Remote access, like a Virtual Private Network (VPN) allows users to connect to remote networks through the Internet. Remote access works as if the remote user is inside the network itself, having the same privileges as someone connected locally. Office networks typically have remote access setup to allow users to work from home when needed. While it's an advantage to be able to work from home, remote access connections raise some security concerns to the office network.
Because remote access typically goes through the Internet to connect to an office network, one of the greatest security threat it poses is that it can introduce malicious software or malware to the network. Viruses, Trojans and worms can piggyback into the remote connection to gain access to the network. It is important that users with remote access have antivirus software installed in their computers to prevent introducing malware to the network.
Another security concern is that remote access users can use an office network's bandwidth for their personal use. Users who connect remotely to the network may have other applications running in the background. Applications that run music or video streaming can eat up the network's bandwidth. More so, peer-to-peer file sharing like downloading of movies greatly affects network bandwidth and causes unnecessary traffic in the office network. A security policy must be in place to prevent unwanted applications from running when remotely connected to a network.
Users who know how to access a network remotely can gather sensitive information stored in the network and transfer it to their home computers. It's a security concern that's hard to regulate or discover until stolen data has already been discovered. Network security administrators usually limit remote users to low-level access to prevent them from getting unnecessary data. Security policies can be in place to limit remote user access to selected folders on a server or to run only certain programs from home.
Hackers are different from remote users because hackers intercept a remote user's access to gain entry into an office network. Oftentimes, users have no idea that their remote access identity has been compromised. Some home computers are not as safe as computers in the network. They may not have the latest security updates installed in their operating system. Security updates fix computer vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit. This can be prevented if remote users use only company-approved or company-provided laptops when accessing from a remote site.
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