VPN vs. RDP: Which one is safer?

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August 23, 2022 by Liosa F

VPN vs RDP: Which one is safer?

Due to the expansion of business internet activities and the importance of remote work, remote access has become one of the most important needs of businesses. Especially since the recent coronavirus epidemic has pushed many companies to remote work, remote access has become necessary in work environments.

With the spread of this virus, for many businesses, the security and reliability of remote connectivity are very important, whether for employees who are working from home or for a third-party vendor who remotely accesses a customer’s network.

RDP remote protocol and VPN are two ideal and common solutions used for remote support. RDP makes it possible to access and share the desktop most simply; usually, it is considered by many people as an alternative to VPN; although in technical terms and functionality, they have similarities, such as establishing a secure connection, but they have different nature, and They are trying to solve various problems. Interestingly, these two methods complement each other with their special features instead of competing.

To choose the most suitable method for remote access in your business, it is better to check the performance of each of these methods, so it is important to understand the difference between RDP and VPN when choosing one of the two solutions.

Also, maintaining security in remote access is a key and sensitive issue that we must pay attention to; However, both of these softwareS are used to maintain security in the connection, but understanding whether RDP or VPN is more secure is a significant issue.

So in this article, we will compare VPN with RDP in every way and talk about the security of RDP and VPN. So stay with us until the article’s conclusion.

What is a VPN?

First of all, let’s have a definition of VPN; VPN stands for Virtual Private Network, which is an extension of a private network in the public network; that is, instead of directly entering the insecure space of the public Internet network, you can connect to the private network limited to you in the internet space with the help of VPN. Also, VPN provides users with a secure connection to access data, which makes it appear as if your device is directly connected to a private network, even though it is actually connected to a public network.

Another use of VPNs is to allow company employees to remotely access the office’s private network, even if they are not physically present in the office, their connection is as if they were sitting at their desk at work; therefore, a virtual private network (VPN) is sufficient for the vast majority of remote office workers; But VPN does not provide additional features except access. After connecting to a VPN, your domain account, restrictions, and shared resources on the network are accessible.

Virtual private network (VPN), for those who work remotely from the public network of their workplace and need to access the server in the private network in their company, it is possible to access the private network and the required programs by creating an encrypted communication tunnel to the private network.

Some people use virtual private networks (VPNs) to access content that is usually restricted to viewers in a specific region.

Another advantage of VPN is that it encrypts network traffic and hides your identity by connecting the server to the Internet because VPNs choose your location based on IP to where you don’t live. With this, tracking and stealing your information becomes difficult, and you can ensure your security in the Internet space. In this way, VPN provides the possibility of creating a safe and protected connection for users.

While a virtual private network (VPN) may allow you to use shared network resources, it doesn’t give you much freedom to do anything else. For example, you won’t be able to change VPN share settings, and once you’ve made a VPN folder public, you can’t unshare it later. Another disadvantage of VPN is the need for high bandwidth. Therefore, the databases do not work correctly or may not run by connecting to VPN.If you need more explanation about VPN, what is VPN article can introduce you more to VPN technology and its functionality.

What is RDP?

Remote desktop protocol (RDP), also known as remote desktop access. It is a protocol developed by Microsoft for secure communication over the network. Recently, with the corona virus’s emergence and businesses’ tendency to work remotely, the use of RDP has become more popular, and remote working with an RDP server has become one of the most widely used, safest, and most intelligent solutions. To manage and operate a computer from afar as if you were in front of it, all you need is a program that supports the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). The term “screen sharing” is commonly used to refer to remote access because of the way a remote desktop application mirrors your computer’s interface.

RDP is the most common and popular among various remote desktop software such as Autonomous Computing Architecture (ICA) or Virtual Network Computing (VNC). You can do everything you normally do on your computers using Remote Desktop Protocol, such as launch programs, change system settings, and more.

RDP client software is required for a user or administrator to connect to a remote Windows PC or server running RDP server software and use a remote desktop session. A remote user or administrator can do things like launch programs and edit files as if they physically exist.

Each Remote Desktop Protocol session requires the intervention of a system administrator. Unattended 24/7 support is extremely challenging; moreover, remote access connections need constant monitoring when dealing with confidential or proprietary information. The host device may be exposed to danger if not paid enough attention. Hackers often use RDP connections to gain basic, low-level access to a network node and then move on to compromise additional nodes.

Like Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), Remote Desktop Protocols (RDP) establish an encrypted tunnel using SSL or similar methods and allow an existing user role to be “taken over” without having to create new credentials. In a nutshell, it facilitates remote access to another user’s computer and allows the same level of interaction as if the remote user were physically present on the local network.

The RDP protocol sends the remote server monitor (output device) to the client over the backed-up Internet connection, while the client’s keyboard and mouse (input devices) transmit to the server. Due to the asymmetry of RDP connections, most data is transferred from the server to the client.

The primary benefit of RDP is that it eliminates the need for a virtual private network (VPN) while still providing remote access to corporate resources like databases and line-of-business programs. RDP is great for low-bandwidth environments because it requires so little data transfer. In addition to these features, RDP also allows for the simultaneous use of multiple displays and the temporary disconnection of the remote desktop without the need to log out of all open programs.

Most versions of Windows, as well as macOS, Linux, Unix, Google Android, and Apple iOS, have RDP clients available for download and an open source version. Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) is a protocol for sharing applications based on the ITU-T T.128 standard.

Therefore, every manager needs to purchase an RDP server to manage and control the workforce remotely to benefit from the flexibility and freedom of action that the RDP protocol provides to users and with ease of mind from security concerns in accessing resources and data.

 VPN Vs. RDP

VPN and RDP are both used with the common goal of supporting remote IT work. These methods have their uses, although they differ significantly in several areas. When deciding between a virtual private network (VPN) and a remote desktop, it’s important to keep these key distinctions in mind. For this reason, we will examine the difference between RDP and VPN from different aspects.

Remote access

In general, by connecting to a VPN, you can control access and restrict outsiders from accessing your company’s database or websites. RDP allows another person to control and access a virtual machine or system. Therefore, RDP provides the possibility of accessing, controlling, and managing systems located in different physical locations remotely and from another device, While VPN, can only access shared resources on the client’s device and provides access to restricted sites and files and secure networks.

Although granting access to employees and outsiders can be useful, in some cases, this unrestricted access may bring risks and create insecurity. Due to the development of Internet of Things (IoT) devices and the spread of remote work, the conditions are ready for the penetration and abuse of hackers and cyber attacks; usually, remote access connections with minimal security and monitoring are the easiest way for hackers to abuse.

flexibility

RDP is more flexible than VPN because it gives you complete control over the local computer and access to shared network resources. RDP also eliminates the need for advanced programming to facilitate quick setup.

VPN vs RDP

ease of use

To use a VPN, depending on the VPN you have chosen, you need to familiarize yourself with another user interface before use. But RDP mirrors your system, and it’s like you’re behind your system with the same user interface, screen, whatever you’ve configured and used to. For this reason, it can be said that using Remote Desktop Protocol is much easier than using a VPN.

Implementation

Contrary to the ease of use of RDP, RDP installation and configuration require more effort and time than VPN implementation. VPN has a more convenient process in this regard, but it uses more bandwidth compared to RDP.

Usability

Remote desktop connections (RDP) can only be implemented and used on desktop computers and laptops and require high-speed Internet to run smoothly. Still, sometimes they perform poorly despite a strong Internet connection.

As a user-friendly application, VPN is compatible with any device and operating system. Many of them can be installed as browser extensions. VPNs slow down your connection speed but can speed it up under certain conditions.

Cost

In terms of cost, VPNs have a fairer and cheaper price than RDP. Because in some situations, VPN providers offer subscriptions with discounts.

Speed

A virtual private network (VPN) usually works at a slower speed than a remote desktop connection. The success of a VPN connection is highly dependent on the speed and bandwidth of your Internet service provider.

Because of the direct connection between your device and your computer, data transfer faster when you use Remote Desktop Connection.

A virtual private network, or VPN, is a powerful and versatile technology that allows you to remotely access specified private network resources from anywhere on the planet. It is undoubtedly the best option for you regarding remote access. However, that doesn’t mean it can be the fastest option.

RDP was created specifically to develop and facilitate remote computer access, which is why it usually works faster than a VPN connection. Another factor that makes a VPN a suboptimal option for fast PC access is that its speed is slower than your regular internet connection. Therefore, if you connect to a VPN server located far away from you, your online activity will be slower compared to your local internet connection, which free VPNs are usually more prone to.

Which is more secure: RDP or VPN?

Security is always the most critical factor when deciding whether to provide remote access to a network or connected device. Whenever you expose private information to a third party, the security risks of your choices should be considered.

For many users, answering the question of whether RDP or VPN is more secure is a challenge. However, both VPN and RDP encrypt the data sent over the Internet in their connections to maintain security. While the security and privacy of VPN is one of its special advantages, RDP is also safe to use in a private network.

RDP does not require strong encryption to work; VPN requires strong encryption. According to some security experts, VPNs are considered safer because of the level of access in remote connections and less exposure to threats. Since cybercriminals want to access valuable information remotely.

Due to vulnerabilities in RDP itself and improper management of credentials, hackers manage to find faulty access points, so when using RDP, it is better to consider security standards and encrypted protocols. Otherwise, hackers can step in and track vulnerable connections. As a result, they will be able to monitor or review previously approved Sessions.

Therefore, remote access tools are not always up to the challenge of maintaining a secure environment. A VPN processes all incoming and outgoing traffic and makes it unusable without decryption; RDP can provide power, control, and fast connections without security vulnerabilities using industry-standard security and encryption protocols.

While in VPNs, you can’t control and manage nearly as much as remote desktop solutions. They also don’t give you much freedom of action to perform tasks that are effective in the success of your work, including access to servers, data, systems, and important files. As a result, they are less flexible, and VPNs have limitations in using some features that RDP offers.

However, today, each VPN and RDP method offers features to increase security but singly cannot protect companies against data breaches and secure remote access against sophisticated hacker techniques. Therefore, it is better to consider a combination of VPN and RDP so that they can fill each other’s gaps and perform well in terms of security.

VPN or RDP or both?

A virtual private network (VPN) is a good choice for businesses that do not depend on bandwidth-intensive data or databases and specialized software such as business and production line software to perform their tasks.You can remotely access the secure network that contains important data without security and performance concerns by connecting to a VPN. Also, VPN is used to escape the restrictions specified in accessing some content and geographic limits.

Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) is preferred over Virtual Private Network (VPN) when you need a variety of tasks, features, and capabilities that VPN does not provide. As we mentioned, By connecting your device to a VPN, it does not provide any special features other than connecting to the Internet and a private network and implementing different security measures, and the VPN server only controls your outgoing and incoming network traffic. The main difference when comparing VPN and RDP is that VPN does not add any new features to your device.

RDP takes more time to install and configure than VPN but provides a more familiar work environment for remote employees with less bandwidth and hardware. RDP allows the remote workforce unrestricted access to the system and administrative resources. It is interesting to know that combining RDP with VPN increases the utility and the security of applications and data.

In institutions and organizations, RDP is used in troubleshooting and technical support with the help of its features; with the failure of systems in the company, IT specialists with remote access to the devices can solve the problem faster and increase productivity in this way. RDP is also used for custom access points in such a way that access to some programs, and technical capabilities is customized for limited specialists to make maintenance and monitoring easier and less risky in terms of security.

But VPNs are used in organizations to protect corporate networks and prevent hackers from penetrating, and you can also use VPNs to control access to databases. A VPN ensures that only certain users can access certain websites or storage space.

VPNRDP
It provides better performance for individual users compared to businesses.It has facilitated the work of IT technicians by providing remote access.
It is a user-friendly program to facilitate the access process.Allows employees to access internal files and different networks of the company.
It is effective in increasing security and privacy.
It helps to maintain the security and privacy of employees in remote work.
Provides access to secure central servers for employees.

In the end, each person’s technical needs, goals, and usefulness are different in choosing the best option, and you should select between VPN and RDP according to your desire for the remote access method.

If only remote access to a secure network in the simplest way is important to you, this request is possible through VPN; But if you are looking for free, unrestricted access with more control and flexibility, and also the security and encryption of this connection is essential to you, using RDP is the ideal option.

FAQ

By connecting to Remote Desktop, you will automatically connect to the LAN network and access another system remotely, and you will be able to manage and monitor that system. But it is always recommended to use VPN and RDP simultaneously to improve security. RDP's security with VPN will undoubtedly increase due to the encryption of data traffic by VPN.

RDP and VPN perform similar tasks for remote access, but VPNs allow users to connect to secure networks while RDP only provides access to a single computer. Although granting access to employees and third parties is beneficial, on the other hand, this unrestricted access can compromise security, so it is better to consider measures to improve safety.

Unlike VPN, RDP allows people to access the data and programs of another system and manage and control it remotely at any time. The main advantage of RDP compared to VPN is access to databases, network resources, and specialized business applications without VPN bandwidth limitations.

Summary

With the spread of the Coronavirus, the need for advanced technologies for remote access has been more and more noticed. Also, with the acceptance of remote work worldwide, the expectation for developing remote services has increased.

VPN and RDP are two solutions to support the remote access of company employees, each of which offers unique features and facilities and has different main functions. The option that solves your technical needs is the most suitable for you based on your skills and expertise.

If you want to use a high-security method, the best solution is to use RDP together with a VPN. With this method, the gaps of each method are filled by each other, and you enjoy a secure and encrypted connection, and there is no room to worry about misuse of connections and sensitive data.

In this article, we have made a complete comparison between RDP and VPN, and we have examined these two technologies from every point of view; we hope this article can answer your questions. We would love to hear about your experiences using RDP and VPN and the security of these two technologies; share your experiences with us in the comments section.

Thank you for being so supportive

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About the Author Liosa F

Love, life, peace and technology are all for the wise man

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