RDP and VPN use skyrocketed since coronavirus onset

RDP use is up by 41%, enterprise VPN use is up by 33%.
Written by Catalin Cimpanu, Contributor
Image: Shodan

The use of remote access technologies like RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) and VPN (Virtual Private Network) has skyrocketed 41% and 33%, respectively, since the onset of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Also: The best VPNs in 2020

The move comes as a large number of companies have asked staff to work from home, which usually entails connecting to internal intranets via remote access technologies like the two named above.

According to data compiled by Shodan, a search engine that scans and indexes Internet-connected devices instead of websites, the number of RDP endpoints has gone from roughly 3 million recorded at the start of the year to almost 4.4 million on Sunday, March 29, 2020.

This data only includes RDP endpoints running on the standard RDP port 3389. However, Shodan founder and CEO John Matherly, says that a similar surge has also been seen on port 3388 -- a port regularly used by many system administrators to hide the RDP service from attacks.

Here, Matherly says, the number has jumped 36.8%, from roughly 60,000 at the start of the year, to over 80,000 today.

Similarly, the number of various servers running VPN protocols like IKE and PPTP has also gone up by a third, from 7.5 million systems, to almost 10 million today.

Consumer-grade VPN use is also up

But these numbers reflect enterprise VPN servers installed as gateways to intranet and corporate networks.

Consumer-grade VPNs have also reported a similar spike in usage numbers -- although for different reasons than "accessing corporate networks." With most users stuck in their homes as national quarantines are imposed all over the world, more users have resorted to using VPN apps to bypass geo-fenced content while they browse the internet from home.

For example, last week, NordVPN told ZDNet they saw a 165% rise in users since March 11, while Atlas VPN reported a 124% surge in VPN use among its US userbase.

While its numbers are unofficial and rely on third-party monitoring, VPN review site Top10VPN also reported a similar spike in VPN demand for the entire market, reporting a 65% increase in VPN demand in the US, compared to the last quarter.

24 internet-connected things that really shouldn't be online

Editorial standards