There have long been ‘RDP shops’ selling credentials on the Dark Web. The FBI and Europol ultimately shut down xDedic, one of the most prominent crime forums, in 2019, five years after it was launched, with over 80,000 compromised servers for sale. Selling Remote Desktop Protocol(RDP) access is a flourishing business because it allows hackers to gain rapid access to a company without creating a phishing email, constructing malware, or manually searching for zero-day exploits and open ports. An attacker can buy direct access to their target company for less than $5.

RDP usage soared as firms adapted to teleworking conditions, making it nearly impossible for existing security solutions to discern between actual RDP usage and RDP exploitation. As a result, the number of successful server-side attacks increased dramatically.

Remote Desktop Protocol

Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) is one of the most common protocols for remote desktop sessions when employees connect to their office computers from a different device. Most Windows operating systems have RDP, which can also be utilized on Macs. Many firms use RDP to allow their staff to work from home.

All versions of Windows have used the remote desktop protocol, or RDP, since the release of Windows XP. The operating system can use this proprietary software to display photos from other machines on a shared network. Simply put, it enables you to connect to a computer connected on the same network but located in a different location.

This protocol’s official name has changed a few times throughout Microsoft’s history. It used to be known as Terminal Services Client, but it’s now known as Remote Desktop Connection. Although Microsoft’s RDP was the first, it is no longer the sole option. Other operating systems, such as Linux and Apple PCs, have comparable features. This type of software, despite its widespread use, is not as safe as you may imagine. The FBI has advised corporate clients and small enterprises to adopt RDP alternatives to prevent unauthenticated attackers from accessing susceptible systems.

Why is RDP Vulnerable?

Because the Remote Desktop Protocol was designed to make communication between computers on the same network more effortless, it allows unwanted users to gain access to your computer via channels with pre-existing rights. This means that the attack can be carried out without any further verification. There will be no dialogue window alerting you to the attack. The lack of forewarning leads you to believe everything is fine.

Surprisingly, several RDP attacks have made their way across the internet and into PCs, allowing them to access specific domains and websites. Because RDP works through the user’s screen, attackers who exploit this vulnerability can use your computer as if they are present physically in front of it, gaining access to your personal information and causing major system failures.

Once an attacker gains access to your computer or server, there are no limits to what they can do. They can install software, create new user accounts, and access and delete data.

To make matters worse, many of the exploits for RDP vulnerabilities are “wormable.” As a result, once a single virus has been spread, it can spread from computer to computer, posing a greater risk to businesses using a single Wi-Fi network.

Important Vulnerabilities in RDP

  • Weak sign-in credentials

Most desktop computers have a password protection system, and users can choose any password they want. The issue is that the same password is frequently used for both local and distant RDP logins. Companies rarely update these credentials to ensure their security, and as a result, these remote connections are often vulnerable to brute force or credential stuffing assaults.

  • Unrestricted port access

Port 3389* is generally always used for RDP connections. Attackers can presume this is the port in use and use it to launch on-path attacks and other types of attacks.

How to prevent RDP vulnerability attacks?

Fortunately, various solutions and updates are available for Windows users and organizations who utilize RDP in their offices. Some of them, such as the BlueKeep patch, are simple to locate and download. You’ll have to update the system settings manually for others.

Using Group Policy settings to alter the settings on all computers on the network simultaneously is the most effective way to do this. You can also use remote desktop software designed to protect you from these types of attacks.

  • Choose Two-Factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication gives your network an extra layer of protection. CAPTCHAS, which are simple interfaces that provide the user a word written in distorted fonts to unscramble and transmit back, are the most well-known. These tests will fail automated brute-force attacks, but computer thieves who are actively attacking your system may be able to get around them.

Unauthorised attackers are forced to provide an additional channel to track in less popular variants of two-factor authentication, which involve third-party communications like text messaging or email.

  • Set up Authentication at the Network Level

You might want to try Network Level Authentication (NLA). It increases the overall security of your network by requiring potential attackers to sign in with a password before they can exploit an RDP vulnerability. Unfortunately, hackers who use Remote Code Execution (RCE) malware can bypass NLA, and anyone who has obtained legitimate credentials will proceed without difficulty.

  • Use a Firewall

Remote Desktop access can be restricted using firewall rules that allow just a certain IP address or a range of IP addresses to access a device. Open “Windows Firewall with Advanced Security,” select Inbound Rules, and scroll down to the RDP rule.

  • Improve Your Passwords

Updating your software is the most fundamental measure you can take, but creating stronger passwords isn’t difficult. When password creation software became a hacker’s best buddy, the days of using a child’s name or a cherished pet as a password were over.

Password encryption solutions installed throughout the server might help to reduce remote desktop vulnerability and network attacks. Ensure the entire organization is aware of the encrypted passwords, and remember that sending an email to the whole department defeats the purpose.

What role can ISIT play in securing remote access?

Any of the above strategies will help improve overall network security if you seek to safeguard your RDP system and avoid assaults employing an RDP vulnerability. The best way to protect your critical servers is to use secure remote support software as an alternative to the Windows Remote Desktop Protocol.

ISIT can help you establish advanced logins, strong passwords and multifactor authentication systems. These features work together to provide you with a top-notch security solution. ISIT could provide top-class security systems and be widely used in various sectors to protect intellectual and sensitive data.