As remote work continues to dominate industries — with recent data from McKinsey showing 58 percent of Americans work from home at least one day weekly — secure remote access has become an important information technology (IT) tool for many organizations. Remotely accessing a desktop from a different location allows an authorized organizational user to take control of a computer to view or change files, fix technical issues or configure settings. However, the access method must be secure to protect your business data; otherwise, you could find your business plagued by a number of security issues.
Secure remote access is the technology often used by IT personnel who must help their colleagues with tech problems from afar. It’s also helpful for workers who need to log in to a secure device that’s connected to their company server in the office while working from a personal device at home or for managers who want to know what their employees are looking at on their company devices.
If you’re granting your team members access to company devices or systems, it’s important to have security measures in place to prevent any unauthorized access to your programs and data. Secure remote access systems involve a mix of different strategies, technologies and applications that protect computers and networks from falling into the wrong hands.
Before you can remotely log on to a device or program, you’ll need to install software on both the device you’re using and the device you want to access. Once the application is installed, both devices need to be turned on. Then, you log in to the software and select the device you want to access and then the software will mirror that device’s screen.
Through the software, you can access and share any files on the remote device, download them to the device you are using and make any changes on the remote device.
There are several options for securely accessing a device or program from a different location and some may be used concurrently, depending on the level of access and security required. These are some of the most common types of secure remote access systems:
When implementing permanent remote strategies, such as secure remote access systems, consider its impact on your workplace culture and the entire staff — both in-person and remote. Ensure the whole team has access and keep lines of communication clear so that staff remain connected; otherwise, workplace culture could be negatively impacted.
The number of companies operating fully or partially remotely skyrocketed at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. A recent PwC survey found that 83 percent of employers say their shift to remote work has been successful and 55 percent of employees say they would prefer to be remote at least three days a week post-pandemic.
Employers must take the appropriate security measures to protect their business data in a remote work environment, no matter where their employees are working. Secure remote access systems have four important advantages for users and their networks.
When you have a secure remote access solution in place, it grants authorized users access to your company network on any compatible device. Employees have seamless access to all of their data and files, while you can take solace in knowing that your business data is secure.
Remote access solutions also allow IT and engineering experts to troubleshoot users’ problems remotely. Anytime a technical issue comes up, a specialized worker can just access that user’s device remotely and help them find a solution, without the need for in-person interaction or for the employee to bring their computer to the office.
For many modern companies, much of their employees’ daily workflow is through the internet. A secure remote access system protects your employees from web-based threats such as phishing attacks, ransomware and malware while they’re logged in to your company’s network. These cyber incidents can lead to unauthorized access and use of both the company’s business data and the employee’s personal data.
Today’s employees often use multiple devices to carry out work tasks. They may answer emails on a smartphone, input data on their tablets and log in to video meetings on their laptops. A secure remote access solution can protect all devices connected to your company’s network and systems.
The shift to companies working from home has given them the opportunity to maintain and modernize their cybersecurity systems. Through this remote transition, you should invest in updating your business’s cybersecurity policy and educating your workforce on the importance of secure access and browsing.
When businesses make the switch to remote work, employees can become confused about how to continue to work securely, leading to a possible threat to your network’s security. Here are a few other disadvantages of implementing secure remote access systems.
When introducing a secure remote access system, users are opening doors to new security vulnerabilities with each external device that connects to a company’s system. While these systems feature data encryption, activity logs to monitor employee use and multiple permission levels, ensuring access is granted only to those who have authorization is sometimes challenging.
For businesses to successfully implement remote access software, they must provide a secure and reliable internet connection — without it, employees could have difficulty accessing programs and completing assignments, resulting in a reduction in productivity.
Additionally, solution providers may have other technical requirements, such as specific host computer requirements, that businesses must fulfill to implement the technology.
Remote access systems require maintenance when issues like the system stops working or needs updating occurs. This means that businesses need to have an IT professional or technically savvy employee on standby to fix system issues (remotely or in person, depending on the issue) as they occur.
In addition to operational and staffing costs associated with software maintenance, system issues and disruptions, such as system failure due to power loss, can impact daily workflows and lead to a loss of productivity.
To give your business the best protection, you may need to use a combination of multiple remote access solutions. The best solution to use depends on your company’s needs.
Sahin Boydas, founder of RemoteTeam (since acquired by Gusto), says employers with distributed teams should look for remote access solutions that have all the functions the business needs but are still simple to use.
“Go for solutions that are simple for your IT department and employees to work with [and can] easily adapt to their distributed teams’ needs,” Boydas told business.com. “The work environment is changing … and your company needs will also keep changing. A solution that can accommodate your team’s workflow and changing environment is the best option.”
Here are some of the best remote access software options:
Perfect for small businesses, RemotePC is easy to implement and offers several plans to fit the size of your company and number of devices. One of its biggest advantages is that you don’t need to configure firewalls or proxy servers; once you’re connected, you are already secure and can get to work.
If you’re a small and growing business looking for an easy-to-use remote access solution that requires minimal setup for maximum security, consider RemotePC. [See RemotePC review]
If your business is looking for a little more customization, ConnectWise is a good choice. It allows you to create your security settings and personalize the software with your company’s brand. These features are available across multiple operating systems and devices.
Consider ConnectWise for more customization options and advanced security features. They offer in-depth support and troubleshooting assistance to help users build the right system for their needs. [See ConnectWise review]
Small businesses looking for affordable remote software plans should look at Zoho Assist. Its plans can be billed monthly or annually and its applications are designed specifically for small and midsize businesses. The connection process is quick and secure and it connects devices across all major platforms.
If you’re on a budget, consider Zoho Assist. As an efficient remote access system, it’s compatible with a wide range of devices and offers a variety of plans to fit any business’s budget. [See Zoho Assist review]
Miranda Fraraccio contributed to this article. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.