Remote Network Access: Understanding Remote Network Access Protocols & Types
Today, businesses are faced with use cases that require accessing resources like servers, files, and applications over a network. IT professionals find remote network access useful in managing servers and components without visiting the data center physically, while employees can use this ability to access business files from the comfort of their homes.
The ability which is gaining increasing popularity these days is called remote network access. In this post, we discuss what exactly remote access is, the common types of remote access, and some of the popular remote network access protocols.
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What is Remote Network Access?
Remote Network Access means allowing others to access resources over a network even if they are not connected directly to the system. These resources can be anything from files, applications, and devices to desktops and servers. The network can be either LAN or even a WAN like the internet.
The ability to access a network remotely makes it possible for people to use resources from any location, anywhere across the globe. Remote access networks have also expanded their scope to different forms of remote work and processes across locations. With the use of remote network access, employees can work efficiently even when away from the office premises.
Whenever you work with remote network access, one or more remote network access protocols come into play. We talk about some of these protocols.
Remote Network Access Protocols
Protocols for remote access are a set of rules defining how data should get transmitted between devices – the client requesting remote access and the host providing the access.
There are many remote access protocols available. Here are the most common ones:
Internet Protocol Security (IPSec)
It refers to a set of security protocols governing data transmission over public networks like the internet. It supports various functions like data integrity, encryption, and authentication. This protocol is generally used with VPN tunneling protocols like L2TP, whereby it provides security to the VPN connection for remote access.
IPSec is extremely secure if set up correctly but can be difficult to configure. Before rolling out a solution with the IPSec protocol, make sure you test the interoperability with the existing solutions you want to use it with.
Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP)
A protocol for direct communications, PPP is used for dial-up or leased lines. It can work over a wide range of communication media like cellular networks, serial cables, phone lines, ISDN, fiber optic lines, etc.
PPP can be used to establish communication between two systems located at different places. Internet service providers can use it as a way to transmit data packets between two modems.
Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP)
This remote network access protocol is based on the point-to-point protocol that is used for VPNs. However, as it doesn’t support authentication or encryption, it is not suitable for every type of business.
Though some businesses use PPTP for its compatibility and speed, it is advisable to choose other options.
Serial Line Internet Protocol (SLIP)
This is an old protocol developed for UNIX but is still used widely today. SLIP can be used to transmit TCP/IP over serial connections, but it lacks advanced capabilities like error checking and packet addressing. This is why it has gone obsolete and been replaced by other protocols.
Layer Two Tunneling Protocol (L2TP)
L2TP is a remote access protocol used for VPNs, just like PPTP. It is somewhat more secure compared to PPTP as it encrypts the control data.
However, as it does not encrypt the content, it is used with IPSec for the required security. The remote access connections established through L2TP/IPSec are quite secure, which means this protocol is a good choice if you want remote device access.
Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP)
Finally, RDP is a remote access protocol that lets users interact with a Windows system from any remote location. It is generally used by remote workers to access files and applications in their offices.
It can also be used by tech support teams to resolve device problems from remote locations. The protocol supports a variety of features that allow remote users to interact with systems as if they are in the same location.
You can even use it for multiple displays, content copying between two locations, and printing on local printers, among other tasks.
Types of Remote Network Access
There are three different types of remote network access most commonly used. These are – remote access to applications, remote access to files, and remote access to desktops.
However, there are remote access solutions supporting all three, and some of these focus on only a specific use case. Let us talk about these types of remote network access in detail.
Remote Access to Desktops
When talking about remote access, a desktop refers to any operating system running on a machine location away from the user accessing it.
For example, an individual in Paris might be trying to access a Windows system in London. With remote access, he should be able to interact with the desktop as if it was running locally.
To remotely access a desktop on a different network, you can either use Windows RDP protocol or go with one of the third-party solutions that provide this functionality. These services add to the cost, so it is advisable to pay attention to the price when deciding on a solution to access a remote desktop.
Remote Access to Applications
This is quite similar to remote access to desktops, but here, the user accesses only a particular application and not the entire desktop.
The user need not go to a remote desktop to use an application, say Excel running on it. Instead, he launches the browser or client software and opens remotely running Excel right from there.
For this type of remote access, you can use the same solutions that allow access to remote desktops. In most cases, you need to configure the solutions to display applications instead of desktops.
Remote Access to Files
Not every business requires giving users access to remote applications or desktops. In some cases, you want your users to access business files. For such use cases, there is no need to use RDP or other solutions but get a VPN solution instead.
Virtual Private Networks allow you to provide users with remote network access to files via a secure connection, even if it is done through the internet. This is because most VPNs have built-in encryption to prevent any interception of data sent over them.
Remote Network Access: In Summary
For the majority of businesses and individuals, remote work is no longer a foreign concept. Employers and enterprises must, however, safeguard their employment due to the increasing expansion of remote working tools and chances.
One can no longer rely on conventional network security methods for their teams and enterprises when there is scattered access to the network.
If you don’t take the necessary precautions when it comes to remote operations, it could completely disrupt the access, causing all kinds of problems. Remote access is undoubtedly convenient, but users should have a better overall experience if they are aware of the best tools and solutions.
Securing remote access can be overwhelming, but doing it little by little should assist to guarantee a calm workplace. You will continually discover new ways to make the process easier as the demand for remote work increases.
The best course of action is to continually look into more unusual options for securing remote access while maintaining simplicity and convenience.