Remote Control Software and Today’s IT Environment

By | October 2, 2006

Administration. The software´s administration tools should help IT professionals plug security holes by scanning network and telephone lines to identify unprotected remote access hosts. In addition, since thorough alerting, logging, and reporting are essential to a secure environment, the remote control software should generate an audit log of all remote control transactions, including disallowed attempts at connection. This enables administrators to monitor activity and detect unauthorized attempts to access systems. Integrity checking, meanwhile, can ensure that the host and remote objects, DLL files, executables, and registry settings have not been modified since the original installation.

In addition to these security requirements, an effective remote control solution should address the latest security developments, including:

AES encryption algorithm. AES (or Rijndael) is one of only four symmetric key encryption algorithms approved against the National Institute of Standards and Technology´s FIPS 140-2 standard. It provides encryption at the 128-bit, 192-bit, or 256-bit cipher strengths. AES is exponentially stronger than the previous DES and 3DES algorithm standards, and is considered to be faster and less resource-intensive as well. It should be set as the standard across all product components of a remote control solution.

FIPS 140-2 Level 1 validation. Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 140-2, Level 1 validation from the NIST allows products to be deployed by federal agencies and other organizations that require stringent security standards to protect sensitive information. FIPS 140-2 is also required by federal agencies in Canada, is recognized in Europe and Australia, and is being adopted by numerous financial institutions worldwide.

It should be noted here that remote control is now available as a hosted Web service, giving users access to a host PC from remote devices that have public Internet access via a third-party service. However, as Mike Baldwin, Senior Product Manager at Symantec, has observed, “the hosted service model may pose security concerns, especially for businesses faced with demonstrating compliance with industry or government regulations for information security. Hosted remote access is also usually offered as a service rather than a product, which may mean recurring subscription fee headaches for some.”

Another reason for remote control software´s continued importance has to do with the IT environment typically found in today´s enterprise. That environment is likely to include everything from Windows desktops to Linux servers, Mac OS X-based machines, handheld computing devices, and more. And it´s up to the IT department to keep this heterogeneous infrastructure functioning at all times. As a result, a growing number of organizations are turning to remote control solutions that offer true cross-platform support. By choosing a remote control solution that works across all platforms, IT administrators can manage their entire environment as seamlessly as they do on a single Windows system. What´s more, a platform-independent, browser-based remote component can be used for secure remote control management from non-Windows machines.

Finally, the financial benefits of remote control software can be significant, in some cases lowering help-desk costs by six to 13 percent, according to Symantec. Cost savings can result from reducing the number of help-desk staff, solving problems faster, and fielding fewer support calls. Perhaps most important of all, an effective remote control solution frees up an IT department´s time for other, more important tasks.

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