Nobody wants to worry about extra security issues–especially around remote access to a business network. That's why recent issues with Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) are so troubling.
In the past year, numerous RDP vulnerabilities known as BlueKeep, have been discovered in Windows XP, Windows 7, and older Windows programs. BlueKeep is of concern because it is “wormable,” which means it can spread automatically without users initiating it.
While Microsoft has issued patches, and governments have stressed the importance of installing patches, concern remains over how far-reaching BlueKeep and other RDP exploits may be.
Remote desktop vulnerabilities like this can't be ignored. Since RDP powers the most common ways for remotely connecting to other computers–inside and between networks–any flaws in the protocol have to be taken extremely seriously.
Thousands of businesses of all sizes could have points of vulnerability through RDP, especially if you’re working with older operating systems. Thankfully, there are a few simple ways RDP users can address the issues and protect their networks with secure remote desktop solutions.
Major RDP Vulnerabilities
Remote Desktop Protocol is proprietary software that is designed to securely share images, screens, and files across multiple devices in a network. Unfortunately, while intended to be a secure way to access remote desktops, RDP vulnerability remains an all too common problem.
The main issue with RDP is that it can allow unauthorized users to access computers through channels that have preexisting permissions. While some of these users may not have malicious intent, some do–and that can cause big problems. Remote desktop technology essentially allows these users to go through a computer and access private data or cause failure to your operating system.
Threatpost outlines some of the common RDP vulnerabilities below:
- A malefactor could attack an IT member that connects to an infected workstation inside the corporate network, thus gaining higher permission levels and greater access to the network systems.
- A bad actor could reverse a malware researcher that connects to a remote sandbox virtual machine that contains a tested malware. This allows the malware to escape the sandbox and infiltrate the corporate network.
- If blue security research teams installed organizational honeypots to attack red teams that try to connect to them through the RDP protocol.
Check Point researchers described one scenario like this: "A malicious RDP server can transparently drop arbitrary files to arbitrary file locations on the client's computer. For example, we can drop malicious scripts to the client's startup folder, and after a reboot, they will be executed on his computer, giving us full control.”
A few well-known RDP exploits are:
- 3389 Exploit: a brute force attack that scans default ports for RDP vulnerability
- BlueKeep Vulnerability: threatening to unprotected RDP servers on older Windows operating systems
- CVE-2019-0863: runs code through the Remote Desktop functions to allow downloads, deletions, and the potential creation of new admin accounts that can lead to further attacks in the future
- CVE-2019-0932: gives malicious users access to Skype application through Android phones, which may allow them to listen and/or records calls without the user knowing
While these are just a few of the known vulnerabilities and RDP exploits, the ongoing security issues make it necessary for businesses and users to consider other remote desktop solutions that do not present unnecessary access points.
Combating BlueKeep Vulnerability with Secure Remote Desktop
One of the major problems with BlueKeep vulnerabilities is that they can access systems without authentication and tend to have a long life cycle. Patching is often slow, which means that issues can run quite deep, especially for older operating systems. The longer it goes unpatched, the more potential for malicious attackers to gain access to your networks.
If you have experienced this personally, or have been worried about potential issues related to BlueKeep and other RDP vulnerabilities, you’re not alone. You can certainly install patches, but for some systems, they will need to be completely changed.
The best way to combat these attacks is to switch to a remote desktop software that ensures more comprehensive security, saving you time, money, and stress, especially if you’re trying to manage a large network of users and devices. Here are some advantages that remote desktop software give you:
- Network Level Authentication (NLA): Requires potential attackers to sign in with a password before accessing the RDP vulnerability. Just remember that hackers who use remote code execution (RCE) can override NLA.
- Password Encryption: Installed across the server, this can help to reduce vulnerabilities on your network.
- Multi-Factor Authentication: Useful for preventing brute-force attacks.
- Account Lockout Policy: Self-spreading, wormable attacks like BlueKeep can be hampered by creating account lockouts. This prevents attacks from exponentially spreading within your network by locking out computers after a set number of failed login attempts.
- Role-Based Security: Take full control by setting specific access based on roles. This can be done at a granular level to ensure that users only have access to the things they truly need and the network isn’t opened up to potential RDP vulnerabilities.
Solve RDP Issues with Netop Remote Control
Unfortunately, there are always going to be tech trends that demand remote access. Fortunately, Netop has pioneered secure remote desktop solutions since the 1980s, making us the choice for more than half of the Fortune 100. Our remote desktop software makes these RDP vulnerabilities irrelevant, giving you peace of mind.
Ideally, we never want you to worry about remote connections.We do that by making sure that before a remote session begins, users must be fully authenticated–and our authentication processes are bulletproof.
We also make sure that every session's connection uses a data transport layer (DTL), with the encryption level negotiated between the computer initiating the connection and the one being accessed. A malicious actor would have to compromise the host machine's module, which doesn't use an open protocol as RDP does.
Our goal is to provide the highest security and compliance standards to meet the needs of numerous industries, from healthcare to retail. Guarding proprietary and sensitive information doesn’t have to be overwhelming when you have remote control security like Netop Remote Control. Learn more and start a free trial to prevent future RDP exploits from hurting your network.
Grady Locklear is the Content Marketing Manager at Netop