How Modern Networking Enviroments Drive The Need For Comprehensive NAC

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Most enterprises have, at some stage, attempted to implement Network Access Control (NAC) – and for good reason. Network Teams need to know what’s happening in their environments, clients need to work seamlessly, and IT leaders need to know that the network is secure, safe and reliable. Most solutions overpromise but woefully miss the mark, as they ultimately fail to deliver on two crucial non-negotiables when it comes to comprehensive access control: visibility and granularity.

In this blog, we’ll look at why these two aspects are so crucial to keep our environments safe and manageable.

Visibility provides context to unknown threats

When a sample group of 150 Network Engineers were asked about the most important aspect around network management, the vast majority responded with visibility. But with that in mind, how can you protect your network from what you don’t know exists??

With the Internet of Things (IoT) on its stellar trajectory and many companies implementing Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies, IT professionals are now faced with a hidden and unseen aspect to networking that is surely set to permeate the technological landscape. This is because any device connected to your network can function as a gateway into your infrastructure. And considering that twenty billion new devices are expected to join the online sphere by 2020, the need for comprehensive real-time visibility and access control is evident.

The implications of this 15 years ago would have been minimal, since up until then NAC was mostly required for your wired network and connected devices, that generally stayed connected. But these days the game has changed to such an extent that unknown threats can come from anywhere, from anyone, and at any given moment – placing always aware visibility at the centre of holistic network management.

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Granularity is the vehicle to unmatched visibility

An ideal NAC solution should be able to speak to every single device natively, whether it’s a camera, smartphone or computer, over Ethernet, Wireless or through a VPN. It should then be able to authenticate that device, and report back to you which one of your trusted – or untrusted – users is using it. This level of granularity often comes at the expense of extra hardware and tedious configurations, with results that often fail to deliver as promised. But without much-needed granularity in terms of network access management, IT departments are left incapacitated in their attempts to understand who is doing what in their environments. This places NAC systems that can deliver contextual views around events at the centre of a complete monitoring and management solution.

Staying afloat in a deluge of devices

In a recent article on Wired.com, it was demonstrated that hackers could easily access an iPhone from 5 meters away, and before the Galaxy users scoff, CNN Money reported that most S series phones have a fundamental flaw that allows hackers to access pretty much anything on the phone.

Combine this frightening news with the statistic that 61% of organisations allowed external devices to connect to their networks, yet only 9% of those businesses were fully aware of what those devices were, and one is left with many network introspective questions: “What are those devices accessing?” “What could they access with enough time, resources and expertise?” “Will you be prepared when it happens?” And most importantly: “Am I part of the 9%?”

NAC has become critical to the modern business infrastructure, and researchers agree. The NAC market is estimated to grow by over 30% by 2020, and although that is a large percentage, it’s still wholly disproportionate when placed alongside the growth figures for BYOD and IOT.

Download: The 802.1x Sting Whitepaper Now!

Illuminating the dark areas

What if you could shine a light on the dark areas of your network using a product that requires no agents, no appliances and is a scalable software-only solution? Portnox peeks into all areas, including the darkest areas of your network, shedding light on user devices such as tablets and mobile phones, virtual networks and the growing Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Nothing can hide. Device detection is key, and Portnox is able to verify device type, compliance and identity. Portnox requires no infrastructure changes, or software and speaks natively to every connected device.

It’s the solution that has always been promised, but is now finally being delivered.

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