Guest post by Jeremy Herman, Managed IT Systems Specialist
Recent global changes have dramatically changed how people work. Previously, working from home was considered unusual, and most companies were not equipped to have the majority of their employees working from the comfort of a home office. This paradigm has changed now, and working from home is more common than ever. In fact, to even retain quality employees, many companies are seeing their staff demand work location as a priority for whom they choose to work for.
One of the biggest contributors to remote work being possible is a technology called RDP. This acronym stands for Remote Desktop Protocol. Just like the name implies, it allows you to remotely access your desktop. Many people take advantage of this and remote into their computer at work.
This can be from any place in the world. You are not just limited to making a connection from your home office. Say you are on a business trip to another state or even another country. Regardless, you will still be able to access programs and files on your machine that is still in the office. Some hard-working people even take their laptops on vacations and work by the pool.
Remote Desktop Protocol automatically comes with Windows-based machines. For users on MacOS or Linux, there are other solutions that will allow you to remotely access another computer. For Windows users, this ability is already built into the operating system with a remote desktop service. It doesn’t require any additional downloads or software libraries to get started using this RTD gateway.
For the machine you are trying to access remotely, follow these steps.
- Open Settings on your Windows 10 machine and then select “System”.
- Click on the option for “Remote Desktop“.
- Move the “Enable Remote Desktop” switch on.
- Select confirm so that these changes are saved in the system.
It is as simple as that. Now the machine in your office can accept connections from other computers that you own.
Dangers of RDP
Accessing a computer remotely makes you more productive and can also save you time, so you aren’t driving into the office every day. There are dangers though that you should be aware of. While you can remote into your machine, there are attackers who are also trying to access your machine as well. This is the constant struggle in cybersecurity between user convenience and security.
The Remote Desktop Protocol is secured through both a username and password. This doesn’t mean that attackers will not attempt to guess your username or password. Think about the current username that you use at work. More than likely, it follows a predictable naming convention. John.Smith. Sarah.Woods. Melanie.Cooper. Just taking a brief look at the list of employees that are on your public-facing website will give an attacker plenty of usernames that they can try and compromise.
When half of the username / password equation is obvious, this reduces the security protection having both pieces of data provides. You are more vulnerable to an attack before the hacker even begins to try and access your computer.
The next step in an attack would be to guess the password used to connect to your remote computer. Many users will think their password would be too difficult to guess. They used a special character. Some of the letters are capitalized, and some are not. Surely there is no way for an attacker to know what you used.
Unfortunately, given enough time, any password can be cracked. Computer programs with the help of powerful hardware can rapidly guess many different passwords in a matter of just seconds. With enough tries, any password will eventually be discovered. This is why we focus on cyber security. With computers on the other team, you need network security experts on your team.
Plus, many users don’t realize as sites get hacked, their passwords could be exposed and placed on the dark web. From here, many users use a consistent password across sites (a major source of vulnerability from cyber attackers). This is where we would suggest the use of a password manager to help avoid losing access to multiple services because of one breach. Having a complex and good password for all services is an important part of a cybersecurity strategy.
It is bad enough to get hacked on one site; now imagine the hacker has access to your Amazon account, Netflix, Google, and other services, because you use the same password across all the platforms.
The Best Solution
What is the solution to make RDP safer with RDP security? For remote desktop and remote desktop protocol many businesses decide to use specialized hardware known as a firewall. This protects you when using remote access because the remote desktop connection is using network-level authentication. The built-in Windows firewall works well, but it is no substitute for dedicated hardware. This can limit the connections coming into your business. Imagine this firewall as a policeman directing traffic at a busy intersection. The firewall can decide which people get through and which ones will be rejected. If there is somebody suspicious trying to gain access to the computers at your company, they can be permanently blocked so that they are blacklisted.
These firewalls can be installed by technicians at Novatech. The technicians specialize in all brands including Fortinet-, SonicWall- and Cisco-based products. They will easily integrate with your networking equipment that already exists. It is also a simple task to set up secure tunnels from your home office to your office at work. RDP is an excellent tool, but it must be used wisely. Allow the experts to secure your network and prevent just anyone from accessing your systems.
Novatech provides technical help to businesses looking to improve their cybersecurity and their user experience with world-class solutions and amazing technical help. Give us a call or reach out if you would like to ensure your team working from home can do so safely, protecting your company’s data and critical systems.
Other Ways to be Protected
We can never be sure when an RDP attack will occur. Using the default RDP port can attract attackers looking for a way in. Access to a target machine can be devastating for a company when an attacker sneaks in. RDP access can use multi-factor authentication as another level of trust needed. RDP connections can also be protected or encrypted through TLS, in a similar way to a website. These techniques can protect your remote desktop gateway. Call Novatech today, and we can go over these techniques and how they can protect you.