Network Monitoring And Management

The Top 10 Network Access Control Solutions

Discover the top 10 Network Access Control (NAC) solutions. Explore the key features, capabilities, and performance of the NAC solutions available today.

The Top 10 Network Access Control Solutions Include:
  • 1. Aruba ClearPass Policy Manager
  • 2. Cisco ISE
  • 3. Extreme Networks ExtremeControl
  • 4. Forescout
  • 5. FortiNAC
  • 6. Huawei iMaster NCE-Campus
  • 7. Ivanti Network Access Control
  • 8. MetaAccess NAC
  • 9. Portnox Cloud
  • 10. Twingate

Network Access Control (NAC) solutions provide network visibility and allow you to manage network access. They can help IT teams to restrict any devices and users that are unauthorized or non-compliant from accessing the network. This is achieved through policy enforcement for devices and users when accessing a network. It can enforce access policies based on authenticated user identities, and can verify, authenticate, and authorize users and devices that are trying to connect to a network. This means that all devices connected to the network will be compliant with the company’s security policies.

The definition of a network – particularly a corporate network – has become much more complex in recent years. Users are no longer limited to an on-premises office but extends to hybrid working environments where homes are connected to the network. IT teams also have to contend with bring-your-own-devices (BYOD), IoT devices, and using personal devices to connect to private networks. Some companies are also seeing an increased traffic volume that needs to be managed.

NAC solutions allow teams to define and consistently apply policies across the network. Policies will account for specific computers, roles, and groups, ensuring that network access is secure and stringent. NAC solutions are particularly beneficial for large companies with a high number of regular users, that also need to manage an influx of devices for contractors, guests, and home working. 

There is a broad range of NAC solutions on the market, so to help you find the right solution, we’ve compiled a list of the best vendors offering NAC solutions today. In each case we’ll explore the solutions key features, before suggesting who the platform would be suited to.

Aruba Logo

The Aruba ClearPass Policy Manager is a robust NAC solution from Aruba Networking, a cloud-based network security specialist. The solution leverages a zero-trust approach to network access; it can authenticate, authorize, and enforce network access control through role-based network policies. It provides advanced policy management as well as performing endpoint posture assessments through wireless, wired, and VPN connections. The solution can deliver automated provisioning of a wide range of device types, including macOS, iOS, Android, and Windows, allowing it to integrate well with a range of environments,

The solution can also simplify and customize visitor management for specific users; the platform allows temporary employees (receptionists and other non-IT staff) to create temporary guest accounts for secure wireless and wired access when needed. Visitors can access the network through a mobile-friendly portal, utilizing a streamlined login process. ClearPass leverages an event engine that can share information in real-time using Syslog, enabling ClearPass to respond to changing threats quickly. Aruba has also been commended for its support team and the assistance they provide. We would recommend Aruba ClearPass Policy Manager for large companies and enterprises due to its robust, yet flexible, feature set.

Cisco Logo

The Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE) is a next-generation NAC solution. It is an intuitive and robust solution that leverages intelligence from across your company’s entire environment and security stack. This allows you to enforce policies, manage devices and endpoints, and enable trusted and secure access to your network. Utilizing a zero-trust framework, ISE aggregates intelligence from your stack to help authenticate users and endpoints, identifying and containing threats as it does. The platform is a unified and streamlined solution, giving users full control over connections and policy deployment. Cisco offer the product as an “infrastructure-as-code” solution for full integration and customization.

By gaining intelligence from your environment, ISE can identify, classify, and profile devices automatically. In addition to offering high levels of customization, Cisco ISE is delivered with ready-made policies, including a rule-based policy model for flexible and applicable access control policies. Connections can be made and secured through virtual LAN (VLAN) assignments, Access Control Lists (dACLs), named ACLs, and URL redirects. This fully featured platform also includes guest lifecycle management, an internal certificate authority, and device profiling. It can grant access to users based on credentials, group, location, and commands. Cisco’s solution is powerful, feature rich, and advanced; we would, therefore, recommend Cisco ISE for large-sized organizations with a sizable user base and a need for granular configuration.

Cisco Logo
Extreme Logo

ExtremeControl, from Extreme Networks, is a highly advanced, robust, and feature rich NAC solution that is suited to blocking threats and managing user authentication. It provides a singular, consolidated view into the entire network and allows context-based network control for wired and wireless networks. Admins can configure policies with granular control and deploy them consistently across the entire network. A single pane view from a centralized dashboard provides insight and control over management, policies, access control, and application analytics. The solution integrates well with your existing environment.

ExtremeControl allows you an in-depth insight into analysis and intelligence and can create specific profiles of users and devices. This will include logging user information, time, locations, vulnerabilities, and access types to create contextualized identities for users and devices. Role-based permissions can be attached to a user, defining their access no matter how or where they connect to a network. The solution integrates well with third-party tools like NGFW, SIEM, CMDB, and EMM/MDM solutions. Other notable features of this solution include automatic performance alerting, predefined templates, and open northbound API for customized integrations. This powerful solution is one that we would recommend to medium to large sized enterprises.

Extreme Logo
Forescout Logo

The Forescout Platform is an integrated solution that offers network access control, asset and risk compliance, network segmentation, and cybersecurity asset management. Forescout provides extensive visibility and effective automation across the network, including IoT devices. The platform can assess posture and compliance for devices such as Windows, macOS, Linux, and IoT devices without the need for an agent. The platform easily integrates with your existing environment and additional third-party security solutions to enhance assessment capabilities.

Forescout will inventory and monitor all devices – both managed and unmanaged – in a single, concise, and clear platform. The platform uses detailed dashboards to display forecasts and analysis, thereby improving visibility. These dashboards are also used for reporting and auditing processes. Other additional features include real-time network visibility, third-party orchestration, multi-factor risk scoring, as well as identifying risk based on behavior, configuration, and compliance. The platform is powerful, intuitive, and sophisticated; we would recommend the Forescout Platform for medium to large sized enterprises.

fortinet logo

FortiNAC is the NAC solution from industry leaders Fortinet, a respected cybersecurity company based in California. FortiNAC offers comprehensive insights into all network endpoints and users, granular access (based on user roles, device types, and locations), strict compliance, and granular policies. The platform utilizes zero-trust principles to assess and manage all types of devices, including IT, IoT, OT/ICS, and IoMT devices. The solution can help prevent IoT threats, whilst enhancing third-party devices control. It can also instigate automatic responses to network events and is available in both appliance and virtual format.

FortiNAC can perform agentless scanning, meaning it can detect and identify all devices that attempt to connect to the network. The solution will perform 21 different profiling methods to identify a device, ensuring that threats can be detected despite evasive techniques. The platform’s other features include microsegmentation, security fabric integration, automated response, device visibility, and passive/active scanning. Deployment and management of the platform is simple, with centralized architecture and a clean and intuitive dashboard to manage users and endpoint. This feature rich solution is one that we would recommend for medium to large sized enterprises. It integrates well with other Fortinet solutions, making it a good option for organization’s already utilizing their products.

fortinet logo
Huawei Logo

The iMaster NCE-Campus from Huawei is a next-generation network management and control solution with NAC capabilities. It is designed specifically for use on large campuses, such as high schools, community colleges, and universities. It allows teams to control both internal and external devices and users, managing access to key resources. The solution consolidates management, analysis, and control with AI to automate the full lifecycle of the network. The platform also providing visibility into devices and users to manage network access. The lifecycle management feature can also register and approve accounts and delete invalid accounts automatically.

This solution has strong user access control and authentication features; it utilizes the HTTP2.0 authentication protocol, ensuring the solution can authenticate a large number of users reliably. This is achieved through SMS authentication, social media authentication, portal authentication, and 802.1X authentication. User access control policies are also highly granular and customizable. Other notable features with this solution include intelligent terminal identification, intelligent HQoS, and multi-tenant management. iMaster NCE-Campus is a powerful solution that is adept at managing a high influx of both external and internal users and devices. We would, therefore, recommend it to organizations with a high number of users, such as schools and colleges.

Huawei Logo
Ivanti logo

Ivanti Policy Secure (NAC) is a dynamic and robust solution that provides uniform policy enforcement, access control, and seamless roaming for users and devices; however, they access your corporate network. The solution takes a zero-trust security approach for enhanced and secure network access management. It provides centralized visibility and comprehensive policy management for all users and endpoints attempting to access the network–including IoT devices. The platform can perform a granular assessment of device security posture before granting access – this ensures that security posture is sufficient.

Ivanti’s profiling feature can identify and classify all device types, including IoT. It offers end-to-end visibility on all devices, delivering reporting and behavioral analytics to admin users so they can understand network events. These findings are used to develop a behavioral baseline profiles to identify any deviance or anomalies. Ivanti comes with highly granular and customizable policies; admins are able to perform network segmentation and can create allow/block policies based on user role, user department, and device class. Other notable highlights of the solution include REST API integration with a security ecosystem, granular integration with vADC, and Connect Secure Integration. The solution is highly scalable and effective. We would recommend it for medium to large sized enterprises in need of a solution with granular policy configuration.

Ivanti logo
Opswat Logo

MetaAccess NAC is a feature-rich and easy to use NAC tool. It can identify and manage endpoints and users from right across your network. The solution, developed by Opswat, uses advanced heuristics and pattern analysis for accurate device profiling. This prevents risky BYOD and IoT devices from accessing your network, whilst offering full visibility into all endpoints and their security posture. The solution is highly intuitive and integrates well with your existing security environment; it can share contextualized intelligence with other security tools such as firewalls, SIEM, and web content filters.

The profiling aspect of this solution is particularly robust; it grants extensive visibility across your devices and network.You are able to track information including IP addresses, role, location, and device type, amongst other categories. The solution can quarantine devices until it can be properly profile and classed as safe. In environments where IoT devices require identities registered to them, users can self-register through a captive portal. Other features of this solution include deep device fingerprinting, passive on-boarding, and bulk uploading. MetaAccess is robust, whilst being easy to use. We would recommend MetaAccess NAC for SMBs due to its features and competitive pricing.

Opswat Logo
Portnox Logo

Portnox Cloud is a cloud-based NAC solution that takes a zero-trust approach to network access. It focuses on network authentication, risk mitigation, and compliance enforcement to give you comprehensive coverage. The platform was designed for smaller teams, without the resource of larger competitors. It is quick to set up and can be deployed with a minimal learning curve. Upgrades and patches can be managed automatically, thereby further reducing the strain on your staff. Coverage for this device is widespread, with zero-trust access and protection applied to all endpoints including company devices, BYOD, IoT, and OT devices and regardless of their method of access, be it wired ports, VPN, or WiFi.

Portnox Cloud delivers real-time visibility of all endpoints, both inside the network and those trying to connect to the network. Admins can view locations, users, device types, and the level of access that a device is requesting. The solution allows a good level of customization through highly granular access policies. Admins can define and policies based on users, roles, device types, and location. These can also be specific and customized to certain network areas. Portnox Cloud also has robust risk assessment policy configuration capabilities which will continuously monitor the risk posture of devices connected to the network. This is an efficient and manageable solution that is easy to set up and use. We would recommend Portnox Cloud for SMBs and organizations without extensive resource.

Portnox Logo
Twingate Logo

Twingate is a specialized network security vendor. Their eponymously named NAC solution helps to establish direct and secure peer-to-peer connections to your connected resources. The solution is quick to deploy, allowing you to configure it as your organization requires. It integrates well with your existing environment, working well with any third-party identity provider, device management tools, and security solutions. It can encrypt public DNS traffic to help protect data from your roaming and remote users. The solution can support mobile devices including Chromebooks, Android, and iOS.

Admins can set granular access policies that can determine access based on several attributes, including role, users, and device type. Employees, third-party vendors, contractors, freelancers, and visitors can have varying levels of access that are appropriate and limited to their job role and need. Granular access policies are further supported through insightful analytics and logging that delivers real-time visibility into devices across your entire network. Remote access can be enabled without public subnets or port forwarding which can result in network exposure. Quick to deploy and easy to manage, we would recommend Twingate for SMBs.

The Top 10 Network Access Control Solutions