Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, more and more employees are working from home. Since employees are working remotely, this gave rise to several new cyber threats for organizations. While working remotely may have numerous benefits, it poses several security challenges that cannot be ignored.
Organizations must adopt secure remote access as a part of their cybersecurity strategy to address the new cyber vulnerabilities and risks that result from a remote workforce. But what is secure remote access?
Secure remote access refers to security policies, processes, strategies, or solutions that prevent unauthorized access to private networks. It could also prevent access to private and confidential data and other company resources. Simply put, secure remote access is a combination of technologies to secure private networks rather than relying on one single technology in particular.
Now that you understand the importance of secure remote access let’s look at how it is essential for teams, why businesses need it, and what best practices need to be adopted to benefit from it in the long run. Without further ado, let’s dig in.
What is Secure Remote Access for Teams?
First and foremost, let’s understand what secure remote access for teams is all about. Taking PureVPN’s work remote access VPN as an example, organizations have complete control over their employees. PureVPN gives organizations a highly detailed dashboard in which they can add/remove employees from accessing their private network, grant additional rights to specific employees, and so on.
Secure remote access for teams gives organizations complete control over what people are accessing their private networks. Doing something so simple can considerably decrease the chances of data loss, data theft, etc.
Why do Businesses need Secure Remote Access?
Organizations have several reasons to adopt secure remote access, some of which are as follows:
- Streamlining Collaboration with Third Parties
Organizations working with third-party suppliers, contractors and vendors can have problems depending on the complexity of the supply chain. To solve this problem, organizations could secure remote access to share private and confidential data without giving away complete access to their complete environments.
- Implementing Updates
Organizations rely on weekly security updates and provide maintenance to ensure things keep running smoothly. Without remote maintenance and important security updates, organizations could suffer greatly.
- Centralizing Access to Distributed Systems Worldwide
Organizations that have assets across the globe will need secure remote access to centralize access. Without it, remote workers will have a hard time accessing the information they need. Secure remote access ensures remote workers can access any system they need, but only as long as they are authorized.
- Granting Data Access and Visibility to Decision-makers
Decision-makers need access and visibility regarding data to protect their respective organizations and guarantee their success. To make the right decision, they need the information they need promptly.
Best Practices for Secure Remote Access for Work in 2021
1. Implement a Telework Policy
Start by implementing a telework policy to determine how employees will work remotely. An effective telework policy should specify the following:
- Whether personal devices are acceptable for remote work.
- What data stays in the office, and what can be downloaded on personal devices.
- What apps and programs can be installed on devices for remote work.
- How suspected attacks should be reported by remote employees.
Such policies can go a long way to cutting down the risks associated with accessing remote networks.
2. Encryption by Remote VPN
Data encryption is a must when employees work remotely since devices could be used outside the office setting or lost. This could result in the loss of private and sensitive information, but it can be prevented by implementing a remote VPN. All data exchanges between an organization and remote work locations need to be encrypted, which a remote VPN can pull off.
3. Dedicated Remote Work Devices
Remote employees should not be using their personal devices, as organizations should provide specific devices for remote work. These devices need to be managed by the organization’s IT team to keep them up-to-date and to prevent the installation of unnecessary apps that could potentially lead to a security breach.
4. User Authentication
When accessing company networks and data remotely, employees need to be governed by strict access control. While it may seem feasible to give access to company data and networks to everyone, it could pose a massive security risk.
The best practice to adopt involves giving limited access to specific remote employees that need it in the first place. This approach may require extensive configuration, but the pros outweigh the cons in terms of security benefits.
5. Remote VPN Software
By employing a remote access VPN, organizations benefit in three ways: accessing remote resources, encrypting connections and providing control over private networks. To keep resources secure when remote employees access them, setting up a VPN is a necessity.
6. Data Security
Sensitive information can be secured via access control and encryption, but when employees are working remotely, they need to work with sensitive data properly. If a company has compliance rules for data to remain on specific servers, the company must make sure employees cannot download the said data on their devices.
If compliance is not that big of an issue, organizations still need to establish policies regarding how data can be accessed and copied on remote devices.
7. Password Managers
Most data breaches result from credentials acquired illegally due to which, for which reason password managers can serve as an important tool to overcome this problem. Password managers not only store passwords, but they can generate and retrieve random, complex passwords stored in a secure database. This can prevent the use of similar passwords. Moreover, password managers are capable of rotating passwords automatically. Passwords are continually rotated to avoid their constant use. With shorter life spans for passwords, sensitive data is not vulnerable to attacks.
8. Two-Factor Authentication
Access control would be pointless without authenticating users. Usually, users would need to enter their username and password, but they would need to enter an additional code with two-factor authentication to get access to networks and resources. Two-factor authentication serves as an extra layer of security to prevent unauthorized access.
9. Employ Cybersecurity Training
The best way to protect your organization’s networks and data is by training your employees. Employees should be advised to lock their devices when not in use and be wary of using public networks while traveling. Most importantly, remote employees should not be noting down information like passwords on notepads, which generally end up in the trash.
On the flip side, employees need to be made aware of social engineering attacks, phishing being the most prominent of them all. Employees should refrain from opening unknown links or emails, and they need to avoid downloading attachments unless they are entirely sure they are safe to download.
In conclusion, you have everything you need to know about remote device access, remote access software, secure remote access VPNs, and what best practices can significantly reduce cyber threats while employees are working from home. Make the most of this information to protect your business, especially since the number of cyberattacks has drastically increased post after the COVID-19 pandemic.