Remote Access Security Risks

May 16th, 2017 | IT Security, Microsoft 365

If your business uses Office 365, who controls your file permissions? If your business uses a remote desktop solution, how often are users required to change their passwords? How will you know if a network compromise occurs? Every organization is different, and so is every remote access solution. Your IT team or managed IT services provider must be able to implement, monitor, and manage the security of your remote access application to suit your business needs. The following sections will outline the challenges of balancing cost and security when considering a remote access solution. We will review what risks to avoid and how your company can avoid them.

Remote access security risks vs. cost

For organizations that do not use a multi-layer cloud solution like Office 365, it may be necessary to provide accessibility from outside of the office to the company’s primary Line of Business (LoB) application and email. In addition, well-known cloud vendors such as Microsoft, Google, and Amazon have advanced cloud security capabilities built directly within the solutions they offer. These features, however, require knowledge of both technology and your business to configure the security settings effectively. If your company is using another remote access application or remote desktop solution, your IT team should build a security strategy capable of protecting your business. Either way, you need an IT resource with the technical knowledge and business acumen to get the job done.

Identity Management

Multi-factor authentication, automatic encryption, and access management are all automated processes that you must customize to fit your organization’s operations and security requirements. We see many companies purchase cloud-hosted software, but they fail to configure the solution appropriately. For example, you wouldn’t hang security cameras throughout your home and call it a night. Instead, you would set up the network, set up your account and password, have the video streamed to your phone, etc. Similarly, cloud remote access security is not all automated. A designated administrator must manually implement your company’s network security and employee identity management and update your company’s network security and employee identity management. This takes both technology and business expertise that your in-house IT department or managed IT services provider should possess to design a productive remote access solution that suits your budget and your business. Yes, cloud-hosted applications such as Office 365 can give your employees access to enterprise-level tools, but you need to know how to use these tools before they can provide value. Your IT team or managed IT services provider should work with your company’s executives to ensure the correct security defenses and access restrictions are in place to keep your network secure. Identity and access management are essential when configuring your remote access technology. Still, they’re also a vital part of protecting your company’s business-critical information on a day-to-day basis. These procedures help your business track who, why, and from where your users open sensitive files. Each user is given an identity they’re required to authenticate against. We recommend multi-factor authentication as it requires both a password and another form of identity verification upon sign-in. For example, once the user enters their password, they’ll receive a pin on their phone, which they will use to complete the sign-in process. You can have the latest and greatest technology, but this technology can work against your business without proper implementation and management. If you’re unsure about the security of your remote access solution, ask the following questions:

  1. Where is your business-critical information stored?
  2. Does every employee need access to every piece of business-critical information all the time?
  3. Are updates automatically deployed? If not, who manages the application updates and patches?
  4. What happens to a user identity when an employee leaves?
  5. How often do users change their passwords? Are they required to?

Overall, the best way for your business to defend against a security compromise is to ensure that proper user identity management and access controls are in place. The above questions are only a few of the many you need to ask to help you do so. Security and user experience play a large part in the value of remote access to your business. Your IT team or managed IT services provider should evaluate the security and functionality risks before deciding on a solution. Don’t take the easy way out. Be sure to ask the following questions about your business.

  1. What do I need to do to secure my remote access solution?
  2. Is a cheaper solution worth the risk?
  3. Which employees will be using remote access? Will they need access to business-critical files?
  4. Can the remote access solution be both secure and user-friendly?
  5. Can you securely manage user identities?
  6. Can you implement multi-factor authentication?
  7. Who will be responsible for user identity management?

There are more questions, but they depend on the unique aspects of your business. To build a secure network, your company must have the correct operations and IT environment in place. Learn more about how our IT security services can align technology to your business goals.