We've detected you might be speaking a different language. Do you want to change to:

Table of Contents


Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) has become an indispensable tool for remote work, providing users with access to their office desktops from anywhere in the world. However, its convenience also makes RDP a prime target for ransomware attackers. This guide dives deep into the technical aspects of how to secure RDP from ransomwares, ensuring that IT professionals can protect their networks against these threats.

Understanding Remote Desktop Protocol

Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) is not just a tool for remote work; it's a critical infrastructure component for businesses globally. To know how to secure RDP against ransomwares and other cyber threats, it's essential first to grasp its fundamentals, how it operates, and why it's frequently targeted by attackers.

What is RDP?

Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) is a proprietary protocol developed by Microsoft, designed to provide users with a graphical interface to connect to another computer over a network connection. This protocol is a cornerstone of remote access in Windows environments, enabling remote control and management of computers and servers.

RDP functions by allowing a user (client) to log into a remote machine (server) running RDP server software. This access is facilitated through the RDP client software, which can be found on all modern versions of Windows and is also available for macOS, Linux, iOS, and Android. This widespread availability makes RDP a versatile tool for IT administrators and remote workers alike.

How RDP Works

At its core, RDP establishes a secure network channel between the client and server, transmitting data, including keyboard inputs, mouse movements, and screen updates, over the network. This process involves several key components and steps:

  • Session Initiation: When a user initiates an RDP connection, the client and server perform a handshake to establish communication parameters. This includes authentication and encryption settings.

  • Authentication: The user must authenticate with the server, typically using a username and password. This step is crucial for security and can be bolstered by additional measures such as Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA).

  • Virtual Channels: RDP uses virtual channels to separate different types of data (e.g., display data, device redirection, audio streams) and ensure smooth transmission. These channels are encrypted to protect data integrity and privacy.

  • Remote Control: Once connected, the user interacts with the remote desktop as if they were physically present at the machine, with RDP transmitting input and output between the client and server in real-time.

Why RDP is Targeted by Ransomware Attackers

RDP's ubiquity and powerful remote access capabilities also make it a prime target for cybercriminals, particularly ransomware attackers. There are several reasons why RDP is attractive to attackers:

  • Direct Access: RDP provides direct access to a system's desktop environment. This will make it possible for attackers to execute ransomware and other malicious software remotely if they can compromise an RDP session.

  • Widespread Use: The widespread use of RDP, especially in corporate and enterprise environments, offers a broad attack surface for cybercriminals looking to exploit weakly secured connections.

  • Credential Exploitation: RDP connections are often secured with just a username and password, which can be vulnerable to brute-force attacks, phishing, or credential stuffing. Once an attacker gains access, they can move laterally within the network, escalating privileges and deploying ransomware.

  • Lack of Visibility: In some cases, organizations may not have adequate monitoring or logging for RDP sessions. This will make it difficult to detect unauthorized access or malicious activity until it's too late.

Understanding these fundamentals of RDP is the first step in developing effective security strategies to protect RDP from ransomwares and other threats . By recognizing the protocol's capabilities and vulnerabilities, IT professionals can better prepare and defend their networks from attackers seeking to exploit RDP.

Securing RDP from Ransomwares

Ensuring Up-to-Date Systems

Keeping your RDP servers and clients updated is paramount to secure RDP from ransomwares. Microsoft's regular release of patches addresses vulnerabilities that, if left unpatched, can serve as gateways for attackers, underscoring the necessity of a vigilant update strategy to protect your network infrastructure.

Understanding Patch Management

Patch management is a critical aspect of cybersecurity that involves regularly updating software to address vulnerabilities. Specifically, for RDP, this entails applying the latest Windows updates as soon as they become available. Leveraging Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) automates this process. This will ensure timely application of patches across your organization. This automation not only streamlines the update process but also minimizes the window of opportunity for attackers to exploit known vulnerabilities. This will significantly enhance your cybersecurity posture.

The Role of System Hardening

System hardening is an essential practice that reduces system vulnerabilities through careful configurations and updates. For RDP, this means disabling unused ports, services, and features that could potentially be exploited by attackers. Employing the principle of least privilege by limiting user permissions to only what's necessary for their role is crucial. This practice minimizes the potential damage an attacker can do if they manage to compromise an account. This will thereby add an additional layer of security to your RDP setup.

By regularly updating and hardening your systems, you create a robust foundation to secure RDP from ransomwares. This foundation is crucial, but to further enhance security, it's important to implement strong authentication mechanisms to protect against unauthorized access.

Implementing Strong Authentication Mechanisms

Implementing robust authentication methods is vital in securing RDP sessions against unauthorized access . This section delves deeper into multi-factor authentication and the enforcement of complex password policies.

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

MFA significantly enhances security by requiring users to provide multiple forms of verification before gaining access. For RDP, integrating MFA solutions such as Duo Security or Microsoft Authenticator adds a critical layer of defense. This could involve a code from a smartphone app, a fingerprint scan, or a hardware token. Such measures ensure that even if a password is compromised, unauthorized users cannot easily gain access. This would effectively mitigate a significant portion of the risk associated with remote desktop protocols.

Enforcing Complex Password Policies

Complex passwords are a fundamental aspect to secure RDP access. Enforcing policies that require passwords to be a minimum of 12 characters long and include a mix of numbers, symbols, and both upper- and lower-case letters drastically reduces the likelihood of successful brute-force attacks. Utilizing Group Policy Objects (GPO) in Active Directory to enforce these policies ensures that all RDP connections adhere to high-security standards. This will significantly mitigate the risk of unauthorized access due to weak or compromised passwords.

Transitioning to a strategy of limited exposure complements strong authentication measures by reducing the potential attack surface available to malicious actors, thereby further fortifying your RDP infrastructure against ransomware attacks.

Limiting Exposure and Access

Reducing the exposure of RDP services to the internet and implementing stringent access controls within the network are crucial steps to secure RDP from ransomwares.

Utilizing VPNs for Secure Remote Access

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) offers a secure tunnel for remote connections, masking RDP traffic from potential eavesdroppers and attackers. By mandating that remote users connect through a VPN before accessing RDP, organizations can significantly diminish the risk of direct attacks against RDP servers. This approach not only encrypts data in transit but also restricts access to the RDP environment. This will make it more difficult for attackers to identify and exploit potential vulnerabilities.

Configuring Firewalls and Network Level Authentication (NLA)

Properly configured firewalls play a pivotal role in restricting incoming RDP connections to known IP addresses, further minimizing the attack surface. Additionally, enabling Network Level Authentication (NLA) in RDP settings mandates that users authenticate themselves before establishing an RDP session. This pre-session authentication requirement adds an extra layer of security. This ensures that unauthorized access attempts are thwarted at the earliest possible stage.

With the implementation of measures to limit RDP's exposure and enhance access control, the focus shifts towards monitoring the RDP environment for signs of malicious activity and developing a comprehensive response strategy. This will address potential threats promptly and effectively.

Regular Monitoring and Response

The landscape of cyber threats is constantly evolving. This will make active monitoring and an effective response plan indispensable components of a robust RDP security strategy.

Implementing Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS)

An Intrusion Detection System (IDS) is a vital tool for monitoring network traffic for signs of suspicious activity. For RDP, configuring IDS rules to alert on multiple failed login attempts or connections from unusual locations can be indicative of a brute-force attack or unauthorized access attempt. Advanced IDS solutions can analyze patterns and behaviors. This will differentiate between legitimate user activities and potential security threats. This level of monitoring enables IT professionals to detect and respond to anomalies in real-time. This will significantly reduce the potential impact of a ransomware attack.

Developing a Response Plan

A comprehensive response plan is critical for swiftly addressing detected threats. For RDP, this might include immediate steps such as isolating affected systems to prevent the spread of ransomware, revoking compromised credentials to cut off attacker access, and conducting a forensic analysis to understand the extent and methodology of the attack. The response plan should also detail communication protocols. This will ensure that all relevant stakeholders are informed about the incident and the response actions being taken. Regular drills and simulations can help prepare your team for a real-world incident, ensuring a coordinated and efficient response.

Educating Users

User education is a cornerstone of cybersecurity. Regular training sessions should cover recognizing phishing attempts, which are often the precursor to credential theft and unauthorized RDP access. Users should also be instructed on creating secure passwords and the importance of not sharing login credentials. Empowering users with the knowledge to identify and report potential security threats can significantly enhance your organization's overall security posture.

Now that we know how to secure RDP from Ransomwares, here is what TSplus offers for your organizations.

TSplus: Leveraging Specialized Solutions for Enhanced Protection

While the measures outlined provide robust protection against ransomware, integrating specialized solutions like TSplus can offer additional layers of defense specifically tailored for RDP environments. With features designed to prevent ransomware, defend against brute-force attacks, and enable granular access control, TSplus Advanced Security ensures your remote access infrastructure is not only functional but also secure.


In conclusion, answering the question "How To Secure RDP From Ransomwares" requires a comprehensive approach that includes system updates, strong authentication, limited exposure, diligent monitoring, and user education. By implementing these practices and considering specialized security solutions, IT professionals can protect their networks against the evolving threat landscape.

Related Posts

TSplus Remote Desktop Access - Advanced Security Software

"Is RDP Secure and How to Secure It?"

RDP is a vital tool for facilitating remote work, but its security is often a point of concern for IT professionals. This technical guide dives into the vulnerabilities of RDP and outlines a comprehensive strategy to secure it against potential cyber threats.

Read article →
back to top of the page icon