Ever wonder why it is not trivial to access files that are stored on your office workstation or server from home? Most businesses today struggle with remote access solutions. The benefits of remote access are readily apparent, but the available solutions are often difficult to implement, tough to use, and very insecure.
Secure is the last thing remote access should be called. The very nature of remotely accessing data stored on your local area network (LAN) is insecure in principal. What you get with remote access is convenience, but the price of convenience is costly. It’s the same reason why a loaf of bread is significantly more expensive at a 24-hour grocery store. Convenience almost always comes at a premium.
Remote access suggests you are going to take something that is stored privately on a LAN and be able to view it while on the road, at home, or anywhere besides the office.
Many people need remote access to a LAN to get at data they need to do perform their job. The goal is to have the same resources available when in the office, at home or on the road. Another function of remote access is directed at the Information Technology (IT) department. IT directors or network administrators often want to control multiple networks in the Wide Area Network (WAN) from one central location. In this scenario the administrators are not particularly interested in stored data, but wish to make system changes without having to travel to the site.
Remote access is made even more complicated by the variety of platforms that are in existence. Microsoft’s Windows and UNIX, for example, are two different platforms that can provide many of the same services. However, both platforms rely upon different interfaces to manage their services. Different remote access tools are often needed for each platform. In the realm of remote access, the main difference is command-line interface management (UNIX) versus GUI management (Windows).
The above information is the start of a chapter in "Network Security Illustrated," published by McGraw-Hill and available from amazon.com, as well as your local bookstore. The book goes into much greater depth on this topic. To learn more about the book and what it covers, click here.
Below, you'll find links to online resources that supplement this portion of the book.