July 3, 2024

Beginner’s Guide to RDP Gateway


Beginner’s Guide to RDP Gateway.


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The RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) Gateway is a feature in Microsoft Windows Server that provides a secure and centralized platform for users to access desktops and applications within an organization’s network remotely. This functionality is crucial for businesses and institutions that need to offer remote access to their internal resources, ensuring that employees, contractors, or other authorized users can work effectively from any location without compromising security.

The RDP Gateway works by encrypting communication between the remote user and the internal network. It encapsulates the RDP session in HTTPS, leveraging SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) or TLS (Transport Layer Security) to ensure that data transmitted over the network remains secure and private. This encryption is essential for protecting sensitive information from being intercepted or tampered with during transmission.

One of the key advantages of using an RDP Gateway is its ability to provide granular access control. Administrators can define specific policies that determine who can access which resources, under what conditions, and from which locations. This level of control helps to ensure that only authorized users can access sensitive data and applications, thereby reducing the risk of unauthorized access and potential security breaches.

Additionally, the RDP Gateway simplifies the management of remote access. It consolidates remote connections into a single point of access, making it easier for IT administrators to monitor and manage user activity. This centralization also helps in applying consistent security policies and updates, further enhancing the overall security posture of the organization.

Another significant benefit is the reduction in the need for VPN (Virtual Private Network) connections. While VPNs are commonly used for secure remote access, they can be complex to set up and manage. The RDP Gateway offers a more streamlined and user-friendly alternative, particularly for accessing specific applications or desktops.

To set up an RDP Gateway, you’ll need to:

  1. Install the RDP Gateway role on a Windows Server.
  2. Configure user and device access permissions.
  3. Configure firewall rules to allow connections on designated ports.

Requirements to Setup RD Gateway Server in Windows Server 2022, 2019, or 2016

  • Existing RDS deployment with:
  1. RDS Connection Broker role.
  2. RDS Licensing role.
  3. RDS Session Host roles.

Setup RDP Gateway on Windows Server

1. Deploying the RD Gateway Server Role

  • Open Server Manager:
    • Access Server Manager on the Windows Server hosting the Connection Broker role for your RDS deployment.
  • Start the Role and Features Wizard:
    • Click “Manage.”
    • Select “Add Roles and Features.”
  • Proceed Through the Welcome Screen:
    • On the Welcome screen, click “Next.”
  • Choose Installation Type:
    • Select “Role-based or feature-based installation.”
    • Click “Next.”
  • Select Target Server:
    • Choose the target server for the RD Gateway role (e.g., “rdsfarm”).
    • Click “Next.”
  • Select Remote Desktop Services:
    • In the Roles screen, expand “Remote Desktop Services.”
    • Check the box next to “Remote Desktop Gateway.”
  • Add Required Features:
    • Click “Add Features” to install required prerequisites.
    • Click “Next” to proceed to the confirmation screen.
  • Install the Role:
    • Click “Install.”
    • Wait for the installation to finish.
    • Click “Close” in Server Manager after installation completes.
  • Configure RD Gateway in Server Manager:
    • In the Remote Desktop Services node of Server Manager (on the Connection Broker server), locate the green circle with a plus sign above “RD Gateway” and click it.
    • Note: This step might need to be repeated if not automatically expanded.
  1. Select RD Gateway Server:
    • Choose the server functioning as the RD Gateway.
    • Click “Next” to move it to the selected list.
  2. Enter FQDN:
    • Enter the FQDN (Fully Qualified Domain Name) of your RD Gateway Server.
    • This configures the subject name for the wizard’s self-signed certificate.
    • Click “Next.”
  3. Add the Server to the Deployment:
    • Click “Add” to confirm adding the server to the deployment.
    • Wait for the installation to complete.
    • Click “Close.”

Following these steps will deploy the RD Gateway Server Role in your RDS deployment, allowing secure remote access to your network resources

2. Configuring the RD Gateway Certificate

  • Navigate to Deployment Overview:
    • In Server Manager, on the Connection Broker server, go to Deployment Overview under the Connection Broker node.
  • Open Deployment Properties:
    • Click “Tasks.”
    • Select “Edit Deployment Properties.”
  • Expand Certificates Node:
    • Expand the Certificates node.
  • Note About Certificates:
    • For testing, a self-signed certificate can be used.
    • For a production environment, use a trusted public or domain-based certificate to avoid having to install it on client machines.
  • Select Existing Certificate:
    • Choose “Existing certificate.”
    • Enter the certificate path (e.g., C:\ on the domain controller).
    • Provide the password used to save the certificate.
  • Allow Certificate Installation:
    • Check the box labeled “Allow the certificate to be added to the Trusted Root Certification Authorities certificate store on the destination computers.”
    • Click OK to confirm.
  • Apply Deployment Configuration:
    • Verify the deployment configuration shows a “Ready to Apply” state.
    • Click “Apply.”
  • Confirm Successful Operation:
    • Wait for the operation to complete.
    • Ensure the screen displays a successful operation message with the certificate marked as “Trusted.”
  • Repeat for RD Web Access Role:
    • Repeat the latest 4 steps for the RD Web Access role to use the same certificate for IIS.
  • Exit Deployment Configuration Screen:
    • Click OK to exit the deployment configuration screen.

Following these steps will configure the certificates for your RDS deployment, ensuring secure communication and trusted certificate status for the RD Gateway and RD Web Access roles.

3. Configuring Connection and Resource Authorization Policies

  • Open Server Manager:
    • Access Server Manager on the RD Gateway server.
  • Access RD Gateway Manager:
    • Navigate to Tools > Remote Desktop Services > Remote Desktop Gateway Manager.
  • Open Server Properties:
    • Right-click the server name (e.g., RDSFARM) and select Properties.
  • Configure Server Farm:
    • Under the Server Farm tab, add the RD Gateway server name (e.g., RDSFARM).
    • Click Apply.
    • Ignore the expected error message regarding a load balancer.
    • Click OK and Apply again.
    • Ensure the status shows “OK”.
  • SSL Certificate Management:
    • While RD Gateway can manage its own SSL certificate, it’s recommended to use the configuration set up in the Connection Broker for consistency.
  • Close Properties Window:
    • Click “OK” to close the Properties window for the RD Gateway server.
  • Expand Server Settings:
    • In the main RD Gateway Manager window, locate and expand the server name to reveal its settings.
  • Navigate to Policies:
    • Go to the Policies section within the expanded server settings.
  • Create Connection Authorization Policy (CAP):
    • Right-click on Connection Authorization Policies.
    • Select Create New Policy.
    • Choose the Wizard option to start the policy creation process.
    • Select “Create an RD CAP and an RD RAP (recommended),” then click “Next.”
    • Name your connection access policy (CAP), then click “Next.”
    • Add Group to specify who can connect (CAP), select authorized user group (e.g., Domain Users), then click “Next.”
    • Accept default settings for Device Redirection and Session Timeout, click “Next” to review summary, then click “Next” for resource access.
  • Create Resource Authorization Policy (RAP):
    • Name your resource access policy (RAP), then click “Next.”
    • Keep the default user group (RAP), then click “Next.”
    • In Network Resource settings, identify an Active Directory group containing the computer accounts for the RDS deployment’s Session Host servers, or choose the option to allow users to connect to any network resource (computer).
    • Click “Next” to proceed.
  • Configure Port Settings:
    • Leave the default port (3389) for communication between the RD Gateway and Session Hosts, then click “Next.”
  • Complete Configuration:
    • On the summary screen, click “Finish.”
    • Click “Close” to complete the configuration.

These steps will help you define who can connect to your RDS environment (CAP) and what resources they can access (RAP) through the RD Gateway server, ensuring controlled and secure access to your network resources.

Advantages of RDP GATEWAY

RDP Gateway offers several advantages over traditional RDP access, making it a secure and efficient solution for remote access within your organization:

  1. Firstly, Enhanced Security: By encapsulating RDP sessions in HTTPS, RDP Gateway ensures encrypted communication, protecting sensitive data during transmission.
  2. Secondly, Centralized Access Control: RDP Gateway allows administrators to define specific access policies, ensuring only authorized users can access particular resources.
  3. Moreover, Simplified Management: The centralized management of remote connections makes monitoring and administering user activity more efficient and consistent.
  4. Additionally, Improved Scalability: RDP Gateway can easily handle an increasing number of remote users, making it suitable for growing organizations.
  5. Furthermore, Reduced Attack Surface: By limiting the number of open ports and utilizing SSL/TLS encryption, RDP Gateway minimizes potential vulnerabilities and entry points for attackers.
  6. Finally, Additional Features: RDP Gateway provides features like device redirection and session timeout settings, enhancing the overall user experience and security of remote connections.

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