Cybercriminals Take Advantage of Increased Use of Remote Desktop Protocol During COVID-19 Telework

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The increased use of remote desktop protocol (RDP) in telework environments has had several benefits for security professionals. But, as is the case with most things in life, not all of them are as good as they seem. Today, there are more and more companies that have implemented virtual remote computing environments (VRCEs) to better meet their employees’ needs. These remote working environments often provide company-wide access to servers and other computing resources running applications such as Microsoft Office, Google Drive, and WordPress. These environments often require employees to remain connected to the internet via mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops.

RDP is a Remote Desktop Protocol

Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) is an application that allows people to access a computer or server from another location, usually via a web browser. Windows Phone and iOS users also have access to the Nokia app.

RDP is an Open Standard

NAC has become more and more popular in recent years as a way to prevent unauthorized devices from accessing networks.

RDP can be Exploited

While many security experts would never recommend unpatched networks as a place to host your business’s data, a small number of companies do. These are the companies that use unpatched networks to conduct attacks on other companies’ networks. These attacks could be through malware or by improperly configured firewalls. The company that uses an unpatched network to conduct attacks on other companies oftentimes loses business due to the risks. Exploiting these vulnerabilities in unpatched networks could seriously threaten the company’s data.

RDP is a Requirement for COVID-19 Telework

Telework, also known as remote work, has become increasingly popular in recent years. Companies have begun to realize that having access to remote workers can benefit their business in a variety of ways. This requirement has presented a challenge to many companies that have implemented VRCEs.

RDP is a Target for Cybercriminals

Cybercriminals have capitalized on this growth and increased use of remote computing environments to target large numbers of companies and individuals who are implementing remote work. In some cases, the cyberattacks have been successful.In either case, the attacks have served as examples of how cybercriminals can try to infiltrate a company’s network and cause damage.

RDP Is Becoming More and More Popular

In the past few years, the use of RDP has gone from a niche use to a full-blown trend. Major tech companies like Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Facebook are all providing some form of remote access solution, often powered by the open-source platform CloudRPC.These trends are likely to continue, and more and more companies are going to implement VRCEs in the coming years.

RDP-Based Attacks Are on the Rise

These devices are often the workstations and laptops used by employees. More and more companies are connecting these devices to the corporate network via RDP.

RDP is not only for business users

Many companies are now hosting public webinars or events specifically for customers to learn how they can best protect their data. Private Internet Access (PIA) is one of the most popular brands of VPN service providers. It provides secure and reliable VPN access to more than 40 countries including the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and more.

RDP poses a greater risk of being hacked than personal devices

But when it comes to computers and other devices connected to a network via RDP, there’s another level of risk: “unauthorized modification or deletion of data”. You can think of this as “unauthorized access to data”. While it may be relatively easy to see who visited a website or what videos you can watch, it is much harder to detect without proper tools. So, when you connect a laptop to a network, the server you’re using could be sitting on the other side of the globe. This might take them some time, especially if they are in a hurry. This might leave the employee with an open connection and easily possible hacker access to their account.

How cybercriminals exploit RDP

When it comes to cybercriminals, it’s not just about getting access to networks and computers via RDP, but also about changing the rules of the game. In this instance, the cybercriminals are trying to hack and steal sensitive data, but are instead relying on the fact that employees will often use the same computer for both work and home. Since employees typically don’t log out of their accounts at the end of the day, cybercriminals can easily piggyback on this unsecured connection between devices.

RDP is not only for employees but also for contractors and vendors

Some companies have implemented secure remote work environments (VRSEs) completely separate from the main company computer network. These environments often use virtual private networks (VPNs) to provide access to company-owned resources, such as data storage systems or applications such as Microsoft Office or Google Drive. VRSEs can use the same technology as a true remote work environment, such as RDP, to provide access to company resources.

RDP is not only for companies but also for education and individuals

These remote workers might even use a special app to make it look like they are on the same computer. When you are remote at work, you often have no way of knowing who you are recruiting or whether they are a partner, vendor, or another employee of yours. As a result, providing access to the internet via a smartphone or other handheld device raises security concerns.

So, why is RDP so dangerous?

When you use a remote computing environment, you typically use an unsecured connection. This means that anyone on the other side of the connection, such as a corporate IT staff or an employee who just needs to access a file or a website, can see or do things that hackers would need to access the same computer you’re using. Additionally, when you use a mobile device to access a remote computer, it is often possible for those same hackers to easily track the location of your device and access your data.

Summing up

The increased use of remote desktop protocol (RDP) in telework environments has had several benefits for security professionals. But, as is the case with most things in life, not all of them are as good as they seem. When you use a remote computing environment, you typically use an unsecured connection. This means that anyone on the other side of the connection, such as an IT staff or an employee who just needs to access a file or a website, can see or do things that hackers would need to access the same computer you’re using. 

Conclusion

The use of remote work has grown tremendously in the last decade.  These devices are often the workstations and laptops used by employees. As a result, employees are sometimes able to connect to the internet from remote computers without authorization. RDP is an open-standard protocol that allows remote workers to access a computer or server from another location, usually a computer connected to a network.

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