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Security appliance firms are using the big industry push towards cloud services, and the trend of allowing staff to bring their own devices into work, to sell technology that attempts to fix the resulting security mess.

ForeScout Technologies launched a scheme to sell its CounterACT Network Access Control (NAC) technology as a cloud platform to hosted and managed service providers (MSPs) on Tuesday. The firm already plays in hosted but MSPs will be a new string in its bow.

The move coincides with the release by Bradford Networks, a competitor to ForeScout, of an app that enables secure network access for trusted iPads, iPhones and other Apple devices. The app is a feature of the latest version of Bradford’s Network Sentry, version 5.3, which will be generally available this month.

Network Access Control (NAC) technology can be compared to nightclub bouncers. Instead of saying that you can't get in a club with jeans, NAC tech stops laptops accessing a network unless they are fully patched and running up to date anti-virus, for example, an approach that guards against cross-contamination of computer worms. NAC tech can also restrict what areas of a network a guest device (smartphones, mobile, tablet etc) can access, much like bouncers who block access to the VIP area of a club (for VIP area read customer database, accounts etc.)

ForeScout and Bradford Networks compete in the network access control (NAC) and policy compliance market with products and services from the likes of Cisco, Juniper and McAfee.

NAC technology attempts to solve various problems including policy enforcement and access management that other bits of security tech also attempt to tackle. Perhaps because of this confusion the technology, first talked about seven or eight years ago, is still in the early adopter phase. ®

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