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Is Splashtop Safe? A Comprehensive Analysis for IT Professionals

Given the remote working landscape (including the rising popularity of BYOD policies) and ever-rising cyber threats, remote access software is one of the most critical components of our work environment. One name that often pops up in this field is Splashtop. But, is Splashtop safe?

Skepticism is understandable, especially when dealing with tools that bridge us to sensitive data and systems. More than that, a healthy dose of doubt is necessary––we must ask the right questions before investing in remote support solutions.

For this reason, we’re diving deep into the safety and security protocols surrounding Splashtop, offering the 360-degree analysis you need to make an informed decision without spending hours on research.

In this guide, you will discover:

  • Splashtop’s overall review
  • Potential risks and vulnerabilities
  • Examination of Splashtop’s security protocols

And so much more! Let’s get started.

Overview of Splashtop’s Security Features

Yes, Splashtop is a safe choice for both personal devices and remote computer management for businesses. The company’s flagship product for remote access, Splashtop Business Access, comes with a series of security features and protocols aimed at keeping data safe:

  • Splashtop uses 256-bit AES Encryption to secure the file transfer during remote sessions, ensuring that the information remains confidential and protected against unauthorized access.
  • Furthermore, Splashtop employs TLS protocols, including TLS 1.2, to safeguard connections and make interception nearly impossible.
  • Device authentication is mandatory, and users can opt for two-factor authentication to add an extra layer of security.

Many organizations, including Microsoft, Harvard, or even government agencies like the City of Milwaukee use Splashtop Business Access.

Compliance with industry standards

Splashtop’s dedication to security lies in its compliance with a wide array of industry standards. It adheres to:

  • HIPAA Compliance (essential for healthcare professionals to safeguard patient information)
  • GDPR Compliance (ensures the protection of user data privacy rights)
  • SOC 2 Compliance (meets rigorous security and privacy standards)
  • ISO/ IEC 27001 Compliance

Splashtop also supports PCI, FERPA, and CCPA. These compliances make it suitable for various sectors, including finance, education, and healthcare.

However, being compliant and secure with these protocols doesn’t necessarily make Splashtop the most secure option on the market. Below, we’ll explore why.

Splashtop’s Security Vulnerabilities

Even the most secure systems can encounter vulnerabilities, and Splashtop is no exception. Notably, two significant security incidents highlight this aspect:

  • In 2020, CVE-2020-12431 revealed a Windows privilege change issue in Splashtop Software Updater versions before 1.5.6.16. Insecure permissions on configuration files and named pipes allowed local privilege escalation. This vulnerability, which affected Splashtop Streamer and Splashtop Business versions before 3.3.8.0, opened a sensitive gateway for malicious actors to hijack the system.
  • More recently, CVE-2023-3181 identified a local privilege escalation vulnerability affecting Splashtop Software Updater for Windows versions 1.5.6.21 and prior. This exploit allowed authenticated local users to gain SYSTEM-level privileges by manipulating insecurely created temporary directories and files. The issue was severe, given the trivial nature of producing an exploit and the high potential impact.

While patches were released to address the mentioned issues, could the historical presence of such vulnerabilities serve as caution?

We’re confident that Splashtop is taking these threats seriously and addressing them as best as they can.

However, it’s best to use your own judgment to assess whether Splashtop’s remote access solution is the best option for your company, or not.

Common attack vectors and risks for Splashtop

Various attack vectors can expose remote access software to malicious exploits. Common attack vectors related to Splashtop include:

  • Weak Passwords. If users do not implement strong, complex passwords or multi-factor authentication, unauthorized access can be a huge risk for both personal devices and each Splashtop account your company manages.
  • Unpatched Software. Cyber attackers often exploit unpatched software vulnerabilities like CVE-2020-12431 and CVE-2023-3181. Regular updates are critical, but they can sometimes lag behind threat vectors.
  • Insecure Network Configuration. Even with solid encryption protocols like AES-256 and TLS, poor network configurations, such as exposed endpoints and lack of firewall protection, can leave Splashtop users vulnerable to intercepts and your file transfer exposed.

All in all, Splashtop offers standard security features. But did you know that RealVNC‘s end-to-end security measures include mandatory encryption, perfect forward secrecy, identity checking, and other key features such as automatic blacklisting or session permissions?

Why and How To Investigate Remote Access Security

When investigating the security of remote access solutions, you must go beyond the surface features and evaluate aspects such as access policies, user activity monitoring, endpoint security for desktop and mobile access, and more.

After all, entrusting your sensitive data with a remote access solution is one crucial aspect of your cybersecurity strategy––which isn’t just ‘nice to have’. Given the current online security landscape, it’s a must.

Assessing the Security of Remote Access Solutions

When evaluating remote access tools, consider the following key components to ensure top-level security:

1. Examine the access policies

Policies should define who can access what resources, under what conditions, and mandate strong password practices.

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is non-negotiable for secure remote access. It adds an extra layer of security that mitigates the risk of unauthorized access to your office computer.

Access policies should align with regulatory standards like ISO 27001 and GDPR. These standards ensure your remote desktop access complies with best practices in security and privacy.

Other must-have features include:

  • Detailed logging of remote sessions and user activity
  • Role-based access controls
  • Integration with SSO

2. Scan for vulnerabilities

Look for previous vulnerabilities and how the vendor has managed past security incidents to understand their commitment to security. Regularly scan both the remote access software and the endpoint devices for vulnerabilities. Use tools like Nessus or OpenVAS to identify potential security risks.

Look for vendors with a robust history of managing past vulnerabilities and security issues transparently. Ensure your chosen solution provides automatic updates to patch new vulnerabilities.

3. Monitor user activity

Your remote support solution must be able to monitor and log user activities during remote sessions, whether on desktop or mobile devices. This includes capturing login attempts, session durations, and actions performed during access.

Tools like RealVNC can monitor all these activities, and set up real-time alerts to quickly respond to suspicious activities.

Detailed audit logs also help track and monitor access activities, providing a clear audit trail for security reviews. Make sure your remote support software provides this feature and that the audit logs can be easily exported and analyzed.

4. Consider encryption strength

Evaluate the encryption protocols used by the remote access tool. Ensure that the solution employs strong encryption mechanisms such as AES-256 and TLS (including TLS 1.2 or higher). Confirm that encryption is end-to-end to protect data from interception and unauthorized access during transit.

5. Authentication mechanisms

Popular authentication mechanisms like two-factor authentication (2FA) and single sign-on (SSO) should be available. Support for device authentication ensures that only authorized devices can access the network.

Did you know that RealVNC uses MFA, SSO, and network access control to manage authentication for remote users?

6. Review security protocols

Which security protocols does the remote access solution follow? This question is crucial, as protocols such as the ISO 27001 certification, GDPR standards, HIPAA, PCI-DSS, and CCPA.

What’s more––ensure that any protocols your solution employs are up-to-date and comply with industry standards.

7. Deployment options

Deployment generally comes in two major forms:

  • On-Premise: This deployment offers full control over your infrastructure, allowing you to customize security settings to meet specific needs. This is ideal for organizations with stringent security requirements and compliance obligations
  • Cloud-Based: This deployment offers excellent scalability and accessibility, enabling remote access from any location with an internet connection. This is beneficial for remote staff and mobile device access.

Splashtop Enterprise offers both the popular cloud-based solution hosted on AWS and the on-premise solution.

How A Safer Alternative to Splashtop Compares: RealVNC

When seeking a secure remote access solution, it’s essential to consider all factors, including encryption, deployment flexibility, and data protection.

That’s why RealVNC is a safer alternative to Splashtop, offering several advanced features that strengthen your organization’s security and user control. Here’s what makes RealVNC truly stand out among its competitors:

1. Advanced security features

  • RealVNC employs top-of-the-line encryption protocols, including AES-256 encryption, to safeguard data during remote sessions.
  • It allows administrators to define permissions for users who remotely access the system. This means you can control which devices and files each user can access.
  • Regular security assessments ensure that RealVNC’s infrastructure remains safe against evolving threats.

2. Deployment flexibility

You can choose between on-premises and cloud-based solutions based on your specific needs. Whether you need strong control through on-premises installations or the flexibility of cloud-based access, we’ll support both of your needs.

3. Data protection focus

  • RealVNC offers detailed logs of remote sessions, which means your IT department has access to the data needed to spot threats and conduct security assessments. They can review session histories to monitor activities and ensure compliance.
  • Comprehensive audit trails trace user actions and system events, aiding in the identification and resolution of security issues.
  • RealVNC facilitates secure file exchanges during remote sessions by keeping data encrypted and protected.

PS: Did you know that starting with version 7.1.0, RealVNC users can work with multiple monitors at the same time?

Three Top Secure Remote Access Practices

Discovering and entrusting your organization with the right remote support tool is just half of the battle. The other half consists of creating a secure environment to protect your organization’s data.

Here are some best practices to follow:

  • Encourage everyone to use strong, unique passwords. A strong password includes a mix of letters, numbers, and special characters. Add an extra layer of security by enabling 2FA.
  • Regularly check your systems for security weaknesses. Use security scanning tools to identify areas that might be vulnerable to attacks. Once you find security issues, fix them right away with software updates or by changing security settings to close any gaps.
  • Teach employees about security best practices, like how to recognize phishing emails and the importance of using secure connections. Well-informed staff are less likely to make mistakes that could lead to security breaches.

Your Security Partner Shouldn't Just Safeguard Data. RealVNC Is Proactive in Mitigating Risks.

So, back to the question: Is Splashtop safe? Most certainly. But does that make it the best remote access solution on the market? It depends.

  • Splashtop employs strong security measures and doesn’t have any major security breaches, like TeamViewer, for example.
  • It is also one of the biggest players in the game. However, Splashtop hasn’t been active on their security feed for over two years. In a cybersecurity landscape as dynamic as 2024, you need a solution on top of the game.

A really good remote software does more than just protect data. RealVNC is proactive in keeping up with security standards, addressing user feedback, and adding new functionalities that do more than just enhance security measures.

So why settle for less? The future of work is remote, and we’re ready for it.

Try RealVNC for free and let us know your feedback. We’re always here to listen to what you have to say. Experience the RealVNC difference for yourself.

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