Ensuring Secure Remote Access: Best Practices

IT executives have finally come to realize that a single cyber-attack can lead to financial losses in millions or even billions. Let’s face it, the price tag for cybersecurity is no small feat and can include everything from stolen funds to extortion and can damage one’s reputation.

A single cybersecurity breach can be astronomical, with potential damages ranging from financial losses to reputational damage.

Imagine a company that has been in business for decades, built on a foundation of trust and brand presence. Suddenly, it falls victim to a cyber-attack, and sensitive customer information gets stolen. The company’s prestige is tarnished, and now it faces the daunting task of rebuilding trust with its customers.

And now, the digital transformation era has taken over the phase of the permanent workforce. Fully operating from the office workforce has been a distant memory.

Businesses are increasingly relying on a contingent or remote workforce to get their work done. This gives enterprises unprecedented access to a global network of top talent. On the downside, though, organizations have a new level of exposure to bad actors and incompetents because even loyal employees and honest contractors can threaten your IT environment if malware is on their devices.

Relying on traditional security measures and hoping for the best isn’t going to cut much in this fast-paced and vulnerable environment. Instead, businesses must adopt a new approach that considers the realities of a global, dispersed workforce, such as multi-factor authentication, hosted virtual desktops, and more.

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Here are some benchmark remote work practices that businesses should follow:

Implement Multi-Factor Authentication

An insecure network connection can still leave your account vulnerable to compromise, even with secure endpoint devices and login processes in place. Hackers can intercept login credentials and use them to gain access to a user’s account if the network connection is not adequately secured.

This can be prevented using data-in-motion encryption technologies like Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) or TLS. In order to achieve such a security level includes ensuring that your RDP or VDI client is configured to use these types of encryptions.

When implementing Multi-factor Authentication (MFA), organizations must prioritize selecting the most robust and user-friendly authentication methods. This generally includes using an authenticator app, a hardware security key, or a combination. While these methods may not be suitable for every company, it’s worth noting that a significant portion of US employees already has smartphones capable of running authenticator apps or security keys.

So, the odds are that many employees are already familiar with MFA, which can significantly speed up the adoption and onboarding process. By leveraging this knowledge, companies can expect a smoother transition to more secure authentication methods.

multi factor authentication

Advanced Security Through Hosted Virtual Desktops

Studies show that 50% of enterprise-level firms and 24% of small businesses already utilize Desktop Virtualization.

Hosted Virtual Desktops provide advanced security features such as granular access controls, multi-factor authentication, and endpoint protection to secure corporate data and the underlying infrastructure. It employs network isolation techniques to segment virtual desktops and restrict network access.

Additionally, it also implements advanced threat detection and response mechanisms, such as behavioral analysis and machine learning algorithms, to detect and respond to potential security breaches in real time.

HVD incorporates virtualization-based security solution2s such as a virtual Trusted Platform Module (vTPM) and Virtual Secure Mode (VSM) to enhance the security of the virtualized environment.

Overall, Hosted virtual desktop providers implement advanced security standards to provide an effective defense against various cyber threats, ensuring the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of sensitive data and resources.

Replace VPN With Hosted VDI

VPNs might seem like the knight in shining armor for protecting your online activities, but even they have their chinks in the armor. The major reason behind the fall of VPNs is their incapability to secure the attack surface when the user is working remotely.

VPNs only serve security benefits when the user is working from a defined perimeter which is not the scenario in remote work models; users operate from different landscapes.

The VPN server establishes a secure connection to a local network by requiring users to install a VPN client and provide entry based on credentials. However, this model is vulnerable to hacking as attackers can easily gain access to the network by obtaining the credentials.

When it comes to observing the user activity in the network, VPN lacks the security required, and thus, it can lead to insider threats. Consequently, these can lead to malware hazards impacting remote device access or network and infecting the corporate network. While segmenting an enterprise network to restrict access over VPN may seem like a solution, it is a complex process and does not guarantee protection from lateral threat activities.

Utilizing a VPN is comparable to putting a remote device inside the enterprise network without the cyberattack security framework, which makes it vulnerable to phishing or malware attacks.

Here enters Hosted Virtual Desktops (HVD) that enable users to access corporate resources hosted on the cloud. It doesn’t limit the user to a specific device.

The centralized platform accelerates and facilitates virtual desktop provision while ensuring data center infrastructure security and workloads. The Hosted Desktop providers monitor the infrastructure that acts as a watchdog to protect virtual desktop data and resources. VDI vulnerability scanner blocks network traffic and isolate the virtual machine whenever any suspicious activity occurs.

Anti-Malware And Antivirus Policies

Advanced antivirus and anti-malware software add an extra layer of security to protect your data from malicious attacks. These types of software use a variety of methods to detect and remove malware, including signature-based detection, behavioral analysis, and machine learning.

Your IT team can implement advanced antivirus, and anti-malware typically includes features such as real-time protection, which continuously monitors your device for potential threats, and scheduled scans, periodically checking your device for malware.

Additionally, some advanced antivirus and anti-malware software also include features such as web filtering, which blocks access to known malicious websites, and email scanning, which checks incoming and outgoing emails for malware.

While advanced antivirus and anti-malware software can provide an additional layer of security, they should not be considered an alternative to other best practices, such as keeping software up to date and practicing safe browsing habits.

SSL/TLS And Other Forms Of Data-in-motion Encryption

No matter how secure your endpoint device or login process is, your account can still be compromised if the network connection through which your data passes is insecure. A hacker eavesdropping on an insecure network connection can grab a user’s login credentials and then use those to log in to that user’s account.

For instance: A hacker sitting in a coffee shop is able to intercept your login information just because the connection you’re using isn’t encrypted. Data-in-motion encryption technologies like Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) or Transport Layer Security (TLS) come to your savior to protect your login credentials and other sensitive information from being intercepted. So, ensuring that your RDP client or VDI client uses one of these encryption methods when accessing your account can keep your remote access secure.

Identity And Access Management (IAM)

Identity and access management (IAM) is the “Defense in Depth” approach for managing users’ identities and access to different systems and resources within an organization. It ensures that the right entities have access to the right applications or data at the appropriate time and use the devices they prefer without any interference. IAM is achieved by assigning a digital identity to each entity, authenticating them when they log in, authorizing them to access resources, and monitoring those identities throughout their lifecycle.

With the rise of cloud-based services, more vendors are now offering IAM services delivered via the cloud. This approach is known as Identity as a Service (IDaaS) and can be used as a standalone solution or in conjunction with existing on-premises IAM systems. Additionally, managed services providers offer IAM as a complementary service with hosted desktops that provides an extra layer of security to the organization.

identity access management

Strengthen Remote Device Access Security With ACE Hosted Virtual Desktops

With ACE solutions, clients can create reliable virtualization strategies tailored to their specific environments and applications.

The architecture of Hosted Virtual Desktop (HVD) offers several inherent security benefits. By hosting applications and data in a centralized location instead of installing them locally on endpoint devices, HVD allows for improved remote access security.

One key advantage is that IT teams no longer need to individually handle each endpoint device to perform security tasks such as patching, hardening, or installing security solutions. Now, ACE, as the hosted desktop provider, manages the central manage infrastructure.

Additionally, as the applications and data are not stored on the endpoint devices, they remain secure even if a device is lost or stolen. This dramatically reduces the risk of data breaches and unauthorized access. Ace Hosted Virtual Desktops augments all these built-in security capabilities with additional layers of protection that include the following:

Multi-factor Authentication

This adds an extra layer of security to the login process by requiring users to provide two forms of identification. The first form of identification is typically through native authentication methods such as Active Directory or LDAP. The second form of identification can be through various options, including Azure MFA (RADIUS), Duo (RADIUS), TekRADIUS, Deepnet, SafeNet, or Google Authenticator.

OS Hardening & Applications

Hardening the operating system (OS) and implementing the latest firewall and enterprise-grade anti-malware solutions can provide increased control and security. These measures help to protect against potential vulnerabilities and threats by reducing the attack surface and strengthening the system’s defenses.

Data-Loss Prevention (DLP)

Data-Loss Prevention helps safeguard sensitive data by preventing unauthorized use or exfiltration. By implementing DLP, organizations can ensure that data is kept under surveillance and protected within the VDI platform. This helps to reduce the risk of data breaches and unauthorized access and keeps the data safe from external threats.

Screenshot Protection

It safeguards sensitive information from being captured and shared via screenshots. Essentially, it blocks or obscures any sensitive information displayed on a user’s screen, making it unreadable or inaccessible to anyone trying to capture it. We implement system-wide black screen protection on all screen capture functions, such as the Print Screen button, third-party screen capture software, or browser extensions to ensure that all confidential information is safe.

Advanced Filtering

This helps restrict access to published resources by creating granular filtering rules based on user, IP address, MAC address, and gateway. It helps control access and prevent unauthorized access to the resources, keeping them safe from external threats and reducing the risk of data breaches.

Encryption Protocols

SSL/TLS encryption protocols provide an additional layer of security; the encryption protocols can be made FIPS 140-2 compliant — which defines security requirements for cryptographic modules. ACE ensures that sensitive information is protected and remains confidential even if unauthorized parties intercept it.

Take advantage of our remote device access solution today: Book a demo today and discover how quickly, easily, and securely deploy a fully functioning distributed workforce – regardless of where its members are located.

About Julie Watson

Julie is a dynamic professional with over 16 years of rich experience as a VDI and Application Hosting expert. At Ace Cloud Hosting, she humanizes disruptive and emerging remote working trends to help leaders discover new and better possibilities for digital transformation and innovation by using cloud solutions with an enterprise-class security approach. Beyond work, Julie is a passionate surfer.
On the weekend, you will find her hanging out with her family or surfing around the North Shore of Oahu.

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