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How Attackers Exploit the Remote Desktop Protocol

What is a Remote Desktop Protocol?

The process of entailing with the remote desktop from a completely separate desktop is what is called a Remote Desktop Protocol. Any users sitting remote distance can control their desktop in an equal manner that they do with their usual desktop setting. This is done through some desktop software when are placed far away from home or traveling remotely. RDP or Remote Desktop Protocol is, therefore, a technical standard for connecting desktops remotely.

How Remote Desktop Protocol became popular?

The global coronavirus broke out as a pandemic in the year 2020. This made most of the IT companies shut down from their original workplace and work remotely. Most of the IT sectors at that time were not at ready to give a setup to their employees to work from remote. This unpreparedness force the whole shift to get protocols that will give access to remotely held desktops.  The year gives a whole lot shift to grow telework and WHF by leaps and bounds. Microsoft made this protocol set up as a default method to run Windows by Azure virtual machines.

How RDP works from remote?

RDP or Remote desktop Protocol is meant to serve a user in a two-way communication process.

It helps to fetch data that is the output of the server to the client desktop.

It also enables to use of the mouse as well as the keyboard from the client to the server.

The process is not symmetric from the outside. This is because any data from the source that is the server gets transferred to the client but on the other hand, very few tend to return. The whole setup of remote communication takes several steps along with the usage settings, license for setting the information, and finally with the supported capabilities. The last step involves the agreement on the type of security opting from the two supported modes:

  1. Standard that is mainly based on the RC4
  2. Advanced modes which works on protocols such as TLS or CredSSP.


This step gives access to many channels. Channels mean any particular data stream having its ID to connect with the remote desktop protocol. They are therefore beneficial because they help to redirect access to any file setting or make the process of clipboard sharing feasible between the client and the server.

How Attackers Make this process vulnerable?

The process of remote access to any desktop made attackers realize that it is a golden opportunity to gain access to hacking any desktop with correct credentials. Now, these stolen credentials became part of the productive market on this dark web.

A gap is built during the process of constructing any software that made the unauthorized access to gain any desired credentials from remote. This is called the vulnerability of RDP. It is made in many ways but the most common are discussed

Blue Keep is one of the major vulnerabilities (CVE-2019-0708) that gives access to any remote execution of rapidly given code. This feature does not require any valid credentials. This helps any worm, or any malware to multiply in the remote system making it vulnerable. It gets attached to the older version of Windows. The Blue Keep method forces Microsoft to take any odd move to build new patches for that particular remote system that is no longer supported.

Deja Blue is again a vulnerability but is more commonly known as a flaw. It helps attackers to gain access to any vulnerable systems without having any proper credentials. Some attackers do not wait for checking the vulnerabilities rather they use misconfigurations that is mainly form by security issues:

  1. Having any weak user sign-in credentials
  2. Access to those servers that the user is not logging or not checking the RDP logins.
  3. Systems that are free to access and having no network filtering for hackers.

Measures That Should Be Enforced To Manage the Risks

Despite having several risks on RDP, there are a lot of methods that can help a lot to protect the remote desktop server to be vulnerable.

  1. Patch management
  2. Use of firewall
  3. Making IP restrictions
  4. Limited access through VPN or just in time access

Additionally, any user may enable the Network Level Authentication to restrict unwanted access to the RDP channel.




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