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What is Remote Access? Connect Your Computer from Anywhere

What Is Remote Access?

Remote access refers to when you have the ability to access a different computer or network in another place. Remote computer access is often used to enable people to access important files and software on another user’s computer.

With remote access, a user can monitor, maintain, and control devices as long as they are connected to the same network. This opens up the possibility to troubleshoot issues without being in the same physical location as the device with the problem.

Remote access also enables you to access necessary files without having them sent via email or other means. You can also define who has the rights to the files, as well as organize users into different categories, giving some groups access to certain things while limiting the access of others.

What is Remote Desktop Access

Remote desktop access describes software that allows access to someone’s personal computer desktop by another user. During the interaction, the other user can see the target desktop on their own device.

What Is Unattended Remote Access?

In an unattended remote access setup, you can access someone else's computer or server without them having to sit in front of it.

How Does Remote Computer Access Work?

A remote access connection gives users the power to connect to a private network from a different location. Both users have to connect to the same network. 

Once both are connected to the remote access network, a protocol governed by access software interfaces that user's device with another user's device. The protocol gives one device the ability to access the functions of the target computer or server. This allows the keyboard, trackpad, touchscreen, or mouse of the controlling user to manipulate the target device.

How To Gain Remote Access To Another Computer and What Are the Protocols?

Although there are different remote access protocols, three of the most often used are:

  1. Virtual private network (VPN)
  2. Virtual network computing (VNC)
  3. Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP)

Some remote access methods involve limited access or sharing of resources, but VPNs, VNCs, and RDPs allow users to both gain access to and have full control over another person’s computer via a remote network.

remote access security with vpn

Virtual Private Network or VPN

A VPN provides users with the ability to send and receive data between devices or via a private network that is extended over a public network. To gain access to another’s computer, both have to be connected to the same VPN and running the same access software.

Virtual Network Computing or VNC

With VNC, you have a graphical system through which users can share desktops. Whatever the remote user does on their keyboard or mouse gets sent to the other device, controlling it as if the person were sitting in front of it while also allowing the accessing user to see what they are doing on their own screen.

Remote Desktop Protocol or RDP

RDP is a program by Microsoft that provides a user with a graphical interface to connect with another computer via a network connection. The user utilizes the RDP client software while the other person’s computer runs the RDP software.

Internet Proxy Servers

With internet proxy servers, a server performs the function of a go-between, allowing you to connect with another computer within the proxy server environment. Both computers connect to the same proxy server, and one user then gains access to the other’s computer.

What Are the Other Types of Remote Access?

There are other ways to access the information of another person’s computer, and each allows for different levels of control and data sharing.

  1. Cellular internet service connects two devices via a wireless connection
  2. Cable broadband allows users to share bandwidth with each other
  3. Digital subscriber line (DSL) makes use of a telephone network
  4. Fiber optics broadband uses a fiber connection to transfer large amounts of data quickly
  5. Satellite makes use of satellites to enable devices to connect through the internet
  6. Local-area network/wide-area network (LAN/WAN) involves making use of an encrypted network that connects users who sign in to it
  7. Desktop sharing involves software that allows people to share their desktop with several other people at once
  8. Private access management (PAM) consists of tools that make sure only the right people have access to certain files and apps on a network
  9. Vendor privileged access management (VPAM) enables secure sharing over a network controlled by an outside vendor that limits connection privileges

What is Remote Desktop Access

A Remote Access Connection Manager (RasMan) is a service provided by Windows that manages VPN connections between your computer and the internet.

The Remote Access Connection Manager works by giving users the ability to organize RDP connections in groups. To make the group, the user initiates a “New” command from the File menu and is then guided through the creation of a group file.


Public Cloud Security

Organizations need to provide remote users with more than just a secure connection back to the core network or datacenter resources they are used to be remotely connecting to. An increasing number of applications are also being hosted in the cloud, and rather than backhauling those applications through the core network, organizations need to consider providing secure remote connectivity directly to those applications. Direct connectivity will not only reduce the load on the network, but also improve overall user experience, especially for high-bandwidth or latency-sensitive applications.

FortiGate-VM next-generation firewalls (NGFWs) offer the flexibility to be deployed as NGFWs and/or VPN gateways in the cloud. They enable high-performance VPN connections across multiple on-premises and cloud environments, and protect data in motion: within clouds, across multiple clouds, and between clouds and on-premises data centers. Learn more.

Secure Remote Access for Multi-Cloud Environments

Secure Remote Access for Multi-Cloud Environments

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Secure Remote Access for the Teleworker Accessing the Cloud

Ciphers and CPU Affinity: Since in-the-cloud compute is generally bound to general purpose CPUs, its ability to support high-performance crypto negotiations is limited. Choosing the right cipher for the job is an important task, as it will dramatically affect the feasible performance and scale of a secure connectivity solution. We have found that for IKE Phase 2 settings, the best performance can be achieved using chacha20poly1305 ciphers. Furthermore, since encryption and decryption are very CPU-intensive operations, leveraging compute instances with up-to 32 cores enables customers to benefit from increased performance by spreading connectivity across multiple VPN tunnels, each with its own dedicated compute resources for cryptographic operations.

IPSec Aggregates – Some organizations may need to secure high speed links that require performance higher than that those available on a single virtual network interface of a compute instance used by the FortiGate-VM. FortiGate users can aggregate tunnels to equally spread traffic across four different virtual interfaces as part of a single IPSec tunnel to achieve high throughput for site-to-site encrypted connections.  This capability is extremely important for large volume secure communications across clouds and datacenters. 

Enable Secure SD-WAN – In order to avoid the undesired effects of a traffic burst on business-critical applications, it is recommended that organizations isolate traffic with very clear SD-WAN SLAs that cannot afford to be disrupted. This can be achieved by splitting traffic across different VPN tunnels (whether aggregate or not). FortiGate-VM SD-WAN policies can be used to allocate and reserve tunnel capacity for certain types of traffic, and dynamically allocate additional resource/tunnels to traffic based on the SD-WAN policy. Organizations can then associate different tunnels with different physical connections and explicitly define which traffic is preferred to run over internet (3 in above illustration) connections vs direct connect links (2 in above illustration).

Leveraging Existing Investments

Addressing new or increased capacity requirements due to increased demand for applications hosted in the cloud as well as SaaS services can seem like a significant challenge. But by leveraging the innovation and capabilities in their existing technology investments, organizations can often address a majority of their requirements without significant additional overhead. 

Organizations that have invested in Fortinet Security Fabric-based network security infrastructures that include some or all of the following products – FortiGate appliances and VM’s for the overall network security infrastructure, FortiManager/FortiAnalyzer for single pane of glass management and the free or commercial versions of FortiClient for centrally managed end user VPN connectivity – already have many of the tools they need. They enable them to fine tune their existing configurations and environments to address urgent and increasing needs, while addressing critical business requirements, providing the organization with the lifeline they need to effectively and securely support their increased remote worker communities.

Learn more about how to maintain business continuity through broad, integrated, and automated Fortinet Teleworker Solutions.

Learn how Fortinet’s dynamic cloud security solutions provide increased visibility and control across cloud infrastructures, enabling secure applications and connectivity from data center to cloud.

Read these customer case studies to see how Cuebiq and Steelcase implement Fortinet’s dynamic cloud security solutions for secure connectivity from data center to the cloud.

Simple Remote Access IPSec Tunnel

The Need for Remote Worker Security

Remote work is the new paradigm where the current health environment requires employees to complete work-related tasks through remote internet connections. This new telework model can benefit employees due to the geographic freedom, the reduction in commute, and flexible schedule. There are also occasions in which remote work may be the only option for continued operations. When emergencies happen that prevent employees from being productive in the office, organizations need solutions that enable business continuity, supporting employees as they work from alternate locations. The transition to the teleworker model opens users and companies up to a myriad of security threats including malware, all forms of phishing attacks and many more. The Fortinet Security Fabric addresses remote worker scenarios with three primary levels of connectivity. If you have technical questions or need assistance contact us at [email protected]

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Teleworker Solution

Types of Teleworkers

Remote Worker: General User Tile Image

Remote Work – General User

The general user is the base level of secure access that everyone in the organization should have, to be used when traveling or working from home.

Remote Worker:  Power User Tile Image

Remote Work – Power User

Power users are employees who need a consistent, secure connections to the corporate network from their designated remote work location.

Remote Worker:  Super User Tile Image

Remote Work – Super User

Super users are the most demanding remote workers that require the highest levels of security or application performance for their work.

Remote Worker: General User

General User

The general user profile for teleworking is the base level of secure access to the company network that everyone in the organization should have. This enables employees to utilize corporate resources and safely traverse the internet from a remote location such as their home, a coffee shop, an airport, or customer location. Power users and super users also need this capability when they are away from their home office. It addresses both the need for a secure and private connection across the public internet, as well as the ability to verify identity to the organization when connecting to the network, sensitive applications, or protected data.

Private Connections

Connect securely from remote locations to ensure that communication stays private even as it travels across open networks. FortiClient Fabric Agent provides the VPN tunnel back to the head office.

Secure Home Network

Linksys HomeWRK | Secured by Fortinet enables IT to provide employees with secure access to the corporate network and prioritize traffic for online meetings and collaboration. Users can enjoy whole-home Wi-Fi mesh coverage with Fortinet security while maintaining complete ownership of their separate and private home networks for non-corporate devices.

Identify Verification

Prove that users are who their user names and passwords say they are with additional methods of authentication. FortiToken provides two-factor authentication capabilities.

Self-service Resources: FortiGate VPN

Our support site provides existing FortiGate customers a robust set of resources, including quick start documents and how-to videos covering the native FortiGate VPN capabilities.

Remote Worker:  Power User

Power User

The power user profile is for employees who will spend extended periods of time on the corporate network and provides for easier access and secure connectivity from their designated remote work location. Power users benefit from a secure, always-on connection to the head-end firewall. This creates a secure solution that is easy to manage and use.  Identity verification is still recommended for access to sensitive applications and protected data.

Secure Wireless Connection

FortiAP can deliver flexible and secure connectivity while being managed remotely by a FortiGate next-generation firewall (NGFW). The security policies of the firewall can be applied to the wireless traffic, while an encrypted tunnel from the access point protects that traffic across the internet.

Identify Verification

Prove that users are who their user names and passwords say they are with additional methods of authentication. FortiToken provides two-factor authentication capabilities.  

Remote Worker:  Super User

Super User

Super users are those with elevated credentials or access to critical business information. Keeping their work activities secure is a high priority for the organization. This solution effectively turns the remote work location into a small branch office of the company. As with all employees, identity verification are still recommended for access to sensitive applications and protected data. A VPN client is recommended for work outside of the remote location.

Ultimate Security

Deploying a FortiGate NGFW provides a super user with the highest levels of security available for remote locations. With secure traffic tunnels as well as application control and traffic inspection, a low-end FortiGate NGFW provides several levels of protection, backed by artificial intelligence (AI)-driven security processes.

Identify Verification

Prove that users are who their user names and passwords say they are with additional methods of authentication. FortiToken provides two-factor authentication capabilities.  

Essential Reading - Remote Worker Solutions

Critical Security Requirements for Supporting a Remote Workforce at Scale

Critical Security Requirements for Supporting a Remote Workforce at Scale

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Secure Remote Access for Your Government Workforce at Scale

Secure Remote Access for Your Government Workforce at Scale

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Solving Secure Telework Requirements for Super Users

Solving Secure Telework Requirements for Super Users

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The Head End

Supporting the various types of remote workers requires both security and management tools to operate at scale. Below are the technologies that enable business continuity for a remote workforce:

next-generation firewall


The head end for all of the VPN tunnels from the field.

web product icon forticlient

FortiClient EMS

The endpoint management system for the FortiClient Fabric Agent.

web product icon fortimanager


Centralized management and workflow automation for remote workers.

web product icon forticasb saas


Controls access to cloud-based applications.

FortiGate Firewall Training

Building a Cybersecurity Workforce

Advanced training for security professionals, technical training for IT professionals, and awareness training for teleworkers.

Learn More

Remote access fortinet

What Is Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP)?

How Does the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) Work?

RDP transmits the activity a user carries out on one computer, such as mouse movement and keyboard activity, to another computer remotely. The desktop of the device they are accessing remotely is displayed on the device they are using to connect to it.

This works via the RDP creating a network dedicated to sharing data between the two devices. Data is always shared using network port 3389 and is sent through core internet protocols like Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) and User Datagram Protocol (UDP). RDP encrypts data to secure connections and user activity.

RDP requires an RDP server, which is typically the user’s Windows computer, and an RDP client, a device with an RDP application that allows an administrator to control and make remote changes to the user’s device. This remote desktop setup only enables admins to make changes to the user’s Windows device, which differentiates it from cloud computing. 

Pros and Cons of RDP

There are advantages and disadvantages to using RDP. Below is an overview of the pros and cons.


VPN Not Required

Using RDP means organizations do not have to use virtual private networks (VPNs) to guarantee secure connections from insecure locations or Wi-Fi networks.

Data Stored Securely on the User's Desktop

A significant benefit of RDP is that data is stored securely on users’ desktops, which means they do not have to move it to cloud servers or store it on insecure personal devices, such as Universal Serial Bus (USB) drives.

On-premises IT Set-up

RDP is also useful for enabling all employees to work from home or on the go while travelling. This is particularly helpful for organizations that are restricted to legacy on-premises IT environments and cannot utilize cloud servers.


User May Experience Lag

RDP can result in users experiencing lag, especially if they have a slow internet connection. This is often caused by user activity having to be encrypted and transmitted to their remote desktop then back to them via the internet. 

Security Vulnerabilities and Cyberattacks

Is RDP secure? Despite encrypting traffic, organizations still question whether RDP is secure as a result of RDP attacks happening in recent years. That is because it contains security vulnerabilities that cyber criminals have exploited. These include weak user login credentials, as computer passwords are also used to access remote RDP logins, which leave users open to brute-force attacks and credential stuffing. 

Another significant risk is that RDP always uses port 3389, which provides cyber criminals an opportunity to exploit a security weakness.

Lower Employee Productivity

The lag that RDP causes may result in lower employee productivity. For example, it can result in an application taking a little longer to load than users might expect.

FortiGate VPN - bezpieczny zdalny dostęp Twoich pracowników

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