How Safe is Your “Secure” Remote Access – Really?

According to a recent Gallup poll, nine in 10 remote workers want to maintain remote work to some degree. Their employers? They want more secure remote access.

Today’s networking and security needs look very different than they did pre-pandemic. The mass exodus from the central office has underscored network vulnerabilities that are making even the most skilled IT teams nervous.

With the demand for remote resources on the rise, businesses are right to be hypervigilant about their security. Here’s what some of the most forward-thinking firms are doing to fortify their remote access security.

The Remote Office is Here to Stay

It’s a known fact that your exposure to cyber threats increases exponentially with each remote employee or stakeholder who accesses your network. Given that 76% of remote workers say their employer will allow people to work remotely going forward, it’s high time organizations start thinking ahead.

Malware is everywhere, and between virtual employees’ personal devices, unsecured internet connections, and susceptibility to phishing scams, it’s only a matter of time before most companies face some sort of breach. Without in-office access to an IT team, it can be next to impossible for staff to constantly secure all the competing devices accessing your data and applications.

“Another novel threat in this context is an employee’s need to access or send data over public internet connections when connecting to systems or storage resources that exist in their companies’ offices,” points out Security Boulevard. “If that data is not properly secured, third parties could eavesdrop on the connections and steal sensitive information in a way that would be much more difficult to do when all data remains inside corporate networks.”

New Rules for Securing Remote Access

The necessity of remote work coupled with the inevitability of eventual cyber activity can be a scary combo. The good news is that just because remote work increases your potential attack surface, doesn’t mean you have to simply sit back and wait for a breach.

Companies that are most successful at mitigating cyber risks play by the following rules to secure their systems and data while working remotely:

Encrypt all network connections. Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are helpful for safe file sharing, as well as keeping your internet activity and identity is hidden from hackers.
Monitor all network activity. Using intrusion prevention systems, the right piece of hardware or software can detect, block, and report any potentially malicious activity.
Build the right network architecture. Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) is like a VPN meets wide area network (WAN) that can help you make safe connections using cloud-native security technologies.
Make cybercriminals walk through fire(walls). All incoming and outgoing network traffic must meet your predetermined security rules. Otherwise, it gives any unauthorized users the boot.
Have a user-cloud app go-between. Cloud access security brokers are your cloud conduits between users and providers. They help reinforce your data security policies by identifying risks and enforcing compliance.
Trust no one. Or at least authenticate, authorize, and validate them first with zero-trust network access.
Hire virtual machines to manage your desktops. Keep them all on a centralized server and give remote users access upon request with virtual desktop infrastructure.
Practice the principle of least privilege. Identity and access management can help you ensure only the appropriate people have access to just the right info – and nothing more.

As the nature of where and how we work has changed, so has what constitutes secure remote access. For our location-agnostic workforce, that’s meant adopting new tools and technologies to help them do their part in protecting company data and applications. Remote access security is a world that will continue to evolve as our technologies and the cybercrime that threatens them do.