Insight, News, Security

Attacks against remote access protocols continue to rise

24th, March 2021: With the ongoing battle against the pandemic, remote working continues to come with new security risks and threats against companies and employees. One of the most common attacks is against the protocols used by employees to access corporate resources remotely. Kaspersky reports that the United Arab Emirates saw more than 15.8 million brute force attacks in 2020, on Remote Desktop Protocols (RDPs). According to Kaspersky’s telemetry, when the UAE announced restrictions in March 2020, the total number of brute force attacks against RDP jumped from 467,115 in February 2020 to 1.3 million in March 2020 —a significant increase of 193%.

Kaspersky experts noted that these attacks are seeing an upward trajectory in the UAE with numbers reaching 5 million attacks in January and February 2021 combined. RDP is the most popular remote desktop protocol and is used to access Windows or servers. After the switch to remote work, brute force attacks against this protocol skyrocketed reaching 3.56 billion attacks globally.

While RDP attacks are on the rise, a recent Kaspersky survey revealed that in addition to the concerns associated with remote working, 88% of employees in UAE never want to return to pre-pandemic, traditional work paradigms. This goes to show that cybercriminals will continue to attack, making it vital for companies to protect their remote workforce. Refining security measures should be taken as a serious task and is an important step for organisations, big and small.

While the pandemic might have changed the way we work, it has also provided an opportunity for individuals to explore more. 71% of employees in the UAE see the significance of retaining or upskilling their capabilities to perform better in their existing jobs or possibly look at a career change. The report reveals that more than half (53%) of employees believe that technology skills are the most important to develop. While technical skills are important, so are cybersecurity skills. The first line of defense for any organisation is its employees, which is why they need to be equipped with the best security skills.

Emad Haffar, Head of Technical Experts, Kaspersky

“Remote work is here to stay. Even as organisations begin considering re-opening their workplaces, many will continue to include remote work as part of their operating model or even combine working from home and the office in a hybrid format. That means it’s likely these types of attacks against remote desktop protocols will continue to occur at a rather high rate. 2020 made it clear that organisations need to enhance their security measures, and a good place to start is providing stronger protection for their RDP access”, comments Emad Haffar, Head of Technical Experts at Kaspersky.

Read more about the biggest evolutions in the threat landscape since the pandemic began on Securelist.

To keep your company safe from bruteforce attacks, Kaspersky experts recommend:

  • Enable access to RDP through a corporate VPN
  • Enable the use of Network Level Authentication (NLA) when connecting remotely.
  • If possible, enable multi-factor authentication
  • Use corporate security solution empowered with network threat protection such as Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Business
  • Organisations can use the Kaspersky Automated Security Awareness Platform, which builds concrete cyber-hygiene skills and practices.
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