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Top 8 Network Access Control (NAC) Tools

Cisco ISE (Identity Services Engine)Forescout PlatformAruba ClearPassFortinet FortiNACSophos Network Access ControlPortnox COREmacmon Network Access ControlAppgate SDP
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    I like that Cisco ISE is easy to use.I've had no issues with scalability. I started using it on two campuses, and now I'm using it across the country and scaling it across subsidiaries in other countries.
  2. leader badge
    The most valuable feature of the Forescout Platform is the large capacity it can handle. Additionally, the interface of the platform is good.Within three or four days, we have complete visibility of your infrastructure on the network. Compared to other solutions, the deployment of the solution is easier and we can close the project quickly.
  3. Find out what your peers are saying about Cisco, ForeScout, Aruba Networks and others in Network Access Control (NAC). Updated: January 2022.
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  4. The aspect of Aruba ClearPass that I like most is that it has a lot of options, it is very versatile.The interface is very easy to use and the workflow is quite straightforward.
  5. Fortinet FortiNAC is both scalable and stable. The most valuable features are the ease of deployment and ease of use.
  6. The pricing is very reasonable and you can negotiate on the price. The installation is very straightforward.
  7. Technical support was very helpful when we needed them.It's so easy to set up, you don't need outside assistance.
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  9. The API is a great way to get information from other tools.
  10. The flexibility of the tool is valuable. It is very robust. It has a very robust configuration capability.
How does network access control work?

Network access control (NAC) solutions work by using your directory system or multi-authentication platform and enforcing security policies on every device that attempts to connect to your network.

Since NAC solutions are rule-based, you can set different access rules according to the role of the entity that tries to connect, and the NAC will enforce them. For instance, a college student would have more access to the college’s network than a guest would.

Every time an entity, device, or user wants to access your network, the NAC solution looks at the person’s role, the level of permissions, and how the device aligns with the security policies you’ve stated previously. Then it blocks or allows the connection based on the rules.

Why are NAC solutions important?

The exponential growth of mobile devices connecting to networks also exponentially increases the possible attack surface. Every connected device represents a potential entry point for an attacker. Thus, it is critical to provide visibility, access control, and compliance to the network security infrastructure.

NAC systems can block or allow access to devices that don’t comply with the security rules. They can also quarantine malicious packets and restrict access to computer resources. As such, NAC is a solution that works to prevent unauthorized access to a network.

Is network access control still relevant?

Some experts can argue that there is no longer a need for network access control when most of the applications and workloads of organizations today are in the cloud. Since most companies allow the use of personal devices for work (BYOD or “bring your own device”) and due to the widespread usage of IoT (internet of things), it may seem irrelevant to try to defend a network perimeter.

Next-generation NAC solutions address these concerns and have evolved to include hybrid cloud, distributed networks, and wireless endpoints (like IoT and BYOD). With the increasing numbers of organizations moving to the cloud, there is a need for NAC solutions that provide the visibility and accuracy necessary for the handling of complex networks.

What is wireless NAC?

Wireless network access control or 802.1X network access control is an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers standard for network access control that covers wired and wireless access points. This standard defines the authentication controls for users or devices that try to access a LAN (local area network) or WLAN (wide area network).

Traditional network access control doesn’t address issues caused by wireless network access, BYOD (bring your own device), and cloud computing. This expanded attack surface results in increased exposure of the perimeter to threats.

The new distributed attack surface results in an evolution of what the NAC needs to protect. Formerly, the network access control only had to monitor and protect a perimeter of connected devices. Nowadays, the NAC also needs to protect the network from wireless devices and access points. Wireless NACs do exactly that.

Network Access Control Features

Network access control solutions differ in capabilities, but here are some key features that are common to all of them:

  • Provides visibility and profiling: Profiles users and devices to prevent malicious code which may cause damage
  • Controls access for guests: Inspects and allows or blocks guests’ access. Manages guests via a self-service portal for registration and authentication.
  • Manages policy lifecycle: Enforces the policies for all scenarios.
  • Incident response: Enforces security policies, blocking, isolating, and remediating of non-compliant devices.
  • Integration: Integrates with existing security and network solutions.
  • Checks security posture: Monitors and evaluates compliance with security policies.
Network Access Control Benefits

There are three main reasons you should invest in network access control:

  • Reduces the risk of intrusions: Cyberattacks are on the rise, and any network vulnerability can be exploited by a malicious actor. Network access control reduces attacks by implementing role-based access control. RBAC is a feature that grants access according to the role of the user. NAC uses advanced authentication and authorization techniques to verify user identities.
  • Improves network performance: The role-based access control feature in NAC centralizes policy enforcement, reducing the number of SSIDs (service set identifiers). It can help you gain bandwidth since it is estimated that every SSID you reduce can give you up to 10% bandwidth back.
  • Gains network visibility: You can’t control what you don’t see. Managing access to the network requires complete visibility.

NAC helps you answer the following questions:

  • Who is trying to enter the network?
  • What is the user trying to access?
  • From where is the user or device trying to access the network?
  • When are the devices accessing the network? When are they more active and when are they less active?
  • How are the end-users accessing the network? What devices are they using?

By providing increased visibility, protection, and performance, a NAC solution can help keep devices monitored and access managed regardless of the device or user.

Find out what your peers are saying about Cisco, ForeScout, Aruba Networks and others in Network Access Control (NAC). Updated: January 2022.
563,780 professionals have used our research since 2012.