Securing Remote Desktop Access to Manage Cyber Risk and Mitigate Threats
Remote Desktop Access has become an essential function for most organizations, however, with the frequency of cyber attacks only accelerating,11 exceptional security around Remote Desktop Access is not discretionary. Legacy applications and SCADA systems for example have come under frequent attack. The breach of the Florida water treatment plant in 202112 is an example of the security and public risk unsecured Remote Desktop Access presents.
IT Organizations need to provide Remote Desktop Access to specific host machines for specific users, even those outside the organization like contractors, vendors, and third parties. In order to secure these environments an authorization, authentication, access approach can help manage cyber risk more effectively through a Zero Trust Architecture.
What is Zero Trust Security
Zero Trust Network Access and Security means switching from outdated perimeter-based (firewall and VPN) models of access to an identity-based model of access. That means authorization, authentication, and access privileges are determined based on the identity of a person (user) and the identity of a resource (device/machine).
Identity-based access means decoupling identity from a corporation or organization and binding it to the user, creating a single identity. This allows IT administrators to enforce entitlements and authorizations within the network, effectively segmenting access.
Segmentation of access is simple, more secure, and doesn’t inhibit the accessibility of employees to their work. It does however significantly mitigate the risk of cyber attacks like lateral-traversal within a network, malware, and ransomware. Adopting a modern cloud-native security platform empowers users to work from any device, anywhere in the world while ensuring the organization has granular auditing capabilities, Role Based Access Controls, Privilege Management, and the ability to restrict access with Multi-Factor Authentication.
A Zero Trust Architecture is economical, scalable, and most importantly more secure than conventional methods of network cloaking and inflexible, restrictive policy.
Remote Desktop Access Via Zero Trust
Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) ensures IT organizations and administrators have the granular security controls needed to manage per-user authorizations. Limiting end-user, authenticated access to the specific resource, application, or work they need protects the broader corporate network and machines from being exposed to attackers, keeping compromises localized.
When Zero Trust is applied to Remote Desktop Access the risk profile and exposure of applications, systems, networks, and corporate resources is significantly reduced without inhibiting the productivity of the employee or technician who requires access to the host machine. In essence, Zero Trust allows the IT organization to require authentication and authorization from both the user and the designated device. That means a technician must prove their identity before being allowed to gain Remote Desktop Access.
Users are commonly identified via OpenID Connect and SAML, where resources are commonly identified by Client Certificates. Single Sign-On and Multi-Factor Authentication paired with these core tenants of Zero Trust (Authorization, Authentication, and Access) means that strong password policies and authentication methods are innate to the security equation.
Zero Trust ensures that Remote Desktop Access is available to any authorized employee using any designated device without risking the entire network. This method of secure access will also prohibit any unauthorized access to the host machine, by unauthorized users or devices.