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NAC - Network Access Control

NAC - Network Access Control

Network Access Control (NAC) is an approach to computer security that attempts to unify endpoint security technology (such as antivirus, host intrusion prevention, and vulnerability assessment), user or system authentication and network security enforcement. NAC solutions have become an extremely valuable tool in recent years, as mobile devices and the Internet of Things (IoT) have surged to prominence in various industries across the world. These new pieces of emerging technology come with their own set of vulnerabilities, which poses a challenge to IT security experts.

NAC systems are put into place to make sure that anyone who enters the system, both in terms of users and devices, is authorized. After being routed the efforts at connection, the network access control system confirms privileges using an identity and access management (IAM, a program that checks users for appropriate permissions to access data materials, as indicated by internal policies). With the information from the IAM, along with a pre-established list of rules, the NAC software is able to smartly accept or deny access requests.

Fortunately, NAC products are designed to handle large enterprise networks that have a range of device types trying to connect at all times. Without a NAC in place, companies take on a huge amount of risk by adopting a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy, which allows employees and vendors to use their own smartphones and tablets on the local network. Network access control software and hardware require an upfront investment but prove their worth in the long run.

The most popular products in category NAC - Network Access Control All category products

PORTNOX CORE
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Cisco Identity Services Engine
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PATRIOT Network Security Solutions Provider
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Cisco ISE (Identity Services Engine)
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FORESCOUT CounterACT
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PORTNOX CLEAR
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FortiNET FortiNAC
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Patriot Network Security Solutions Provider
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Compare of products in the category NAC - Network Access Control

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Compare: Network Admission Control (NAC)

Characteristics

Ease of Implementation

Software-Based

Heterogeneous Network

Centrally Managed

VLAN Segmentation

Standardized API

Role-Based Policies

Agentless

Full Non-802.1X Deployment

No Requirement for Topology Changes

Scalable Deployments

Remote Branch Deployments

Wireless Support

Device Visibility

Application Visibility

IOT Device Visibility & Control

Network View

Incident Response

Guest Access

BYOD

Requires network pre-requisites
Requires network pre-requisites
Complex, requires advanced integrations and deployment skills
Deployment driven, modular software, intuitive, flexible
Virtual or hardware appliance
Virtual or hardware appliance
Virtual or hardware appliance
Software-only
Can integrate with some infrastructure
Works best with Cisco environment
Integrates with all network infrastructure
Integrates with all network infrastructure
Recommends appliances for deployment in all locations
Recommends appliances for remote locations
Recommends appliances for remote locations
Deployed from one location, no need for remote appliances
Available only with 802.1X
Available only with 802.1X
Limited support for VLAN
Native implementation of VLAN segmentation
Inbound and outbound APIs
Offers scalable context
Integrates with other services
Shares context both inbound and outbound
More effective with 802.1X
More effective with 802.1X
Define policies based on organizational roles
Define policies based on organizational roles
Optimal with agent
Requires an agent for posture assessment
Requires a dissolvable agent for full functionality
Support for over 25 different authentication methods that do not require an agent
Optional 802.1X authentication
Requires 802.1X to authenticate devices
Does not require 802.1X to authenticate devices
Does not require 802.1X to authenticate devices
Network firmware upgrades, complex configuration, RADIUS
Network firmware upgrades, complex configuration, RADIUS
Many features rely on the configuration/set up of port mirror/span port
No requirements for mirror or span ports
802.1X limits scalability of deployments
802.1X limits scalability of deployments
Requires additional appliances and upgrades
Lightweight infrastructure enables easily scalable deployments across geolocations
Requires on site configuration and challenges branch availability
Requires on site configuration and challenges branch availability
Recommends on-site appliances for full feature set, limitations for sizing
Seamless coverage of remote branches
Wireless via 802.1X
Wireless via 802.1X
Partial integration with on-premise wireless controllers
Optional 802.1X wireless
Visibility enhanced with 802.1X compatible devices
Visibility enhanced with 802.1X compatible devices
Visibility into all network devices only with port mirroring enabled
100% streamlined device visibility (NAS and device view)
Requires agent
Requires agent
Enhanced visibility into business level applications
Seamless application data collection
Discovery and control capabilities
Basic profiling of IoT devices
Discovery and control capabilities
Two-fold device detection and analysis
No capability for full network view
No capability for full network view
Limited capability for full network infrastructure view
Simple to operate, understand issues and see them immediately
Lack of context, requires manual intervention
Lack of context, requires manual intervention
Built-in integration with various security vendors
Open-platform, native API integration, intuitive data flows
Full capabilities for guest access
Full capabilities for guest access
Full capabilities for guest access
Limited native capabilities
BYOD control and visibility with captive portal
BYOD control and visibility with captive portal
BYOD control and visibility with captive portal
Limited native capabilities for BYOD control
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F.A.Q about NAC - Network Access Control

 How a NAC solution works?

When you adopt a network access control solution, the first thing it will do is find all devices currently accessing the system; identify what kind of device they are; and determine whether to validate them and how to treat them using preestablished protocols designed by the company’s security personnel. A network access control system has rules related to a wide spectrum of devices, along with finely grained settings to help you determine permissions. A unified administrative system houses these rules and applies them as needed.

Many companies will utilize NAC as their staff grows and they have an increasing number of devices to manage. These solutions are also helpful for achieving data protection across a variety of different branch locations. The difficulty of securing an organization and managing access has become especially overwhelming in an era when widespread incorporation of IOT devices is becoming more common throughout business; NAC is the fix. The general issue with bring your own device (BYOD), though, is what drew many businesses to this service.

How to Choose a Network Access Control Solution

To help narrow down your search for NAC products, you should first focus on tools that offer native integration with your enterprise’s existing software. You don’t want to have to change your infrastructure or network design in order to bring the NAC solution online. If you are heavily dependent on a cloud architecture, then look for solutions that are fully supported by your hosting provider.

Next, think about what kind of proactive tools come included with the NAC suite. Some vendors offer all-in-one packages that feature a full virus scanning utility and firewall mechanism alongside everything else in the NAC. If your IT security strategy is not very mature, this kind of suite may be very helpful.

Of course, one key factor when looking at NAC options is the price point. Some vendors will sell their products at a flat rate, while others are quickly going the route of Software as a Service (SaaS) subscription, an increasingly-popular business model that requires a monthly payment and ongoing contract. Think about the state of your IT budget while remembering that the upfront investment could save you lots of money down the road.