Remote access software: what you should know

| By:
Dee Cater

The industry has come a long way in 20 years with providing access to computers remotely. Nowadays, working within many industries, some cannot imagine their jobs without the capabilities of remote desktop. It has provided many businesses, and home users, with the opportunities to be more cost effective and efficient.

So, how is everyone leveraging remote desktop? What are the best practices around security that not only MSPs, but home users, need to know? Let’s discuss more on what it is, how it’s used and where it’s heading in the future.

The basics of remote desktop

What is remote desktop software?

Remote desktop establishes a connection between the client desktop and the remote computer over a shared network.

It can be a program or an application (sometimes even pre-installed as an operating system feature) that allows a user to connect to a computer in another location and operate that machine as if they were using it directly.

Once an agent (a small application often included in remote desktop software) has been placed on the remote machine, the user can start a session. A session is any interaction between a client application and a remote desktop and has an undetermined length of time. The session begins when a host connects to and accesses a remote machine, and it ends when that connection is broken.

The technology powering remote desktop sessions has advanced significantly in recent years to keep up with security needs. The best solutions out there are cloud-based, designed for the enterprise, to ensure there is a focus on security to meet modern IT requirements.

What are the uses of remote desktop?

The limits of modern computing have shrunk since the possibilities of remote desktop software were realized. While it has countless uses, remote desktop software has been most useful in areas like technical support and remote workforces.

Tech support

Gone are the days when customers and tech support staff just couldn’t get on the same page, either because the issue wasn’t described correctly, or the staff didn’t understand—or sometimes both. When remote desktop software is coupled with or includes some form of voice or text communication software, the experience for the confused customer can be as efficient as if the tech were right there next to them.

Remote workforces

For employees who work while traveling, work from home, or telecommute, remote desktop has revolutionized their productive opportunities. This means that employees that have files or software they can only access on specific networks can still get their jobs done successfully, without having to use the less secure VPN option. It’s also helpful for people who need to interact with files of large sizes, which might be too big to all be stored on a small personal computer.

Security features to consider with remote desktop

With so many packets of information being distributed over a network, it’s important to make sure your data is secure from start to finish. Otherwise, your business could be compromised.

When data breaches happen, a MSP’s credibility can be severely damaged. They can also lose money in the form of both fines and lost revenue due to a poor reputation, lost clients, and remediation.

To reduce your risk of a data breach when using remote desktop, look for a comprehensive security feature set that includes:

  • Alerts
  • Multiple authentication methods
  • Password management
  • Role-based permissions
  • SSL
  • Logging and auditing

MSPs that support industries like healthcare may be required to have specific security measures in place to comply with legal and ethical guidelines like PCI, DSS, and HIPAA. If these apply to you, make sure your choices include additional security features like:

  • On-premises options
  • Video auditing and recording

Reviewing the security protocol for the software that you choose to use is an important step in setting up your own remote desktop application.

Many network security best practices apply to remote desktop security as well. Always choose strong network passwords, use 2FA, keep software up to date, and use firewalls to restrict unauthorized access. Most recent Windows systems provide Network Level Authentication (NLA) by default, and it’s best to keep this option turned on. NLA adds an extra level of authentication and should only be turned off when it’s incompatible with communicating systems.

The future of remote desktop

The technology that supports and enables remote desktop has completely transformed the way computers work—and that transformation is far from over. The rise of technologies like mobile computing, cloud computing, and streaming has opened many new and exciting doors for remote desktop over the last decade.

The increasing prevalence of mobile devices, both at home and in the workplace, has driven a need for remote desktop capabilities that allow for seamless integration between the two mediums. Right now, smartphones are the dominant choice for content consumption, while desktop PCs remain the top choice for content creation. But mobile devices can only offer so much computing power, and so remote desktop will become critical as users start to rely more and more on these devices for all manner of productive tasks.

The innovations enabling cloud computing also lend themselves to a rich future for remote desktop. As more major applications move to the cloud, the need for high-end localized computing power falls partially to the wayside. This means that a strong remote desktop application might be all you need for home computing in the future.

Cloud information management has drastically changed how companies share resources. The cloud has made it possible for even the smallest companies to distribute information and resources around the world, making it crucial for MSPs to be able to administer cloud management and monitoring.

An MSP’s systems need to be able to weather the storm of a constantly changing industry. A robust remote desktop solution—allowing you to work in multiple environments and continue to support new tools—is key to building a successful business. Evaluate your selections for remote desktop tools by considering which solutions offer the development support you’ll need for scalability.

Choosing the right remote desktop

Every MSP and help desk needs a reliable and secure remote desktop tool that scales as the workforce changes. Consider ConnectWise ScreenConnect® for this task in your business. It comes with hundreds of customizations to allow technicians to work with optimal productivity and integrates with the top ticketing help desk solutions on the market.

What’s more, ScreenConnect offers access to The IT Nation, powered by ConnectWise, a global community of IT professionals that work together to create a better working environment for technicians, stronger tools, and innovative ways to serve the end user better.