build a home lab environment and securely being able to rdp to the server(s)

Hello Experts, i recently purchased a used server for building a home lab environment. i would like to install win 7 professional as the servers main OS, then install vmware workstation for my virtual machines for sharepoint, exchange, AD practice. I know i can set up remote access to this server by allowing rdp access from my home router (configuring port forwarding), then rdp from public internet using my home servers public IP. I've already tried this and the server was infected with ransomware. Can anybody tell me how i can make this as secure as possible while on a budget?
Newguy 123Asked:
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
You realize your plan doesn't make a lot of sense, right?

Why would you use Windows 7 on a server class machine when Windows SERVER or ESXi is what that machine was designed to run?

You have the Server license/trial version, LEARN it.  Install Server and run Hyper-V instead of VMWare Workstation.  Or Install ESXi instead of VMWare Workstation and Windows 7.  Either option makes more sense.

Opening RDP to the public is unwise.  Setup a VPN.  I use an Untangle router which includes VPN capablities.  Fairly easy to setup, FREE, can run in a VM on the server or use an OLD PC laying around with a second NIC.

IF you were infected with ransomware, it was probably because you were using weak security - poor passwords, didn't rename the administrator account and who knows what else.

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Alexey KomarovChief Project EngineerCommented:
You can use OpenVPN to connect to a home network, some routers have such functionality.
You can use a firewall to grant access only to trusted public IP addresses.
You can use port forwarding to a non-standard port, this will make it difficult for viruses to discover an open RDP port.
Do not use weak passwords and  install the latest security updates.
Mal OsborneAlpha GeekCommented:
Yep, Window Server, HyperV edition and ESXi are both available FREE, so would be silly to install Windows 7 and VMware workstation.

IF you open RDP to the outside world, in a day or a week or a month, script kiddies will find it and you will be hammered with attempts at guessing your password. If you have a weak password it will probably be found, if not you will start have account lockouts. Even wth strong passwords, you really need to either restrict incoming connection to a couple of IP addresses you know, or run a VPN.

Most server class machines also have an inbuilt SD card reader, I would advise booting HyperV or ESXi from this, rather than the main drive arrays.
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