Network access control helps organizations protect their networks from cyberattacks. It prevents unauthorized users and devices from accessing sensitive company information and intellectual property.
It can also limit lateral movement within the network to mitigate damage from a successful hack or ransomware attack. To be effective, an NAC solution needs to be constantly monitored and adjusted as people, devices, and business processes change.
Limiting Access to Unauthorized Devices
You can immediately take action if a device connects to your network without authorization. Whether it’s a laptop, smartphone, printer, or IoT device, NAC helps to limit access so that you can identify and stop malicious activity.
The NAC solution performs a pre-admission scan of the device and checks for policies that comply with security standards. It can then decide to admit the device, deny it, or quarantine it for remediation. It is done to ensure that machines don’t linger on your network and become a breeding ground for cyberattacks.
Once a device has been allowed access to the network, NAC keeps track of it to check for security policy violations. For example, if a user downloads malicious files, NAC can detect and stop the attack from spreading across the rest of the organization’s systems.
NAC solutions can also segment guests from employees to reduce the number of different SSIDs (service set identifiers) used by your network. It can save you on your internet bill and prevent staff from having their phones or laptops connected to unauthorized wifi networks. By limiting the amount of data that flows through your network, you can increase performance as well. That means more bandwidth for the IT department and a better experience for your employees, guests, vendors, and contractors.
Identifying Unauthorized Devices
Network access control examples can identify devices that aren’t compliant and limit access to them. Pre-admission NAC includes evaluating a device’s security status before allowing it to connect to a private network. It can consist of checking for software updates, antivirus software, firewalls, and other security measures. It is the first stage in using NAC to safeguard the data in your organization.
Large organizations work with contractors, partners, and third parties like vendors who occasionally need to access their networks. With a proper NAC strategy in place, it can be easier to ensure that these external devices aren’t becoming vectors for the attack on the business or aren’t being used to spread viruses.
NAC can detect these unauthorized devices by looking for high-fidelity signals of risk. These can include off-hours activity, activity by departing employees, or large file transfers. It is done by leveraging role-based access control (RBAC), an advanced method of restricting data access based on the user’s position within the company. It can significantly help reduce cyber threats, as it prevents data from being accessed by unqualified people. In addition, it can reduce the scope of malware deployed on a system by ensuring that only specific users can access detailed information.
Detecting Malicious Activity
When a device or user attempts to connect to the network, NAC can prevent that connection if it’s determined that the access request is malicious. It can indicate a cyberattack or an effort to get beyond security precautions. Detecting this activity requires a robust log management solution with advanced real-time analytics.
This type of threat detection requires collecting and analyzing large datasets from various network and host sources. Typical attributes include frequency analysis, origin, and destination addresses, port utilization, protocol adherence, file size, naming convention, integrity via hash, and more. The goal is to identify abnormal traffic patterns by comparing them to standard data points.
For example, a disgruntled employee intending to post sensitive documents to Wikileaks might try to read them on multiple machines to hide their footprints. It would cause a spike in audit events and should be detected by your real-time analytics capabilities.
Another typical attack is using a privileged service account to access the network. These accounts have administrative privileges and are not tied to an end-users domain login. It makes it difficult to assign accountability during a cyber incident. To mitigate this, audit service account usage and limit access to those resources justified by business use. Additionally, it’s essential to limit the use of soft tokens for privileged users.
Managing Access Permissions
Network access control can help you build a security fortress that only allows authorized users, devices, and data to pass through. This type of system uses various tools to verify identities, enforce policies, and track access and activity.
A key feature is pre-admission, which evaluates the device before it gains access to the network. It checks the device for compliance with security policy and ensures it isn’t a known threat or is already on the web. It also prevents unauthorized lateral movement of the device by checking each new request for permissions from a central server.
Another type of network access control is role-based access control (RBAC). This system assigns access levels to groups based on roles and the types of files and resources they need to access. Users cannot alter, revoke, or set their permissions in this model.
Managing access permissions is vital for protecting your organization’s sensitive data. However, limiting access too severely can hamper employee productivity, so balancing security with business needs is challenging. You can arrange files and folders into parent/child hierarchies to make it simpler to manage permissions by limiting the number of reads and write permissions that must be provided to each file. It is a terrific approach to ensure that the appropriate individuals have access to crucial information while reducing the number of licenses that need to be submitted.