How do you stop remote desktop hacking?
Every 39 seconds, a hacker strikes somewhere in the US. He may be looking through your bank accounts or infecting your computers with ransomware. You won’t know his intentions until after he strikes.
The worst part is that you’re to blame. It’s your responsibility to install safeguards to protect your data at work and at home. But, if you have no experience with internet security, where do you even start?
Well, you start right here. The sections below detail the steps to take to stop one of the hackers’ favorite points of entry: your remote desktop. When you’re ready to stop internet intruders dead in their tracks, read on.
Definition of Remote Desktop Hacking
When a hacker connects to your computer remotely without your consent, it’s called hacking or remote hacking. When their route of ingress is through your remote desktop, it’s called remote desktop hacking.
This type of hacking has become one of the most common types of data breaches in the last few years. The FBI drew attention to the flaw in a piece of software common in a variety of operating software. The piece of code in question is called a “remote desktop protocol,” or RDP.
RDP is a protocol that normally gives IT administrators the power to remotely connect to your device. When they connect with administrator privileges, they can update your software or install a new operating system. They can do anything software related.
This type of access is crucial to most large businesses. IT specialists must update and change software often. The ability to do it all from their workstation cuts down drastically on the time that’s required.
Unfortunately, RDPs have major flaws granting hackers similar access to your data. They can just as easily steal important files or install sneaky ransomware.
Ransomware is malicious software which infects computers and restricts your access to your device. In other words, hackers can lock you out of your PC, tablet, or even phone. This type of attack is most common on business PCs that hold financial information or clients’ private information.
1. Disable the RDP Service
Begin by checking all your computing devices to see which give the option to allow remote desktop access. Disable the service if you don’t need it. If you must have it, then install available patches.
You may need to work with your IT vendors to ensure the patches won’t affect your system performance.
2. Close Port 3389
Every computing device has ports. These digital doorways give your device the ability to connect to other devices. You can think of them like doors in a hotel.
In a hotel, you’ll leave the front door open so that guests may come and go through the lobby as they please. On the other hand, you wouldn’t leave the door to the supply room wide open. It would be an attractive offer for any thief.
Like hotel doorways, your device’s ports lead to many places, some more sensitive than others. Port 3389 is an RDP port that’s sought after by cybercriminals looking to hack your device remotely. To keep it safe, make sure it’s behind your firewall or shut it down completely.
3. Build Better Passwords
If a burglar was to break into your home, he’d use one of three methods:
- Walk into an entrance you left unlocked
- Break into an entrance you left locked
- Pick your lock and walk right in
Well, internet intrusions are similar. Cybercriminals look for open ports like we found in the last section. They also use brute force attacks which are like busting through your front door with a sledgehammer. Finally, the sneaky criminals know how to pick your digital lock.
They do it by figuring out your password. But nobody can figure out your password, right? Wrong.
It happens around the world every day to corporations and small businesses alike. So what can you do about it? Two things: pick stronger passwords and change passwords often.
Strong passwords include the following:
- 8 digits or more
- Mix your uppercase and lowercase letters
- Include Numbers
- Include Symbols
- Are not found in any dictionary
In theory, you should change your passwords once a week. For many business owners, this feels excessive. Just be sure to change them often.
4. Install Two-Factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication is a layer of extra protection against remote desktop security risks. Using this method will stop even the most persistent cybercriminals.
The idea behind this method is two-fold. First, a user enters her username and password. Then, she must provide another piece of information before she can gain access. The second piece of info could be any of the following:
Something you know: a PIN number, password, or the answer to a secret question.
Something you have: an object like a smartphone, credit card, or small token.
Something you are: biometric recognition, fingerprint, or iris scan.
This secondary piece of information makes it impossible for a thief to hack into your desktop remotely.
5. Back-Up Your Data
Look, backing-up your business data is just good business. You could run into any number of problems which might lead to the loss of your data. But backing-up your data is paramount when you want to protect yourself from ransomware.
When you take that one extra precaution, it makes ransomware a moot point. Even if a criminal locks you out of your device, you still have access to your data. It’s backed up and safe in the cloud or on another hard drive.
6. Create RDP Logs
These logs let you know who has attempted to access your computer remotely. They may not stop a remote access hack while the criminal is in the act, but you can review your logs regularly. They’ll give you some indication whether anyone is attempting to snoop around, so you can take precautions.
7. Make Sure Everyone Follows Protocols
It’s difficult enough to make your staff follow protocols on your system. It’s much harder to make outsiders follow your protocols. That’s why it’s crucial that you have a conversation with all third parties with remote access to your systems, such as vendors or subcontractors.
8. Remove RDP from Critical Devices
The most full-proof method for stopping RDP breaches is by removing the hardware or software that makes RDPs possible. If you have critically sensitive data on a machine, remove RDP protocols from that device. Your IT administrator will have to update that device by hand while he’s onsite.
Now that you’re better informed on the procedures to stop remote desktop hacking, it’s time to get cracking. Start by turning off the RDPs on devices that don’t need them and move onto building better passwords. After that, install two-step authentication.
Some of the other tips may be too advanced unless you have an IT background. If you need assistance, contact an expert for managed IT services. So long and good luck!