Having previously highlighted the security threat posed by cybercriminals, Seqrite, a provider of enterprise cybersecurity products and solutions, has revealed another threat vector which has been growing in prominence: Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) brute-force attacks. The enterprise arm of Quick Heal Technologies has successfully blocked more than 35,000 RDP-based attacks per day on an average in the last three months.
Businesses across the country use RDP to manage and access remote systems and devices, but often don’t protect these IT resources with robust passwords or adequate security measures. All of this gives cybercriminals an opportunity to take over vulnerable systems through brute-force and dictionary attacks. Security researchers at Seqrite have highlighted the easy availability of automated tools and hacked passwords on the Dark Web as another major reason behind the recent resurgence of RDP brute force attacks.
Speaking on the latest findings, Sanjay Katkar, Joint Managing Director and Chief Technology Officer, Quick Heal Technologies Limited, said, “RDP-based brute force attacks were common attack vectors a couple of years ago and were used to propagate the spread of ransomware. Their newfound popularity is an alarming trend which should be paid close attention to. What makes these attacks even more dangerous is the fact that they shut down all layers of security on the infected system, leaving them completely vulnerable to future attacks. By exploiting inherent system vulnerabilities, threat actors are targeting Indian enterprises and compromising not only the security of their networks and devices but also sensitive business data. There is an urgent and critical need to bolster the security framework at enterprises and deploy robust cybersecurity measures which can defend organisations against such threats,” Sanjay Katkar added.
According to researchers at Seqrite, RDP-based brute-force attacks are being used to deploy crypto miners on the infected systems for immediate and continuous returns, as well as to provide a platform for advanced Ransomware families such as GandCrab, Dharma/Crysis, and XTBL. The level of threat that these attacks pose also led the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in the US to recently issue a joint public warning on the growing usage of RDP administration tool as a popular attack vector.
Seqrite recommends Indian enterprises to adopt advanced security measures to protect against these attacks, as well as to disable the RDP service when not in use. Strong passwords, two-factor authentication, and account lockout policies should be used as an added layer of protection against brute-force attacks. Systems and software must be updated regularly, while the ‘enable logging’ and ‘ensure logging’ mechanisms must be set up to capture RDP logins. The network exposure for all control system devices should be minimised; wherever possible, RDP on critical systems should not be enabled. Comprehensive enterprise security solutions, such as Endpoint Security combined with Firewall Protection can also be implemented to effectively block RDP attacks.