This article is about Best practices for securing remote access.
Information[Best practices for securing remote access]
Most, if not all, of the day-to-day tasks performed in offices today rely heavily on technology, especially computers, laptops, tablets, and smart devices. As the world and the global economy become increasingly interconnected, employees must also be mobile. Sometimes the need to work from home or somewhere outside the office arises, moreover, many companies have more than one office in different parts of the world, which requires them to have secure communication and data exchange between offices.
Time and time again, we’ve seen hackers exploit several major security flaws over the years. Even a giant like Sony’s security was compromised when hackers were able to penetrate their defenses to gain information related to network infrastructure, user authentication, and work and production databases. Hackers were even successful in stealing information about routers, switches and load balancers at Sony! As a result of this incident, the company took a huge hit in credibility.
Your business cannot overlook the need to grant employees remote access unless you want to concede market share to your competitors. You never know when there will be an urgent need for a team member to access corporate email, connect to the corporate intranet, or access any other vulnerable corporate asset from a remote location in order to do their job.
Our goal is to discuss best practices for providing secure remote access to your corporate network through a Virtual Private Network (VPN) through this article. A combination of strategies is required to achieve optimal security while allowing appropriate or even maximum access to your employees when working remotely.
Let’s dive right in.
The first thing necessary to ensure smooth remote access via VPN is to plan a comprehensive network security policy.
- What are the user classes?
- What level of access is allowed to the classroom?
- Which devices can connect to the corporate network via VPN?
- What authentication method will be used and how will it be implemented?
- How will you counter sloppy practices?
- What are the standard operating procedures (SOPs) in the event of a network breach?
- What is the maximum time allowed for an idle VPN connection before automatically terminating?
A thorough assessment of risks and needs will help you formulate an effective and efficient security policy. Make sure that your network security policy is part of the official company handbook and that all employees are properly informed about the security policy and trained to use VPNs.
Before we discuss the different types of remote VPN connections, it’s wise to familiarize yourself with best practices for remote networking.
This is a fixed best practice that ensures that only company-issued hardware devices will be able to connect to the internal corporate network, with or without a VPN.
To ensure that no unauthorized software can install itself or the user and cause a virus, worm, trojan or malware infection in the device, each device must deny administrative rights to the user of that device or to all employees in General. This ensures protection against DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks.
Since employees will not be able to change any configurations, device conflicts will also be eliminated and therefore your support team will have to handle fewer support calls.
Another important security measure to take is to install an antivirus and firewall on all company-provided hardware. Malicious files are protected by an antivirus, while more direct hacking attempts are thwarted by a firewall.
So you have a three-layered line of defense to protect remote access to your network: antivirus, firewall and VPN. The network security team should continuously monitor alerts from these defenses.
Adopting two-factor authentication for remote access via VPN further increases the security of your network. Now let’s look at why you should choose a particular type of VPN as a secure connection methodology instead of the alternatives.
Which path to choose?
Three types of VPN connections are widely used in the corporate world:
- Remote Access Server (RAS)
- Internet Protocol Security (IPSec)
- Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)
The most basic form of remote VPN access is via RAS. This type of VPN connection is also referred to as a Virtual Private Dial-up Network (VPDN) due to its early adoption on the dial-up Internet.
There are two main components to this type of connection; a dedicated or shared RAS server widely used for authenticating user credentials and software installed on a client device. The software application can be built into the operating system or installed by the company’s network team.
The client-side software is responsible for establishing the tunnel connection to the RAS and for encrypting the data.
RAS VPNs are suitable for small companies that require remote access for a few employees. However, most serious businesses have moved on from this basic form of VPN connection.
IPSec is a method of authenticating and encrypting IP packets. It uses cryptographic keys to protect data flows between hosts and security gateways.
A unique feature of IPSec is that it operates on the network layer of the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) protocol model. This allows IPSec to protect data transmission in a variety of ways.
IPSec is used to connect a remote user to the entire network. This gives the user access to all IP based applications. The VPN gateway is located at the edge of the network and the firewall is also set directly on the gateway. However, client software must be installed to achieve IPSec VPN access.
Considering the very nature of the connection, what are the implications of an IPSec connection for corporations? Your employee will only have access to the network from a single authorized device. Security is further enhanced by enforcing anti-virus and firewall policies.
A company should use IPSec VPN remote access if it has a strong network department with the ability to configure each employee’s hardware device individually (client software installation, security policy enforcement, etc.). An IPSec VPN connection is also important for employees who need wide access to the corporate network.
Warning: If you use IPSec VPN for remote access but do not deploy Internet Key Exchange (IKE, certificates) as an authentication method, the connection will be vulnerable. In many use cases, the IPSec XAUTH and L2TP authentication methods are vulnerable to security lapses.
Many companies around the world have adopted SSL VPN for remote access needs. This method provides VPN access through any regular browser! It does not require any special software to be installed on the employee’s device.
The Secure Sockets layer connection operates at the transport layer or application layer of the OSI protocol model. SSL VPN gateways are deployed behind a border firewall with rules that allow or deny access to specific applications.
Therefore, SSL provides “granular” access to the corporate network. A remote user has access only to those applications that are relevant to his work and does not have access to other areas of the network.
Although a lot depends on which class a user is a member of, for most use cases, granting access to specific applications, such as a remote employee’s mailbox on an Exchange server and a subset of URLs hosted on an intranet web server, is the right thing to do. strategy. Why put the entire network at risk? SSL VPNs are a good choice for remote access.
Always use protection
Whatever VPN connection you decide is best for your organization, never think about giving your employees remote access without a VPN! By implementing the best practices listed here and carefully choosing the type of VPN connection based on your business needs, your organization can achieve amazing levels of productivity.