Santa Clara — Cisco's pioneering ISE NAC platform has found considerable application in pre- and post-admission NAC controls
Based on its recent analysis of the network access control (NAC) market, Frost & Sullivan recognizes Cisco with the 2016 Global Frost & Sullivan Award for Market Leadership for garnering the highest market share of 39.3 percent in 2015. Cisco outstripped the competition on the strength of its superior security features, access controls, innovations, and rapid threat containment. It entrenched its position in the market with its flagship Identity Service Engine (ISE) NAC platform. This 802.1X, Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service (RADIUS)-based platform is used to securely bring end-user devices onto a network, enforce endpoint compliance, share endpoint visibility with other network applications, and act automatically and dynamically on security events found by network sensors.
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Cisco grabbed the first-mover advantage in the NAC market with the introduction of Cisco ACS in 1992 to address access control requirements. The company's highly efficient routers and ethernet switches earned it the reputation of being a trusted authority on network architecture and platform installations.
As Cisco uses standards-based technologies, its solutions can be integrated with third-party IT and security technologies. Hence, its technologies can be used to enable or enhance any type of network security technology, including data loss protection, behavioral analytics, and file management.
Notably, in response to market demand, Cisco resolved the issue of onboarding rogue devices onto a network using a proprietary technology to connect an endpoint with the right server in the network. Cisco ISE facilitates the integration of RADIUS authentication and Transport Layer Security (TLS) communication to ensure all devices are policy-compliant before they can access the network. For non-802.1X NAC deployments, endpoints are often dynamically discovered using network protocols such as Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) or Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI).
"With ISE, Cisco makes a concerted effort to balance the needs of security, endpoint policy, and enforcement as well as network segmentation for a significant number of end users, with minimum effort," said Christopher Kissel, Senior Industry Analyst, Network Security, Frost & Sullivan. "The combination of integrations, risk-based analytics on Cisco ISE, and contextual awareness endows the platform with numerous capabilities to serve IT, security, and operational networking needs."
"We're honored that Frost & Sullivan recognizes the understated differences that makes Cisco ISE best in its class," said Ben Munroe, Sr. Marketing Manager for Cisco security solutions. "ISE is proven to be effective at unifying and simplifying BYOD, guest and IoT access control, open multivendor intelligence sharing, data protection, and automated threat mitigation."
One of the interesting applications of the NAC platform is Location Containment and Visibility with Mobility Service Engine (MSE). While Cisco ISE includes native location services, it also integrates with Cisco MSE to introduce more precise physical location-based authorization. Cisco ISE uses this information to provide differentiated network access based on the actual location of the user, as reported by MSE. Location-based access can be made available within one to two meters of the device's physical presence.
Significantly, Cisco ISE generates workflows that walk users through the on-boarding process and presents them with their own self-service portals to add and manage their devices. It offers automatic supplicant provisioning and certificate enrollment for standard PC and mobile computing platforms. For mobile devices, it directs the user to the enterprise mobility management system to connect the registration flow with the overall mobile device.
"One of the biggest advantages of Cisco's solution is that ISE employs scalable protocols that allow network access devices to focus on delivering network access instead of enforcing policies. Cisco's next-generation NAC platform can be scaled to facilitate up to 1,000,000 total endpoints and 500,000 concurrent endpoints," noted Kissel. "Next-generation NACs, however, also need to enforce policies for managed and mobile devices. Cisco ISE and related technologies reduce the friction experienced by IT/security teams and ensure these processes are conducted transparently."
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