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Remote Access Security: How To Replicate The 9 To 5 Workday

Esha Panda - December 23, 2021

Over the last two years, organizations had to move employees out of a secure office environment and provide them with access to corporate ERP applications from multiple remote locations — effectively creating an extensive remote and hybrid workforce. A recent report by Gartner predicts that 47% of knowledge workers will work remotely in 2022, compared to pre-pandemic levels of 27%. With this rise in hybrid working and network connections originating from outside the firewall, organizations are understandably prioritizing remote access security.

In this remote/hybrid work landscape, workers and organizations often struggle to replicate that 9 to 5 experience. An experience where employees commute to an office, sit at a desk, and securely access ERP systems behind the office firewall. The reality is that organizations end up facing the challenge of balancing securing ERP systems and critical data with the access demands of the hybrid workforce.

Let’s be clear about something: workers may work 9 to 5, but they have 24/7 access to your ERP applications. And just like you wouldn’t let employees have access to certain areas of a physical office (if it’s a big office space) at all times of the day and night, you shouldn’t grant them remote access to all areas of the ERP system any time they want.

There isn’t a single technology that will secure remote access. Instead, organizations should leverage a variety of technologies that together provide the necessary remote access security when users are working “9 to 5” from home or other remote locations.

Implement Dynamic Access Controls

Remote access security begins by giving users access to only the applications, transactions, and data needed to perform their jobs during the “9 to 5” workday. These dynamic access controls consider the different contexts of user access (i.e., location of access, time of request, device used, IP address, and others) to govern who can use specific applications, the types of transactions they can process, and when. For example, if you wouldn’t allow Ted from payroll to enter the office building at 1:00 AM to access employee bank account data when no one is around, why let him do it from home?

Reauthenticate Users At The Data And Transaction Level

As we continue to follow Ted around his 9 to 5 workday in-office, he uses his security badge to access the accounting area. An area off-limits to most other employees. Essentially, Ted had to reauthenticate his identity before reaching his desk and executing a payroll run. Now that Ted is part of the hybrid workforce, it makes sense that he should reauthenticate his access with dynamic multifactor authentication (MFA) before changing sensitive data, like employee bank accounts, or running critical transactions, like payroll. Enforcing dynamic MFA allows organizations to implement challenges based on contextual attributes. For example, attributes like location, IP address, time, device type, etc.

Gain Full Control Of Data Access Using Dynamic Data Masking

Controlling what information an employee can see is critical regardless of office location (on-premise or remote). For example, suppose Ted’s manager accesses his employee record to review his information or department settings. In that case, typically, his date of birth and social security number are on display. Data his manager doesn’t need to see to do their 9 to 5 job. Dynamic data masking leverages contextual access controls to ensure that sensitive data is only accessible by the people that need to see it to accomplish their job. Additional controls can ensure full or partial data masking. At the same time, click-to-view and MFA can create a record of data access for use in an audit. Dynamic Data Masking also means a hacker with compromised credentials will be unable to access or view sensitive data fields.

Increase Visibility Through User Activity Monitoring

Even with remote access security in place, it’s vital that organizations understand who is accessing what, from where, and for what purpose. For example, a hacker compromises Ted’s credentials and starts accessing ERP applications outside of Ted’s regular 9 to 5 activity. With continuous monitoring of user behavior around data access and usage at a granular level, an organization can detect “Ted’s” suspicious activities and quickly apply an appropriate threat response.

Pathlock’s Approach To Remote Access Security  

As more employees take their 9 to 5 workday outside the confines of the corporate firewall and access ERP applications and data from nearly any location, Pathlock can help organizations take a dynamic approach to remote access security. 

Contact Pathlock today to learn how our context-aware access controls can anchor your remote access security policies and improve ERP data security for your remote teams.

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