How To Enhance Remote Desktop Gateway Security

How To Enhance Remote Desktop Gateway Security

One thing that 2020 has done is show organizations that it IS possible to work with remote staff.  Yes, of course, there were concerns, but over time processes were put in place to ensure that the company continues to grow and the staff continues to do their job while enjoying the benefit of being at home.

A key concern that I often heard was “what about IT support?”

In the office, if there was a problem with a computer, the IT staff were able to walk to the person’s desk and fix the issue. Obviously, this wouldn’t be possible if everyone is at home.

So what do you do?

For decades, Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) software has been widely used to connect to work or home computers. The tech allows IT staff to take over computers and servers and simply fix the issue as if they were typing it on the keyboard at the computer itself.

Unfortunately, this deployment of security technologies by all types and sizes of organizations has made it a common target for man-in-the-middle cyber-attack. Meaning that hackers could intercept someone’s remote session and therefore have access to their computer and all the confidential documents that are on there.

So this became a serious issue for many network administrators, analysts, and security experts.

Remote desktop sessions work on an encrypted channel preventing anyone from accessing your session. However, without proper security, your RDP can become a getaway where malware infection, ransomware, and brute force attacks are deployed, causing a series of service disruptions.

That means implementing several security practices to eliminate cyber threats.

Here are 5 measures you can take to thwart cyber threats. Of course, using only one doesn’t guarantee security, but when used as a combination creates a compounding effect for your cybersecurity.

1. Train Your Employees

The first and probably the most important step towards safeguarding your remote desktop gateway servers is teaching your employees the proper protocols to avoid attacks. Let them know the seriousness of security threats and invest inadequate training to prevent human error. Remember, human error is a significant threat to cybersecurity for your business. Some of the basic cybersecurity best practices you can train your employees to include:

  • Logging out or shutting down computers when not in use
  • Avoid typing sensitive information when in public places
  • Setting up strong login details
  • Protecting other personal devices with company connections such as cell phones, tablets, and laptops
  • Following the company’s best practices and security protocols

2. Implement 2-factor Authentication

Authenticating the identity of any user is a critical aspect of access control. Implementing a 2-step authentication is an effective way of improving rd gateway security as it involves entering an ever-changing unique code sent to the email or phone along with the correct username and password to gain access. Since it’s constantly changing, it’s not easy to crack the 6 to 8 number code which greatly improves remote work security.

In simple terms, you’re simply adding an extra layer of login protection in case a password landed in the wrong hands. If there is no 2-factor authentication, an attacker can easily access the information they’re looking for within seconds. It’s unlikely that they will have access to both critical pieces of information. This safety practice should be used in all company system logins and combined with strong passwords that change frequently.

3. Use Remote Access Software

Depending on the threat level, you may want to use more sophisticated software to secure your company’s remote workers. For example, you can use desktop sharing, the direct application process, or a virtual private network. Desktop sharing connects the remote computer to the host computer in the office or a secondary location. That means the operator can access data from the host computer. However, be sure to train your employees before using this software, as it carries a high risk of exposing the company’s internal network.

VPN adds an extra layer of protection to RDP. VPNs ensure that before any connection, there is a connection to show whether the network is secure or not. Furthermore, it is encrypted to your server as it is assigned a unique IP address. That means that other IP addresses used to connect will be automatically denied access. The direct application carries the lowest risk level as it only allows access to individual applications rather than the entire company’s data.  There is little cyber predation, therefore, limited attack.

4. Develop a Strong Cybersecurity Policy for Remote Workers

Part of employee training involves setting up and training on proper password management and other security policies. To avoid human error, you can use software that enables tracking and identifying phishing activities and password management software to automatically generate passwords that can be used once or several times. A random password generation ensures that only complex passwords are generated and stored in an encrypted database.

That means using different passwords every time a user logs in.  Human beings tend to reuse the same password with little or no variations for memory which is one of the most dangerous acts that expose millions of companies to attackers. Train your employees to use different passwords even in their personal applications to prevent attackers from using the potential logins on other web properties related to their jobs.

5. Give Specific Access Limits

Another effective best practice for mitigating security risk is limiting the privileges of your employees. You can divide your network security privileges into three groups; guest users, Standard users, and superusers. Superusers are those who have full access to the system privileges. They can make changes and complete actions such as adding or removing user data, installing or modifying the software, and other settings.

Only give the superuser privileges to trusted members in your team to perform administrative duties when necessary. The fewer they are, the better and safer. Standard users are the regular employees only allowed to work on specific areas in the system for a specified period of time. This is usually the worker’s portal, especially if they are not in your department. Guest users have no privileges and only get restricted access when invited for a task as they are not part of your organization.

So in summary:

Whenever there is a surge in popularity of anything, the hackers are not far behind. In national disasters, the hackers set up a website to collect donations for those affected. Christmas is coming up, so hackers create phishing emails to try to lure you to give them your credit card info. Same with Remote Access. As we continue to work from home, the hackers are right there trying to take advantage of the situation for their own benefit.


Liron Segev - TheTechieGuy

Liron Segev is an award-winning tech blogger, YouTube strategist, and Podcaster. He helps brands tell their stories in an engaging way that non-techies can relate to. He also drinks way too much coffee! @Liron_Segev on Twitter