What is secure remote access?

Secure remote access is the process of enabling secure connections to a network, application, or data, even when users are logging in from remote locations.

Remote access has never been more relevant, considering the recent rise in work from home and hybrid workplace models. However, unless access is carried out through secure remote network access solutions, companies are putting their sensitive resources at unnecessary risk.

Organizations enabling everyday remote access to applications or the use of remote desktop solutions need a secure remote access solution. This tool must be available to every user, no matter the endpoint device they're using or location they're logging in from. Businesses that implement such a system are well-equipped for today's enterprise IT landscape.

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How does secure remote access work?

Enabling remote access means walking a tightrope between usability and cybersecurity. Every remote worker needs a way to connect with remote desktop services and applications that won't slow down their workflows. At the same time, IT administrators must manage those connections to ensure they don't leave the network open to threats.

Secure remote access software provides protection around remote connections, whether for on-premises applications or software hosted in the cloud. The most comprehensive solutions combine adaptive authentication and single-sign (SSO) to IT sanctioned applications (web, SaaS, client-based, and virtual applications). They also provide access controls for managed, unmanaged and BYO endpoints, giving end users device choice while improving the overall user experience.

In the past, companies may have settled for virtual private network (VPN) connections. In today's threat landscape, however, those solutions are merely the beginning. No single-solution approach can deal with the many ways for malicious parties to break into a network and exfiltrate data.

Why is secure remote access important to remote work security?

Secure remote access approaches are so vital because it’s now impossible to control security at the endpoint. Each user in a remote or hybrid workforce is connecting to the network from a different type of computer or smartphone, and they’re using a variety of internet connections to log in.

Pushing out security software and updates to every personal device and controlling every internet connection is incompatible with this new networking landscape. Instead, solutions must be centralized and context sensitive. Whether a threat is coming from inside the network or from an unsecured internet connection, such a system will be able to detect it and deliver a real-time response.

Off-site user protection methods should incorporate security features that span beyond standard firewalls to integrate software-defined wide-area networking (SD-WAN), secure web gateways, secure access service edge (SASE) mechanisms and more.

Administrators seeking a unified suite of secure remote access solutions should acknowledge that their chosen solution will have to protect users in multiple ways at once. From limiting access based on real-time user behavior analytics to monitoring against keyloggers and other known security threats, various functions are needed to protect each user and the network at large.

A remote workspace access solution tied together with the necessary features can allow a company to continue operating safely as it embraces a hybrid or fully-remote work model. By combining the workflow efficiency features of a digital workspace with fully integrated security, administrators save themselves work and complexity while protecting their networks.

What are the options for secure remote access?

Multiple solutions go into a comprehensive secure remote access package—and each one delivers vital functionality that reflects the way companies use their networks today. These features work together to protect users, data, and network assets in a distinct way.

  • Zero trust network access (ZTNA) to all IT sanctioned applications: IT administrators can provide secure access to sanctioned applications without providing layer3 access to the entire network. ZTNA provides a cloud-native offering for users to remotely connect to any on-premises application without the need for a VPN plugin on the end user device.
  • Adaptive authentication and device posture: Multi-factor authentication can intelligently route the user to the suitable authentication mechanism based on role, geo-location, and device posture check.
  • Browser isolation: IT can be confident that end users can securely navigate the web without introducing risk to the corporate environment. Threats that may be introduced by visiting malicious websites are isolated off the corporate network and devices.
  • Security analytics: By using machine learning, IT administrators can track all user activity to understand the user’s risk profile and, based on that risk profile, enforce security policies for application sessions. Security analytics also provides administrators with the ability to troubleshoot end-user issues related to authentication and SSO.
  • Single sign-on (SSO): When users have a single, unified way to access remote desktop, SaaS, and virtualized app environments, they will stay with that one gateway. This allows administrators to oversee and control access. It also simplifies access for end users, who get a single point of access for all applications and files.
  • App protection: The increase in remote work and the use of personal devices for work have created new cybersecurity challenges. With no insight into device health, IT can’t defend against common types of malware. App protection secures access from unmanaged devices by scrambling and returning screenshots as blank screens, protecting corporate applications and data.
  • Granular security policies: Browser-based applications have grown in popularity because of their simplicity. However, many on-premises web and cloud-delivered SaaS applications lack the security policies and governance needed by IT to meet their security standards. Secure remote access allows organizations to add a layer of security on top of just single sign-on and multi-factor authentication to IT sanctioned applications—which in turn enables IT to apply granular security controls to prevent data exfiltration. These security policies regulate user operations based on user access context and device posture check and can enforce controls like restricting copying, pasting, printing, downloading, or adding a watermark to the web application.

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Citrix solutions for secure remote access

Citrix secure access solutions take several forms to give companies a balanced selection of options based on their specific requirements. Whatever level of engagement with remote work these businesses have, there is a secure remote access solution for the situation.

  • Citrix Secure Private Access provides zero trust network access for all of an organization's applications, meaning their security status is always under review. This always-on solution allows adaptive evaluation based on the end user’s location, device risk posture, risk profile, and more.
  • Citrix Secure Internet Access creates a safe way for users to access SaaS and web applications, protecting them from compromised websites. This cloud service combines firewall functionality, intrusion prevention and detection, a secure web gateway, a cloud access security broker (CASB), and more into a complete security stack.
  • Citrix Web App and API Protection provides protection against both known security threats and zero-day application attacks. It consists of a web app firewall, DDoS protection, and bot management capabilities.
  • Citrix Analytics for Security is a security analytics suite combining artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms to assess, detect and prevent risk events. Individual user risk profiles are updated in real time to prevent unauthorized app access.

Learn how to securely enable a hybrid work model with Citrix Secure Private Access