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Remote Security: What Method Is Best For Your Business?

Digital security is a pressing topic at the best of times, and an issue that’s been weighing even more heavily than usual on everyone — from major businesses to universities and medical systems in the light of recent cyberattacks. When it comes to protecting critical software and hardware, how can businesses keep themselves safe when hackers are always two steps ahead of our protective technology?

Modern business has thrown an additional wrench into the timeworn problem of finding the right security solution: advancements in remote business practices and remote desktop solutions. Because more staff members are working outside the office than ever before, security systems need to be set up so staff can get in but hackers can’t. It’s a tough set of specifications to fill, and old-school VPNs can create more problems than they can solve.

Remote Security: What Method Is Best For Your Business?

The best solutions in remote security today are to combine the old and the new – passwords and firewalls but also smart cards and micro-segmentation. These strategies, when combined with leading, remote software, are the closest you can get to putting a physical padlock on your information.

A Higher Firewall

Firewalls are a standard part of most computer systems, keeping intruders like spam, malware, and phishing attacks out while allowing for normal use – most computer users forget they’re even there. As office systems become more widely dispersed, getting authorized staff past the firewall can become its own problem.

Next-generation firewalls balance these needs, focusing on the whole network perimeter and combining features from a range of security approaches – they might call on VPN tunnels to route traffic, but also deploy specialized intrusion prevention software as an additional barrier. Once staff step outside the boundaries of the physical office and the network perimeter expands, data security starts to slip. Your next-generation firewall provider can help keep your system on lockdown, revealing only narrow entryways for staff.

The one word of caution when adding layers to a firewall is how it may impact performance speed. If you layer your security too thickly, it can slow down data transmission to an unmanageable level. This is always a concern with security, but firewalls are particularly notorious for slowing things down. You’ll need to balance security and function to make next-generation firewalls work.

Upgrade Authentication

When you log into a banking system today, you’ll often find that you’re required to use something known as two-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication means you must enter a password as well as a PIN or security question response. However, while this could potentially work for business emails or CRM programs which your company wants to protect, that’s not enough for full system security. You need two-factor authentication – multiplied.

The preferred solution for full system protection is a Smart Card authentication program compatible with both local and remote sign-ins, especially when it concerns software that remotes directly into computers, laptops, servers and other systems in your organization. These solutions are generally designed to meet the highest federal security requirements and require the use of a physical Smart Card as well as a PIN.

With Smart Card authentication-based security, all information passes through several layers of protection as it moves from the primary storage location to the remote system, making it perfect for dispersed professional environments. Even the U.S. Army uses this type of data protection system – but that doesn’t make it overkill for business; it just makes those businesses smarter and more trustworthy than the competition.

Push Security Deeper

As discussed above, firewalls are part of standard digital security. However, expanding perimeters may offer more opportunities for a breach by hackers, malware, and similar forces because they’re located “around” a system. Remote work makes us vulnerable. In order to build a strong firewall, then, we have two options: make the firewall thicker and higher by adding more layers to it as mentioned, or completely rethink our construction methods.

Micro-segmentation security takes the latter approach to firewall construction by shifting security from the perimeter to the interior – but how? A wall, by definition, goes around the outside of something, and that makes micro-segmentation hard to understand. It also calls up new metaphors for security, such as infiltration or lines of defense. Our immune system, for example, is not exactly a wall because it’s located inside our bodies – our skin is the wall – but that doesn’t nullify its role in bodily security; this is the best way to understand micro-segmentation.

On a more technical level, micro-segmentation transforms the traditional firewall by monitoring data flow rather than just allowing or disallowing it. In doing so, it inspects every packet of information flowing out from the server, what messages come in, and where this data is traveling back and forth from.

Because these new systems are monitoring server behavior, the system actually becomes more intelligent, mapping interactions and infrastructure, thus allowing it to spot irregularities down the line. Like other neural-network style systems, this is really the wave of the future and likely our only chance of getting ahead of cyberattacks.

Get Organized

Regardless of the style of security your business opts for, odds are good you’ll see the number of passwords – and the frequency with which you have to change them – multiply. And when passwords multiply, they tend to become more unusual and difficult to remember.

If you’re going to keep your passwords organized and avoid locking yourself out of your own systems, invest in a password management program that keeps your digital keys under lock and key. Whether you opt for branded, advanced encryption or open source software that’s regularly updated by the best cryptographic minds out there, logging your passwords with care may seem dangerous on the one hand, but these programs will keep your information a lot safer than scribbling your sign-in information on a scrap of paper.

There’s no fool-proof digital security solution in the modern era – someone will always be looking for the way around it – but with any luck, you can build a tight wall and upgrade it before cybercriminals find a way around.

Combine top technology with a serious dose of caution, including changing passwords more often than necessary, upgrading software and backing up information daily, and auditing all systems for potential security gaps and you’ll be operating under peak protection in no time.


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Jenna is a freelance writer and business consultant who covers business, technology, and entrepreneurship. She's lectured for several universities, and worked with over 100 businesses over the course of the last 15 years. Follow her on Twitter.

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