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Understanding Network Access Control

What it means for your enterprise

In Information Technology and Security there are multiple terms that mean different things to different people. For example, consider the phrase “policy compliance.” Many vendors use this phrase to market their wares while paying little or no attention to what it means to the enterprise. Compliance with policy can mean regulatory compliance, internal physical security compliance, legal compliance, internet-use compliance, network-use compliance, endpoint security compliance, and much more. A quick Google search alone shows the number of sponsored links for the term policy compliance, many of them devoted to vendor solutions. In truth, policy compliance has many facets and needs further distillation to be useful to an enterprise.

Another term that gets bandied about is “network access control” (NAC). In a young market, this term has become over used and highly misunderstood. NAC solutions encompass everything from intrusion detection systems, authenticated DHCP solutions, two-factor authentication, patch management solutions, network hardware, and security suites. These variations confuse the market and cause enterprises to compare apples to oranges when looking for a NAC solution.

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