Remote Desktop Vulnerabilities | MT
One of the common ways to access your Microsoft-based office computer remotely is to use Microsoft Remote Desktop. Typically the way it works is that your Network Administrator opens a port on the firewall to allow your remote session through, but if this is all that is done, this is a huge vulnerability, not only to your office computer, but also to your company.
Countless times every minute, firewalls are attacked from the outside by scanning bots and other automated probing software, looking for ports that are typically left open. Think of an open port as a pathway through the firewall to a specific computer or device sitting inside the office network. If the device is something that was set up securely for this sort of access, a Virtual Private Network (VPN) for example, then this is by design, not ignorance. On the other hand, if the device is your computer, being used for access via Microsoft Remote Desktop, this is a completely different situation. Once a scanning bot gets through a port and recognizes that it is a computer with Remote Desktop enabled, it will then start trying known vulnerable default user name and password combinations, relentlessly, as it doesn't get tired. If it is successful at logging in to your computer, then the real damage can start, not only to your computer, but to the entire network.
One solution to this long known problem with remote access is to set up a Virtual Private Network. Done right, the remote user first connects to the office via this "secure tunnel" and then, as a second step, makes the Remote Desktop Connection to their computer. No ports are open and everything from the outside MUST get through the firewall to gain access to the office network. The firewall, set up properly, can fend off the attacks while also providing the secure tunnel into the network. The VPN is typically set up by the Network Administrator.
If you are concerned about your remote access setup or have questions, please reach out via firstname.lastname@example.org.