It’s 2020 and while technology continues to expand and improve, experts keep warning that the cyber threat landscape has never been more treacherous. Attacks are increasingly sophisticated and the skill gap is widening, even as 44% of businesses plan to increase their tech spend in 2020. This all points to enterprise businesses and vendors looking for scalable technology solutions–including remote access solutions.
One of the biggest trends, especially in light of recent events concerning coronavirus, is people working from home. Organizations of all sizes are needing to suddenly plan for remote work, which means potential cybersecurity risks. Even when people do return to their offices, it’s projected that remote work will increase.
Whether an IT help desk is supporting a remote workforce, a retailer wants to allow third-party technicians to remotely fix PoS machines, or a manufacturer needs to diagnose a robot in a factory halfway around the world, the goal is the same: remotely access a machine quickly, without compromising security.
Here are eight remote support trends that will shape the world of secure remote access in 2020:
1. Remote Work Will Continue to Grow
Each year, remote work trends up. A special analysis done by Global Workplace Analytics of the U.S. Census and Bureau of Labor Statistics found that remote work in the U.S. has increased 159 percent between 2005 and 2017. It’s likely there will continue to be a trend upwards beyond 2020.
Here's the big picture: In 2018, employees completed half a billion authentications per month, using 10.7 million devices to log into 800,000 enterprise apps and services, according to the latest Duo Trusted Access Report.
Many companies haven't figured out how to handle the increase in remote work, especially small businesses (SMBs). Many employers and employees aren’t prepared for remote working environments, especially in times of national crises like coronavirus.
As this trend continues, it's going to get harder to protect core business networks and facilitate worker productivity without comprehensive remote working technology and remote access security.
Implementing Remote Support
Employees need tech support when working away from the office, which is fueling remote access trends. That means IT teams have to be able to remotely fix machines, push patches and security updates, resolve issues, answer questions, and keep those remote teams happily productive–across time zones and continents.
Companies that can't do this will find their IT personnel spread too thin, and their networks left open to cybersecurity threats.
Just as importantly, employees may need to remotely monitor, manage and support production equipment and IoT devices. If a technician is working from home and needs to access a server or machine, for example, it's important to keep that connection airtight to prevent intrusions. Here are some tips to prepare for these remote access trends:
- Set robust remote work policies and invest in training
- Make sure remote connections are encrypted end-to-end
- Use multi-factor authentication whenever possible
- Integrate remote access software with your active directory (AD or via LDAP) to simplify user management
2. Cybercrime Continues to Rise
By 2021, cybercrime damages are predicted to hit $6 trillion, which will lead to remote access trends that focus on reducing cybercrime and threats.
It's impossible to overstate how important it is to prepare your business for a variety of attacks. Data breaches are becoming almost routine, with PoS attacks remaining a top vulnerability in retail and hospitality. While 2018 saw a surge in cryptomining, 2019 saw more malware and remote access attacks.
Of course, large corporations are often the most attractive targets, but if an SMB is attacked, the damage could be enough to obliterate it. Poneman's Cost of a Data Breach study found that the global average cost of a data breach was $3.92 million in 2019. As such, following remote support trends to protect your business and support IT staff include:
- Planning for intrusion, detection, and mitigation, not just prevention
- Locking down connections to common threat vectors such as PoS and internet of things (IoT) machines
- Setting rules for logging and auditing, including session recording as needed
3. IoT Devices are Extremely Vulnerable
IoT endpoints are expected to grow from 4.8 billion in 2019 to 6 billion in 2020–and with unknowns associated with coronavirus, those numbers could increase even more. With the proliferation of connected devices in retail, manufacturing, and finance, malicious actors many options for gaining a foothold within business networks.
The next wave of ransomware, malware, botnets, and related threats may focus on mobile devices and infiltrating AI-assisted networks. It's critical that remote access trends continue to protect the connections between IoT devices and core business networks. To prepare:
- Ensure good network segmentation
- Centralize security protocols around remote monitoring and management
- Implement activity and event logging systems on connected devices
4. Remote Support Trends Upward in Manufacturing
In manufacturing, remote monitoring and management (RMM) has become much more pragmatic in recent years. Industrial control systems and connected devices have become
cost-effective and simple to manage, and with the right remote working technology, this will be standard very soon.
When businesses remotely manage machines, they see notable benefits in efficiency, staffing, overhead, and reduced downtime.
However, this trend exposes organizations to threats of remote attacks and sabotage. There are more points of vulnerability in an IoT ecosystem, especially for businesses that are globally dispersed. IT teams need to carefully manage authentication, authorization, and logging to maintain control. They can prepare by:
- Using a remote management solution that can handle multiple platforms within a centralized view
- Limit outside access to VPN and WAN; use role-based and risk-based authentication
- For attended devices, enforce user approval before remote session initiation
- Use granular authorization and access rules, including whitelisting application access for remote users
5. Supply Chain Attacks Will Make an Impact
Supply chain attacks are becoming a new normal in corporate environments. Essentially, hackers are after more than just the corporation. Vendors and anyone connected to the supply chain are just as (if not more) vulnerable to attacks.
Your vendors, partners, service providers, and any third party can become a weak point if they're targeted. An attack on one part of the supply chain can result in widespread havoc that disrupts all the companies downstream.
Retail will continue to be vulnerable to data breaches across the globe, necessitating more vigilance when it comes to following remote support trends. Businesses can prepare by:
- Auditing their partners and service providers for security best practices and compliance
- Permitting remote access using the most stringent, granular security controls including whitelisting application access, and group-based, IP-based or time-of-day-based authorization
6. Maintaining Business Operations in a Changing Global Economy
Every second of machine downtime results in lost productivity and revenue. With the current downturn related to coronavirus, maintaining as many business operations as possible is crucial. Current tech trends are favoring the use of remote devices, meaning a surge in remote desktop solutions.
As businesses scramble to find the best tools to support them during this time of unknowns, they need to protect their networks, devices, and users from malicious attackers that will try to take advantage of vulnerabilities.
From an IT standpoint, taking preventive and predictive measures plays an important role. When a company can minimize issue resolution times and efficiently handle service requests, that keeps the team more productive and responsive across the board, especially when business operations are being conducted remotely.
This is why being mindful of remote support trends is especially helpful. It enables companies to scale expertise with a relatively small team. For example, a specialist within a centralized IT team can remotely connect to an ATM, an IoT machine, PoS device, or scanner to run diagnostics from afar, rather than having to service the machine in person. That team's expertise can be anywhere on the planet instantly, without needing technicians on-site.
With an advanced remote access tool, an engineer can often fix an issue behind the scenes without disrupting the ongoing work at that location. Productivity, efficiency, security, and flexibility are key to running a modern business, and remote access plays an important role in facilitating those goals.
To remain productive in the midst of changing circumstances, consider these tips:
- Consolidate support tools for vendors and managed service providers (MSPs)
- Use fast remote connections to scale expertise without compromising on security
- Use reliable remote desktop solutions to avoid potential RDP vulnerabilities
7. Compliance is an Essential Tech Trend
Regulatory rules aren't getting any simpler, or any less important. It's essential to keep your business in line with GDPR, PCI-DSS, HIPPA, and the recent adoption of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).
Many compliance guidelines are designed to protect businesses from threats that could impact customers, end users, and shareholders, which adds an extra incentive to meeting mandates.
How does this impact remote access? Companies that can log events and activities in a remote access session are better prepared to show auditors and regulatory agencies that they have taken the proper steps to ensure compliance. This can reduce penalties and protect a company's reputation.
Companies that operate globally are especially wise to make sure that everything in their network is compliant. Using reliable remote access tools can help them:
- Set security-centric policies for remote access and remote desktop control
- Ensure audit logging best practices are followed at all times
8. Consolidating Remote Access Tools is More Efficient
As business operations grow, there's been an explosion of shadow IT, cloud sprawl, big data, a growing security perimeter, and countless new vulnerabilities.
It's becoming impossible to track and manage the influx of data and events without AI–which is still years away from solving these problems. For now, the challenges are leading to inefficiencies, broader attack surfaces, and lack of control.
That's why tech trends are moving towards centralized, consolidated tools and solutions that allow visibility and control from a single point. It's untenable to switch between solutions to solve different variations of the same problem. A few benefits of using a consolidated remote access tool are:
- Cross-platform remote access tool that supports everything from Windows PCs and Mac, to Linux and mobile devices
- Customization and flexibility that serves your specific type of business
- Improved security
- More efficiency when managing one tool
Netop Remote Control offers remote access solutions that allow your team to connect securely and efficiently to any device, from anywhere. In this time of unknowns where more people are working remotely and businesses are eager to find ways to connect and remain productive, secure remote access is even more important. Contact us about how we can help your business take advantage of the latest remote access trends and keep your networks secure.
Grady Locklear is the Content Marketing Manager at Netop