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The Ultimate Guide to NAC (Network Access Control) in 2022!

Network Access Control (NAC) solutions support organizations to manage endpoint and user access provision using a set of policies or protocols and authentication mechanisms to secure organizational networks and data. Organizations can control endpoints (otherwise known as nodes or devices) at the pre-and post-admission stages, implement security compliances, and create resource usage policies based on various factors such as location or user authority.

Wired networks generally have different kinds of security measures in place. However, with wireless networks, where endpoints are connected merely through the internet or via a common router, the security of data and devices becomes much more complex. The authentication of users in large organizations with wireless networks, especially with data increasingly being moved to the cloud, becomes a major concern since sensitive data must be protected at all costs. Traditionally, NAS (Network Access Server) was used to ensure that people without visibility rights would not be able to access resources by blocking off access based on the confirmation of login details. However, amidst the digital shift, NAS is no longer usable unless an organization maintains a rigid user environment.

This means that unless an organization has
1) a small number of employees, and
2) a fixed number of devices that can be monitored,
it most definitely needs more security than a log-in password. This is where NAC comes in to save the day.

NAC solutions are extremely important in situations where employees or guests are allowed to bring their own devices to the workplace, sign into the network, and access information from multiple devices simultaneously.
Nowadays, most organizations have moved to cloud-based storage, and allow their employees to access files remotely. With BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and Remote-Access becoming more widely accepted as the norm, understanding, and adopting NAC becomes vital.

So, let us dive into what NAC is –

4 major concepts act as a foundation for NAC–

IDS/IPS (Intruder Detection Systems/Intruder Prevention Systems) – These are put in place to identify and contain breaches and attacks.

User Authentication – This involves the correct identification and verification of users/devices attempting to access a network.

Endpoint Security – Endpoints or devices need to remain secure once access has been granted. This is what is known as post-Admission security.

And finally, Network Security – This concept focuses on ensuring the security of the network environment.

We talk more about Identity and Access Management, User Authentication, Unified Endpoint Management, Zero-trust Network Security, and IDS/IPS in our other insights.

Coming back to Network Access Control Solutions, some of the most basic actions that they help organizations carry out are –

1) Create user profiles based on identity and role to detect trusted users. This method of identification steers away from IP address-based verification.
2) Restrict non-compliant, unverified users from utilizing the corporate network and accessing data.
3) Monitor user activity once admitted and control continuation of access provision.
4) Remove any unidentifiable or suspicious users, devices, or applications to prevent data misappropriation or malicious attacks.
5) Provide different levels of access to endpoints based on a profiling engine. This engine can discover, monitor, and/or quarantine endpoints based on user behavior or role in the organization.
6) Put firewalls, spyware detection, malware detection, anti-virus software, and intrusion detection systems into place.
7) Create a baseline for endpoint security and monitor all devices that request access for compliance/non-compliance.
8) Help administrators create and implement security policies based on user data, user roles, and network complexity to govern internal and external activity, as well as reduce security risks by controlling access for devices. This involves temporarily blocking or isolating devices until administrator intervention takes place.
9) Create and manage a guest network, which can be used to provide limited access to guest users. This involves the creation of a guest portal that is capable of authenticating, registering, and managing access for guest users.
10) Integrate with other access control tools and security applications to secure vulnerabilities, contain attacks, and restrict unprotected devices from contaminating other devices on the network.

Network Access Control Solution – Points to consider before buying

Network access control regulates network security by prohibiting network resource accessibility to endpoint devices built on a defined security policy.

Enterprise modern networks support a wide range of traditional and new devices, including PCs, tablets, and smartphones, IoT devices (smartwatch), as well as industrial controls, servers, wireless access points. The organization’s network access control (NAC) solution must handle both business, staff and clients’ devices. NAC solutions automatically detect all devices connected to a network, classify them by type and as per configured compliance rules defined by the security team respond to them.

Factors to consider when choosing a NAC system include:

  • Level and Variety of Configuration Options – Qualitative NAC solutions offer a good number of configurations options for perfect network control. Authentication types, Time, location, path, endpoint, OS type, user groups are among the configuration options. Businesses can create and enforce policies that grant a specific level of network access depending on the type of system trying to connect, a staff member’s role in the organization, time of day, or person’s location. In organizations where clients or staff bring their own devices, device and OS type rules are especially important (BYOD). The company can grant these devices network access that differs from that granted to corporate devices. A company’s network is now more secure because it has greater control over when access is granted, to whom and from where. These configuration options’ level of detail also allows for efficient implementation in large infrastructures.
  • Dashboard and Reporting – The NAC has a lot of features and it integrates with the operations of other alerting systems with other existing systems. Endpoint additions or device state changes, guests signup, any custom field modification, and endpoint status results in all trigger notifications. System logs, email, and a web service are all used to send notifications. The alert system can run a program in response to a warning incident. NAC notification can be used to map modifications in the network. With NAC’s web-based network and endpoint data views reporting is easy. NAC provides simple dashboards and thorough insights into the health of endpoints that are connected to the network or are attempting to connect. Network Analysts in charge of compliance can easily customize the views to provide information in the style they desire. 
  • Cost – The cost of NAC varies depending on the size and capabilities of the network, it’s worth remembering that a significant portion of the expense may be for basic handholding. How much money business is ready to spend? Does the company think that whether it is receiving benefits?
  • Support – Following the selection of a NAC product, the second step is to implement and support it. NAC must be administered by dedicated skilled employees or should be added to professional employee’s responsibility, in order to be effective. In terms of prices and degrees of service assistance, there are differences. It’s crucial to examine what kind of help the specific vendor provides, as well as whether or not that support is available in your region. In all circumstances, thorough technical support is an optional addition that might significantly raise the implementation costs. NAC products have an expiration policy, which means the vendor will no longer maintain them, therefore the pricing and frequency of system upgrades will have to be factored in.
  • Integration – One of the most important aspects of selecting a proper NAC system is verifying that it integrates with current systems. Mobile Device Management (MDM), endpoint solutions, and Web-Application firewalls, Intrusion Prevention System (IPS), Security information and event management (SIEM), vulnerability assessment, are just a few of the solutions that many enterprises have already paid extensively in. If NAC products cannot integrate with these other security solutions, they will be less beneficial. Creating a list of all the current systems that are used on the organization’s network which will need to integrate with before looking for NAC systems, and then narrow search accordingly.
  • Addons – Is the basic price sufficient to provide firms with all the information and control they require? NAC products contain small hidden expenses because the base package does not include all of the essential features. What are the additional features that the NAC product will require in order to give all of the desired benefits? On a major network, the additional expense of addon modules can go above thousands of dollars. Check what the basic NAC product offers, as well as how the organization intends to use NAC. 
  • Compliance – Many various regulations, such as International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the Payment Security Regulations, Health care regulations, can be fulfilled with the use of NAC. Each of these legislations specifies network access controls that must be enforced, particularly in the case of BYOD and random devices. Many of these standards can be aided by NAC, which continuously monitors network connections and takes measures based on an organization’s policy. In many circumstances, these policies can be adjusted to suit the compliance regulations mentioned. While purchasing NAC products, considering compliance and choosing a vendor that can assist the company in this process, whether it’s through support service or established policies that can be changed to give the compliance your organization requires.

Canon Solutions America and Symphion formed Partnership to Provide Comprehensive Print Fleet Cyber Hardening

Canon Solutions America, Inc., a subsidiary of Canon U.S.A., Inc., announced the addition of Symphion’s Printer Fleet Cybersecurity as a ServiceTM to its wide set of security solutions, as part of a strategic collaboration with Symphion, Inc., a leading security configuration management software and services firm. This relationship represents a significant commitment to providing Canon Solutions America clients with a fully inclusive solution that covers entire print fleets—including all makes, models, and ages—beyond the company’s security feature-rich printers and device management software.

Business executives are recognising the risk that Internet of Things (IoT) devices, such as printers, pose to their cybersecurity, as well as the severe financial repercussions of inaction. Printers have significant onboard security features, including up to 300 configurable security settings, but these configurations are frequently not used on networks due to cost and technical constraints, leaving these vulnerable devices entirely unsecured is truly the biggest network security risk in recent years.

There wasn’t a real vendor-agnostic solution to address this problem until Symphion. The fact is that large print fleets have hundreds to thousands of devices, each with its own set of makes, models, types, and ages, and no common configuration management system. Printer Fleet Cybersecurity as a Service provides full print fleet cyber hardening solutions as a turnkey service, without involving any customer personnel or contractors to solve this gap and cyber harden all print equipment in big print fleets.

“We’re proud to add industry leader Canon Solutions America as a Symphion partner. With Symphion, they’re clearly taking a leadership position by addressing the global cybersecurity gap that customers face,” said Jim LaRoe, chief executive officer, Symphion, Inc.

“We are excited to build on the success of our Canon Solutions America 5 Pillars of Security offerings with the addition of Symphion’s Printer Fleet Cybersecurity as a Service solution to our portfolio. We continue to develop relationships like this to support our commitment to providing best-in-class cybersecurity services to help our customers keep their proprietary data safe. We look forward to collaborating with Symphion on emerging, innovative security solutions,” said Peter P. Kowalczuk, president, Canon Solutions America.

CyberRatings Introduces First-of-its-Kind Cloud Test on Firewall as a Service and Zero Trust Network Access

CyberRatings.org, a non-profit firm dedicated to making cybersecurity product efficacy transparent, has released its first Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) rating. Zscaler’s Firewall as a Service (FWaaS), including its Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) capabilities, were tested independently by CyberRatings utilising Zscaler Internet Access and Zscaler Private Access. Overall, Zscaler received a ‘AA’ rating, with individual test components receiving ‘AA’ to ‘AAA’ ratings.

SASE technology is a relatively new addition to the market. It’s a new technology package that’s supplied as a service:

  • Data security (Cloud Access Security Broker and Data Loss Prevention)
  • Access control (FWaaS and ZTNA)
  • Threat protection (Secure Web Gateway, anti-malware, and intrusion prevention)

“The pandemic accelerated adoption of new technologies such as SASE that securely enable a distributed workforce. This first-of-its-kind test provides the cybersecurity industry with a reliable and independent way to evaluate SASE offerings,” said Vikram Phatak, CEO of CyberRatings.org. 

Because these technologies are so new, CyberRatings spent several months developing the apparatus to test FWaaS and ZTNA alongside Keysight’s network and cloud product teams. Keysight offered CyPerf to test application stability, performance, reliability and TLS / SSL functionality.

“The distributed nature of hybrid/cloud networks calls for a new way of testing. Keysight developed its industry-first cloud-native CyPerf test solution to help users validate services like SASE, software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN), and cloud network firewall. We are excited to partner with CyberRatings in this first independent test of SASE technology,” said Ram Periakaruppan vice president and general manager, Keysight’s Network Test and Security Solutions.

CyberRatings has a three-phase approach for assessing SASE solutions, with the first phase focusing on FWaaS and ZTNA. The discovery and handling of exploits, malware, and evasions will be tested in phase two. The cloud access security broker (CASB) and data leak protection will be addressed in the third phase (DLP).

Coronavirus Crisis | Impact, Sustenance and Security

The threat is real, and it is here. Crashing stock markets, disrupted supply chains, jolted travel industry, strained economies, and shut down factories, all these are results of the Coronavirus pandemic. Many economies around the world are struggling to contain the spread of Coronavirus, the hardest-hit countries being China, Italy, the US, Spain, Germany, and Iran. There are over 300,000 reported Coronavirus cases globally (according to WHO on 23 March 2020), since the virus first emerged in December 2019 in Wuhan, China. As the whole world is so interconnected, thanks to globalization, Coronavirus has spread to 117 countries in just over two months. It has become one of the greatest threats to the global economy and financial markets.

Being the manufacturing and exporting hub of the world, China holds a major contribution to the world’s GDP. So the economic turmoil in China due to Coronavirus is imperiling global growth. The impact of Coronavirus on the world’s economy and the fear of a global recession is shaking investor’s confidence and is rocking stock prices across countries. The global stock market has witnessed the most massive single-week decline post the financial crisis in 2008. With worldwide conferences, events, and sports around the world being canceled or postponed and travel restrictions being imposed by governments to curtail the spread of Coronavirus; the travel and tourism industry has been severely impacted. Other industries like retail, restaurants, entertainment, etc. have also started to bear the brunt of the pandemic.

Tough times such as this calls for tough measures from governments and organizations. Until vaccination or cure for the virus is available, the best way to curtail the virus from spreading is through social-distancing, which includes travel restrictions and avoiding large gatherings. Governments are imposing lockdowns and placing quarantine measures nationwide. Organizations are providing flexible working arrangements. Coronavirus has triggered the biggest work-from-home movement in history. To swift through the crisis, companies should also focus on effective communication, ensuring trust and disaster planning.

A majority of organizations are providing work from home options to their employees, cybersecurity has become an even bigger concern than before. While organizations are hurriedly implementing these changes, they are exposing themselves to more potential threats like compromised user credentials, organization’s data theft, and phishing attacks. For providing secured remote access, organizations should assess their existing security framework. Technologies like modern Network Access Control, Software Defined Perimeter, and other Zero Trust network access solutions will find more acceptance and witness a sharp growth in demand.