What is Remote Access Security?
Secure remote access is the technology often used by IT personnel who must help their colleagues with tech problems from afar. Remote access is also helpful for workers who need to log in to a secure device that is connected to their on-premises company server while they are working from a personal device at home, or for supervisors who want to monitor what employees are looking at on their company devices. Secure remote access is a combination of security processes or solutions that are designed to prevent unauthorized access to an organization’s digital assets and to prevent the loss of sensitive data.1 Secure remote access can encompass a number of technologies such as:
- Endpoint security– antivirus, remote access policies, patch management
- Virtual Private Network (VPN)– connect to private network on public Wi-Fi through an encrypted tunnel
- Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA)– high level of security requiring re-authentication before every transaction
- Network Access Control (NAC)– combination of tools such as two factor authentication (2FA), endpoint security tools, and policy education and enforcement.
- Single Sign-On (SSO)– single set of credentials accesses all applications and resources
In order to improve remote access security, consider the following tips:
Adopt Multifactor Authentication (MFA). MFA is an authentication method that requires the user to provide two or more verification factors to gain access to a resource such as an application, online account, or a VPN. Rather than just asking for a username and password, MFA requires one or more additional verification factors, such as an authentication token from an application such as DUO.
Protect all remote endpoints. Install antivirus software on all endpoint devices, whether PC, Mac, Linux, iOS, or Android. Create security policies that require all employees to maintain current protection if they are to access corporate resources on their personal devices.
Use VPNs. VPNs can eliminate the risks associated with employees accessing corporate resources from insecure Wi-Fi locations, however VPN endpoint software must also be kept up-to-date to avoid vulnerabilities.
Prevent remote access from increasing attack surface. Remote access can increase vulnerability to ransomware attacks that scan for remote desktop protocol (RDP) servers and gain access from any available port. Only open remote access ports with firewalls that are configured to only respond to known IP addresses from system administrators.
Educate users and contractors. Train all employees and others accessing corporate resources to avoid clicking on any unsolicited emails, links, or attachments.
Update policies. Ensure that acceptable use policies include an employee’s home computing assets, which could be computer, laptop, tablet, and smartphone, including the updating of antivirus and VPN software on any personal devices used to access corporate resources.
1 Fallon, 2023, “What Is Secure Remote Access?”