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).
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.
Audit the Remote Desktop Users group membership regularly. Remove unnecessary accounts and groups from Remote Desktop Users groups.
|Disable or Remove Feature or Program||
Disable the RDP service if it is unnecessary.
|Limit Access to Resource Over Network||
Use remote desktop gateways.
Use multi-factor authentication for remote logins.
Do not leave RDP accessible from the internet. Enable firewall rules to block RDP traffic between network security zones within a network.
|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.
|Privileged Account Management||
Consider removing the local Administrators group from the list of groups allowed to log in through RDP.
|User Account Management||
Limit remote user permissions if remote access is necessary.
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.
- Microsoft. (n.d.). Remote Desktop Services. Retrieved June 1, 2016.
- Alperovitch, D. (2014, October 31). Malware-Free Intrusions. Retrieved November 4, 2014.
- FireEye Labs. (2014, May 20). The PLA and the 8:00am-5:00pm Work Day: FireEye Confirms DOJ’s Findings on APT1 Intrusion Activity. Retrieved November 4, 2014.
- valsmith. (2012, September 21). More on APTSim. Retrieved September 28, 2017.
- Glyer, C. (2018, April 14). @cglyer Status Update. Retrieved October 11, 2018.
- Hawley et al. (2019, January 29). APT39: An Iranian Cyber Espionage Group Focused on Personal Information. Retrieved February 19, 2019.
- Rusu, B. (2020, May 21). Iranian Chafer APT Targeted Air Transportation and Government in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Retrieved May 22, 2020.
- Fraser, N., et al. (2019, August 7). Double DragonAPT41, a dual espionage and cyber crime operation APT41. Retrieved September 23, 2019.
- Novetta. (n.d.). Operation SMN: Axiom Threat Actor Group Report. Retrieved November 12, 2014.
- Lambert, T. (2020, May 7). Introducing Blue Mockingbird. Retrieved May 26, 2020.
- Bennett, J., Vengerik, B. (2017, June 12). Behind the CARBANAK Backdoor. Retrieved June 11, 2018.
- Cycraft. (2020, April 15). APT Group Chimera - APT Operation Skeleton key Targets Taiwan Semiconductor Vendors. Retrieved August 24, 2020.
- Matveeva, V. (2017, August 15). Secrets of Cobalt. Retrieved October 10, 2018.
- Strategic Cyber LLC. (2017, March 14). Cobalt Strike Manual. Retrieved May 24, 2017.
- Kujawa, A. (2018, March 27). You dirty RAT! Part 1: DarkComet. Retrieved November 6, 2018.
- US-CERT. (2018, March 16). Alert (TA18-074A): Russian Government Cyber Activity Targeting Energy and Other Critical Infrastructure Sectors. Retrieved June 6, 2018.
- US-CERT. (2017, October 20). Alert (TA17-293A): Advanced Persistent Threat Activity Targeting Energy and Other Critical Infrastructure Sectors. Retrieved November 2, 2017.
- FireEye iSIGHT Intelligence. (2017, June 16). FIN10: Anatomy of a Cyber Extortion Operation. Retrieved June 25, 2017.
- FireEye Threat Intelligence. (2016, April). Follow the Money: Dissecting the Operations of the Cyber Crime Group FIN6. Retrieved June 1, 2016.
- McKeague, B. et al. (2019, April 5). Pick-Six: Intercepting a FIN6 Intrusion, an Actor Recently Tied to Ryuk and LockerGoga Ransomware. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
- Elovitz, S. & Ahl, I. (2016, August 18). Know Your Enemy: New Financially-Motivated & Spear-Phishing Group. Retrieved February 26, 2018.
- QiAnXin Threat Intelligence Center. (2019, February 18). APT-C-36: Continuous Attacks Targeting Colombian Government Institutions and Corporations. Retrieved May 5, 2020.
- Kamluk, V. & Gostev, A. (2016, February). Adwind - A Cross-Platform RAT. Retrieved April 23, 2019.
- Magius, J., et al. (2017, July 19). Koadic. Retrieved June 18, 2018.
- Novetta Threat Research Group. (2016, February 24). Operation Blockbuster: Unraveling the Long Thread of the Sony Attack. Retrieved February 25, 2016.
- Novetta Threat Research Group. (2016, February 24). Operation Blockbuster: Remote Administration Tools & Content Staging Malware Report. Retrieved March 16, 2016.
- Plan, F., et all. (2019, March 4). APT40: Examining a China-Nexus Espionage Actor. Retrieved March 18, 2019.
- PwC and BAE Systems. (2017, April). Operation Cloud Hopper. Retrieved April 5, 2017.
- United States District Court Southern District of New York (USDC SDNY) . (2018, December 17). United States of America v. Zhu Hua and Zhang Shilong. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
- Fidelis Cybersecurity. (2013, June 28). Fidelis Threat Advisory #1009: "njRAT" Uncovered. Retrieved June 4, 2019.
- Unit 42. (2017, December 15). Unit 42 Playbook Viewer. Retrieved December 20, 2017.
- Davis, S. and Caban, D. (2017, December 19). APT34 - New Targeted Attack in the Middle East. Retrieved December 20, 2017.
- Cymmetria. (2016). Unveiling Patchwork - The Copy-Paste APT. Retrieved August 3, 2016.
- Nicolas Verdier. (n.d.). Retrieved January 29, 2018.
- MaxXor. (n.d.). QuasarRAT. Retrieved July 10, 2018.
- Meltzer, M, et al. (2018, June 07). Patchwork APT Group Targets US Think Tanks. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
- Livelli, K, et al. (2018, November 12). Operation Shaheen. Retrieved May 1, 2019.
- Schwarz, D. et al. (2019, October 16). TA505 Distributes New SDBbot Remote Access Trojan with Get2 Downloader. Retrieved May 29, 2020.
- Schwarz, D. and Proofpoint Staff. (2019, January 9). ServHelper and FlawedGrace - New malware introduced by TA505. Retrieved May 28, 2019.
- Group-IB. (2018, September). Silence: Moving Into the Darkside. Retrieved May 5, 2020.
- ASERT team. (2018, December 5). STOLEN PENCIL Campaign Targets Academia. Retrieved February 5, 2019.
- Miller, S, et al. (2019, April 10). TRITON Actor TTP Profile, Custom Attack Tools, Detections, and ATT&CK Mapping. Retrieved April 16, 2019.
- John, E. and Carvey, H. (2019, May 30). Unraveling the Spiderweb: Timelining ATT&CK Artifacts Used by GRIM SPIDER. Retrieved May 12, 2020.
- DHS/CISA. (2020, October 28). Ransomware Activity Targeting the Healthcare and Public Health Sector. Retrieved October 28, 2020.
- The DFIR Report. (2020, November 5). Ryuk Speed Run, 2 Hours to Ransom. Retrieved November 6, 2020.
- McAfee® Foundstone® Professional Services and McAfee Labs™. (2011, February 10). Global Energy Cyberattacks: “Night Dragon”. Retrieved February 19, 2018.
- Allievi, A., et al. (2014, October 28). Threat Spotlight: Group 72, Opening the ZxShell. Retrieved September 24, 2019.
- Berkeley Security, University of California. (n.d.). Securing Remote Desktop for System Administrators. Retrieved November 4, 2014.
- Microsoft. (n.d.). Configure Timeout and Reconnection Settings for Remote Desktop Services Sessions. Retrieved December 11, 2017.