Remote Service Session Hijacking: RDP Hijacking

ID Name
T1563.001 SSH Hijacking
T1563.002 RDP Hijacking

Adversaries may hijack a legitimate user’s remote desktop session to move laterally within an environment. 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 perform RDP session hijacking which involves stealing a legitimate user's remote session. Typically, a user is notified when someone else is trying to steal their session. With System permissions and using Terminal Services Console, c:\windows\system32\tscon.exe [session number to be stolen], an adversary can hijack a session without the need for credentials or prompts to the user.[2] This can be done remotely or locally and with active or disconnected sessions.[3] It can also lead to Remote System Discovery and Privilege Escalation by stealing a Domain Admin or higher privileged account session. All of this can be done by using native Windows commands, but it has also been added as a feature in red teaming tools.[4]

ID: T1563.002
Sub-technique of:  T1563
Platforms: Windows
Permissions Required: SYSTEM
Version: 1.0
Created: 25 February 2020
Last Modified: 23 March 2020
Provided by LAYER 8

Procedure Examples

ID Name Description
S0366 WannaCry

WannaCry enumerates current remote desktop sessions and tries to execute the malware on each session.[5]


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.

M1030 Network Segmentation

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.[6]

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
DS0017 Command Command Execution
DS0028 Logon Session Logon Session Creation
DS0029 Network Traffic Network Traffic Content
Network Traffic Flow
DS0009 Process Process Creation

Consider monitoring processes for tscon.exe usage and monitor service creation that uses cmd.exe /k or cmd.exe /c in its arguments to detect RDP session hijacking.

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.