The Security Risks of Remote Support Tools

A recent study has come to light which shows that although remote support tools are being increasingly implemented within enterprises, IT decision-makers are uncertain about their safety. They should be, and for good reason. The study, conducted by Bomgar and Ovum, focused on the challenges that enterprises face in providing remote support to employees who are using a wide range of devices, such as smartphones and tablets. According to the research, nearly 25 percent of workers are currently mobile, and as a result, businesses will increase their support for remote workers over the coming 18 months. Despite this, the majority (more than two-thirds) of IT decision-maker respondents were concerned about the associated security risks. Remote support is alluring because it typically runs in web browsers, which makes it easy to install and utilize on many kinds of devices. However, because it is browser-based, all of the vulnerabilities of the browser can compromise the safety of communications with a corporate network. If a user does not log out properly, an attacker can gain total access to a network, with little oversight by IT. Plus, all network communication is transacted via third-party gateways, which exposes an enterprise’s servers to potential threats. Enterprises that are looking for all of the functionality, but none of the safety concerns associated with a remote support tool, should instead consider using an IPsec VPN gateway with a remote desktop component and a possibility to check server certificates at the VPN gateway. By using such a solution, an enterprise could have its staff access and control networked computers and devices through a highly secure and encrypted tunnel....

Cyber Monday: Why Network Security is the Best Gift of All

Each year, as millions of Americans are busy surfing the web to find the best Cyber Monday deals, hackers are preparing to take advantage of enterprises when their network security is at its weakest point. It is crucial, then, for enterprises to secure their networks during this time of year, because breaches can be incredibly damaging to a business. According to Demetrios Lazarikos, IT threat strategist from RSA, “This time of year is not just an opportunity for retail fraud, but an opportunity to launch attacks that take advantage of business logic vulnerabilities, DDoS [distributed denial-of-service] attacks, and more sophisticated attacks as well.” Hackers are now increasingly breaching networks with Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs), and the holiday season is an ideal time of year for cyber criminals to use them, along with other methods, to exploit myriad lapses in network security. Due to a combination of higher than average network usage and IT administrators being out of the office, enterprises are often unable to react quickly to attacks during the holidays. In fact, 81 percent of hackers surveyed at a recent DefCon said they’re more active during the winter for those very reasons. It’s no wonder, then, that according to a new study by the Ponemon Institute, 64 percent of organizations said they see significant increases in attack activity during the holidays. But, it is more surprising to learn that despite the fact that they are vulnerable, more than 70 percent of enterprises are not taking the necessary precautions in anticipation of increased attacks. To prevent network breaches during the holidays, an enterprise should implement a comprehensive security framework...

Developing a Comprehensive Remote Access Security Framework: Network Health and Trust

The need for a comprehensive remote access security framework cannot be emphasized enough. Those looking for proof of this concept need look no further than the recent Adobe hacking, and the chilling implications it has on network security. Our previous two posts in this series have discussed why the proliferation of mobile devices has made corporate networks more susceptible to malicious attacks, how unknown users and/or devices pose a serious threat to network security, and how establishing endpoint identities and roles can help protect against breaches. But what if cyber criminals could create superficial identities and roles that pass as legitimate? The unfortunate truth is, this scenario is a very real possibility. The most common method cyber criminals use to gain network access is spoofing endpoints’ Media Access Control (MAC) addresses. A MAC address is a device’s unique hardware number. When employees connect to their networks, a correspondence table relates their IP address to their computer’s physical MAC address. As previously explained, devices can be linked in a relationship registry to user identities based on a particular user/device combination. Once that’s done, a policy can be implemented that will grant or deny network access based on those combinations. Ideally, this process will screen out users that attempt to access the network with invalid credentials. But when a MAC address has been spoofed, another layer of defense is needed. Though there are several ways to detect a false MAC address, one of the best bets is to simply build a protocol right into an IPsec VPN client. This would allow the client to establish a secure, encrypted connection with the...

Vehicle VPNs, Part Two: Business World Implications

In recent years, remote access security has become a major focus of IT departments in businesses small and large. The rapid growth in the use of smartphones and tablet computers, the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend and an increasing number of companies allowing employees to work from home have all but assured this. VPNs, as such, have become widely popular as a means of securing those data tunnels between end devices and internal corporate networks. But now, there’s another endpoint that requires the attention of IT managers: cars. Actually, to be more specific, “connected cars.” In a previous blog post, we discussed the continuing evolution of connected cars and how vehicle VPNs can help prevent critical security breaches. The vulnerabilities we covered focused on travel safety and machine-to-machine (M2M) concerns in people’s homes. Today, we’ll take a look at the more business-oriented issues at play and their implications on the corporate world. The Basics of Remote Access Let’s start with the same basic principle that applies to remote access everywhere: a corporate network is only as secure as the device and communications channel used to access it. VPNs have long been used to secure communications between laptops and private company networks across many industries. In most cases, employees were using company-issued laptops. In the last five years, however, we’ve seen a paradigm shift where more and more people are using personal laptops as well as smartphones and tablet computers to work from outside the office. BYOD certainly created a few headaches for IT departments when it came to security, but the benefits were too substantial to ignore — flexibility, improved access...