Secure Remote Access Protocols: A Complete Guide

secure remote access protocols

Remote work requires remote access to corporate cloud resources and information, and failures to adequately secure the connections made can result in crippling cyberattacks. To effectively guard your network against these attacks, there are several protocols you should follow. 

The secure remote access protocols in this article will ensure that your remote workforce has secure and encrypted, secure connections to your corporate network, strict authentication requirements, and effective training and guidance. 

Quick Takeaways

  • Take security seriously: A breach could be detrimental to your business.
  • There are a few types of secure remote access protocols you can use: Whether you go with a VPN, RDP, or SSH, ensure that you evaluate them against your organization’s needs. 
  • Follow the best practices: Secure protocols and remote access tools alone can’t create a bulletproof security environment. Strong passwords, employee training, and MFA should also be implemented. 

Security Risks and Threats in Remote Access

Do not discount the level of risk endemic to remote work. 

Although this is a common setup for the modern employee, without proper security protocols, it opens up attack vectors that can severely impact your ability to continue doing business. 

Common Risks and Threats

  • Unsecured Wi-Fi. Although Wi-Fi at airports and fast food restaurants is convenient, it is poorly secured and could be riddled with people looking to spy on your activity.
  • Poor security practices. Employees are not always the most security-minded, which can be an issue if they access company data using personal devices or create weak passwords that they save to their browsers.
  • Malware files. Downloading the wrong file or responding to the wrong email can introduce malware to your network, no matter how strong the rest of your precautions are. Human error makes up the majority of the causes of data breaches. 

Impact of Unauthorized Access on Businesses

Unauthorized access can cause more problems than just an interloper causing problems for your public network. Consider the following hidden costs of a breach:

  • Compliance violation fines. If you do not adequately secure your own or your customers’ personal information, you could be violating compliance laws like the CCPA or the GDPR. Violations can cost between a few hundred dollars per violation to several thousand.
  • Litigation fees. Data exposure can result in identity theft of the customer, causing them to lose trust in your company and, sometimes, to take legal action.
  • Revenue losses. The loss of revenue combined with the costs of combating the attack itself, plus any fines or fees you have to pay, will do a number on your finances.

Types of Remote Access Protocols

Here are a few types of secure remote access protocols to consider.

  • Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN creates an encrypted tunnel for data between an employee’s device and a website or network. It improves both security and privacy by including authentication, security measures and access control enforcement.
  • Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). Unlike a VPN, which connects a device to any destination, RDP connects one device to another device securely. 
  • Secure Shell (SSH). SSH encrypts authentication tokens so that when they are sent to the remote device or network, bad actors can’t see the tokens. To be effective, both ends of the connection need to be covered by SSH. 

Implementing Secure Remote Access Protocols

When you’re choosing the secure remote access protocols that are best for your organization, ensure that the remote access solution you choose includes the following components: 

  • Multi-factor Authentication for Enhanced Security. MFA is one of the best ways to ensure that attackers can’t access a company’s network just by compromising employee credentials. Because it requires additional identity verification methods, it’s much more challenging for an attacker to circumvent.
  • Granular Access Controls for Different User Roles. Network segmentation and customizable access controls are important for isolating groups of users. Not all authorized users need access to one another’s data and servers, and to prevent attackers from having free rein if they breach your defenses, limits are essential. 
  • Regular Security Patching and Updates. Automated monitoring, data visibility, and regular patches can help you manage potential exploits while optimizing your time. Regular patches, especially if they can be automatically pushed out, are important for preventing successful attacks.
  • Secure Network Protocols and Encryption. Encryption is one of the best ways to prevent anyone from seeing the data being transmitted over your remote connection. Secure network protocols should be in place to keep unauthorized users out of your network, and all employees should follow best security practices to minimize their risk of impersonation. 

Best Practices for Secure Remote Access

Best practices that you and your employees should follow include:

Strong Passwords and Regular Password Updates. 

Weak credentials are easy to guess, so require all remote users to use complex passwords or passphrases. Each password should be unique, so no one should use a personal email password as a credential for a work email account. 

All passwords should be updated periodically, and they should change more than one character at a time (PassW0rd should not become PassW0rd1, for example). 

Employee Training on Remote Access Security. 

Security is only as strong as its weakest point, and often, that weakest point is insufficiently trained employees. Everyone with remote access ability should know how to spot phishing, social engineering attacks, and other common threats. 

Everyone should be trained to follow company protocols at every step of accessing your network.

Multi-Factor Authentication for an Extra Layer of Security. 

All employees should have MFA enabled. It makes logging in more challenging, but it’s far better to create a small inconvenience than to suffer an attack. 

Monitoring and Logging Remote Access Sessions. 

Implement automated monitoring and alert systems to ensure you track who accesses your network and what activities occur. 

Unusual activity could point to an attack, and seeing that activity quickly is one of the best ways to improve your incident response time. A quick response decreases the damage done to your business. 

Create a Bulletproof Security Strategy with Perimeter81

Remote access is becoming relevant for business owners as more employees are looking for remote work as a benefit. Although your business can benefit from this arrangement, it’s important to protect your network and ensure that you and your employees are taking security precautions.

To learn more about the secure remote access protocols you could be using to protect your business, contact Perimeter81 today


What is secure remote access?
Secure remote access ensures that your remote connections, whether to a network or to another device, are secure against attacks. 
How do I securely access a remote server?
Using strong passwords, multi-factor authentication, a VPN, and other best practices and tools can keep your remote server access secure. 
Is SSH a secure protocol?
Yes, SSH is a secure way to remotely connect to another device. 
Is there a 100% secure system?
Although it’s not possible to guarantee security, using security tools and best practices can reduce your risk of a successful attack and help improve your response times when an attacker gets through initial defenses. 
Which method of remote access is the most secure?
For general public Internet use, a VPN is the most secure as it creates encrypted tunnels between your device and the destination. However, other methods like RDP and SSH are very secure for device-to-device remote connection.

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