With Remote Network Access, your computer becomes just another citizen on the network. You can access the servers just as if you were on the local network, except the response is slower. Sometimes much, much slower. This network access can be by telephone line and modem, or by Internet through a router.
The user communities requiring Remote Network Access range from people who only need access to their e-mail and the corporate Web portal from their family PC, to the full-time telecommuters who need to use core applications from the office network wherever they are, and some customers and vendors.
Companies usually don't have too much trouble justifying high-end solutions for the full-time telecommuters by providing them with a company-owned computer, firewall and 24x7 help desk access, since these users depend upon remote access for all their work. But sometimes it becomes difficult for them to effectively and affordably support the lower-end needs of other users, due to the security issues of the network.
One solution to prevent security threats is to implement a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN ensures a degree of security for the remote users accessing the network. There are various other emerging tools and applications, such as Cisco security agent and Trend Micro's network virus wall, that can be used to protect the network from unwanted viruses and unsecured devices. However, implementing solutions such as this can be costly and adds another technology to the task list of the administrator.
The bottom line when it comes to Remote Network Access seems to be due diligence combined with enough knowledge and strict policy. Allowing other networks and individuals to connect to your network is virtually unavoidable. All that you need is to ensure that you exercise the appropriate level of caution and pay close attention to that back door. If all of your fingers are already in use it's time to stick a toe in the Remote Network Access "leak in the dike."