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Remote desktop attacks saw a major rise in 2020

remote working
(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/bikeriderlondon)

Remote Desktop (opens in new tab) Protocol (RDP), a Microsoft client that allows employees to access corporate resources remotely, has become a major target for cybercriminals looking to steal sensitive data or infect a network with ransomware.

This is according to a new report from Atlas VPN (opens in new tab), based on figures released by cybersecurity experts Kaspersky (opens in new tab).

Atlas VPN's latest report states that the rise of remote working led cybercriminals to pay more attention to RDP and many were able to exploit improperly configured servers.

The number of attacks against RDP rose from 969 million in 2019, to more than 3.3 billion in 2020 - a 241 percent rise.

Most were brute-force attacks, meaning cybercriminals used scripts to automatte login attempts until they came across the correct login credentials (opens in new tab)

According to Atlas VPN, criminals always start with credentials already available on the dark web, as employees often recycle old passwords or use the same combination across a wide variety of services.

Successfully entering the network allows the attacker to move laterally within the target infrastructure, mapping it out and hunting down all manner of private data. This information is either sold on the dark web or used as leverage as part of a ransomware attack.

Sead Fadilpašić is a freelance tech writer and journalist with more than 17 years experience writing technology-focussed news, blogs, whitepapers, reviews, and ebooks. And his work has featured in online media outlets from all over the world, including Al Jazeera Balkans (where he was a Multimedia Journalist), Crypto News, TechRadar Pro, and IT Pro Portal, where he has written news and features for over five years. Sead's experience also includes writing for inbound marketing, where he creates technology-based content for clients from London to Singapore. Sead is a HubSpot-certified content creator.