Organizations use remote access security solutions to authenticate users who are accessing business applications and IT systems from outside the private enterprise network. Today’s business users are no longer confined to the office. To be fully productive, they need secure and convenient access to all their on-premises and cloud-based applications and systems when working from home or the road. For cybersecurity leaders, it’s important to understand which remote access security technologies can enable employees to succeed, while protecting the organization from attackers.
Remote access security solutions allow organizations to safely extend business applications and services to teleworkers and nomadic users without impairing user experience or productivity. Most contemporary remote access security solutions support Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) functionality to validate a remote user’s identity and Single Sign-On (SSO) functionality to streamline remote access and improve user experiences.
MFA functionality helps businesses defend against credential theft and user impersonation by positively confirming a user’s identity. With MFA, a remote user must present multiple forms of evidence to gain access to an on-premises or cloud-based application or system—for example, something the user knows, like a password, or something the user possesses, such as a mobile device or proximity badge. Many MFA solutions also support biometric authentication (e.g., fingerprint or facial scan recognition). Some take a user’s location into account when applying authentication factors.
The latest remote access security solutions support adaptive authentication to optimize user experience and satisfaction. Adaptive authentication uses contextual information (IP address, device type, location, time-of-day, etc.) and business logic to determine which authentication factors to employ with a specific remote user in a specific situation. For example, an employee accessing an enterprise application from a trusted home computer might be able to log on using only a username and password. But to access the app from a foreign country, the user might also have to enter a one-time, short-lived code texted to their mobile phone.
Single Sign-On functionality allows remote users to access multiple applications and systems using a common set of usernames and passwords. SSO boosts user satisfaction by preventing password fatigue and mitigates risk by eliminating unsecure user behaviors like writing passwords on sticky notes or using a single password for many applications.
Securing Remote Access by Third-Party Vendors
Many businesses rely on third-party vendors to manage their IT infrastructure and applications. These external service organizations need remote privileged access to corporate IT systems to maintain and update them. Traditional enterprise security solutions are intended to authenticate and authorize employees who use company-owned and managed endpoints. They rely on special-purpose endpoint software deployed and supported by corporate IT and aren’t well suited for securing devices owned and managed by an external organization.
Specialized vendor privileged access management (PAM) solutions let businesses securely extend privileged access to the third-party vendors without requiring special-purpose VPN clients or other endpoint software. Instead, vendor PAM solutions use web portals and multi-factor authentication methods to validate identities and authorize third-party users.