Cisco boosts NAC framework

Vendor giant Cisco has expanded its network admission control (NAC) framework to increase protection for organisations from threats such as spyware, viruses and worms attempting to gain network access through a growing number of endpoint devices.

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By  Stuart Wilson Published  November 5, 2005

Vendor giant Cisco has expanded its network admission control (NAC) framework to increase protection for organisations from threats such as spyware, viruses and worms attempting to gain network access through a growing number of endpoint devices. Cisco’s NAC framework now includes support for Cisco Catalyst switch and wireless solutions plus enhancements to the NAC appliance family. The vendor has also expanded its NAC partner programme to include a new agentless auditing category. Cisco reckons that these developments expand Cisco’s self-defending network strategy, allowing customers to better identify, prevent and adapt to security threats. Samer Al Kharrat, general manager Gulf region and Pakistan at Cisco, said, “Network admission control is a key initiative at Cisco, which comes at a time when corporate networks are facing repeated threats to their security on day-to-day basis. Cisco recognises that intelligence in the network is pivotal to its overall operation and building adaptive and intelligent security mechanisms is a natural extension of Cisco’s core technology proposition.” “Since the launch of NAC 18 months ago, Cisco has succeeded in developing key tools and has built integrated end-to-end security strategies that allow companies, in a flexible manner, to set end user parameters to allow or deny access to a network environment. The launch of NAC II is the next phase in providing a total end point security proposition,” he continued. New NAC framework deployment scenarios give customers the tools to identify non-compliant systems before they get access to LAN and wireless network environments as well as WAN environments. Cisco is also working with vendor partners to assess the security risk of unmanaged or agentless endpoints and devices that do not support the Cisco Trust Agent (CTA). This is happening through collaboration with a new auditing category of NAC partner programme vendors including Altiris, Qualys and Symantec (through the WholeSecurity acquisition). According to Cisco, collaboration with these vendors improves the NAC framework’s ability to assess the risk of agentless devices such as guest laptops, printers, PDAs and IP telephones. Cisco is also releasing a new family of turnkey NAC appliances, which can scan, block, quarantine and remediate non-compliant devices and enforce security policy. This new version offers a hardware appliance option in addition to the currently available software option, allowing greater deployment flexibility. “Companies the world over are continually looking to help ensure they protect and have control over all devices gaining access to the company network, in compliance with ever tightening corporate security policies,” explained Chris Thatcher , North American principal consultant for security for global IT services and solution provider Dimension Data. “The advancements to the NAC framework mean that organisations are now able to take more advantage of their network infrastructure, security and management software investments and help enable the assessment of the security state of wired and wireless clients. This allows organisations to help enforce security policy by either granting or denying access to network resources based on client compliance with security policy. This will help provide an even more secure network environment via this controlled access,” Thatcher added.

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