Enhancing Network Access Control: Azure Hosting and Cloud Authentication

In the realm of network security, ensuring that only authorized users and devices gain access to a network is paramount. Network Access Control (NAC) solutions, such as Soliton's NetAttest EPS, have been at the forefront of providing this security measure, evolving over time to meet the changing demands of IT environments.

NetAttest EPS is NAC solution from Soliton used to prevent unauthorized access and hacking onto the network either via a wired LAN port, Wi-fi, or VPN – it uses the IEEE 802.1X security standard.   Traditionally NAC solutions are deployed through an appliance, or installed on virtualized platforms such as VMware and Hyper-V. The latest development for NetAttest EPS is the ability to host NAC solutions in the cloud, for instance in Azure, Microsoft's cloud computing service.

The migration of NetAttest EPS to Azure represents a shift in how organizations can approach network security. Hosting NAC in Azure leverages the cloud's inherent advantages, notably its flexibility and scalability, to offer a more adaptive and resilient security framework. Unlike traditional deployments constrained by physical or virtualized infrastructures' limitations, Azure-hosted solutions can dynamically scale to meet the changing demands of an organization.

The move towards Azure-hosted NAC solutions is not an isolated trend but a reflection of the larger movement towards cloud migration and digital transformation initiatives within organizations. As businesses seek to modernize their IT infrastructure, the integration of critical security functions like NAC with cloud platforms such as Azure becomes imperative. This alignment ensures that security measures evolve in tandem with the rest of the IT ecosystem, benefiting from the cloud's agility, innovation, and global reach.

Azure-hosted NAC solutions also offer enhanced disaster recovery capabilities. With data replicated across multiple Azure data centres, organizations benefit from built-in redundancy and resilience, ensuring that NAC services remain available even in the event of localized failures. This level of reliability is difficult and costly to achieve with traditional on-premises deployments.

Establishing trust and ensuring secure access to network resources requires client certificates, both within and outside the company's infrastructure. These digital certificates serve as a robust authentication mechanism, verifying the identity of devices and users before granting access to sensitive company data and systems. The creation and distribution of these certificates, therefore, becomes a critical operation, necessitating a streamlined and secure process to manage them across a diverse range of devices and user environments. Integrating the Azure-hosted NetAttest EPS with another cloud service specifically aimed at client certificate management, Soliton OneGate, offers a comprehensive solution to this challenge. This integration facilitates the automated generation, issuance, and renewal of certificates, significantly reducing the potential for human error and enhancing the overall security posture. Moreover, it ensures that certificates can be securely distributed to clients, regardless of their location—be it within the traditional network perimeter or remotely.

The client certificates generated and distributed through Soliton OneGate can also be used to set up SAML2-based connections with all sorts of service providers. OneGate is an identity access management solution simplifying authentication across cloud and on-premise IT infrastructure, eliminating the need to remember multiple application and third party platform passwords. Combining the use of a single client certificate for both network access (whether wired, wireless, or via VPN) and secure access to cloud services using SAML2, this offers the dual benefit of streamlining authentication processes and bolstering security measures, thereby enhancing operational efficiency and ensuring a seamless, secure user experience across all platforms.

The evolution of Network Access Control (NAC) solutions, epitomized by Soliton's NetAttest EPS and its integration with Soliton OneGate, marks a significant leap forward in the quest for robust network security and efficient identity management. By harnessing the power of Azure's cloud infrastructure, NetAttest EPS offers unparalleled scalability, resilience, and flexibility, breaking free from the constraints of traditional deployment models. The integration with Soliton OneGate for the management of client certificates further enhances this solution, automating and securing the distribution of digital identities across any device, anywhere in the world. This dual approach not only simplifies the authentication process across both network and cloud services but also solidifies the security framework, ensuring that only authorized users and devices can access critical resources.

Soliton's commitment to evolving its solutions in line with technological advancements and security best practices promises to empower businesses with the tools they need to safeguard their networks and data in an increasingly complex digital world.


Hans-Peter Ponten

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