Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Protocol, often abbreviated to RDP, is a useful and convenient tool that allows employees to access their company’s servers and workstations. RDP has seen a tremendous rise in usage since the start of the 2020 pandemic. For many of us, this is the first time using RDP. With so many people using it, some uncertainty about its security has appeared as well.
The 2019 vulnerability found in RDP, called BlueKeep, does not help the situation. While the BlueKeep security vulnerability got patched over a year ago, many people are still using older versions of Windows. Other similar exploits have also appeared, which are collectively known as DejaBlue.
Protecting both your and your company’s security is crucial for several different reasons. A hacker could gain access to your company’s server through your computer and vice versa.
If sensitive data gets leaked, your company is going to be in a heap of trouble. Luckily, there are some steps that you can take to minimize the risk. Without any further ado, here are 5 ways to secure your RDP data and sessions.
1. Use a Strong Password
Using a strong password should be an obvious first step, but many people tend to skip it nonetheless. As mentioned above, if a hacker manages to gain access to your computer, the password that you use does not matter. However, this does not mean that you should make it easy for them by using “12345” as your default password.
Use a password that contains the following:
- Uppercase letters
- Lowercase letters
- Special characters
Make sure that the password you use has at least 8 different characters.
2. Use Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)
Two-factor authentication is one of the best ways to secure anything that you do online, including your remote desktop. Once set up, 2FA as it’s called, verifies the access through a different platform or device to make sure that it is you and not a hacker.
Two-factor authentication is excellent because a hacker can’t access your data and sessions even if he managed to get access to your password. Using your phone for two-factor authentication is better than using your email because of several different reasons.
First, your phone is always with you, making it a bit faster. Second, your data will stay safe even if the hacker managed to steal your email password.
3. Keep Your Software Updated
Microsoft Windows updates are not there without any reason. Even if you do not see any feature that might interest you in the latest update, you should probably download it anyway. This applies to both your home computer and the server or workstation that you are accessing.
However, you should make sure that you always check independent sources before downloading a new update. Even Microsoft can make mistakes and create new vulnerabilities instead of fixing old ones.
4. Consider a VPN
VPNs have also seen an enormous spike in popularity recently, just like RDP. People are spending a lot more time online because of the pandemic, so keeping your personal and professional data private and secure is now more crucial than ever. A virtual private network (VPN) will encrypt your connection to make sure that it stays safe when using RDP.
All data is stored online whenever you use your computer without a VPN. However, some VPNs have acquired a bad reputation for logging customer data, so make sure that you use a VPN that has a good reputation. Do thorough research on the VPN’s recent history and check if it has been verified via a third-party audit.
5. Use a Gateway or Firewall
Another great way to secure your RDP data and sessions is by using a firewall to restrict unauthorized access to the servers. A gateway essentially does the same job, which means that you can combine both for maximum security. A firewall will block any suspicious traffic that it catches. On the other hand, the gateway will only allow some devices to communicate.
Using only one of these steps likely won’t be enough to stop a hacker who is determined to steal your data. Combining a few different methods will make sure that your RDP data and sessions will stay protected from prying eyes, especially in these difficult times.