Network Security

Encrypted RDP for Non-Mobile Worker Remote Access?

When we think of remote access, we think of VPN. But is VPN the only option? Why not use encrypted RDP, especially for giving temporary remote access to non-mobile workers?

VPN is Virtual Private Network where remote computer connects to the private network of a company over the Internet through an encrypted connection. RDP is Remote Desktop Protocol that emulates the graphical interface of the remote computer it connects to and gives access to all its resources.

Non-mobile workers may need temporary access to their office computer during snow storms, cyclone, children unwell at home, problems with car, unplanned holidays, etc. Is VPN the only choice to allow these workers to temporarily connect to the corporate network from home or elsewhere?

While mobile workers connect to the corporate network regularly using the secured connection offered by a VPN, they are generally given with laptops that contain corporate apps and security programs installed in them. But for a non-mobile worker connecting from their own computer, this is not the case.

In this scenario, companies can consider providing remote non-mobile workers with encrypted RDP access where the screen output of their office computer (and hence the resources in it) becomes available. Data and applications are stored in the office computer, and the processing happens in the office computer, but only the input/output signals are sent to and fro.

With RDP, the bandwidth consumption is less as only the screenshots and keystrokes are transmitted, except in cases where the applications involve heavy graphical output. Data is maintained on corporate assets and hence chances for data leakage is less. RDP uses existing infrastructure and hence there is no need to install new applications/upgrade the remote PC.

If Wake On LAN option is used, office computers can be switched on only when required, remotely. RDP works on a computer browser, but it can also work on a mobile/tablet through apps. RDP connections can be/are encrypted for security. There are centralized RDP-based solutions that can scale up to thousands of RDP connections to enable remote non-worker access for large organizations.

You too can consider encrypted RDP for temporary remote access scenarios, especially for non-mobile workers.

References:

  1. Augmenting Remote Access for Company-wide Business Continuity (Array Networks, pdf)
  2. Large-scale Remote Access & Mobility (Array Networks, pdf)
  3. eHow: Remote Desktop Vs. VPN

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