Understanding Network Remote Access Security

Understanding Network Remote Access Security

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Using remote access enables IT professionals, support staff and users alike to interact with resources from which they are separated by distance. The technology can also help in the reduction of operating costs and generally improve productivity, while allowing workers to quickly and remotely interact with others instead of spending substantial amounts resources traveling to the other location.

Remote Access for Internal and External Use

When deciding on a remote access solution management must consider the following:

What level of access is going to be required by users? As a general rule, users should not be given more access rights than they need. Restricting access rights reduces the scope of what can go wrong, should a user account become compromised.

From a technical support perspective, how easy will it be for support staff to initiate remote desktop access to provide support for users? Consideration must also be made for users who may need support while they are outside the office and also external consultants who may need to access internal assets. Any remote access software package that is going to be used must have features that will facilitate greater productivity and efficiency.

What kinds of data services are available to facilitate remote access sessions? Especially if the remote access solution is going to be used outside the organization’s network infrastructure, special consideration must be given to the encryption protocol and other security measures that will be used.

Security Concerns for Remote Access Solutions

Any remote access solution that is being considered must be robust enough to thwart network security threats, as well as provide a trouble free experience for remote access users, especially the ones that aren’t tech savvy. Here are the security issues that must be fully considered when deciding on a remote access solution.

Secure Authentication – One of the most secure ways to secure a remote access session, or any at risk remote computing session, is to use a smart card to authenticate user access according to the organization’s network security policy. Smart Cards allow for an additional level of security by requiring users to enter the code that is presented on the card in addition to their authentication credentials to sign onto. If another authentication method is being used or is being considered, the IT security officer should ensure that authentication for network access is strong.

Secure Connection – As a basic requirement, all communication on a remote access solution should be encrypted to provide an additional level of security.

Access Levels – IT security officers have the responsibility to ensure that users can only access the resources that they need and nothing else. In addition, network ports and protocols should be disabled, if they are not being used. IP addresses and terminals should also be protected with strong passwords.

Remote Screen Sharing and User Collaboration – Can the remote access software solution allow users to collaborate, remotely share resources, simultaneous edit documents and hand over remote control of their desktops in a secure manner?

File Transfers– Is it possible for files to be securely transferred between remote locations?

Session Timeouts – Sometimes users will forget to close a remote access session. It would be great if the remote access solution could be set to automatically cancel or close a session once it remains idle for an extended period of time.

The Advantage of Using Remote Access Solutions

Remote access solutions allow for the better user of time by facilitating remote meetings, speedy technical support over remote access desktop solutions among other advantages. However, these advantages don’t amount to much if the network infrastructure, software package or attending security policy is loose.