What is secure remote access?

Today’s business environment requires that your employees and vendors have access to your company’s network and applications regardless of where they are or what device they are using. More and more business is conducted in the cloud from remote locations, including tech support, e-commerce, record storage, and other routine business functions. It’s great to allow remote access from anywhere using any device, but any time you give someone the ability to access your network, you make your business vulnerable to hackers and thieves who can sabotage your network and/or steal valuable data. Every business needs to have a process to protect its network from breaches and threats while providing the secure remote access that modern business demands.

Best practices for secure remote access

An effective secure remote access solution integrates the tools needed to maintain network security regardless of the device or access method. This means integrating the following best practices for ensuring remote network and system access is secure:

Password management and single sign-on (SSO)

Employee or third-party users should use single sign-on access methods that simplify and centralize authentication databases. Additionally, a password vault can be used that places highly sensitive, privileged credentials in a vault that tracks usage and obfuscates the actual passwords.

Multi-factor authentication

A single password is not enough to authenticate users for secure remote access. Many compliance standards and regulations now require multi-factor authentication for remote or privileged users. Multi-factor authentication requires the verification of several independent authentication factors. This combination of components could be something the user knows (password), something that’s in their possession (key fob), or a physical characteristic (fingerprint).

Least privilege policies in effect

A Principle of Least Privilege policy ensures that users are only granted the minimum access required to perform to do their job. This should apply to both internal and third-party users. This policy ensures that vendors, technicians, and internal employees don't have full access to your entire network and servers.

Granular access control - scheduling and rules for defined roles

IT managers need the ability to control attended and unattended access. Access scheduling based on established rules allows remote users to be confined to authorized activity without having to participate in every session. Granular access control delivers both workflow efficiency and network security.

Network activity monitoring and audits

Real-time monitoring of user behavior is an essential component in mitigating the risk of unauthorized access or activity. A comprehensive audit ability is necessary for secure remote access software to identify vulnerabilities and track down root causes in both exploits or human errors. Secure remote access software that provides these features must have simple, intuitive user interfaces and integrate easily with normal business processes. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provides tips on the basics of secure remote access. Many companies think that they are securely managing vendors' remote access by using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) or desktop sharing tools for remote access and support. Unfortunately, VPNs and desktop sharing tools do not provide an adequate level of security needed access to protect your company’s network and applications. To learn more, see how a secure third-party remote access platform compares to VPNs and desktop sharing.