Secure Remote Access Solutions: The Future of Remote Access
What are Secure Remote Access Solutions?
Secure remote access is becoming a critical aspect of security in a modern IT environment. With the increased use of cloud computing and the transition to remote work. Businesses need to provide their employees and business partners with remote access to resources such as applications and data without compromising security.
Secure remote access solutions provide the ability to securely access organizational resources from any device, anywhere, based on centralized security policies.
In the past, remote access was based on technologies like Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) and virtual private networks (VPN). These solutions are not suitable to today’s distributed workforce and do not provide sufficient security or productivity. Next-generation remote access solutions are built around a zero trust security model, integrating security features like single sign-on (SSO), multi-factor authentication (MFA), device health checks, and continuous verification.
What are the Benefits of Modern Secure Remote Access Solutions?
Modern remote access solutions have the following key advantages over traditional solutions such as RDP and VPN.
Zero trust security model
Remote access in a distributed environment must be based on zero trust principles. The zero trust model states that entities connecting to an organization’s systems should not be implicitly trusted, even if they are located within the network perimeter or have successfully authenticated.
The approach is to “never trust, always verify”—continuously verifying each connection to determine whether the identity and device connecting have permission to access the required resources. This provides strong protection against identity-based attacks, lateral movement and privilege escalation, which were major risks of traditional remote access.
Granular access control
Advanced access control solutions give each user access to specific applications and data based on their roles and responsibilities, and also on their current security context. For example, users might have a different level of access if they connect from an unsecured device, at a late hour at night, or from a foreign country.
Protected web access
Modern work processes strongly rely on web-based and SaaS applications. Increasingly, remote access does not mean connecting from a remote location to the corporate office, but connecting to a company’s Internet-based resources, hosted by a third party provider. This requires strong authentication, protection against credential theft, and measures to prevent online threats like phishing and malware.
Endpoint health checks
Secure remote access is only meaningful if the organization has some level of control over the endpoint that is being used for remote access. Remote access solutions must have a way to identify devices connecting to organizational services, establish a device ID, and perform health checks to verify that the device has a minimal level of security hygiene before allowing it to connect.
Technologies and Features of Secure Remote Access Solutions
Secure remote access technologies actively facilitate secure network connections, such as:
- Virtual private networks (VPNs)—enable organizations to provide remote access to a limited number of users. A VPN uses secure tunnels to extend a private, corporate network across the public Internet, using protocols like IPsec. You can deploy VPNs on-premises or use a cloud-based VPN service.
- Zero-trust network access (ZTNA)—enables secure access to applications and services both for users in the office and on the road. ZTNA enables organizations to tailor access to network resources on a user-by-user basis. ZTNA uses context and identity to determine the specific resources a user is allowed to access.
A remote access strategy must include additional supporting elements, such as:
- Identity repository/directory—an authoritative, centralized database storing user information. The directory determines who is allowed access to specific resources and under what conditions.
- Multi-factor authentication (MFA)—verifies user identity through several authentication mechanisms, creating a layered defense. Organizations should implement MFA across all remote access scenarios to prevent exposing users to identity compromise.
- Session management—once a user is authenticated, their session begins. Session management capabilities can remember the authentication for a period of time. It automatically provides credentials to all applications the user has permission to use.
- Single sign-on (SSO)—an authentication mechanism that enables an end user to use one set of credentials to access multiple applications. It delivers a better user experience and enhances security.
How to Choose Secure Remote Access Solutions
Remote access solutions are business-critical systems, because they directly impact user productivity. If a legitimate user cannot access corporate systems quickly and efficiently, they won’t be able to do their job. At the same time, remote access must provide a high level of security across all possible access scenarios.
The industry is transitioning away from point solutions and towards unified platforms that allow an organization to set up and manage remote access. These platforms make it possible to manage access across an entire IT infrastructure from a single pane of glass. This promotes visibility, and makes it possible to enforce consistent security policies across all corporate systems.
Here is a list of items that can help you map your needs in advance to select a remote access solution:
|Who is it for?
|Knowledge workers, power users, task-based workers, third-party contractors, auditors.
|What deployment models are supported?
|Systems requiring remote access are hosted in an on-premise data center, distributed across branch offices, in the cloud, or some combination.
|What types of applications will be accessed through it?
|Proprietary applications, SaaS applications, cloud-based resources, third-party resources.
|What endpoints will be used?
|BYOD, managed devices, corporate-owned devices
|Which endpoint platforms will be used?
|Desktop devices, mobile devices, range of operating systems (Linux, Windows, iOS, Android, etc.)
|What security features are required?
|MFA, SSO, malware protection, zero trust verification
|Are there any specific protocol support requirements?
|HTTP/S, RDP, SSH, VNC, proprietary protocols
Here are a few additional capabilities to look for in a remote access solution:
- Seamless deployment without disrupting existing systems.
- Support for both legacy infrastructure, cloud environments, and other edge deployments.
- Integration with the organization’s existing security stack.
- Consistent remote access experience from any location or device.
- Encryption by default.
- Strong authentication with MFA.
- Reporting, monitoring and alerts.
- Easily scalable to support business growth and changing requirements.