At first, the idea of combining encrypted data tunneling with remote desktop apps may sound absurd as most internet users believe that the two types of software are interchangeable. In actuality, they differ in quite a lot of aspects: one is a tool used for signing remotely into a computer and accessing the machine as if you were sitting in front of it, while the other helps you mask your IP and protect your data stream. For this reason it’s very important to realize which one is the most beneficial for your needs, as well as learning how to create a hybrid environment for maximum security.
What Are Remote Desktop Applications?
RDA, also known as screen sharing, is a concept originally developed by Microsoft but nowadays it’s available for all platforms thanks to publicly available clients such as UltraVNC, LogMeIn, or TeamViewer. The core concept is that by opening a computer up for remote access, the user is able to login via another device and access all the resources and tools stored on the computer via the network – including any licensed software you wouldn’t otherwise be able to run. It’s essentially taking over the target machine, which also means that the changes you make are permanent. RDAs are very popular among IT admins, as they are able to investigate bugs and perform troubleshooting on remote servers without having to leave their workstation.
Can RDAs Be Substituted by a VPN?
Then why do people mistake VPNs with remote desktop applications? Because setting up a VPN server manually – on a Raspberry PI, for example – means it is also possible to retrieve files remotely by connecting to the same server. Although most VPN providers only advertise the ability to encrypt your data, virtual private networks do twice as much as remote desktop apps, hence the confusion between the two. So does it matter which one you pick?
Absolutely! Remote access through VPN comes at a significant cost to your bandwidth as the process of syncing the two systems – in addition to the encryption of the connection – produces a massive data stream. On the other hand, RDAs are designed with user-friendliness in mind, so the screen is not only practical but also easier to use. Unfortunately, bandwidth issues can cause severe lag, so only choose this option if your internet connection is reliable.
Securing Remote Desktop Applications
In an ideal world RDAs would be the go-to solution thanks to their convenient nature. However, it takes very little effort for a hacker to force their way into a computer that is open for remote access, meaning that the intruder could steal data or use the server as a virus proxy. We don’t need to emphasize the damning consequences of such a breach for a company…
So, in order to avoid exposing any sensitive information, the admins are recommended to set up some form of security measure. A strong password and two-step authentication are must-haves – even better, if you have a security key – but narrowing down the list of potential accessors by whitelisting their IP is also a good idea. If you really wish to be 100% secure, then combine your RDA app with the use of a custom VPN connection as the encryption will ensure no hackers can sniff around the network.
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