Even before the pandemic hit, the hyper-connected world of enterprise devices and network connectivity was humongous but was mostly operational within the premises of the corporate network. Barring the exception of frontline teams, most organizations did not have corporate devices that actively operated outside the office perimeter. And the pandemic changed everything, highlighting the importance of Remote working and remote access more than ever.
What is Remote Access?
Remote access is the ability to access remotely operating computers, laptops, mobile devices and other endpoints or a network from remote locations. Remote access enables the connection between devices that are present in diverse geographical locations authorized by a verified remote user. Remote access is essential for remote working, telecommuting and frontline teams that want to access business networks and resources from a far-off physical location.
How Does Remote Access Work?
Remote access is enabled with a hardware + software combination along with a network connection. The traditional ways of enabling remote access live via LAN (local area network) or WAN (Wide area network). But for enabling remote access of devices located far off from the physically connected networks, the simplest way of enabling remote access is to connect via VPN or virtual private network. With VPN, each individual user connects to the business network via a private network’s VPN server.
The virtual private network software routes any traffic to corporate networks via an encrypted secure connection. Alternatively, remote access is enabled via remote access software that enables a remote connection between a device and a remote resource where the remote host can view the target device’s screen on their desktop via the remote desktop connection. These remote access applications are incorporated into the remote host’s OS as well as the device OS for a seamless wireless connection to and access to remote devices, their settings and applications.
Types of Secure Remote Access for Modern Enterprises:
- VPN/ LAN/ WAN – using a secure and encrypted network to facilitate a data tunnel between devices or servers.
- Remote Desktop software tools or apps to enable file sharing
- PAM (Privileged Access Management) tools to enable monitored access to privileged accounts
- VPAM (Vendor Privileged Access Management) for granting secure and limited network access to vendors or contractors
Remote Access Protocols for Secure Connection:
- Single sign-on
- IPsec (Internet Protocol Security)
- L2TP (Layer Two Tunneling Protocol)
- PPTP (Point-to-Point Tunneling)
- SLIP (Serial Line Internet Protocol)
- PPP (Point-to-Point Protocol)
- RAS (Remote Access Services)
- RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol)
- TACACS (Terminal Access Control System)
Need for Remote Access for Enterprises and Remote Working
- To enable streamlined access to business apps and resources for remotely working employees
- To enable authorized IT and tech support executives to remotely access enterprise devices for troubleshooting
- To enable maintenance of unattended devices
Conventionally, remote working was limited to a small set of the workforce that occasionally worked from home- to take care of personal challenges like kids, caring for family or had personal limitations to commute to work every single day. Frontline teams consisting of delivery executives, remote healthcare providers and traveling salespersons were the other set of employees that worked remotely on a more regular basis and needed remote computer access.
With the onset of millennials and, more particularly, Gen Z entering the workforce, the culture of flexible working (which often involved location-independent working) was heavily getting popular. Modern employees wanted the flexibility to work from anywhere- anytime they found fit for their optimum productivity. While this was picking up and organizations were establishing a remote working policy and a strategy to undertake enterprise mobility with a more serious approach, the pandemic hit.
Remote working, remote learning and remote access became the new norm and are here to stay for an indefinite period. The initial hesitation against remote working is now heavily surfaced, and while employees might return to the office sooner or later, the trend of remote working will not hit the ground anytime in the future. Employees will want to continue working remotely, at least for a few days a week, and hence, the need for remote access will increase exponentially.
Challenges of Remote Access:
Several challenges hinder the remote access functionality. Poor internet access, for instance, is the first hurdle that comes in the way of remote access. The users trying to access the corporate network or servers need to have strong, stable internet connectivity for the same. In public and shared networks, the signal is not sufficient and accessing remote servers or files through cellular network is latent and cumbersome.
Some networks also block VPN, and if the remote access is solely via VPN, it cannot be established via these network connections. If the employee accesses a remote desktop, the users cannot log in if they have left an application open on their business desktop from a remote access system. Remote access is also heavily dependent on the application available on both the user and the host devices.
To simplify remote access, remote desktop software or remote mirroring software is widely used coupled with an MDM tool to gain remote access to enterprise mobile devices and endpoints.
Benefits of Remote Access Software Powered by MDM
- Remote access software that works with ease on managed devices- both corporate-owned and employee-owned.
- IT administrators can monitor, track and maintain the enterprise devices
- Employees can have seamless access to business resources and files from corporate servers or networks whenever they need ensuring no hindrance to productivity
- IT administrators can push files, apps and software to enterprise devices without any end-user intervention
- Enterprise IT teams can easily manage, maintain and provision unattended devices used as kiosks
- Troubleshooting device issues are simplified, and IT admins can quickly resolve issues of remotely operating devices.
- ITSM management with easy ticketing
Remote Access Security Best Practices
Remote access security best practices are a set of guidelines and procedures designed to protect systems and data accessed remotely from unauthorized access, theft, and other security threats. These remote access servers best practices aim to ensure the security, privacy, and integrity of remote access systems and the information they hold.
- Implement Multi-Factor Authentication: A multi-factor authentication system requires that users provide two or more authentication factors in order to log into remote systems, for example, a password and a security token.
- Use Strong Passwords and Regularly Update Them: Strong passwords should be complex, lengthy, and unique to each account. Passwords should be changed regularly to prevent unauthorized access.
- Limit Access to Authorized Users Only: Access to remote systems should be granted only to authorized users who have a legitimate business need. User access should be revoked when it is no longer required.
- Data encryption at rest and in transit: Encryption protects data from unauthorized access by converting it into a code. Data transmitted and stored remotely should be encrypted to prevent interception and theft.
- Keep Software and Firmware Up-to-Date: Software and firmware should be regularly updated to patch security vulnerabilities and address other known issues.
- Use Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) for Remote Access: With VPNs, remote users and systems have a secure, encrypted connection, ensuring the integrity and confidentiality of their data.
- Monitor and Log Remote Access Activity: Remote access activity should be monitored and logged to detect and investigate potential security incidents and policy violations.
- Implement Role-Based Access Controls (RBAC): RBAC assigns access permissions based on an individual’s role within an organization. It ensures that users have access only to the data and systems they require to perform their job functions.
- Conduct Regular Security Audits and Risk Assessments: Regular security audits and risk assessments should be conducted to identify vulnerabilities and risks and to implement necessary security controls and policies.
- Educate Users on Remote Access Best Practices and Security Awareness: The risk of security incidents caused by human error or negligence can be reduced by educating remote access users on best practices and security awareness.
Scalefusion streamlines remote access powered via an MDM tool that enables IT admins to access remote files and devices via the Scalefusion dashboard. IT admins can enforce VPN connections and push digital identity certificates for the users and device authentication before enabling remote connections for the employees to access corporate servers and networks. Pushing files, apps and updates on remote devices is quick and easy, and employees have access to the latest business resources at all times.
The IT admins can remotely mirror device screens of managed Android, iOS and Windows devices and streamline troubleshooting remote cast. Further, they can take screenshots of remote device screens, record cast sessions, sync files, and create support tickets on the integrated ITSM platform. Most importantly, IT admins and key stakeholders can access device performance, usage information and security status of remotely operating devices, perform periodic security checks and automate alerts for discrepancies and address them before they impact the business continuity.
Remote access and remote tools are essential for modern working environments and are critical to employee productivity as well as enterprise data security. With remote access and support powered by MDM, remote access and remote device maintenance can be made cost-effective and pulls in fewer manual resources–an important consideration for businesses to ensure remote work security.
Get started with Scalefusion’s free trial today to streamline your remote access and empower your team to work efficiently from anywhere.