Whether you already have a remote desktop solution or you’re thinking about implementing one, you’re probably asking yourself, “Is RDP encrypted?” It’s a great question, as encryption is one of the most important steps to ensuring your remote desktop connections are secure. While there are many factors that go into having a secure remote desktop, let’s take a look at how encryption works in the context of RDP.
So, Is RDP Encrypted?
The short answer to, “Is RDP encrypted?” is yes – but that comes with a big caveat. By default, Netop and other remote desktop service providers also create remote connections that are encrypted at the highest possible level.
There are some older versions of RDP software that do not support the highest level of encryption possible today, however. The biggest potential issue when it comes to different levels of encryption is the presence of legacy clients within your remote desktop environment.
The best way to achieve the most secure remote desktop environment possible is to take stock of the various clients within your network and set encryption to the highest possible level supported by the client. Setting encryption levels is key to customization of your security levels.
If you don’t want to dig around and mess with security settings within Microsoft’s built-in RDP, you can always implement an alternative remote desktop solution. Netop provides higher encryption levels than standard RDP encryption for secure remote control. So the most accurate answer to, “Is RDP encrypted?” is, “Yes, but… you’d be better off using a more secure tool like Netop.”
Read on for additional tips for securing your remote desktop sessions beyond encryption.
Employ Strong Passwords Throughout Your Remote Desktop Network
This may seem like basic advice, but it’s always worth reiterating: As you consider your remote desktop encryption, make sure that any accounts you are using are secured with strong passwords.
If a malicious hacker is able to log into one of your approved accounts due to a weak password, it won’t matter what level of encryption your software is using. The first step to protecting against someone gaining unintended access to your system via remote desktop is utilizing strong passwords across your network.
Make Sure Your Software is Up to Date
If you’re asking yourself, “Is RDP encrypted?” you might want to also ask yourself, “Is RDP up to date?” One of the biggest threats to security within any software, and especially RDP, is out of date versions.
After hackers identify a weakness in a version of RDP or other software, the software manufacturer will release an update that removes the vulnerability – thus making it harder for bad actors to utilize the same weakness on up-to-date versions. But if you haven’t updated your software version in a while, that leaves your remote desktop network open to possible attacks. There are so many news headlines about RDP vulnerabilities that lead to data breaches, it’s hard to keep track.
Netop stays constantly vigilante, monitoring all potential vulnerabilities and attacks. Plus, the Netop Advantage program is free for a year with all Netop subscriptions, and it includes software updates along with extended technical support and full upgrade protection.
With Netop, you don’t have to spend time worrying about your RDP encryption level and whether or not your software is up to date with the latest version – you don’t have to waste time scouring the internet for support articles detailing how to install and patch various versions for different devices. With Netop, you can rest assured that your remote desktop environment is always up to date, offering fully secure remote support.
Utilize Secure Authentication
It’s impossible to answer the questions, “Is RDP encrypted?” and, “Is RDP secure?” without discussing the various authentication methods available to you within your remote desktop environment. If you’re using RDP, most security resources will recommend that you employ network-level authentication (NLA) as it ensures an extra level of authentication before a remote connection is established.
With Netop’s next level security features, the highest authentication methods come standard. Plus, in order to meet and exceed stringent compliance standards, Netop goes a step further by providing optional two- and three-factor authentication.
When opening up your network to remote desktop connections, there is always some inherent risk. That’s precisely why you need to utilize the most advanced authentication methods available in the market to ensure you can trust each and every connection established in your network and limit any remote desktop vulnerability.
Restrict Login Access for Remote Desktop
Another thing to consider when trying to figure out the answer to, “Is RDP encrypted and secure?” is exactly which users have access to your remote desktop environment. One security vulnerability that is inherent in RDP is the fact that all Administrator accounts can log in by default.
To ensure a fully secure environment, you should restrict access to only the Administrator accounts that need it. While RDP can be convenient given all Microsoft PCs can utilize it out of the box, this default Administrator access setting can go overlooked – leaving your remote desktop environment vulnerable to an attack.
One of the biggest advantages of choosing Netop as your remote desktop provider is the ability to completely control users and groups with detailed user management options. Netop allows you to specify exactly who has access to what by providing access management options that apply to specific user groups or drilling all the way down to the individual user level. Advanced security options give you total control over your remote desktop protocol encryption, authentication, and user management.
Ultimate Remote Desktop Encryption and Security
We began by asking the question, “Is RDP encrypted?” and rounded off our journey by answering that and more. It turns out the answer to, “Is RDP encrypted?” has more to do with whether or not RDP is ultimately the most secure choice as your remote desktop solution.
While RDP is widely used and commonly available, that doesn’t necessarily make it the best choice. Hackers will use every vulnerability available to them to get into your system or network via your remote desktop environment.
Legacy clients in an RDP ecosystem can limit the encryption levels of the entire system, out-of-date software can offer weakened points of entry, and lackluster authentication requirements and default administrator access mean you might not always know exactly who has access to your remote desktop environment. All of these security vulnerabilities within RDP can leave you open to attack.
For a fully encrypted and more secure remote desktop option, switch to Netop.
Sam Heiney is the Product Manager for Netop Remote Control.