With more people than ever now working from home, secure remote access has become an important 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 method of access must be completely secure to protect your business data.
What is secure remote access?
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.
How does remote access work?
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. You then 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.
What are the different types of secure remote access systems?
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:
- Virtual private network (VPN): Anullvirtual private network is an additional layer of security for any device that is working remotely from its home system. It allows secure internet access for its user by routing the connection through an encrypted server. The user can then work through any home or public Wi-Fi network for their sensitive business needs without any restriction or fear of breach.
- Endpoint security: An endpoint security system secures a company's various devices on a network. These devices can include mobile devices, laptops, desktops and servers. Typically, antivirus and firewall software are installed on each device to help keep data secure.
- Zero-trust network access (ZTNA): This type of system allows secure remote access to applications and services based on a company's policies. A ZTNA system often defaults to access denial, unlike a VPN, which generally grants users open access with the right credentials. The type of data, systems and amount of access a user has is determined by the system their company has set up. Businesses can implement their policies based on the location of or type of the device being accessed, allowing some organizations to limit access in unfamiliar networks.
- Network access control: Network access control is typically determined by the managers of an organization or the head of the device user's department. It allows them to restrict access to outside users and users within the organization who do not need access.
- Single sign-on (SSO):nullSingle sign-on technology is a user authentication process that grants the user access to multiple devices through a single set of credentials. The software allows the user to log in to their computer, email, mobile device, and any other system or device with the same credentials. SSO lets users log in to their devices quicker, while allowing the organization to manage all of its users and their access.
- Privileged access management (PAM): This is a set of tools that managers have to secure and monitor access to the system's data from various accounts. PAM lets them see which user has been accessing what accounts in systems, ensuring that they are safe and there is no unusual behavior.
Why is secure remote access important?
The number of companies operating fully or partially remotely has skyrocketed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and many employers intend to keep it that way. A 2021 PwC survey found that 83% of employers say their shift to remote work has been successful, and 55% of employees say they would prefer to be remote at least three days a week post-pandemic.
In preparation for a permanent shift to a hybrid or remote work environment, employers must take the appropriate security measures to protect their business data, no matter where their employees are working. Secure remote access systems have four important advantages for users and their networks.
1. Secure access from any device
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.
2. Safe internet browsing
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.
3. Protected endpoints
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.
4. Increased employee security awareness
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.
What are the options for remote access software?
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, CEO and founder of RemoteTeam.com, 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 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.
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.