Network Access Control In Network Security
Network Access Control is a virtual machine that controls device access to the network. It begins as network authentication and authorization method. It authorizes devices joining the network. It makes use of the IEEE 802.1x standard. The authentication involves three clients: The device, the authenticator and the authentication server. The authenticator could be a network switch or a wireless network.
At times, they provide authentication in form of a username and a password. It can also use other means to present their credentials to the server. Once the credentials are presented to the authenticator, it will have to confirm from the authentication server if the device should be allowed or denied. Another method of connecting to a network is through the use of a Captive Portal. This is mostly used in Airport, Hotel and coffee shop. This kind of authentication process might ask you to agree to some legal terms before you can have access to a network. In recent time, NAC now involves the authentication of IoT and BYOD. BYOD and IoT now introduce new security challenges.
IoT always shares data with devices outside the network. This always increases the attack surface for the network. They always provide information about product use, but organisations have to permit these devices because it saves them time and money. For examples, IoT devices can inform manufacturers of faults automatically. This saves times and reduces the time needed to resolve the issue.
For examples, IoT devices can regulate temperature. If it’s a fridge, it can regulate what is kept inside the fridge. The fact they are very easy to use and control has made many organisations adopt the use of IoT devices. The fact that there is no standards and control for IoT devices made them contagious and a network threat. Many IoT devices do not have the memory to store authentication and security software. They always identify themselves using a shared secret and unique keys. Due to the inability to maintain memory and lack of standards, IoT devices can become vulnerable because there shared keys and identity can leak to hackers.
NAC is introduced to solve this issue. Once a device is connected to a network, the NAC create and profile the device. NAC implemented access to the resources based on the profile that has been created. This allows the NAC to allow access to network resources based on the profile that each of the resources belongs to. For example, NAC can provide access to video resources but prevent access to file resources based on the group or profiling that the resources belong to.
There is a segmentation of network devices based on-device functions. For example, NAC might prevent employees profile from accessing certain resources because they do not belong to the Finance server. This ensures that if there is a malware attack, malware can only affect devices that belong to that segment. Although NAC proved to be more effective in managing some devices, Some of them cannot handle devices that are from certain categories. Some NAC for example cannot manage BYOD devices. Some NAC tools can only work on a simple network but they cannot handle large devices or networks.
Network Access Control Issues
Today, most NAC solutions have addressed these limitations. They can handle large networks and are capable of profiling networks. Some present-day NAC solutions can also handle Large networks. Some of them can effectively handle both Ethernet and wireless networks. Many NAC solutions are central devices and control large networks across multiple locations. NAC has been integrated into many networks so that when a breach is detected, NAC can automatically respond to such threats. They can work with other security devices to neutralize threats. Fortinet has a NAC solution called FORTINAC that has all the features discussed so far.
I know you might agree with some of the points that I have raised in this article. You might not agree with some of the issues raised. Let me know your views about the topic discussed. We will appreciate it if you can drop your comment. Thanks in anticipation.
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