With the COVID-19 pandemic, remote working became the new norm. Many businesses started to rely on more internet-connected servers that are connected to the corporate network in order to store sensitive data and user access logins. If you’re like the majority of the companies affected by the pandemic, you’ve likely configured your servers to be accessed remotely, that you have access to configure and update the software yourself, run maintenance programs, and monitor a users performance. Many companies will turn to using cloud services as a way to store their company data, and others may turn to an on-premises solution.
There are many different ways that you can protect your remote access, you just have to find the best solution that works for you and your users. You’ll want to find a solution that isn’t difficult to implement, and has a seamless user experience.
Remote access protocols such as Remote Desktop Web Access Login (RDP) are a crucial part of running online servers. Remote Desktop improves the flexibility of maintaining your servers by eliminating the need for physical machines. If you choose to run cloud platforms, remote access protocols are the best and only way to access the organizations servers.
While remote access is the best option, there can still be vulnerabilities within the company if a user accesses their account without the company VPN or from a different non-registered device.
(H2 ) How Do You Protect Remote Access?
While there are many ways to protect your remote access protocol, there are generally two common methods that can help reduce the attack surface of your servers and make it harder for cyber attackers to break in to your servers remotely:
- Limiting access by IP address: You can restrict the range of IP addresses that can communicate with your server through the Remote Access Protocol which will make sure that hackers can’t access your servers from any computer.
- Using strong passwords: Passwords alone are not enough to protect your servers but, with a long and complex password combined with your RDP, hackers will have a tougher time using their brute-force attacks to gain access to your servers.
It should be noted that while these two methods are the most common, the effectiveness is limited. Limiting your users IP address ranges will also limit your own access to your servers which can pose a problem if your company has a model that is geographically distributed in areas all around the world. This can cause strain to your IT department and may eventually lead you to open up to many IP addresses and string you away further from your original goal. You’ll want to make sure that you are working with professionals when setting up your remote access with many different geographical IP addresses.
In terms of complex passwords, these can put a strain on the administrators of your servers, who probably already have a plate full of complex passwords that they have to deal with, which can lead to many more configuration mistakes. No matter how complex a password is, should a user fall victim to a phishing scam, hackers will be able to gain access to the company’s server. This is what we call Man-in-the-middle attacks, where essentially a hacker breaks into your communication channels and eavesdrops on your network traffic. Even the most complex passwords can be compromised which is why it is important that you have your RDP two-factor authentication enabled at all times when accessing company data.
(H2) How 2FA Can Secure Remote Access Protocols
Two-factor authentication (2FA) adds an extra layer of security to your remote servers by requiring users to authenticate with an extra step when attempting to log in through remote access protocols. The login process with a second factor usually involves a combination of something you know, something you have, and something you are. Generally, a common 2FA method includes a one-time passcode sent to an authorized phone device, or a code generated by a mobile application.
With two-factor authentication enabled, hackers won’t be able to break into your servers, even if they managed to steal your login credentials. Hackers won’t be able to use their brute-force attacks and will be less successful in accessing your servers if remote access protocols are in place.