6 Steps to Scale Up Remote Access with Netop Remote Control
Remote work has been a growing trend for several years, but recent events have sped up the deployment of decentralized teams. The rush to implement remote work tools and structures put an extra burden on IT departments, just as cyberthreats began to rise.As you scale up your workforce—or roll out more advanced tools to improve security and compliance—take the necessary steps to keep employees and your business safe.
1. Consider Use Cases and Procure Licenses
Start by assessing your remote access use cases across the organization. Some teams look for a remote access tool to solve a specific problem, and before long the company is using half a dozen tools like RDP, VNC and LogMeIn. This is a recipe for inefficiencies and security risks.
Instead, map out the company's remote access needs comprehensively. That can include remote employees, external service providers and vendors who need to access equipment, or even local staff who need to "remotely" access different subnets or VLANs.
Also map out which devices can be safely accessed through browser-based sessions versus those that require installed software with robust tools for file transfer, task scripting or video logging (for example, unattended manufacturing devices or POS machines that might need support after hours). In some cases, it's important to make sure an end user is able to confirm or allow a remote session before a connection is made.
Doing this work up front will go a long way when you get to the point that you need to make changes to the network or implement new software, and it can also cut costs if you're able to implement a consolidated solution across the organization.
2. Set Access Controls
Keeping your network safe means having visibility and close control over user access. Remote access software is a vital solution for sysadmins who want the highest levels of network security.
While some companies rely on virtual private networks (VPNs) for this function, VPNs can be difficult to manage and lack the granular controls needed for more complex organizations. Netop Remote Control offers a robust set of controls, customizable to a variety of business needs:
- IP / MAC address filtering
- Time-based access
- Operating system filtering
- Confirm Access via Email (CAvE)
- Multi-factor authentication (MFA)
With IP address filtering and time-based access controls, admins can set clear parameters for when and where a remote user can access a device. This is especially useful for giving third-party vendors a specific window to access a device, which helps with compliance and audit requirements.
Netop's Confirm Access via Email (CAvE) feature can be implemented on attended devices where a user should approve an incoming connection via email, or on unattended devices that should require approval from an admin before a connection is allowed.
Netop also has a built-in MFA tool or can integrate with most MFA solutions for an extra layer of security.
3. Create Roles with Defined Permissions
Once you've created a system for limiting access, you need to define the permissions users have on those devices. This is a three-step process that begins with creating roles for users.
Employees need varying access levels, depending on what type of data is involved. Those who work with more sensitive data might need additional authorization and authentication steps. Create a set of roles with access levels depending on their functions, and then assign specific permissions to the Roles.
It's a best practice to create roles for third-party vendors too, so their access can be closely controlled and monitored to limit third-party risks. Vendor access risk is more manageable with Netop Remote Control because vendors can be easily assigned to user roles with access only to approved devices, network segments, or applications.
Roles can be augmented by creating lists of approved applications, known as application whitelisting. This allows you to specify a single application or set of applications, or to grant access to a device while restricting use of any other applications and blocking network visibility.
4. Group Devices Based on Risk Assessment
Categorize and place devices in specific network zones based on risk assessment. That includes determining which devices need to follow strict compliance requirements and could potentially be audited. This is critical in highly regulated industries like retail, finance, manufacturing and healthcare.
Connecting through VPN brings data security risks, and both RDP and VNC have severe security flaws even when routed through a VPN.
Some machines should have minimal network exposure, depending on the compliance regulations that apply to your business (PCI DSS, GDPR, HIPAA and others). In industries that deal with sensitive data, some devices should not have internet access at all. In those cases, the Netop Gateway module is a highly secure, credentialed, audited and locked-down method of traversing secure networks through Netop.
5. Assign Roles and Audit Permissions
Now that your Roles have been defined and devices are grouped by risk level, you're ready to put all the pieces together. Role Assignments put your planning into practice by assigning security Roles to groups of devices.
For large organizations, the large number of Role Assignments can get complex. The Netop Remote Control Portal provides a Check Permissions feature that lets you audit your work and confirm permissions are working as intended.
Watch our webinar on Securely Scaling Up Remote Access for more about these steps.
6. Monitor and Log Events
Make sure your ongoing monitoring and session logging protocols are set. Tracking access and user behavior is essential, particularly in auditable environments.
Netop Remote Control makes it easy to track activity with unalterable audit logs, which prevent any potential intruders from covering their tracks. Our software also offers video logging capabilities to track events in the clearest way possible.
Netop Remote control logs can be centrally stored and managed with the Netop Remote Control Portal, or through a Netop Security Server. In addition, logs can be exported to centralized syslog servers for easy consolidation with other log data.
Adapting to a distributed workforce is a challenge, but with the right tools it can be done safely, quickly and effectively to protect your team and your business. Netop offers a cloud-based solution or fully on-premise software. Perpetual licenses or subscription services provide additional flexibility to adapt to changing business needs.
Sign up for a free trial of Netop Remote Control here.
Sam Heiney is the Product Manager for Netop Remote Control.