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Remote desktop software

Remote desktop software

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Encyclopedia
In computing, the term remote desktop refers to a software or an OS feature allowing applications, either command line programs or graphical applications
Gui
Gui or guee is a generic term to refer to grilled dishes in Korean cuisine. These most commonly have meat or fish as their primary ingredient, but may in some cases also comprise grilled vegetables or other vegetarian ingredients. The term derives from the verb, "gupda" in Korean, which literally...

, to be run remotely on a server
Server (computing)
In the context of client-server architecture, a server is a computer program running to serve the requests of other programs, the "clients". Thus, the "server" performs some computational task on behalf of "clients"...

, while being displayed locally. Remote desktop applications have varying features. Some allow attaching to an existing user's session
Login session
In computing, a login session is the period of activity between a user logging in and logging out of a system.On Unix and Unix-like operating systems, a login session takes one of two main forms:...

 (i.e., a running desktop) and "remote controlling", either displaying the remote control session or blanking the screen. Taking over a desktop remotely is a form of remote administration
Remote administration
Remote administration refers to any method of controlling a computer from a remote location.Software that allows remote administration is becoming increasingly common and is often used when it is difficult or impractical to be physically near a system in order to use it, or in order to access web...

.

Overview


Remote access can also be explained as remote control of a computer by using another device connected via the internet or another network. This is widely used by many computer manufacturers and large businesses' help desks for technical troubleshooting of their customers' problems. There are various professional first-party, third-party, open source
Open source
The term open source describes practices in production and development that promote access to the end product's source materials. Some consider open source a philosophy, others consider it a pragmatic methodology...

, and freeware
Freeware
Freeware is computer software that is available for use at no cost or for an optional fee, but usually with one or more restricted usage rights. Freeware is in contrast to commercial software, which is typically sold for profit, but might be distributed for a business or commercial purpose in the...

 remote desktop applications, some of which are cross-platform
Cross-platform
In computing, cross-platform, or multi-platform, is an attribute conferred to computer software or computing methods and concepts that are implemented and inter-operate on multiple computer platforms...

 across various versions of Windows, Mac OS X, UNIX, and Linux.

How it works


The controlling computer displays a copy of the image received from the controlled computer's display screen. The copy is updated on a timed interval, or when a change on screen is noticed by the remote control software. The software on the controlling computer transmits its own keyboard and mouse
Mouse (computing)
In computing, a mouse is a pointing device that functions by detecting two-dimensional motion relative to its supporting surface. Physically, a mouse consists of an object held under one of the user's hands, with one or more buttons...

 activity to the controlled computer, where the remote control software implements these actions. The controlled computer then behaves as if the actions were performed directly at that computer. In many cases the local display and input devices can be disabled so that the remote session cannot be viewed or interfered with.

The quality, speed and functions of any remote desktop protocol are based on the system layer where the graphical desktop is redirected. Software such as VNC
Virtual Network Computing
In computing, Virtual Network Computing is a graphical desktop sharing system that uses the RFB protocol to remotely control another computer...

 and others use the top software layer to extract and compress the graphic interface images for transmission. Other products such as Microsoft RDP
Remote Desktop Protocol
Remote Desktop Protocol is a proprietary protocol developed by Microsoft, which provides a user with a graphical interface to another computer. The protocol is an extension of the ITU-T T.128 application sharing protocol. Clients exist for most versions of Microsoft Windows , Linux, Unix, Mac OS...

 use a kernel driver level to construct the remote desktop for transmission of data.

Uses


A main use of remote desktop software is remote administration
Remote administration
Remote administration refers to any method of controlling a computer from a remote location.Software that allows remote administration is becoming increasingly common and is often used when it is difficult or impractical to be physically near a system in order to use it, or in order to access web...

. It can also be used for "headless computers": instead of each computer having its own monitor, keyboard, and mouse, or using a KVM switch
KVM switch
A KVM switch is a hardware device that allows a user to control multiple computers from a single keyboard, video monitor and mouse. Although multiple computers are connected to the KVM, typically a smaller number of computers can be controlled at any given time...

, a monitor, keyboard and mouse can be attached to one computer with remote control software, and headless computers controlled by it. The duplicate desktop mode is useful for user support and education. Remote control software combined with telephone
Telephone
The telephone , colloquially referred to as a phone, is a telecommunications device that transmits and receives sounds, usually the human voice. Telephones are a point-to-point communication system whose most basic function is to allow two people separated by large distances to talk to each other...

 communication can be nearly as helpful for novice computer-users as if the support staff were actually there.

Since the advent of cloud computing
Cloud computing
Cloud computing is the delivery of computing as a service rather than a product, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices as a utility over a network ....

 remote desktop software can be housed on USB hardware devices
USB mass storage device class
The USB mass storage device class, otherwise known as USB MSC or UMS, is a protocol that allows a Universal Serial Bus device to become accessible to a host computing device, to enable file transfers between the two...

, allowing users to connect the device to any PC connected to their network or the Internet and recreate their desktop via a connection to the cloud. This model avoids one problem with remote desktop software, which requires the local computer to be switched on at the time when the user wishes to access it remotely. (It is possible with a router with C2S VPN support, and Wake on LAN equipment, to establish a virtual private network
Virtual private network
A virtual private network is a network that uses primarily public telecommunication infrastructure, such as the Internet, to provide remote offices or traveling users access to a central organizational network....

 (VPN) connection with the router over the Internet if not connected to the LAN
Län
Län and lääni refer to the administrative divisions used in Sweden and previously in Finland. The provinces of Finland were abolished on January 1, 2010....

, switch on a computer connected to the router, then connect to it.) The common name for USB devices with the capacity to remotely recreate a user's desktop is "secure portable office".

Malicious use


Remote control software is also used maliciously. From 2008, typically someone will be telephoned at random by a caller claiming to be from Microsoft. The victim might be told that a virus has been detected originating on their machine, or offered a free checkup. They will be asked to install remote control software, often TeamViewer as it is very easy to use. This gives the attacker full control, and they can do anything they want. Typically they will do things which imply that the system is not working properly, e.g. by displaying alarming messages, then demand payment to resolve the "problem". It is also possible for Trojan
Trojan horse (computing)
A Trojan horse, or Trojan, is software that appears to perform a desirable function for the user prior to run or install, but steals information or harms the system. The term is derived from the Trojan Horse story in Greek mythology.-Malware:A destructive program that masquerades as a benign...

 software to be installed to recruit the machine to a botnet
Botnet
A botnet is a collection of compromised computers connected to the Internet. Termed "bots," they are generally used for malicious purposes. When a computer becomes compromised, it becomes a part of a botnet...

.

Security


Security is an important factor when choosing a remote support solution for any enterprise. Gone are the days where security was just a matter of the highest degree of encryption. Today, a truly secure remote support solution will allow organizations to centrally control who can do what and where safe in the knowledge that when each remote session has finished it should be able to document what actually took place.

For systems in environments that need to meet and maintain compliance requirements, remote administration software must have strict security control. Software like Netop Remote Control
Netop Remote Control
Netop Remote Control is a product of Netop Business Solutions A/S. It provides solutions for the remote management and support of enterprise IT infrastructure, help desk, customer service, kiosk and POS devices...

 10 is able to exceed the toughest security standards including PCI DSS
PCI DSS
The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard is an information security standard for organizations that handle cardholder information for the major debit, credit, prepaid, e-purse, ATM, and POS cards....

, ISO 27001
ISO/IEC 27001
ISO/IEC 27001, part of the growing ISO/IEC 27000 family of standards, is an Information Security Management System standard published in October 2005 by the International Organization for Standardization and the International Electrotechnical Commission...

, FIPS
Federal Information Processing Standard
A Federal Information Processing Standard is a publicly announced standardization developed by the United States federal government for use in computer systems by all non-military government agencies and by government contractors, when properly invoked and tailored on a contract...

 and HIPAA.

It is necessary to examine the remote control software functionality that best serves organizations that need a highly secure tool that crosses all platforms and devices and is completely scalable in any environment. It will help IT professionals select a remote control solution that increases productivity and customer satisfaction, as well as enhances the flexibility of the IT organization and improves the company’s risk profile.

Remote desktop products



These are available in three models: hosted service, software, and appliance.

Remote desktop protocols


The main remote desktop protocols in use are:
  • Virtual Network Computing
    Virtual Network Computing
    In computing, Virtual Network Computing is a graphical desktop sharing system that uses the RFB protocol to remotely control another computer...

     (VNC) - a cross-platform
    Cross-platform
    In computing, cross-platform, or multi-platform, is an attribute conferred to computer software or computing methods and concepts that are implemented and inter-operate on multiple computer platforms...

     protocol
  • Remote Desktop Protocol
    Remote Desktop Protocol
    Remote Desktop Protocol is a proprietary protocol developed by Microsoft, which provides a user with a graphical interface to another computer. The protocol is an extension of the ITU-T T.128 application sharing protocol. Clients exist for most versions of Microsoft Windows , Linux, Unix, Mac OS...

     (RDP) - a Windows
    Microsoft Windows
    Microsoft Windows is a series of operating systems produced by Microsoft.Microsoft introduced an operating environment named Windows on November 20, 1985 as an add-on to MS-DOS in response to the growing interest in graphical user interfaces . Microsoft Windows came to dominate the world's personal...

    -specific protocol featuring audio and remote printing
  • Remote Frame Buffer Protocol
    RFB Protocol
    RFB is a simple protocol for remote access to graphical user interfaces. Because it works at the framebuffer level it is applicable to all windowing systems and applications, including X11, Windows and Macintosh...

     (RFB) - A framebuffer level cross-platform
    Cross-platform
    In computing, cross-platform, or multi-platform, is an attribute conferred to computer software or computing methods and concepts that are implemented and inter-operate on multiple computer platforms...

     protocol that VNC
    Virtual Network Computing
    In computing, Virtual Network Computing is a graphical desktop sharing system that uses the RFB protocol to remotely control another computer...

     is based on.
  • Apple Remote Desktop
    Apple Remote Desktop
    Apple Remote Desktop is a Macintosh application produced by Apple Inc., first released on March 14, 2002, that replaced a similar product called Apple Network Assistant...

     Protocol (ARD) - Original protocol for Apple Remote Desktop
    Apple Remote Desktop
    Apple Remote Desktop is a Macintosh application produced by Apple Inc., first released on March 14, 2002, that replaced a similar product called Apple Network Assistant...

     on Mac OS X
    Mac OS X
    Mac OS X is a series of Unix-based operating systems and graphical user interfaces developed, marketed, and sold by Apple Inc. Since 2002, has been included with all new Macintosh computer systems...

     machines.
  • Independent Computing Architecture
    Independent Computing Architecture
    Independent Computing Architecture is a proprietary protocol for an application server system, designed by Citrix Systems. The protocol lays down a specification for passing data between server and clients, but is not bound to any one platform....

     (ICA) - a proprietary protocol
    Proprietary protocol
    In telecommunications, a proprietary protocol is a communications protocol owned by a single organization or individual.-Enforcement:Proprietors may enforce restrictions through patents and by keeping the protocol specification a trade secret...

     designed by Citrix Systems
    Citrix Systems
    Citrix Systems, Inc. is a multinational corporation founded in 1989, that provides server and desktop virtualization, networking, software-as-a-service , and cloud computing technologies, including Xen open source products....

  • X Window System
    X Window System
    The X window system is a computer software system and network protocol that provides a basis for graphical user interfaces and rich input device capability for networked computers...

     (X11) - a well-established cross-platform protocol mainly used for displaying local applications, but can also be used remotely
  • Appliance Link Protocol
    Appliance Link Protocol
    The Appliance Link Protocol is used by Sun Ray ultra thin clients to talk to Sun Ray servers. The closed source implementation of the Sun Ray Server Software is developed and distributed by Sun Microsystems...

     (ALP) - a Sun Microsystems
    Sun Microsystems
    Sun Microsystems, Inc. was a company that sold :computers, computer components, :computer software, and :information technology services. Sun was founded on February 24, 1982...

    -specific protocol featuring audio (play and record), remote printing, remote USB, accelerated video

See also

  • Comparison of remote desktop software
  • Comparison of Java Remote Desktop projects
    Comparison of Java Remote Desktop projects
    - Comparison chart :- See also :* Java programming language* Remote desktop software* Comparison of remote desktop software...

  • Desktop virtualization
    Desktop virtualization
    Desktop virtualization , as a concept, separates a personal computer desktop environment from a physical machine using the client–server model of computing....

  • Extranet
    Extranet
    An extranet is a computer network that allows controlled access from the outside, for specific business or educational purposes. An extranet can be viewed as an extension of a company's intranet that is extended to users outside the company, usually partners, vendors, and suppliers...

  • Remote computer
    Remote computer
    A remote computer is a computer to which a user does not have physical access, but which he or she can access or manipulate via some kind of network....