Accounting in Network Security Explained

Monitoring and tracking the usage of network resources is an essential security requirement in computer networking. Accounting is a process by which network administrators determine, monitor, and track the usage of network resources such as storage, access, and services. All network operating systems include an accounting utility or support an add-on accounting package.

Networks have different requirements. Based on the requirements of the network, the administrator can configure accounting to track and monitor specific resources or actions, such as login time, disk use, connection time, file access, etc. It records what users do on the network and which resources they access. It also keeps track of how much time they spend using network resources.

Accounting is part of the AAA model. The AAA (Authentication, Authorization, Accounting) model defines the techniques, protocols, and methods administrators use to secure the network. This model works in three layers.

  • Authentication works in the first layer. It verifies the user or service that wants to access the network resources.
  • Authorization works in the second layer. It defines the resources the authorized user can access.
  • Accounting works in the third layer. It tracks and monitors the usage of resources by authorized users.

Accounting works after Authorization. Once users have successfully verified their identity within the system, they are granted or denied permission to carry out various actions on the system or network.

Subsequently, the accounting process comes into play. It tracks and records the user's activities while interacting with the system or network. It is a crucial security feature. It ensures that users are held responsible and charged for their actions.

Let us take an example to understand how networks use accounting.

A web hosting company charges clients for hosting their websites. Clients host different types of websites. For example, some clients may host e-commerce portals, while others may host simple WordPress blogs. The hosting company offers various plans to target maximum customers. A customer can choose a plan that meets his requirements and budget.

The hosting company uses accounting to ensure customers do not use resources beyond their purchased plan. For example, a user purchases a shared hosting plan that provides 10 GB of disk space, 2GB RAM, and 2 Core CPUs.

accounting in networking

A shared hosting plan does not get dedicated resources. If a customer purchases a shared hosting plan, the hosting company hosts his website with others. If the hosting company does not actively monitor the usage of each account, it creates many issues. For example, if the user who purchased the previously mentioned shared hosting plan consumes more than 10 GB of disk space, other users will face a shortage of disk space. The company uses accounting to reduce the chances of misuse of resources. When the customer crosses the 10 GB limit, the company notifies the user to reduce the usage or purchase more disk space.

ComputerNetworkingNotes CCNA Study Guide Accounting in Network Security Explained