Helping the New Normal of Working

Given the growing concern around health, travel, and public gatherings across the world right now, the corporate world is making the decision to work remotely. It comes as the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases across the world has surpassed 220,000, with almost 9,000 now dead. Fortunately, the world has already jumped on the adoption wagon for mobile and remote workforce before this tragedy struck. Giving workers the freedom to do their work outside the office and without fixed hours is a growing trend that has been successfully leveraged to minimise the chances of coronavirus spread.

However, with the increasingly dire state of cybersecurity, businesses need remote access technologies that offer extremely robust features. Remote access solutions that rely on the users to configure the security settings are time-consuming and flawed because you can’t be sure that your workforce will set them up properly. Not just that, businesses need to carefully assess the device-agnostic access, collaboration, security, and control aspects of each solution they’re considering to ensure their remote working program is successful, productive, and profitable. To start with, let’s have a look at your remote workforce needs:

  • Platform-agnostic: Remote access should be available from any device or browser
  • No need for technical know-how: No client-side set-up, installation, configuration, or maintenance should be required; no client-side issues with plug-ins, custom configurations, and a variety of compatibility challenges to handle
  • User-friendly: Remote desktop access solution with an intuitive and user-friendly interface that does not involve a complicated setup or have a long or steep learning curve
  • High levels of security: Using multi-factor authentication, Conditional access to match the company’s security portfolio.
  • Monitoring and reporting: Solution that offers centralised management and reporting that enables you to know who is using remote access and what applications they are using
  • Permission control: Allows you to set customised permissions and controls according to work roles and for individual employees
  • Scalability: Solution that can handle an increase in demand without the need for additional servers; while allowing you to manage servers at multiple locations

BYOD is no longer a new concept, yet organisations still struggle to enable it without introducing unnecessary risk. While corporate-deployed resources can be vigorously hardened and controlled, personal devices are often shared and not subjected to the same security scrutiny. Organisations struggle to manage end-user devices with mobile device management (MDM), or enterprise mobility management (EMM) solutions, and technology that can only segregate applications and user data on a device.

IT teams cannot simply toughen employee-owned devices and govern the device operations as firmly as an employer-deployed system. Another challenge for securing remote workers involves essential cybersecurity controls like vulnerability assessments, patch management, and anti-virus.

Employees need mobile and remote access to your network, whether hosted in the cloud or on-premises; you need a secure way to provide it. Remote access for your employees is an important way to increase productivity, flexibility, and convenience. The cloud offers worldwide resources—outside of a traditional data centre—to which remote devices can securely connect and embrace methodologies like geolocation and two-factor authentication, for additional layers of security.

These security basics are easier to manage, however many organisations struggle to embrace these technologies for remote employees. Such organisations, willing to empower remote employees, should consider the cloud for managing basic cybersecurity disciplines. It would be hasty to adopt a one-size-fits-all solution approach for providing secure remote access to corporate information. Let’s take a critical look at some of the technology choices available for the seamless connectivity demanded from a remote access facility:

  • Citrix XenApp/XenDesktop: Citrix XenApp or XenDesktop gives you the opportunity to offer the right desktop to your users. With Citrix XenApp, an application virtualisation software, you can have an application installed on a XenApp server in a data centre and anybody around the world can launch that application on any device: whether it is a laptop, tablet, or mobile phone. Essentially XenApp is application publishing, but you can also publish a desktop with XenApp. Whereas, XenDesktop is desktop virtualisation software that allows multiple users to access and run desktops installed at a centralised location, separate from the devices on which they are accessed. XenDesktop centralises the desktop lifecycle management in the data centre, which can significantly reduce the costs of running a desktop while also improving data security.
  • Always-on VPN (Formally known as Direct Access): This provides seamless and transparent connectivity to the corporate network and allows remote connectivity to clients from management systems located on the corporate network. From the security perspective, it uses security groups to limit remote access functionality to specific clients and has the ability to determine intranet connectivity when connected to the corporate network. In addition to that, it is fully-compliant using Network Access Protection (NAP). Always-on VPN can define which management servers are accessible before user sign-in and also supports two-factor or OTP authentication.
  • Secure Remote Access with Firewalls: With Next-Gen Firewalls, you have multiple options for providing that secure network access for your employees, without the time-consuming task of client configuration and management.
  • Identity Management: Integrate a robust identity management solution into remote working would strengthen the protection of your data, there are various identity solutions such as Active Directory, Active Directory Federation Services, Azure Active Directory, etc.
  • Multi-Factor Authentication – There are many different Multi-factor solutions available in the market (ex- Microsoft Azure MFA, Windows Hello, SafeNet, Duo). We would recommend looking at the entire business needs before choosing the solution, so this solution can be used in other devices or applications.

The workplace is always changing, but one trend is clear – an epidemic or no epidemic – remote work will continue to grow in popularity. Expect the requirements and standards for robust remote access systems to grow accordingly. The need of the hour is to have a remote access solution that allows your team to quickly provision access for remote users and branch offices anywhere. It should also help your business rapidly migrate workers to virtual desktops, manage their access, and perform administrative and management tasks – all without the need for local IT staff.