Is RDP safe without VPN?
RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) is a Microsoft-developed proprietary protocol that allows a user to connect to the graphical interface of another computer via a network connection. While a VPN (Virtual Private Network) protects your online identity, hides your IP address, and protects your online data from third parties by encrypting your internet traffic over unprotected networks.
Returning to our original question, is RDP secure without a VPN? The answer is NO! In fact, connecting to a network using RDP without a VPN is quite risky. RDP traffic is encrypted by default, but it is still vulnerable to ARP (Address Resolution Protocol) poisoning, in which an attacker can modify the target computer’s MAC (Media Access Control) address and attack an Ethernet LAN by changing the ARP cache with forged ARP request and reply packets.
Options to set up secure RDP connection without VPN
Although RDP without VPN is not that secure, we still have some options to set up a more secure remote desktop connection.
- Disable RDP when not used. If you do not use RDP quite often, you can enable it for as long as you need it and then turn it off when you’re done. This will slightly reduce the likelihood of someone malicious getting in.
- Restrict access using firewalls. It is highly suggested to use firewalls (both software and hardware where applicable) to restrict access to remote desktop listening ports (the default is TCP 3389).
- Enable Network Level Authentication. NLA is enabled by default in several Windows versions. It adds an extra layer of security before establishing a connection. Therefore, it is recommended to just let it be enabled.
- Limit users who can use RDP. Network Level Authentication (NLA) is also included by default in Windows 10/11 and Windows Server 2012 R2/2016/2019/2022. It’s preferable to leave this alone, as NLA adds an extra layer of security before establishing a connection.
- Use third-party remote access services. Most third-party remote access software utilizes an outgoing connection rather than an incoming connection, which allows the router to be configured to block incoming connections. Exploiting this software is significantly harder as they have a full IT team ensuring their exploits are patched, making a brute force attack very unlikely.
AnyViewer: Establish safe remote connection without VPN
As mentioned above, using secure third-party remote access software can provide users with more safe remote connections. An example of this includes AnyViewer, a free yet secure remote control software for Windows. AnyViewer is quite reliable. Developed by a strong technical team and secured by Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) encryption, it provides you with a fast and stable remote access connection, and at the same time, protects your data from leakage.
Next, let’s see how to start safe remote access with AnyViewer.
Part 1. For unattended remote access with one-click
Step 1. Download, install and launch AnyViewer on both computers. Go to Log in, and then click Sign up. (If you already have signed up on its official website, you can log in directly.)
Step 2. Fill in the signup information.
Step 3. Then you can see you successfully logged in to AnyViewer. Your device will automatically be assigned to the account you've logged in.
Note: If you have logged in to the same AnyViewer account on the two devices, then you can achieve a direct connection by clicking Remote control. If the two devices are not logged in to the same account, you can read the following steps to learn two more connection methods.
Part 2. Two connection methods of AnyViewer
Connection method 1. Send a control request
Step 1. On the client computer, input the device ID of the host computer and then click Connect.
Step 2. Click Send a control request to your partner.
Step 3. On the host computer, click Allow to make the connection successful.
Connection method 2. Input security code
Step 1. On the host computer, go to Settings > Recipient. Tick the third option and then set the permanent security code.
Step 2. On the client computer, input the device ID of the host computer and then click Connect. Choose Input security code and enter the code. Click OK to achieve remote access.
Is RDP safe without VPN? Unfortunately, the answer is NO. However, there still are options for us to improve the security of remote desktop connections. For example, you can disable RDP when not used, restrict access using firewalls, use third-party remote access services, etc. As for third-party remote access software, you can use AnyViewer, providing you with free service to ensure the safety of remote connection.