Remote Access Policy: Definition, Purpose & Example

Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

A remote access policy protects an organization's network from those accessing it externally. In this lesson, you'll learn more about this policy and its purpose and discover the contents the policy should have.

Working From the Couch

It's Friday and it's been a long week. You spent part of the week traveling for work and the other days in back-to-back meetings. Your alarm goes off at 6 a.m. and you just don't have the energy to jump out of bed, shower, dress up and make the commute to the office.

The security of a network is still an issue, even if employees are working remotely.
remote, access, telecommute, telecommuting, security

Then, you have a lightbulb moment. Your company actually allows you a certain number of days per month that you can work remotely from home. You linger in bed for 30 minutes more before getting up, grabbing an energy drink from the refrigerator and settling yourself on the couch with your laptop to get some work done.

Let's face it. Technology today allows employees to work from just about anywhere. Whether you are a full-time telecommuter who works from a home office or you just need a break from the usual scenery and head off to a coffee shop, the ability to work remotely is a definite perk of the 21st century.

It also presents some unique challenges for companies.

  • Is our information still secure?
  • Are our employees using the best security practices when accessing our network?
  • Do their devices get updated with antivirus protection regularly?

It's enough to make a security officer's head spin! Just because employees are working remotely doesn't mean that security takes a vacation. One of the most important things to be addressed in this scenario is creating and implementing a remote access policy.

What's a Remote Access Policy?

A remote access policy is a document that details how an employee can safely connect to a company's computer network while working away from the office. Pretty simple, right? You have policies in place for how employees should access and use your network internally; a remote access policy merely serves as an extension of that for external connections.

For example, Appalachian State University in North Carolina publishes its remote access policy online. In it, among other things, they detail:

  • The purpose of its remote access policy
  • Who the policy applies to
  • Who is and is not allowed to access the university's computer system
  • The care with which connections to the network should be made
  • Requirements for up-to-date security and antivirus software
  • Password protection methods

In short, this document is meant to explain how to connect to the company's (or university's) network in an authorized and appropriate manner. Practices such as sharing a password with a friend or family member or using the network for non work-related business are clearly outlined as unacceptable in this type of policy.

Inside a Remote Access Policy

Following on the example policy of the university, what should you include to devise this type of policy for your remote workers? First, start with an overview of what remote access is and why it's important to your company.

Purpose and Scope

Next, since you've identified the importance of remote access to your workers, explain the purpose of having a remote access policy. Many employees, especially those who aren't very tech-savvy, may not even think twice about the security of YOUR network when they're at home.

Define the scope of the policy. So there isn't any gray area, explain who the policy applies to and in what situations. It will likely need to cover remote workers, third-party vendors, and anyone else who typically gains access to your network.

Rules and Requirements

Now, outline your rules. Keep in mind, this will be different for every organization. In general, it will include information such as protecting data from unauthorized users, what access to the network can be used for (personal vs. professional) and the types of activities prohibited while remotely connected.

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