through NAC-integrated authentication. Devices can self-register via their built-in credentials. Mobile users stay compliant with little IT intervention.

Optimized Change Management
Policy-based segmentation, guest access portals, post-admission remediation, and automated device profiling using NAC reduce the burden of managing changes across multiple systems and locations.

Improved User Experience
Authorised and trusted users have seamless network access once validated by NAC. Problems are quickly identified and addressed without disruptions.

Reduced Costs and Overhead
By centralizing access control, automating remediation workflows, and gaining insights to prioritize security efforts – Network Access Control optimizes the use of IT resources over the long run.

As the above article illustrates, Network Access Control provides a robust foundation for digital transformation initiatives by enabling secure, user-centric access management at scale across hybrid IT environments. NAC delivers enhanced visibility, control, automation and compliance that empowers organizations to maximize productivity while minimizing risk.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it