The Risks of RDP and How to Mitigate Them

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We have been studying and reimplementing parts of RDP for the last three years. This talk is about how to attack and defend against RDP attacks. From MITM and credential capture to secure deployment.

Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) is the de facto standard for remoting in Windows environments. It grew in popularity over the last couple of years due to the pandemic. Many remote workers are now relying on it to perform duties on remote systems. RDP is secure when well deployed but, unfortunately, that’s rarely the case and thus clicking through warnings is common. We have spent the last 3 years working on and reimplementing parts of RDP in PyRDP, our open-source RDP library. This presentation is about what we have learned and can be applied to attack and defend against RDP attacks.

From an attacker’s perspective, we will cover conventional RDP attacks such as Monster-in-the-Middle (MITM) of RDP connections, capture of NetNTLMv2 hashes and techniques to bypass conventional defense mechanisms such as Network Level Authentication (NLA). Case in point: Did you know that by default all clients allow server-side NLA downgrades right now? This will enable us to understand and identify the risks with RDP.

From the Blue Team’s perspective, we will provide techniques and tools to detect attacks showcased previously. Finally, we will provide step-by-step instructions to deploy an accessible RDP server that is both secure and functional.