What is Network Access Control Software?
Network Access Control Software Defined
Network Access Control (NAC) software prevents unauthorized users and devices from gaining access to an organization’s network. NAC software authenticates users and devices and ensures that devices are compliant with corporate security policies.
Network Access Control software was first introduced in the mid- to late 2000s to manage private network access for devices. As the workforce has become more mobile and BYOD initiatives have become more prevalent, NAC software has become an important part of the security stack. Today, Network Access Control software can play an important role in enabling Zero Trust security for highly distributed networks and hybrid workforces.
How Does NAC Software Work?
Network Access Control software performs several essential security functions. To increase visibility of network activity and security, NAC solutions scan the network to detect and profile all connected devices. NAC software evaluates each device, taking note of the health of the device, its location and the role of the user. To enforce security policies, NAC software may, for example, require that antivirus and anti-malware protections on each device are up to date before granting access. For devices that are not in compliance, NAC software may block access, quarantine the device or grant limited access.
Additionally, NAC software authenticates users with techniques such as passwords, biometrics and One-Time Passwords (OTPs).
There are two types of Network Access Control. Pre-admission control scans devices requesting access and only allows authorized devices and users to connect to network resources. Post-admission control re-authenticates users requesting access to different parts of the network, limiting the attack surface by restricting lateral movement. Post-admission NAC also enforces policy by monitoring the user and device behavior.
Network Access Control vendors offer products with two kinds of architecture: agent-based vs.agentless. Agent-based NAC requires users to install agent software on their devices which can communicate information about the device to the NAC software. Agentless NAC solutions constantly scan the device to identify any user or device behavior that may violate security policy.
How Is Network Access Control Software Used?
IT and security teams may deploy Network Access Control software for a variety of use cases.
- BYOD. NAC software improves security by enforcing security policies for users’ personal devices.
- Guest access. With NAC, organizations can provide temporary, restricted access to partners, contractors and other guests. NAC software scans each device to make sure it complies with security policies.
- Continuous monitoring. Network Access Control software provides comprehensive and continuous visibility into the devices connected to a network, informing and enhancing endpoint security policies.
- Work-from-anywhere employees. For users working with managed devices outside the office, Network Access Control software detects and blocks malware that may infiltrate devices on unsecured connections.
- IoT. As IoT devices come onto the network, NAC software inventories, tags and profiles each device while enforcing policy and monitoring device behavior.
- Incident response. NAC software identifies compromised devices and automatically disables access to limit the damage of cyberattacks.
NAC Software vs. Zero Trust Solutions
As IT networks and workforces become more distributed, many organizations are turning to Zero Trust solutions to augment or replace their Network Access Control software. For all their benefits, NAC solutions can be complex, costly and time-consuming to install and manage, often requiring additional hardware or software investments. Some security teams feel that NAC solutions are ineffective for IT environments that are largely cloud-based, introducing unwelcome complexity and headaches to security policy management.
In contrast, Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA)solutions are engineered to operate natively in the cloud and deliver highly scalable security while minimizing the management burden on security teams. ZTNA technology focuses on identifying and authenticating users and applies the principle of least privilege, granting access only to the applications and resources a user or device needs to perform a specific task. Zero Trust Network Access products also enable more unified security policy across an IT environment.
Whether IT teams choose to augment or replace their Network Access Control software with ZTNA solutions, it’s clear that a Zero Trust approach to controlling access will dominate network security for the foreseeable future. For IT and security teams, it’s important to note that ZTNA vendors offer a wide range of products and services which are not all created equally.
Improve on NAC Software with Forcepoint ZTNA
For organizations seeking to enhance or replace Network Access Control software, Forcepoint ZTNA offers simple, safe and scalable Zero Trust remote access for internal and private cloud applications without a VPN.
Part of Forcepoint ONE – a cloud-native, all-in-one security platform – Forcepoint ZTNA provides controlled access to private apps from anywhere, enabling advanced control over data in use across managed or unmanaged devices.
Forcepoint ZTNA delivers continuous, fine-grained controls, industry-best performance and built-in malware and data protection that ensures a superior user experience. The Forcepoint ONE platform also provides solutions for Software-Defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN), a Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) and a Secure Web Gateway (SWG) for organizations that want to combine SASE and Zero Trust Network Access on the same platform.
As one of the industry’s leading ZTNA providers, Forcepoint offers a solution that enables organizations to:
- Replace VPNs for accessing private apps in data centers and private clouds.
- Provide safe, agentless access to private web apps from BYOD.
- Control uploading and downloading sensitive data in any private web app.
- Lock malware hidden in business data files to or from private web apps.
- Safeguard access to private non-web servers from managed devices.
- Maximum uptime, availability and productivity.