Remote Services: Remote Desktop Protocol

Adversaries may use Valid Accounts to log into a computer using the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). The adversary may then perform actions as the logged-on user.

Remote desktop is a common feature in operating systems. It allows a user to log into an interactive session with a system desktop graphical user interface on a remote system. Microsoft refers to its implementation of the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) as Remote Desktop Services (RDS).[1]

Adversaries may connect to a remote system over RDP/RDS to expand access if the service is enabled and allows access to accounts with known credentials. Adversaries will likely use Credential Access techniques to acquire credentials to use with RDP. Adversaries may also use RDP in conjunction with the Accessibility Features technique for Persistence.[2]

ID: T1021.001
Sub-technique of:  T1021
Platforms: Windows
System Requirements: RDP service enabled, account in the Remote Desktop Users group
Permissions Required: Remote Desktop Users, User
Data Sources: Logon Session: Logon Session Creation, Network Traffic: Network Connection Creation, Network Traffic: Network Traffic Flow, Process: Process Creation
CAPEC ID: CAPEC-555
Contributors: Matthew Demaske, Adaptforward
Version: 1.0
Created: 11 February 2020
Last Modified: 25 February 2020

Procedure Examples

ID Name Description
G0006 APT1

The APT1 group is known to have used RDP during operations.[3]

G0022 APT3

APT3 enables the Remote Desktop Protocol for persistence.[4] APT3 has also interacted with compromised systems to browse and copy files through RDP sessions.[5]

G0087 APT39

APT39 has been seen using RDP for lateral movement and persistence, in some cases employing the rdpwinst tool for mangement of multiple sessions. [6][7]

G0096 APT41

APT41 used RDP for lateral movement.[8][9]

G0001 Axiom

The Axiom group is known to have used RDP during operations.[10]

G0108 Blue Mockingbird

Blue Mockingbird has used Remote Desktop to log on to servers interactively and manually copy files to remote hosts.[11]

S0030 Carbanak

Carbanak enables concurrent Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) sessions.[12]

G0114 Chimera

Chimera has used RDP to access targeted systems.[13]

G0080 Cobalt Group

Cobalt Group has used Remote Desktop Protocol to conduct lateral movement.[14]

S0154 Cobalt Strike

Cobalt Strike can start a VNC-based remote desktop server and tunnel the connection through the already established C2 channel.[15]

S0334 DarkComet

DarkComet can open an active screen of the victim’s machine and take control of the mouse and keyboard.[16]

G0074 Dragonfly 2.0

Dragonfly 2.0 moved laterally via RDP.[17][18]

G0051 FIN10

FIN10 has used RDP to move laterally to systems in the victim environment.[19]

G0037 FIN6

FIN6 used RDP to move laterally in victim networks.[20][21]

G0061 FIN8

FIN8 has used RDP for Lateral Movement.[22]

G0117 Fox Kitten

Fox Kitten has used RDP to log in and move laterally in the target environment.[23][24]

S0434 Imminent Monitor

Imminent Monitor has a module for performing remote desktop access.[25]

S0283 jRAT

jRAT can support RDP control.[26]

S0250 Koadic

Koadic can enable remote desktop on the victim's machine.[27]

G0032 Lazarus Group

Lazarus Group malware SierraCharlie uses RDP for propagation.[28][29]

G0065 Leviathan

Leviathan has targeted RDP credentials and used it to move through the victim environment.[30]

G0045 menuPass

menuPass has used RDP connections to move across the victim network.[31][32]

S0385 njRAT

njRAT has a module for performing remote desktop access.[33]

G0049 OilRig

OilRig has used Remote Desktop Protocol for lateral movement. The group has also used tunneling tools to tunnel RDP into the environment.[34][35][9]

G0040 Patchwork

Patchwork attempted to use RDP to move laterally.[36]

S0192 Pupy

Pupy can enable/disable RDP connection and can start a remote desktop session using a browser web socket client.[37]

S0583 Pysa

Pysa has laterally moved using RDP connections.[38]

S0262 QuasarRAT

QuasarRAT has a module for performing remote desktop access.[39][40]

S0379 Revenge RAT

Revenge RAT has a plugin to perform RDP access.[41]

S0461 SDBbot

SDBbot has the ability to use RDP to connect to victim's machines.[42]

S0382 ServHelper

ServHelper has commands for adding a remote desktop user and sending RDP traffic to the attacker through a reverse SSH tunnel.[43]

G0091 Silence

Silence has used RDP for lateral movement.[44]

G0086 Stolen Pencil

Stolen Pencil utilized RDP for direct remote point-and-click access. [45]

G0088 TEMP.Veles

TEMP.Veles utilized RDP throughout an operation.[46]

G0102 Wizard Spider

Wizard Spider has used RDP for lateral movement.[47][48][49]

S0350 zwShell

zwShell has used RDP for lateral movement.[50]

S0412 ZxShell

ZxShell has remote desktop functionality.[51]

Mitigations

ID Mitigation Description
M1047 Audit

Audit the Remote Desktop Users group membership regularly. Remove unnecessary accounts and groups from Remote Desktop Users groups.

M1042 Disable or Remove Feature or Program

Disable the RDP service if it is unnecessary.

M1035 Limit Access to Resource Over Network

Use remote desktop gateways.

M1032 Multi-factor Authentication

Use multi-factor authentication for remote logins.[52]

M1030 Network Segmentation

Do not leave RDP accessible from the internet. Enable firewall rules to block RDP traffic between network security zones within a network.

M1028 Operating System Configuration

Change GPOs to define shorter timeouts sessions and maximum amount of time any single session can be active. Change GPOs to specify the maximum amount of time that a disconnected session stays active on the RD session host server.[53]

M1026 Privileged Account Management

Consider removing the local Administrators group from the list of groups allowed to log in through RDP.

M1018 User Account Management

Limit remote user permissions if remote access is necessary.

Detection

Use of RDP may be legitimate, depending on the network environment and how it is used. Other factors, such as access patterns and activity that occurs after a remote login, may indicate suspicious or malicious behavior with RDP. Monitor for user accounts logged into systems they would not normally access or access patterns to multiple systems over a relatively short period of time.

References

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