It was not that many years ago when securing a remote access line into the company server was a privilege for a chosen few, such as executives, the sales force, telecommuters and road warriors. However, the rise in popularity of mobile devices including tablets and smart phones, and lightweight laptops, allows access to a high-speed Internet connection from nearly anywhere. Companies are quickly seeing the advantage of having their staff perform duties out of the office using an instant remote connection to the company server.
Studies indicate that well over 60% of the workforce in Europe and North America that handle information routinely perform at least a portion of their work using remote access. Some companies insist that their employees work at home as much as possible. As a response, employees find themselves doing work from coffee shops, restaurants, and hotels. Giving every employee the ability to tap in to confidential information increases productivity. However, is remote access safe?
Generally, remote access allows online users to stay connected to networks using an unsecured environment, like the Internet. Remote access can be safe if the user from a distant location works within the network itself, gaining access through some pre-authorized privilege. Many office networks allow remote access set up to provide a portal for their workforce to perform their duties at home or some remote location. While there are significant advantages of working from a remote location, there are specific safety concerns that need to be considered.
Safeguarding against Malware
Nearly all types of remote access is performed over the Internet. It allows the connection from a remote location into the office network. However, it also can generate a high level security threat if malware, viruses, worms, or trojans can easily piggyback into the network across the transmitted lines. Sometimes, anti-virus software is simply not enough to safeguard against any intruder eager to gain unauthorized access.
Protecting against Unwanted Applications
Another concern over security issues using remote access is allowing the employee to utilize office network bandwidth to acquire unwanted applications, or simply for their personal use. Any online user remotely connected to the server can download and operate applications that automatically run in the background. This might include video or music streaming applications that can easily eat up the network’s bandwidth. It adds additional unwanted traffic across the network and can at times bring with it viruses or malware.
Stealing Confidential Data
The most detrimental component to allowing remote access into the office network is the ability for others to steal confidential data. This can happen in various ways including directly and indirectly. Security administrators in charge of the network can set restrictions and limit the remote user’s ability to access only low-level information.
Another problem to consider is the ability to transmit confidential data to a remote computer or mobile device, to be stored at an off-site location. Whether on purpose or not, employees can copy pertinent confidential information, store it on their own device, and leave it open to an unprotected environment.
Safeguarding against Hackers
Hackers and cyber-thieves work to intercept transmissions from the remote user to the office network. Sometimes the network and the remote user have no idea that the authorized identity has been compromised. Without proper safeguards and protocols in place, documents, files and other pertinent information can easily be compromised by a hacker that is willing to exploit the data.
What to Do
There is a specific route that every company can take to completely safeguard the remote access activity of their workforce. Hiring the services of a managed service provider (MSP) allows the company to utilize the best safeguarding equipment available. MSPs will set up a VPN (virtual private network) on the office network system and transmit all remote activity through their own servers. Giving control over to the MSP ensures that only authorized users can gain access to the company server. The MSP will also use the most advanced encryption technology to ensure that hackers and cyber attackers cannot intercept transmitted information.
Additionally, a managed service provider will likely set up multiple layers of access safeguards such as multi-factor authentication. Requiring a second or third level of identification when logging in will assure the company that only authorized users are gaining access from a remote location. The managed service provider will set up guidelines, protocols and safeguards to ensure that security is always in full force. This will avoid eavesdropping and unauthorized access no matter where the employee is logging in.
With the ongoing need to allow employees to telecommute, or gain access to the office network from a remote location, it is imperative that every company utilize the benefits offered by a managed service provider. Productivity from the workforce will remain high anytime an employee has the opportunity to work from any location they please.
Want to learn more about what makes a proper multi-factor auth solution? Download our free eBook below.