Enhancing Cybersecurity With Network Access Control: Best Practices
With remote work, bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies, and Internet of Things (IoT) devices growing in popularity, companies must deploy advanced cybersecurity solutions to protect against evolving cyber threats. Network access control (NAC) is one of these solutions. NAC helps organizations limit unauthorized access to private networks and sensitive information by verifying that users and devices are authenticated and compliant with security policies.
Enable Two-Factor Authentication
An extra degree of protection is offered by two-factor authentication (2FA), which guarantees that the users gaining access to your networks and data are who they claim to be. It requires both something you know (like a password) and something you have (like a physical token, mobile phone, or biometric identifier like your fingerprint or face) to verify your identity before granting access. It helps prevent unauthorized users from impersonating your authorized users and can help protect against attacks like phishing, social engineering, and password brute-force hacks.
In addition to requiring 2FA, it’s essential to have the ability to set policies for adaptive authentication on a per-user and device basis. It can be used to grant guests or contractors a higher network access than full-time employees, for example. It can also be used to limit the amount of time a device can remain connected to your network. Lastly, it can warn or block devices based on their status (like if the software needs updating) and enable self-remediation features that help users meet compliance standards without needing an IT professional involved. To leverage these benefits, you need the right network access control solution.
Implement a Policy-Based Approach
But how does network access control work? NAC offers fine-grained control over which individuals and devices can access a company’s infrastructure as a network security solution. The technology uses pre-admission and post-admission policies to verify a device’s compliance with the organization’s security posture standards before it is admitted to the network. Admins can adjust these policies instantly, which is crucial when a new threat emerges or if a patch for a known vulnerability becomes available. NAC solutions typically also provide the capability to quarantine or block non-compliant machines, significantly mitigating risk during high-stakes moments such as a ransomware attack. This policy-based approach also ensures that each user has the privileges they need to do their job and no more. For example, a customer service representative might need access to customer records but not financial data, while a doctor would be required to access medical records. As each user’s role changes, privileges should be updated accordingly.
NAC solutions can integrate with endpoint security technologies and work with other network solution products to automate incident response and provide a unified system for managing cyber threats. They can automatically detect and communicate threat information based on user ID, device type, location, and operating system. They may be able to block or quarantine a potentially compromised machine without IT intervention. It’s useful for remote working and bring-your-own-device policies, which have become more common in recent years.
Implement Endpoint Security Solutions
Network access control, also known as NAC, aims to bolster the security and visibility of private networks with user or device authentication. It helps to protect organizations from cyberattacks by preventing unauthorized devices and users from entering the network, even before they get a chance to connect with sensitive information. With the pandemic prompting workers to work from home, many enterprises now allow employees to use their devices (BYOD). It has increased productivity but also risks the organization’s cybersecurity as the influx of new hardware can introduce malware and other cyber threats. Efficient NAC solutions help to mitigate this risk by assessing each endpoint device for vulnerabilities and allowing only those that meet specific requirements to enter the network.
NAC can also monitor each hardware device for compliance with existing security policies. It can assess devices for missing patches and misconfiguration of virtual private networks or encryption systems and detect if the device is infected with malware. It can then impose a quarantine on the device or restrict access to the entire corporate network until it’s been remedied. NAC can also offer various automation solutions, including total network visibility, instant user profiling, guest networking management, and managing bring-your-own-device work arrangements. These automated features enable enterprises to scale and manage the increase in data, applications, and user populations that have grown alongside the pandemic, minimizing the impact of cyberattacks.
Monitor Network Traffic
Network access control helps to prevent unauthorized users and devices from gaining access to a business’s network. It does this by assessing the device’s security posture and ensuring it meets network access policies before it can be permitted to enter the network. Often, cyber actors gain entry into networks through network infrastructure devices. These include routers, switches, firewalls, and servers. If they can gain a presence on these devices, they can monitor and manipulate the flow of information throughout the organization’s network. NAC tools can help to detect these types of malicious activities by monitoring traffic and analyzing the data. For example, if a suspicious file is sent over the network, NAC can quickly identify the sender and source of the activity. It can be a crucial step in stopping a cyberattack in its tracks.
Moreover, NAC tools can also help to monitor the health of endpoints by detecting unpatched vulnerabilities. It allows them to isolate these endpoints from the rest of the network until they are updated and secure. It benefits organizations with remote working and bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies. It makes it much harder for cyber attackers to infiltrate the organization’s sensitive applications and information.