Cyber security data breaches are becoming increasingly common and severe. Today, banks, insurance companies, investment firms, and other financial institutions are considered to be prime targets. Due to the sensitivity and importance of their data, these institutions suffer approximately 300X more cyber breaches than any other industry.
In 2018, the financial sector reported 819 cyber incidents, an explosive increase from the 69 incidents reported for 2017 – including the infamous Equifax data breach. The total numbers for 2019 won’t be available until next year, yet we know that the financial sector has already experienced a number of significant attacks already this year. Such breaches included the attacks on Capital One, First American Financial Corp., Desjardins Group and Westpac/PayID.
Despite these pervasive cyber security threats, financial institutions are still failing to prevent, defend, prepare and respond effectively to attacks – particularly when it comes to network security. In many cases, the problem stems from executive leadership not prioritizing the cybersecurity budget or emphasizing its importance. Few organizations make prevention a priority, few apply the top recommended CIS controls or prepare employees on how to respond effectively in the event of a security incident. Unfortunately, poor network access control and other cyber security oversights lead to hundreds of millions of dollars in losses, the exploitation of personal data and more.
Some financial institutions, however, have already decided to take proactive measures this year to obtain risk monitoring, visibility and access controls. One such group is Royal London, the UK’s largest mutual life, pensions and investment company. Faced with limited network and device visibility, they had a variety of security and compliance issues to contend with. However, since implementing Portnox CORE, the company and all of its locations have instituted a higher level of cyber hygiene.
CORE is a simple to operate network access control solution that provides full visibility into every endpoint and component on the network, along with risk monitoring and enforcement capabilities. It is simple to deploy and manage and has received numerous cyber security awards.
From the moment Portnox’s on-premises NAC solution was implemented, Royal London’s security team has been able to successfully handle all challenges associated with visibility, control and compliance enforcement. This includes the ability to see all endpoints on the network, and ensure that they are properly secured according to company policies, privacy standards and regulatory compliance.
Furthermore, as risk-monitoring and other network security enforcement actions that would otherwise have to be done manually are now automated, Royal London’s IT team can devote their time to more important tasks, thereby increasing efficiency and productivity.
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An Examination of NAC, its Use Cases & its Future
Network Access Control (NAC) sits within the larger field of cybersecurity, and more specifically network security. It is a technology that enables organizations to enact its own unique policy for how and when endpoints (desktops, laptops, smartphones, etc.) can connect to their corporate networks. NAC solutions are typically designed to allow IT security teams to gain visibility of each device trying to access its network, and specifically the type of device and access layer being used (i.e. wifi, wired ports, or VPN).
Today, NAC provides a number of powerful features on top of what it was originally designed for nearly 15 years ago. These include security posture assessments for endpoints, which pinpoints any associated endpoint risks, allowing network security administrators to control network access based on their organization’s risk tolerance threshold.
With the rise of cloud computing, remote workforces, bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies, and the internet of things (IoT), network access control has become a much more critical part of the larger cybersecurity technology stack at most companies. The technology itself has also evolved quite drastically in response to these emerging trends and their impact on networking and ensuring network security.
The use cases for NAC today are constantly expanding. Network security professionals leverage NAC solutions for network visibility, the discovery of endpoints, security profiling, compliance enforcement, remediation…the list goes on. In general, NAC is designed to do two core tasks: 1) authenticate the endpoint trying to connect to the network, and 2) authorize access based on authentication and posture assessment.
Throughout this piece, we will examine how NAC is being used out in the real world, things to consider when defining your NAC policies, the best way to invest in NAC, and more. Feel free to skip to any section using the links below:
- The Value of NAC
- NAC Uses Cases
- Defining Your NAC Policies
- Common NAC Concepts
- Must-Have NAC Capabilities
- The Future of NAC
The Value of Network Access Control
Network access control delivers a host of benefits to the organizations that deploy it. Generally speaking, the value unlocked by NAC can be broken into three distinct areas of focus: 1) operational need, 2) security best practices, and 3) regulatory compliance.
One of the most interesting aspects of NAC is the fact that unlike many other areas of network security, it brings more than just the value of security to the table. In particular, NAC delivers three core operational values:
- Device Onboarding – Properly connecting and removing new non-managed devices to/from the network.
- Guest / Contractor Access – Securely granting limited access for third-parties connecting to the network, either for short or long periods of time.
- Asset Profiling – Identifying which devices exist in your organization and where they are connecting from.
Security Best Practice
The importance of network security goes without saying. Network access control, however, checks the boxes for a variety of IT security best practices, including:
- WiFi Security – Nearly 20% of SMBs experience a data breach by a former employee who still has WiFi access…make sure you can control all WiFi connections.
- Visibility – See all devices on your network – no matter device type, location, or access layer used to connect.
- Containment – The ability to quarantine, block, or provide limited (guest) access to endpoints that do not meet your internal risk policies.
- Asset Profiling – see above.
Highly regulated industries like banking, financial services, and healthcare require strict compliance policies when it comes to their networks. NAC helps to deliver this and more through:
- Posture Assessment – Continually assess the risk posture of connecting devices across the network, no matter location or access layer.
- Port / Wired Security – Ensuring no un-trusted device can physically connect to the network via wired ports in the office.
- Segmentation – Properly directing employees into their respective departmental VLANs, or pushing visitors to the guest network.
- WiFi Security – see above.
Individual Use Cases for Network Access Control
Within each of the three primary areas of value of NAC are a variety of different use cases for NAC. These include…
NAC is frequently used for device onboarding, which is the process of providing new devices with access to the corporate network for the first time. It sounds simple, but it’s anything but. Business units and even departments (think Finance & Accounting, for example) often have their own VLANs since they’re dealing with very sensitive, confidential data.
The task of setting up such VLANs and onboarding new devices is just one of dozens of tasks overseen by frequently overburdened IT teams. So, if not done correctly at first, it can open the door to potential network vulnerabilities, such as a person gaining access to a part of the network he/she should not have the privileges for.
At a small scale, managing access manually if often sufficient. For larger organizations, however, this just isn’t sustainable. As a result, many large organizations that don’t have a secure onboarding process will often compromise on network security hygiene.
At some point in the workday, most companies will have non-employees visiting their offices for meetings and business dealings. These guests are typically on-site for brief periods of time but may need wifi access during the course of their stay.
Typically, each organization defines the level of authentication and monitoring they want for their visitors. Common policies include:
- Disclaimer Only – Notifying the rules for which they might need to abide while using the company network.
- Pre-Generated Username & Password – Simple authentication for better control of whom is connecting the network
- Sponsorship – Authentication based on an individual working for the organization. Usually, the sponsor will receive an email to approve the connected guest.
Many organizations offer a guest network, where day-to-day visitors are directed. This approach effectively eliminates the most common threat – someone that is just looking to be connected to the internet. The most common way to implement network access for guests is through the use of a captive portal.
Additionally, many businesses hire contractors or consultancies to tackle specific projects. These individuals and groups will need network access for extended periods of time and will need to be granted access to company resources and sensitive, proprietary data. NAC is used to dictate and enforce the level of access these types of individuals receive based on internal policies.
In recent years, remote work has soared due to a greater demand for mobility and flexibility. This has given rise to the adoption of bring your own device (BYOD) policies within many organizations. Now, while this approach makes operational (and even financial) sense, it does come with a caveat. By allowing employees, contractors, and guests alike to use their own devices to connect to the network, you’re immediately faced with issues like data leakage, malware infections, the mixing of corporate and personal data, and more.
With BYOD, a network access control solution can effectively secure such a fragmented network through multiple methods of authentication, and by making sure device risk posture is valid and continuously remediating any security issues in real-time. First, network security administrators can use a dedicated SSID for employee device authentication – no matter if it’s managed or personal. They can then create a separate SSID for guests and contractors to authenticate those individuals to the guest wifi.
The other option available for authentication is through the use of directory credentials. Integrating tools like Okta or Active Directory with your NAC can allow you to authenticate manage corporate devices through certificates, and personal credentials for BYOD.
Captive portal is a web page for authenticating users and verifying their device type and posture state. While this method is sufficient for visitors, it is an insufficient solution for employees or permanent visitors on your network. The most common use cases for captive portal are:
- Guest access
- Self-service portal for BYOD / IoT on-boarding
It’s important to note that this is an interactive method to access the network, so when non-interactive devices, such as IoT are “pushed” to a captive portal, they can not react and thus can not gain access to the network. In order to use IoT onboarding with a captive portal, the end-user should either register the IoT in the self-service portal or download some form of credentials to be inserted to the IoT device (such as a digital certificate).
For fully remote employees or contractors, companies have traditionally relied on VPNs to establish secure encrypted connections for remote access to the corporate network. A VPN does not stop an endpoint from accessing the network, however – it’s only a way of providing remote network connectivity. By itself, a VPN is missing the ability to authenticate a user – it can not prevent “unhealthy” devices from connecting to the network.
In the instance of remote access, NAC can be layered over the top of a VPN, VDI or other remote access methods, such as a Meraki Z3 Teleworker Gateway, to provide effective authentication and access control, as well as endpoint risk profiling – just like any other access layer (i.e. wifi or wired port).
Device Risk Posture Assessment
Your corporate network is only as strong as its weakest security link. This means continuous risk posture assessment is paramount. By continually monitoring the network, your network and security teams can stay ahead of cyberattacks with the ability to identify new risks in real-time, react to these risks, and take action. In a world with ever-expanding boundaries and an exponential increase in types of endpoints, continuous risk posture assessment must function no matter location, device type, or the type of data is being transferred.
Having a rapid remediation plan in place will not only help prevent further damage or the lateral spread of attacks but also allow for business continuity. Effective endpoint remediation consists of:
- Automated Patch Updates Across the Network – Enforce necessary patch, anti-virus, operating system, and application updates across managed and unmanaged endpoints.
- Immediate Incident Response – Contain ransomware events by remotely disconnecting endpoints from the network without the need for manual intervention.
- Armed Incident Response Teams – Arm IT professionals and network admins with the ability to remotely take actions on employees’ devices.
The proliferation of IoT devices over the last decade has prompted a growing number of network security concerns. With all of these devices – printers, CCTV cameras, ATMs, MRI machines, etc. – now connected to their respective networks, it’s exponentially expanding corporate threat surfaces.
To combat the many risks posed by these new endpoints, companies are turning to NAC to gain visibility, knowledge, and control over IoT devices – much the same as traditional PCs and VoIP phones based in the office. There is a huge variety of IoT devices, and in general, there’s a serious lack of centralized management with regards to their security posture. Many of these IoT devices still rely on IT security technology from the 1980s, with no password brute force controls and no available patches.
It’s not a question of if vulnerabilities exist on IoT devices, this is a given. Today, it’s a matter of ensuring these devices can be properly controlled to they can’t compromise the network. Currently, the only line of defense is segmenting them out of the network. Making sure only authorized users and devices can access them – this is exactly what NAC solutions are doing in an automatic method.
Industries like banking, financial services, and healthcare are typically subject to a plethora of compliance regulations, such as SOX, HIPAA, PCI-DSS, GLBA, and now GDPR. Embedded in many of these regulations are certain network security parameters that necessitate access control so that sensitive personal and confidential information is not compromised.
Once a company has defined its internal network security compliance policies, it needs to implement a network access control solution to put in them into effect in order to continually assess its compliance standing.
NAC is used to enforce regulatory policies and maintain compliance across the organization. In practice, this typically means:
- Understanding how mobile, BYOD, and IoT devices will affect and transform not only the organization but the industry and implementing the right processes and tools control them.
- Tracking any network related device or program in real-time via a centrally secured platform providing full and actionable visibility.
- Controlling access to the network and to cloud applications, even based on the geographical locations of users.
- Ensuring that the business is in compliance with governmental regulations like SOX, PCI DSS, HIPPA, FINRA, FISMA, GLBA among others. Strict compliance will provide legitimacy with clients and partners.
Common Network Access Control Policies
Access Control Policies
Network security teams define and activate access control policies to control device access to the corporate network, which is ultimately based on the device authorization state. Once a device is authorized for network access, a network access policy determines which specific virtual LAN (VLAN) that device or user is directed to. On top of that, the policy also defines, for each type of authorization violation, whether to deny entry or whether to quarantine the device by assigning it to a specific VLAN or apply an ACL.
Risk Assessment Policies
In addition to defining an access control policy, network administrators will typically define a risk assessment policy, which assigns a risk score to each device. This score will indicate the level of risk posed by the device. Depending on the NAC solution in use, these risk scoring systems may differ. A risk assessment policy defines, for each device attribute (such as OS, security posture, geo-location, and more), the risk rating to apply if the device violates the current policy in use. At the end of the day, the risk score is used to determine whether allow, block, or quarantine from accessing the network. This is the backbone of NAC.
In some instances, the network security team may define a series of remediation policies. Essentially, a remediation policy consists of unattended corrective and preventive actions (CAPA), automatically applied to devices upon every transmission or on a recurring basis. A remediation policy can be used to reduce devices’ risk scores and increase compliance levels for network access.
Common Network Access Control Concepts
Post-Connect vs. Pre-Connect
Within the world of network access control, “post-connect” refers to a device being allowed to connect to the network and immediately being checked for authentication. If a device does not meet the organizational criteria for authentication, it will be blocked from having access to the network (or access will be limited).
In contrast, “pre-connect” means that authentication decisions are being made before a device is allowed on the network. Only once the device is authenticated will it be granted access to the network based on the policy. 802.1X is a traditional pre-connect method.
In general, a pre-connect approach is more secure since the device is granted access to the network only after identified as an organizationally trusted device. Post-connect is more operational for end-users, as they are granted access to the network before a decision is made.
Agent-Based vs. Agentless
Today, most NAC solutions can perform authentication and authorization without the need of an agent. Agents are typically employed for the following reasons:
- Risk Posture Assessment – This mainly the case for companies with BYOD policies.
- Remediation – In order to know if a firewall or anti-virus is out-of-date, you must have an agent.
- On-Boarding of Unmanaged Devices – Again this mainly applies to BYOD.
In some cases, the agent does not need to live within the network access control solution. Rather, third-party agents such as mobile app management software (MAM/MDM) and services can be leveraged to execute the above functions.
Cloud NAC vs. On-Prem NAC
As we go into further detail below, if you can move NAC to the cloud, you should. There is a myriad of benefits to doing so. At a high-level, these include operational time savings thanks to easier deployment and less on-going maintenance, better accessibility (especially for distributed enterprises), more flexibility as your business needs change, etc. In general, enterprises are increasingly adopting purpose-built cloud technologies for different operational needs, and NAC is no exception.
Not every organization has the ability to deploy a cloud NAC solution, however. One of the main hindrances of doing so is a lack of openness or internal expertise for cloud services. There still remain dwindling concerns, misconceptions and unrealistic expectations over the potential benefits and overall security of public cloud services, which has resulted in some industries such as government agencies, healthcare, and education – to name a few – to be slow in adopting new enterprise cloud technologies.
Passive Profiling vs. Active Profiling
A core function of NAC is the profiling of network traffic and connected devices. In general, there are two approaches to profiling: 1) passive profiling and 2) active profiling.
Passive profiling means that a company’s NAC solution has been allowed to see all traffic across the network, and uses this intelligence to observe and analyze traffic to develop a passive profile of each device. On the other hand, active profiling means that a company’s NAC solution has been configured to initiate requests to the endpoints so that each device can have a profile created for it.
Must-Have Network Access Control Solution Capabilities
Full Access Layer Coverage
As today’s networks explode in size and scope, particularly with remote workforces on the rise, it’s imperative that your NAC solution can manage access control across all existing access layers. This includes the obvious – wired ports and WiFi. It also must be able to manage the various remote access methods used within your organization. These may include VPN, virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), Meraki Z-Series Teleworker Gateways, and beyond.
Nearly primary management and productivity tool used by businesses have shifted to the cloud. Network access control is no exception. The inherent productivity, operational, economic, and accessibility benefits have driven this trend in the last fifteen years.
When it comes to NAC, however, there is a big difference between cloud-based and cloud-delivered. Some NAC providers offer an accessible cloud-based platform from which to manage network access, but this typically still requires on-site hardware to be installed. With a cloud-delivered approach, you stand up everything from a RADIUS server in the cloud to allow for centralized authentication and authorization up to certificate authority. This saves a significant amount of time and means that even large distributed organizations can implement NAC across their many locations in a fraction of the time as traditional on-premise network access control solutions.
Today, 802.1X is the standard protocol for network access control. When searching for a NAC solution, the ability of the system to deliver 802.1X authentication is of the utmost importance. With access control based on 802.1X, network administrators can confidently block rogue devices, quarantine noncompliant endpoints, limit access to specified resources – whatever your internal policy calls for. 802.1X remains one of the best ways to authenticate devices because of its continuous and direct communication, in contrast to post-scanners, or other less secure authentication solutions that expose the network to vulnerabilities.
Zero-Trust for Endpoints
While “zero-trust” has become another overused buzzword in the world of network security, it is, in fact, an effective approach to sealing your network off from rogue devices. With zero-trust, an organization inherently does not trust any endpoint inside or outside its perimeters. A zero-trust network access control solution can eliminate the need for extensive endpoint scanning since the status of a device is already known. This doesn’t eliminate all of the attack surfaces, but it does help in protecting both endpoints and your network.
Endpoint Risk Assessment
The ability to continuously assess the risk of devices connected to or trying to connect to your network is paramount. Understanding the risk posture of devices – on-site or remote – and proactively taking action based on endpoint risk – such as allowing, quarantining, or denying access across access layers – is the best way to ensure network threats are kept at bay.
The world is changing – threat surface is expanding, and companies are increasingly turning to purpose-built enterprise cloud applications to streamline business processes. Today, it’s not enough to just protect what’s on-premise – you need to know the risk posture assessment of every device that connects to corporate resources, no matter location.
Continuous Device Remediation
Awareness is only a piece of the puzzle, however. When considering a NAC solution, it’s important to understand if it can easily remediate devices that sit outside of internal risk policies and restore those devices to the proper posture to eventually grant network access. Put simply, ensuring devices are healthy reduces security risk. That means network administrators can sleep a bit more soundly at night.
As we covered earlier, real-time device remediation has a major operational benefit as well – it saves time! By eliminating the need for network or security administrators to fix devices manually, you’re freeing them up for more important tasks.
Corrective & Preventative Action (CAPA)
Risky technology behavior like inserting an untrusted USB drive, or failing to update a firewall or anti-virus is prevalent. We’re almost all guilty of it. The ability to prevent this risky behavior is thus important. Not just for the sake of lowering the exposure time, also saving important time for the organization by fixing the issue automatically and preventing a potential breach.
Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
Leveraging MFA for NAC that looks at a user’s credentials and an enrolled device is critical to ensuring access control across today’s expanding networks. MFA should be integrated within your NAC, especially on remote access. This approach ensures that security is offered on two levels: protection of the user identity, and authorization of the device – making sure only managed and secure devices are allowed to gain access. With MFA, if a user’s credentials are compromised, they’re effectively useless and if the device being used is not enrolled with the NAC you cannot access the VPN, VDI, or cloud applications.
The Future of Network Access Control
NAC and the Rise of SD-WAN
The adoption of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and cloud services has decentralized data traffic flows, making Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) inefficient for wide area network (WAN) transport. This has given rise to SD-WAN for the implementation of software-defined branch (SD-branch), now allowing IT environments to be extended to branches outside of the headquarters that need high-quality network connectivity.
Traditionally, in order for NAC to effectively operate, it has needed a direct connection to headquarters and appliances deployed on-site at individual branches. This is a costly, time-consuming endeavor, and has historically limited the use of SD-WAN and SD-branch. NAC has adapted by moving to the cloud, eliminating the need for on-site appliances and on-going maintenance. Now, all one needs is an internet connection to implement.
The Impact of Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) on NAC
In 2019, Gartner introduced SASE as a new enterprise networking technology category. In essence, SASE converges the functions of network and security solutions into a single, unified cloud service. This marks an architectural transformation within the realm of enterprise networking and security, and it means that IT teams can now deliver a holistic and flexible service to their businesses.
The logical next step in the evolution of network security is for organizations to be able to leverage a NAC solution that’s delivered as a cloud service. This eliminates the need for costly on-site appliances and on-going maintenance. Now, all that’s needed to control network access at branches and the headquarters alike, is an internet connection.
As the demand for mobility continues to increase, and Wi-Fi continues to replace Ethernet as the preferred corporate access layer, many organizations are facing similar security issues and requirements. This is particularly significant with the increasing number of guests, contractors and employees who are using their own devices on corporate networks. In recent years, there has been an increase of personal devices entering the workplace with many organizations adopting BYOD policies.
Overall, having a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy has proved to be a good business policy. By allowing employees, contractors and guests to connect their own devices, such as laptops, smartphones, and tablets, to the corporate wireless network, enterprises have been able to save money while increasing productivity and team motivation (Frost & Sullivan). However, there are certain challenges to securing the organization’s WiFi network in a BYOD environment. Without addressing these issues properly, you are leaving your company’s assets and data vulnerable.
Approaches to BYOD on WiFi
Some companies allow BYOD usage for everybody, on the company WiFi, whether employees, contractors or guests, while others maintain a strict Zero BYOD-WiFi hookup. There are companies that choose the middle ground approach of allowing employees to connect their own devices on the corporate wireless network but have a separate WiFi network for guests and contractors, and some allow contractors to connect to the company WiFi for specific tasks. Either way, the question of how to handle BYOD and WiFi security seems to come up in many conversations we have with IT teams in regards to network security and secure mobile device management.
How Does BYOD Impact the Security of Company Wireless Networks?
In general, security risks comprise the most serious challenges in a BYOD environment (other than the danger of overloading your bandwidth and IT support issues). Once employees leave the company, they take their personal devices. This could mean that sensitive corporate data and assets (intellectual or physical) are unsecured, especially in environments that use passkeys for WiFi access. Enforcing security policies on the endpoints that are not owned by the company is not practiced by many companies as it seems like an impossible task for IT Departments, however, below we will discuss the easier methods and controls that can be implemented, rather easily, to make sure that WiFi-BYOD security is properly addressed.
Data leakage – If an employee neglects to install a security update on their private device, it could put your data at risk. Mobile devices such as laptops, phones and tablets are susceptible to cyber-attacks and require constant patch updates to handle security loopholes, and even a single missed patch can leave your company, and its data, vulnerable. These devices are constantly exposed to vulnerabilities and it is difficult to control which corporate data might be accessed via these endpoints.
Malware infections – If an employee were to accidentally install malware onto their device, while it is connected to the corporate WiFi network, they could spread the malware to other devices. The employee might even unknowingly install keylogging software, thereby enabling unauthorized users to obtain company usernames and passwords, and use them to gain access to sensitive or private enterprise data.
IT infrastructure – Most organizations with BYOD policies must invest time, energy, and money to assure that BYOD policies are compliant with security and privacy policies. To avoid the need to divert more time and resources later on to fix problems, IT personal must make sure to implement BYOD nac exactly according to policy from the beginning.
Mixing corporate and personal data – Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish between personal data and corporate data. If the endpoint were to be lost or stolen, company data would be at risk of exposure. There are also privacy concerns when employees leave the company.
Employee, Guest and Contractor BYOD – The Differences
Guests – Typically, these are visitors that are around for short visits, and in some work places we have observed that the same WiFi network that is used for employee devices is made available to guests.
Contractors – Most often these are professionals, outsourced to perform a specific job or project, sometimes collaborating with employees, and therefore they remain at the company (physically or virtually) for longer time periods compared with guests, and require the use of their own devices. In this case we have observed access that is granted to more sensitive data and resources, depending on the project, such as accounting, HR, legal, insurance, IT, intellectual data, technology, and more.
Employees – the permanent team members who may require access 24/7/365 depending on how geo-distributed the organization is and how quickly they need to be able to access corporate data to perform their duties.
Individual User WiFi Authentication
When examining WiFi security, it is crucial to consider the method being used to authenticate to the network. At Portnox we recommend WPA2-Enterprise, also referred to as WPA-802.1X mode. It authenticates to WiFi by using different identities instead of a single password. An identity can be credentials (user + password) or it can be a digital certificate. The WPA2-Enterprise authentication method is a great fit for any enterprise, large or small, allowing organizations to properly secure their wireless networks and making sure that they are compliant with security best practices.
By implementing enterprise-grade WiFi security that can authenticate all devices requesting access to the network, all endpoints are better protected. Access can be set to identify suspicious endpoints and to deny network access. This would protect the most internal network with the most important data and assets as wells as help to safeguard technology assets and employee devices.
Implementing identity-based WiFi access control would mean that employees are granted access based on their personal user ID or credentials, thus dramatically reducing the chances of unauthorized access to the organization’s Wi-Fi network, and it would ensure a much better security standard over the shared password practice. Team members will have access to corporate WiFi, that would allow them access to the systems and information to best perform their jobs. However, if they leave the company, instead of having to change everybody’s password for WiFi, you only have to cancel out those individual credentials.
Practices for Securing BYOD
Using enterprise-grade WiFi security enables the company to allow access to specific SSIDs and to authenticate based on any method. Some companies set up an SSID dedicated to employees for both company-issued and personal devices. This means that employees can connect their smartphones, tablets, etc. to that WiFi network, and it is a separate SSID from the one used for guests and contractors. The guests at these companies can connect to a pure guest internet connection.
In cases where the company is using Active Directory credentials to authenticate to the network, the company cannot stop employees from connecting their BYOD. So the best practice in cases like these is to have managed corporate devices authenticated with certificates, to use personal AD credentials to authenticate employee BYOD and to have easy onboarding for guests and contractors via a separate SSID. If contractors need access to certain corporate data, temporary user credentials could be provided.
Some companies do not have Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) so they are “stuck” using personal credentials and thus, cannot completely control employee BYOD and enforce to use company vs. BYOD network. Still, when using SaaS/cloud-delivered WiFi security such as Portnox CLEAR, CLEAR itself includes a certificate authority. This means that companies can issue network authentication certificates to their corporate endpoints, without the need to deploy PKI (unless there is already such infrastructure in place).
Taking the Next Step
Allowing employees, contractors and guests to connect their devices to the company WiFi network can be done in a secure and simple way. By taking a few easy steps online, you can keep your WiFi network, company assets and data secure while incorporating a productive and user-friendly BYOD environment. Regardless of how you would like to authenticate devices, Portnox CLEAR’s Secure WiFi can help you navigate through the process and provides easy SaaS implementation within a few minutes. Contact Portnox Security today for expert advice to help you move forward with your secured BYOD & WiFi.
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Some argue that NAC (Network Access Control) is no longer relevant in today’s world of the mobile workforce and distributed (or decentralized) organizations that have moved to using cloud applications for the most part. Adding the fact that many organizations are allowing personal devices to be used in the corporate environment (BYOD) and the fact that IoT devices are used everywhere, some might consider this to be further evidence to the conclusion that NAC is no longer relevant or needed.
In 2004 the first NAC products came on the scene and signaled the start of a new segment in Information Security. At the time, most organizations still had a physical perimeter, desktops were still the main PC to be used at the workplace and laptops were starting to make a wide appearance. BYOD (bring your own device), IoT (Internet of Things) and multi-branch, geo-distributed organizations that rely heavily on cloud services were not prevalent yet. Accordingly, the standards for NAC were very different from what they are today and mainly focused on the wired environment. NAC solutions were then primarily based on using 802.1x pre-connect enforcement with supplicants which were not part of the operating system. Organizations trying to implement NAC solutions only had the option of deploying 802.1x – which ended up with long, complex deployment and implementation, leaving them with a bad taste for NAC.
Over the past 20 years, NAC technologies have evolved exponentially. Vendors introduced control and discovery techniques that have yielded better and faster deployments and ROI. Just as the enterprise network and endpoints have evolved, NAC solutions have evolved from merely allowing or blocking endpoints onto the network into a broader security solution that provides network visibility, endpoint profiling, security posture assessments, risk management and compliance.
Additionally, some solutions have scaled to suit the modern workforce, heterogeneous networks, hybrid cloud and on-prem environments, diverse endpoint environments (such as IoT and BYOD) and globally distributed organizations. This increase in number of devices connecting to the network and change of working environments has been our reality for the past 10 years and has evoked a new NAC. Hence, the resurrection of NAC continues to be upon us.
Future of NAC
At this point in 2019, over 60% of enterprise data is stored in cloud applications (public cloud, private cloud and a hybrid of both). By 2020, just a year from now, it is predicted that 83% of enterprise workloads will be taking place in the cloud (1). According to IDG, 77% of enterprises have at least one application or a portion of their enterprise computing infrastructure in the cloud. Additionally, more technology-dependent industries including manufacturing, high-tech, and telecom are being led by executive management to become 100% cloud-based. Therefore, it is crucial to make sure that only company owned and secured devices gain access to corporate intelectual property and information in the inner most circles of the enterprise. According to Gartner research , by 2023 80% of enterprises will adopt two or more cloud-based security services. This is no coinsidence. The complexities in the cyber security landscape alongside the increasing shortage in skilled security professionals is leading towards a greater adoption of cloud-based security services and specifically to the adoption of NAC as-a-Service.
Another factor in future solutions is related to increaseing IoT adoption by enterprises and factories. Visibility and monitoring of IoT must be done by an agentless solution. We believe that having agentless solutions that are centrally controlled will be preferred by many organizations in 2019 and the years to come.
Lighter, adaptable and agile solutions will be necessary in the new era. Enterprises will transition into using easier NAC solutions such as centralized NAC, agentless NAC, NAC delivered from the cloud and Software-as-a-Service. These NAC solutions will save time and money on deployment, training and implementation, while at the same time providing the visibility and accuracy needed to handle today’s complex and hybrid networks. Next-gen solutions are able to cope fully with today’s decentralized organizations and the old NAC configurations will no longer suffice as they are perimeter focused.
NAC was effective for the problem it was created to solve in the mid-2000s, but subsequent technological advancements in cloud applications and the mass-adoption of mobile computing devices by the mobile workforce, and IoT have introduced new complexities and challenges. The new computing model requires new cyber security solutions, and the new, NAC technologies are uniquely positioned to be among them. Cloud-native solutions will address concerns of lengthy deployments and geo-distribution. Agentless and centralized solutions will shorten and simplify implementations and everyday usage that were once the dread of CISOs and IT security teams in the enterprise.
You can see the ease of use and the benefits of cloud-delivered NAC by starting your own a free trial of CLEAR (Cloud-delivered solution) today.
- LogicMonitor’s Cloud Vision 2020: The Future of the Cloud Study
- The State of Network Security in the Cloud Era, Lawrence Orans, 2018 Gartner Security & Risk Management Summit.
- 2.9 million according to (ISC)2
We’re excited to share that Portnox won the Cyber Security Excellence Award in two categories, including:
- Silver Winner for Most Innovative Cybersecurity Company: Portnox
- Bronze Winner for Cloud Security category: Portnox CLEAR
“Congratulations to Portnox for being recognized as a winner in the Most Innovative Cybersecurity Company and Cloud Security categories of the 2018 Cybersecurity Excellence Awards,” said Holger Schulze, CEO of Cybersecurity Insiders and founder of the 400,000-member Information Security Community on LinkedIn that organizes the awards program. “With over 400 entries in more than 70 categories, the 2018 awards are highly competitive and all winners truly reflect the very best in today’s cybersecurity industry.”
The 2018 Cybersecurity Excellence Awards are an annual program that recognizes products, companies and individuals that exhibit innovation, excellence and noteworthy leadership in the information security space, based on the strength of their nomination and the popular vote from members of the Information Security Community. You can find Portnox listed among the winners here.
You want to stay ahead of the game? The following list of cybersecurity events will help … and they are fun too!
Whether you are a security professional, software developer, security administrator, or any other role in the IT security fields, attending a conference is a great way to network with other professionals and learn about the hottest market trends, new developments, improvements, innovation and information.
Plenty of great cybersecurity conferences are coming up in the months ahead and the Portnox team will attend several of these. We’ve identified these top cybersecurity events that should be on your list. Check them out and update your calendar!
January 29- 31, 2018
Tel Aviv, Israel
The event is positioned as a global meeting place, featuring representatives from organizations of all sizes, from multinational corporations to emerging startups. There will be a special pavilion for startups, as well as a competition in which entrepreneurs will present their ideas to a panel of international judges. Topics under discussion during the conference include the Internet of Things (IoT), big data and Finsec New in 2018 is a sister conference and exhibition, AutoTech, focusing on the future of smart mobility and the automotive.
February 16, 2018
New York City, USA
Oracle Cloud World brings together forward-looking professionals responsible for finance, operations, supply chain, human resource, sales, marketing, customer service and IT. Learn how leading companies are leveraging the cloud for competitive advantage. Experience what works, what doesn’t, and identify solutions and approaches to accelerate your innovation.
March 5- 6, 2018
The Gartner Identity and Access Management (IAM) Summit will focus on some of the hottest topics for the coming year, including the role of identity management in securing cloud and mobile apps, the IoT and the importance of privileged access management. For those preparing for the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), there is also a focus on the role of IAM as it applies to the privacy regulation.
March 19 -21, 2018
InfoSec World 2018 Conference & Expo is bringing together CISOs, CIOs, CTOs and other security practitioners who will share hands-on and practical advice on a wide range of security topics. From understanding your adversary to learning about the 0-day exploit market to bridging the gap between the technical and business aspects of security, InfoSec World 2018 will offer a chance for security professionals to learn something new and analyze ideas with peers.
March 21 -22, 2018
Cloud Security Expo is the fastest growing section of the Cloud Expo Europe event series attracting a record-breaking 19,926 Enterprise IT & Security Buyers and Specialists in March this year! Cloud Expo Europe Keynote Theatre hosts foremost international technology leaders, including internationally acclaimed and top-rated visionaries, senior industry speakers and executives driving a global transformative shift towards cloud computing and other disruptive technologies. Speakers will deliver their outlook on the future, plus leading CIOs and senior IT professionals will be sharing their roadmaps to digital transformation, where cloud lives in the heart of the engine room. Cloud Security Expo provides the tools, training & techniques to ensure companies are compliant and secure as they transition their business assets to the cloud.
To register for the event, click here.
April 16-20, 2018
San Francisco, CA, USA
The largest cybersecurity event in the world today. The RSA Conference USA 2018 is dedicated to information security topics including data breaches, Cyber threats, compliance, social engineering, cloud security, risk management, application security, mobile security, governance, data security, legislation and policy, law, cryptography and identity management. It brings together information security professionals from across the globe working in industries such as Computer Software Development Finance, Banking, Healthcare, Government, Pharmaceuticals, and Manufacturing. Hear from world-class speakers on topics such as “The Most Dangerous New Attack Techniques, and What’s Coming Next”.
April 30 – May 4, 2018
Las Vegas, NV, USA
Interop ITX combines a trusted Conference program with a vendor-neutral Business Hall and lots of networking events. The event is entering its 32nd year serving the IT community and it is an opportunity to learn about technologies and solutionsץ You may not realize how much the show has evolved during that time, growing from a plugfest ensuring network interoperability to an industry-oriented trade show to its current model: a week-long event centered around its conference program, including educational sessions, long-form tutorials, mainstage keynotes, sponsored content and a business hall showcasing technology.
Our CEO is Speaking! Sign up for his hands-on IoT workshop here.
Gartner Security & Risk Management Summit
June 4- 7, 2018
National Harbor, MD, USA
The Gartner Security & Risk Management Summit 2018 will focus on practices and strategies that will provide cost-effective security and risk programs in order to support digital business and drive the success of your business or organization.
Among the exhibiting companies are IBM, Thales, Cylance, Varonis, Symantec, HP enterprise, Verizon, Sentinel, AT&T.
June 5-7, 2018
Infosecurity Europe (Infosec) is the region’s number one information security event featuring Europe’s largest and most comprehensive conference programme and over 400 exhibitors showcasing the most relevant information security solutions and products to over 19,500 information security professionals. Each year this conference features many sessions on NAC. Watch this space!
August 4 – 9, 2018
Las Vegas, NV, USA
Black Hat is the most technical and relevant global information security event series in the world. For more than 18 years, Black Hat has provided attendees with the very latest in information security research, development, and trends in a strictly vendor-neutral environment. These high-profile global events and training are driven by the needs of the security community, striving to bring together the best minds in the industry. Black Hat inspires professionals at all career levels, encouraging growth and collaboration among academia, world-class researchers, and leaders in the public and private sectors.
Contact us to schedule private product demos (Portnox CORE for on-Premise NAC and Portnox CLEAR for cloud-based NAC) at one of these shows. We look forward to seeing you there and beginning a conversation with you around network security!
The value proposition of network access control (NAC) solutions has shifted in recent years due to the onset of wireless networks, coupled with technological advancements in mobile and Internet of Things devices. Together with growing demands for the implementation compliance standards across a number of industries, companies are now required to openly communicate information about their security controls to external auditing authorities.
NAC is well positioned to provide an answer to these concerns by directly addressing the Center for Internet Security’s Top 5 Security Controls, which are a prioritized set of actions to protect organizations and data from cyber threats. NAC security solutions address: collecting the inventory of authorized/unauthorized devices and software (including applications); ensuring secure configurations of hardware and software; carrying out continuous vulnerability assessments and remediation measures; and allowing for the controlled use of administrative privileges through role-based access.
2017 was a very busy year for Portnox, yet throughout we aimed to address cybersecurity trends through our product offerings – Portnox CORE and Portnox CLEAR. With the highest number of ransomware attacks on record in 2017, we introduced a Rapid Ransomware Response and Control feature to our on-premise NAC solution, Portnox CORE, as well as the ability to see and control Internet of Things (IoT) devices through the IoT Visibility Radar. Portnox CLEAR, our cloud solution for network access control and risk management, was introduced to the market, and with its features for ensuring business continuity and securing the mobile workforce. The ability of our products to adequately address 2017 received commendation in the form of various industry awards and recognitions from leading publications and security experts.
Looking forward to 2018, the security landscape will shift and focus more heavily on IoT security, blockchain trends, automation and workforce mobility.
Here are some of our insights on what the 2018 cybersecurity landscape will look like:
- Extension of Automation: Together with AI and machine intelligence trends, automation will likely take center stage in 2018 as the leading security trend. Microsoft recently announced that it will begin automated anti-virus updates through its Windows Defender, which means that users and organizations will no longer have a choice when it comes to patching endpoints and software. This is good news, because it ensures that more actors have adequate security postures, and it makes sense for modular devices (like IoT) that present difficulties when it comes to firmware upgrades. Yet automation also creates challenges, namely for industries dependent on older versions of software, firmware and operating systems, such as healthcare and finance. Automated security updates could put the business continuity of these organizations at risk, and with potentially life-threatening and economically risky consequences. In addition, automated security updates across the board could actually make it easier for hackers to carry out large-scale attacks that will affect a larger number of endpoints.
- Blockchain and the Hacking of Applications: While many believe that the blockchain is “unhackable”, in the last year we have seen an increase in the number of attacks against blockchain-based applications. The vulnerabilities do not arise from the blockchain itself, but rather the applications that run on the blockchain. Social engineering will be used to extract private keys. Another possible blockchain hack, which has already been proven possible, is through other blockchain technologies such as Ethereum, which is an organization that’s committed to being open source for third-party applications. This creates a vulnerability because almost all applications have bugs can be manipulated by hackers as an attack surface.
- DDoS Ransomware: Creating a new and more pungent form of blackmail, DDoS and ransomware are joining forces to topple enterprise progress in digital transformation, while reaping monetary benefits. These attacks are made possible by using botnets, or large groups of “zombie” devices – which often happen to be Internet of Things devices, such as webcams – to funnel traffic to a malware-infected web address that, in turn, extract data from the accessing endpoint and demand ransoms for the return of that encrypted data. These attacks are often called “sinkhole” attacks because the DDoS traffic is being directed to sites that contain dangerous malware. With the wide adoption of Internet of Things devices in the enterprise, and the rise in ransomware demands, it’s likely that we’ll be seeing more of these attacks in the next year.
- Growing Regulation of IoT Security: Regulations governing IoT security features are beginning to be drafted, but there is still not enough demand from the consumer side to warrant manufacturer investment in security features. This begs a major question in 2018 of whether governments, in similar fashion to the US and EU, will begin issuing security regulations on IoT device manufacturers that protect consumers and companies from digital risk. Together with GDPR and other compliance regulations, we are likely to see more governments and industry authorities stepping up to enforce privacy, safety and security regulations on IoT manufacturers.
- Mobility of the Workforce: With more employees working remotely, organizations are enjoying a significant drop in their capital expenditures (many have even given up on the physical office space), while directing operational expenditures at digital transformation trends such as cloud and BYOD. Workforce mobility is a good thing for companies’ balance sheets, but the technological flexibility it affords results in more areas of cybersecurity vulnerability for the enterprise network. Companies that are set on accommodating mobile workforce trends will be investing in more endpoint, network and cloud security solutions that protect access and assets across a variety of locations and in various connected environments.
At Portnox, we will continue innovating our access control offerings to provide solutions to 2018 security trends and challenges, providing our customers with valuable, holistic solutions to protect their networks.
Here’s to a great 2018!