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What is NAC?

NAC is an abbreviation of Network Access Control also called Network Administration Control. It is an ideal tool for ensuring comprehensive computer network security as it unifies endpoint security technology. NAC is actually a method through which proprietary networks’ security is bolstered by limiting the accessibility of its resources. This restriction or limitation on resources availability is directed to endpoint devices that are in compliance with a pre-defined security policy. NAC therefore, control and restrict user activities on your network by identifying the legitimacy of user accounts. This function is performed via various actions such as blocking unauthorized users from accessing, guest access control and ensuring that all legitimate users are complying with the security policy, etc.

Difference between NAC and NAS:

NAC and NAS have been considered as synonymous to each other and it is commonly believed that both perform similar functions. However, NAC is like an updated and improved version of the customary mechanism called Network Access Server (NAS).

NAS is basically a server which performs crucial security check functions on potential users through verifying the authorization and authentication of their logon information.

NAC, additionally, constrains the data that a user can access. Another of its function is that it implements anti-threat applications for immediate threat detection such as spyware- detection programs, anti-virus software and firewalls.

Not only does it restrict but NAC also regulates the activities a particular user can perform after connecting to the network.

Why is NAC integral for Data Security?

A majority of IT vendors are coming up with NAC products because of its immense credibility in securing your data. Various networking related enterprises totally rely upon NAC as it has proven to be a fruitful option. NAC is absolutely ideal for agencies and corporations where it is necessary to control user environment rigidly. It holds great degree of promise for network security because NAC can effectively strengthen SSL VPNs. It mitigates non-zero-day attacks by preventing end-stations that are lacking in anti virus or host intrusion prevention software. This is a great benefit because it not only prevents unknown users from accessing your network but also other computers are spared of the risk of cross-contamination of viruses.

Conventional IT and network security approaches can only enforce security policies on IP addresses whereas NAC can enforce policies on authenticated user identities. Furthermore, it can restrict unauthorized users from accessing your networks even if they log-in from mobile devices and/or laptops. NAC also helps network operators in defining the security policy. For instance, it helps in selecting the criteria of user access and the type of computers/devices that can access your network. It also helps in enforcing your policy effectively through routers, network middle boxes and switches.

Are there Any Shortcomings?

Yes there are!

NAC although is a strong and productive tool but there are shortcomings affiliated such as various network administrators doubt its practicality in expanded and extensive networks. Especially in scenarios where it is deployed in networks receiving heavy and diverse user traffic and large number of devices at a daily basis. If the nature of usage change so rigorously, it will naturally become difficult for NAC to perform its job accurately. For example, a large university having multiple departments would certainly have various and diverse access points. Thousands of students and stakeholders from different locations, objective and backgrounds will be accessing it. In such a scenario, the credibility of NAC will be compromised.

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