Network access control solutions are designed to discover and manage all devices that attempt to connect to a network. They can then apply a policy to grant or deny access to those devices based on preconfigured rules and policies. The best network access control tools support a wide range of use cases. This includes supporting BYOD, IoT, and remote access laptops.
Maintain High Availability
While deploying network access control solutions for your organization’s growing BYOD footprint and SaaS reliance requires the right mix of tools, it is also essential to ensure high availability. Without this, any downtime will cause your users to be unable to work productively — and if that downtime extends to your servers and other infrastructure components, you may face more than just an inconvenience for your employees.
To maintain high availability, you need to implement redundancy and other features that improve performance. Duplicating system components achieves redundancy, so if one fails or experiences a slowdown, the other can take over. This prevents your data from being lost and reduces downtime.
Some network access control solutions use out-of-band policies separate from traffic flow. In contrast, others combine decision-making and enforcement into a single point in line with normal network traffic. Both approaches require significant resources, but out-of-band models are more likely to scale for larger networks and minimize impact on other systems.
The right network access control solution should be able to monitor and detect issues in real-time. It should offer options for sandboxing or quarantining devices without interrupting business, allowing organizations to avoid the disruption and potential damage of a complete device wipeout in response to a discovered vulnerability.
Restrict Access to Only the Resources Needed
Network access control aims to limit the “blast radius” of potential cyberattacks by restricting access to only the resources needed by each user or machine. However, with increasingly connected devices to the corporate network – including internet-of-things (IoT) appliances, software-as-a-service apps, and personal devices that double as work tools – granular access controls must be implemented across all endpoints.
A well-designed access control strategy can help enterprises protect their business-critical data and prevent unauthorized devices from joining the corporate network in the first place. Still, it must be tightly integrated with your existing identity and access management policies to provide consistent visibility. Consider focusing on vendors that offer native integrations with unified endpoint management to achieve seamless visibility, and look for features that align with your specific enterprise needs, such as dynamic policy controls or network-based conditional access.
Large organizations often collaborate with contractors, vendors, and third-party suppliers – who must be granted limited, time-limited access to critical systems. An effective NAC solution can prevent these outside devices from joining the company’s network in the first place and also ensure that they remain disconnected once their time on the web is up.
A strong network access control strategy can also incorporate domain isolation for sensitive data and apply machine-based restrictions to prevent unauthorized users from using IT equipment. This can be achieved by creating groups with different sets of privileges and then assigning users to those groups based on their job roles.
Optimize Your Network
Network access control helps organizations control their network connections as they grow in number and variety. It also helps them save costs by automating significant IT and Help Desk tasks, enabling devices to connect only if they meet pre-established requirements. NAC can also reduce security risks by denying access or quarantining non-compliant devices until they navigate automated remediation processes.
The best network access control solutions can apply Zero Trust principles and ensure all parties are verified, whether inside the organization or outside. This “trust no one, verify everyone” mentality protects data and mitigates cyberattack risks while ensuring critical applications remain available to users at all times.
Managing identity access and permissions is critical to getting the most value from your network access control solution.
NAC solutions are only sometimes created equal; they support various use cases differently. For example, BYOD and IoT scenarios may require a solution with strong device profiling and posture capabilities, while guest and remote access calls for support with captive portals and self-registration.
Avoid Costly Downtime
Network downtime strikes fear in the hearts of even the most seasoned IT professionals. It means mission-critical applications, systems, and services are down or unresponsive due to a software issue, hardware failure, network outage, cyber threat, or natural disaster. Employees are involuntarily idled during this time, and productivity comes to a screeching halt.
Unfortunately, downtime is unavoidable – and costly. According to Statista, the average hourly downtime cost for businesses is between $301,000 and $400,000. Having a plan in place helps mitigate or eliminate the costs of unplanned network downtime.
The key is to ensure your network access control solutions are optimized for your business’s unique needs. This can mean ensuring that you have visibility into all the devices on your network (including BYOD, IoT, and edge devices) and built-in enforcement tools to stop unauthorized traffic as it enters your environment.
Large organizations often work with contractors, third-party users, and suppliers with access privileges to the corporate network. With a strong NAC solution, it is easier to ensure these external stakeholders are properly secured and their access privileges terminated when they no longer need access. This helps to reduce the digital attack surface and protect intellectual property and sensitive data. This is why optimizing your network access control solutions regularly is essential.