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T1021.001 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 or Terminal Services DLL for Persistence.2

Item Value
ID T1021.001
Sub-techniques T1021.001, T1021.002, T1021.003, T1021.004, T1021.005, T1021.006
Tactics TA0008
Platforms Windows
Permissions required Remote Desktop Users, User
Version 1.1
Created 11 February 2020
Last Modified 28 March 2022

Procedure Examples

ID Name Description
G0006 APT1 The APT1 group is known to have used RDP during operations.36
G0016 APT29 APT29 has used RDP sessions from public-facing systems to internal servers.44
G0022 APT3 APT3 enables the Remote Desktop Protocol for persistence.39 APT3 has also interacted with compromised systems to browse and copy files through RDP sessions.40
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.4748
G0096 APT41 APT41 used RDP for lateral movement.2930
G0001 Axiom Axiom has used RDP during operations.46
G0108 Blue Mockingbird Blue Mockingbird has used Remote Desktop to log on to servers interactively and manually copy files to remote hosts.52
S0030 Carbanak Carbanak enables concurrent Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) sessions.12
G0114 Chimera Chimera has used RDP to access targeted systems.34
G0080 Cobalt Group Cobalt Group has used Remote Desktop Protocol to conduct lateral movement.35
S0154 Cobalt Strike Cobalt Strike can start a VNC-based remote desktop server and tunnel the connection through the already established C2 channel.11
S0334 DarkComet DarkComet can open an active screen of the victim’s machine and take control of the mouse and keyboard.18
G0035 Dragonfly Dragonfly has moved laterally via RDP.51
G0051 FIN10 FIN10 has used RDP to move laterally to systems in the victim environment.22
G0037 FIN6 FIN6 used RDP to move laterally in victim networks.4950
G0046 FIN7 FIN7 has used RDP to move laterally in victim environments.45
G0061 FIN8 FIN8 has used RDP for lateral movement.31
G0117 Fox Kitten Fox Kitten has used RDP to log in and move laterally in the target environment.3233
S0434 Imminent Monitor Imminent Monitor has a module for performing remote desktop access.8
S0283 jRAT jRAT can support RDP control.15
G0094 Kimsuky Kimsuky has used RDP for direct remote point-and-click access.28
S0250 Koadic Koadic can enable remote desktop on the victim’s machine.9
G0032 Lazarus Group Lazarus Group malware SierraCharlie uses RDP for propagation.5455
G0065 Leviathan Leviathan has targeted RDP credentials and used it to move through the victim environment.53
G0045 menuPass menuPass has used RDP connections to move across the victim network.4243
S0385 njRAT njRAT has a module for performing remote desktop access.20
G0049 OilRig OilRig has used Remote Desktop Protocol for lateral movement. The group has also used tunneling tools to tunnel RDP into the environment.373830
G0040 Patchwork Patchwork attempted to use RDP to move laterally.27
S0192 Pupy Pupy can enable/disable RDP connection and can start a remote desktop session using a browser web socket client.7
S0583 Pysa Pysa has laterally moved using RDP connections.14
S0262 QuasarRAT QuasarRAT has a module for performing remote desktop access.56
S0379 Revenge RAT Revenge RAT has a plugin to perform RDP access.17
S0461 SDBbot SDBbot has the ability to use RDP to connect to victim’s machines.13
S0382 ServHelper ServHelper has commands for adding a remote desktop user and sending RDP traffic to the attacker through a reverse SSH tunnel.19
G0091 Silence Silence has used RDP for lateral movement.41
G0088 TEMP.Veles TEMP.Veles utilized RDP throughout an operation.23
S0670 WarzoneRAT WarzoneRAT has the ability to control an infected PC using RDP.10
G0102 Wizard Spider Wizard Spider has used RDP for lateral movement.242526
S0350 zwShell zwShell has used RDP for lateral movement.16
S0412 ZxShell ZxShell has remote desktop functionality.21


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.3
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.4
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.


ID Data Source Data Component
DS0028 Logon Session Logon Session Creation
DS0029 Network Traffic Network Connection Creation
DS0009 Process Process Creation


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