Network access control or NAC is one of the strategies that is employed to enhance the security protocols associated with a private or proprietary network. This is accomplished by setting restrictions on the ability to access various programs and functions that are available on the network. The creation of the authorizations required to allow access to any given database, software, or function on the network remains in the control of a network administrator or other persons who are granted that level of management by the administrator.
There are several common ways that network access control is achieved. The most common approach is to set up a process for authenticating each valid user for the network. This may be accomplished by employing a simplistic user name and password combination, or involve additional clearances that are necessary, such as a test question or proper identification of an image that is associated with the login credentials.
Typically, the administrator sets the structure for the credentials, although users may or may not be granted the privilege of changing passwords from time to time. This level of network admission control (which is also identified as NAC) is usually the foundational tool in making sure a network is secure. However, it rarely is the only security measure utilized.
Along with setting login credentials and procedures, network access control also usually involves setting rights and privileges associated with each user. For example, salespersons are likely to have access rights to a general sales database, but be limited to the type of information that may be accessed and viewed from the accounting software program that also resides on the network access server or NAS. Privileges are usually determined based on the perimeters of the job or position held by each user. However, administrators can grant users additional rights and privileges if the need arises.
Other tools help to provide general enhancement to these basic network access control protocols. The addition of a firewall can help to minimize attacks from outside the network. In like manner, the presence of spyware detection programs and antivirus protection software can also be a great help if users make regular use of Internet access.
While a network administrator can purchase and load individual tools to assist in network access control, several vendors now offer software packages that include a wide range of different network access control features and options. Several of the packages allow the administrator to pick and choose from available options, making it possible to customize the type and level of network security that is required.