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What is RDP? What are the uses of it?

What is RDP?

RDP stands for Remote Desktop Protocol. The Remote Desktop Protocol is a technology developed by Microsoft that uses the graphical interface of a computer to operate. It allows the user to connect with a remote computer over a network. It uses both local networks as well as the internet. 

To use the service, the remote desktop must have the RDP server software running. The user sends a request to the server desktop through the RDP client. Then server desktop accepts the requests to create a connection. The client won’t be able to get access to the remote desktop unless the request has been accepted. After getting access permission, the client can view the opened windows of the server desktop projected on his screen. 

The client can control the server desktop through his keyboard and mouse as a remote control. It can also view can control the local data available on the remote server. They can also share files and clipboard records over the network they are connected to. If the server desktop is connected to multiple networks, the client computer can also gain access to that network. But it will not be able to use its own identity instead the client has to use the identity of the remote desktop while using the network.

Key Features: 

  1. Users can process sound via audio redirection. It also allows to use of voice command and audio recording and transferring.
  2. The file redirection feature allows the user to share files with the remote desktop.
  3. The user computer and the remote computer can share the clipboard.
  4. The local client can also use a printer connected to the remote desktop via printer redirection.
  5. The local client can also control the remote server with administrator privileges if permission is provided

Uses of RDP

  1. Increase of productivity: RDP can be a very important tool for companies during crisis periods like the COVID-19 pandemic.  If your staff is mostly working from home and one of them needs access to a more powerful computer or access to data from their office computer, RDP is the best solution. They can also help each other during work by solving each other’s problems through this technology.
  2.  Savings: While traveling, Remote Desktop Protocol users don’t have to carry a powerful portable device. They can use less powerful devices to gain access to their computer from a remote place. Thus they can save a large amount of money.

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  1. Providing Customer Services: Customers of software, networking farms often face problems that can be dealt with remotely. The Customer service officers usually solve these problems by accessing the client’s computer remotely. Thus they can serve any client from anywhere with a maximum response rate.
  2. Teaching: Personalized online teaching is a very popular thing nowadays. While teaching online, teachers have to demonstrate lots of things to their students. Some of those demonstrations may seem tough virtually. But if they use RDP client, most of those demonstrations are possible.
  3. Cloud Storage: Cloud storage is one of the most popular uses of RDP. Large enterprises and companies store their data in a central system that is accessible through RDP clients. They use local secure networking for data transmission. The staff can view, control, and manipulate these data by secure methods. Thus they can keep the data centralized and updated all the time.

Issues of RDP

  1. Usually, remote desktop users can’t view or control their computers during RDP connection. It locks the screen of the remote device completely. Which isn’t safe, if you don’t know the person in real life.
  2. RDP doesn’t have proper support for IoT and IoT-based computing, making it difficult to control smart devices.
  3. The set-up process itself is a very difficult task. It is not easy to set up for people with no or less tech knowledge.
  4. It may not be a good option for technical support too. When the client computer is controlling the remote computer, the user of the remote controller won’t be able to see or control anything most of the time. Which may create suspicion and trust issues among the client and the server.
  5. Though it provides most of the administrator privileges to the client, still there are restrictions. For example, the client can’t reboot the remote desktop even with the permission of administrator privileges.
  6. It doesn’t allow the client to use multiple sessions at a time. It also restricts the client to access multiple networks at a time. 

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Cyber Security Problems

  1. RDP doesn’t have Multi-Factor Authentication. Someone with proper knowledge about the company and its assets can use brute force as a tool to crack the connection of the computers. Thus they will be able to gain access to the whole network.
  2. Lots of servers use open ports on their firewall for external RDP, which is a wrong process. This makes the whole system vulnerable to hacking. The ideal practice should be, if they have to open ports on regular basis, they should make the system only accessible through certain IPs.
  3. RDP is also used in ransomware attacks. The attack groups use the RDP vulnerabilities of a computer to gain access, then they deploy the ransomware to the remote computer and corrupt every file in it.
  4. According to many technology news agencies, recently access to many remote computers has been sold on the dark web.

Conclusion

Despite all these issues, RDP is getting popular because of the pandemic. Attackers are also creating new and strong methods. To stay safe users should use strong passwords along with multi-factor authentication. The built-in RDP provider on windows devices is called Remote Desktop Connection (RDC). 

There are also some good alternatives available in the market like Team Viewer, AnyDesk. They have stronger security and better features. For example, while using TeamViewer remote desktop can also view and control the desktop without facing any problems. AnyDesk provides multi-layer security. AnyDesk requires a one-time password for every new session after entering the regular password. It also asks the owner to confirm before starting the session. Though RDC is a built-in feature on windows, still in terms of security and service, the alternates are better.

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