Remote Access / Terminal Services

Remotely Access EASY TRIP from Anywhere

* Part One ( May 2003 )

Why should I care about Terminal Services?

How often have you wanted to access your office computer from your beach house in the Bahamas? Have you been considering a second office in another city and puzzled about how to share the data between both locations? Have you considered the security risks? Were you just going to leave PcAnywhere running at the office for a smart thief or hacker to gain access to your information and credit card numbers?

Companies need a way to prevent unauthorized access to their sensitive corporate information from off site locations. This must be done at reasonable speeds and without interfering with normal office operations.

So what does Terminal Services do? It is technology that provides a way to access your office computer or network remotely.

The pieces of Terminal Services

Terminal Services consists of two parts, the Server component and the Client component. On your main office or server computer Terminal Services SERVER is started. On the off site or remote computer the Terminal Services CLIENT is used.

When software is run in the Terminal Services environment, the application runs on the Terminal Services Server and only the keyboard, mouse, and display information are transmitted to the Client. The Terminal Services Client does no local processing of the application software. The server transmits the user information to the client. The client transmits the user's input back to the server.

Where is Terminal Services found?

Terminal Services is a service or component of the Microsoft Windows 2000 Server operating system. It is important to remember that Windows 2000 Server and Windows 2000 Professional are not the same operating systems.

Terminal Services is also part of Window XP Professional, but not XP Home Edition. It will also be available in Windows 2003 Server, which is the new name for Windows XP Server, scheduled to be released this year.

  • Terminal Services Server is part of Windows NT Server 4.0, Windows 2000 Server, and Windows XP Professional. It will also be part of Windows .NET Server 2003.

  • Terminal Services Client is part of Windows XP Professional. It may be installed on Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows NT 4.0 Workstation, and Windows 2000.

  • What is Terminal Services?

    In a nutshell, Terminal Services is a technology that lets you remotely run software installed on a Windows 2000 Server or XP computer, from a wide range of computers or devices, over virtually any type of network connection. The connection can be a Dial-Up modem, DSL, cable modem, or VPN.

    Applications and user desktops are transmitted over the network and displayed using terminal emulation software. Printing, keyboard actions, and mouse clicks are also transmitted over the network. In the Terminal Services environment, applications run entirely on the Terminal Services server.

    A user logs on from a Client to the Server and sees only their individual session, which is managed transparently by the Server. Each session is independent of any other client session running at the same time.

    The Client Side

    Terminal Services client software is available for a wide variety of different hardware devices, including personal computers, and non-Windows devices such as the Apple Macintosh or UNIX workstations.

    Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) is the Microsoft client software program that permits connections to Terminal Services. The Remote Desktop software is pre-installed with Windows XP Professional.

    A Setup program can be downloaded from the Microsoft web site listed below. This software will install the client portion of the Remote Desktop software on a computer running any of the following operating systems: Windows 95, 98, Windows ME, Windows NT 4.0 Workstation, or Windows 2000.

    To start Remote Desktop once it is installed, click on Start, Programs, Accessories, Communications, and then click Remote Desktop Connection.

    To use Remote Desktop Connection Client for a Macintosh, you will need network access and permissions to connect to a Windows-based computer running Terminal Services or Remote Desktop Services.

    Terminal Services Licensing

    Each client, or Remote Desktop Connection that initiates a Terminal Services session, must have a Windows Client Access License (CAL). Windows 2000 Server and XP come with two licenses at no additional cost. Additional computers can be set up with Remote Desktop, but only two users can log on simultaneously. More licenses can be purchased from Microsoft as needed.

    Security and More

    In our next issue we will explore the security risks of Terminal Services and how to resolve them.

    Setup and Configuration

    This article has explained the basic terminology and concepts for Terminal Services and Remote Desktop. Using these services from the Client side is straight forward and not very complicated to set up. Most power users can configure this portion with little difficulty.

    The configuration of Terminal Services on the Server side is more complicated. It is strongly advisable to make sure your network administrator is truly qualified and trained to assist with this set up and installation.

    * Part Two ( September 2003 )

    Terminal Services Revisited

    We were very pleased with the numerous phones calls after our introduction article on Terminal Services appeared in our last Newsletter. Based on the questions received a few points need to be reviewed.

  • Terminal Servicesand Remote Desktop were not an announcement or enhancement to our Easy Trip software program.

  • These are two Services or features that are part of Windows. BG Consulting was simply providing information that we believe is of great value to our Customers.

  • Terminal Services Basic Setup

    The basic information to set up and use Terminal Services is as follows:

  • Windows 2000 Server or Windows XP (not the Home Edition) must be installed on your server or main computer in your office.

  • At your office you will need to upgrade to a STATIC IP address from your DSL or cable modem provider.

  • A dynamic IP address is normally provided. This will not work because the IP address might change at any moment. Using a dynamic IP would be like trying to have your postal mail delivered when your office location randomly changes. Your mail carrier is likely to get a bit annoyed after a few days.

  • A qualified computer network technician needs to configure Terminal Services on your office server. Not every computer technician knows how to set up Terminal Services, so ask if they have really done this before.

  • On your Home or Remote computer you must install Remote Desktop. This service or software is included with XP and is free for all other versions of Windows. On our Easy Trip web site "Links to Other Web Sites" page there is a link to the Microsoft site where you can download Remote Desktop.

  • To connect to your office from a Remote computer first connect to the Internet. Then use Remote Desktop to access your office computer and run Easy Trip or any other software on your office computer.

  • You will need to be running the Multi-User LAN version of Easy Trip to access our software with Terminal Services.

  • The internet connection from the Remote computer to the Internet can be a dial up connection, but DSL or cable modem will give better results and faster speeds.

    Internet Vulnerability

    A computer running Windows that is connected to the Internet via DSL or cable modem is always vulnerable to a malicious attack whenever it is turned on. A browser does not need to be open, nor do you need to open an email attachment to be attacked. Just having the computer on connects it to the Internet if your DSL or cable modem is active.

    This means a hacker may gain access to your computerís hard disk and to any other computer on your office network. Installing a hardware or software firewall is typically your best protection against suspicious activity.

    Security Risks

    Terminal Services and Remote Desktop solve the problem of how to access your office network from a remote location. So what new security issues exist by running Remote Desktop over the Internet? This is not the same concern as someone who gains access to your office computer via the Internet.

    Here someone can monitor the information that is moving between Terminal Services and Remote Desktop. After all, this is just data being transmitted over the public Internet. Anyone that knows how can procure and grab your data while it is moving over the Internet. This is referred to as "packet stealing". And no, it is not legal or ethical.

    Security is not something to overlook. There is data on your computer that must be protected, such as your bank records and your customerís credit card numbers and their home address.

    So how do you protect your data and still take advantage of the power Terminal Services and Remote Desktop can provide? The best way to provide security is by using a VPN connection.

    VPN - Introduction

    Information or data sent across the public Internet is generally not protected from prying eyes. However, your communications can be made secure by using a Virtual Private Network connection, referred to as VPN.

    A VPN is a network very similar to your officeís private network. The VPN is used to transfer data securely over the Internet using encryption and other mechanisms which cannot be intercepted. This connection will make the public Internet look like a private network, which is secure and not accessible from unauthorized users.

    A VPN solution combined with a firewall secures access to critical corporate resources and provides solid protection against unwanted Internet intrusion.

    Is anyone using Terminal Services?

    Terminal Services is actual not anything new. The original company who released this technology was Citrix, founded in 1989. The flagship product they have is called MetaFrame.

    Microsoft purchased a licensed version of the Citrix MetaFrame product and incorporated it into Windows. Microsoft calls the product Terminal Services. In reality Terminal Services is a subset of the MetaFrame product. For smaller companies that do not need all the features of MetaFrame, Terminal Services is a fabulous solution for remote access.

    BG Consulting is aware of companies using Easy Trip with Terminal Services. They have noted an increase in their productivity and added freedom. These owners no longer need to rush into the office simply to review the Manifest or create an Invoice. They can stay at home or go on vacation, and still run their company over the Internet.

    ( Page Modified on 10/19/03 )

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