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January 14, 2011
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March 18, 2011

Be careful how you remote desktop

Not too long ago we created a page under our business services showing how Custom PC can save you money with our VPN remote desktop options. We attempt to talk consumers and businesses out of paying up to $60 a month for remote access to their home and work computers. If you want to read more on the various remote desktop solutions, take a look here.

Now we come to you with a different plea. Be careful on how you remote into your home and work computers. If you do naked RDC (remote desktop connection) you are exposing your entire network to hackers. Not the high end professional hackers, but even the “I just started” hacking hackers.

The value of being able to remotely connect to your home or office computer from anywhere in the world is a great time saver. Now you don’t have to take everything with you. You don’t need multiple sets of documents, software, presentations or photos. Being able to easily connect to your home or office PC from any other computer in the world, it a valuable tool. Definitely a time saver.  Remote desktop is a game changer as far as ease of use and home-office connectivity.

Most people do not know how to set up their own remote desktop. The truth is, your operating system may already have RDC built in. Your home computer is already ready to accept a remote desktop connection from any PC in the world. The people who are slightly tech savvy will go online, Google “set up remote desktop” and follow all the instructions. We will not go over the instructions here, but it goes a little like this:

  1. Create an account at dyndns to keep track of your computer’s ip address
  2. Turn on RDC in your computer
  3. Type in your dyndns account and connect to your computer!
  4. For advanced users, go into the registry and change the default port for RDC (current 3389)

Easy huh? So why would you ever pay for such a thing? This is so easy, you may feel taken. You may have been paying $50 a month for years for this service and now you find out it is that easy?

This is where our PSA comes in. There are two things horribly wrong with those directions.

(Disclaimer) Following that guide (if followed correctly) will connect you to your home computer. Please do not remote desktop that way. It is very unsafe.

First, RDC is by itself not secure. If you use it, your username and password will be sent over the internet in plain text. If you don’t know what plain text is, lets just say it’s unencrypted. It is just out there. A 9 yr old hacker could find out your computer username, password, and home IP address easily. Very easily. So easy, it is just a simple download. Especially if you are using an internet cafe or any other unsecured wireless network.

Secondly, those internet instructions don’t even tell (warn) you how unsafe that is. The username to your home or work computer? Sent over the internet plain text? I cringe at the thought.

If you are a home user, you just gave a hacker 100% access to not only your computer but possibly every computer on your home network. 100% access. All the viruses and spyware in the world try very hard to get only a 10% foothold in your systems. It only takes 10% to totally take control of your computer. You just gave them 100%.

If you are a business? Talk about being hacked:

  • Company clients
  • Company email
  • Company sales data
  • Sensitive financial information
  • Account and regulatory information
  • Credit card and bank account information

You just opened up your company to financial and professional ruin. The fallout could be devastating. With an administrator username and password, they could bring your whole company network down, backups deleted, routers changed, and mail servers wiped clean. Ouch.

If you are current connecting to your home or work PC using RDC without a VPN, then stop. Don’t let the small savings open you up to liabilities down the road. Get a professional VPN system in place. Don’t pay monthly for it, get it installed for the long haul. Your boss and kids will be glad you did.

If you want to read more on the professional remote desktop solutions from Custom PC Computers, take a look here.