Remote support is a means to offer service virtually.
It allows people to accommodate a need without anyone physically going anywhere. This can be very beneficial for many circumstances. For DSI it means we can support customers more efficiently and quickly without limitations of distance.
Remote support is something that DSI employs every day.
Over the years it has gained a poor acceptance. Often people become the victim of a virus infection in which pseudo resolution is provided by the entity behind the infection via remote support. The promise of virus cleaning done remotely at a cost by the bad guy is in most cases a fail.
Others folks simply think the ability to take control of a system remotely is just creepy.
Either way when executed correctly remote support is invaluable.
Origins and History
Remote support really got it's start in the late 1960's through the use of the Telnet protocol. Telnet was used to remotely control devices over a TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) network. Though this protocol is still used today it is mostly used for higher end business class device configuration over a serial connection.
In 1983 came rlogin protocol packaged with BSD (Berkley Software Distribution) 4.2. rlogin allows automatic (passwordless) logins to remote Unix / Linux systems over a TCP connection from 'trusted' system.
The problem with both Telnet and rlogin is weak security. Encryption really wasn't available for rlogin and identities could be easily spoofed.
SSH (Secure Shell) was invented in 1995 by a Finland native Tatu Ylönen. SSH was an answer to security problems that is still very widely used. A SSH connection initially exchanges a key between the host and guest. This key engages an encryption cipher that is used as a vehicle for communication throughout the entire session.
As we stepped away from command line computing and introduced a GUI (Graphical User Interface) RFB (Remote Framebuffer) protocol was developed. RFB coupled with VNC (Virtual Network Computing) is generally easier to initiate on the remote side though the coupling lacks efficiency. Pixel based communication is employed in which the entirety of the remote screen needs to be redrawn several times a second on the guest side to represent input device changes such as keyboard presses and mouse movement as well as graphics changes. RFB is the most common protocol used today for end user support.
Other protocols are available that are more efficient but are less common such as X11. X (with 11 being the version) was developed in 1984 by MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and is mostly used on Unix / Linux systems. Another less common but highly efficient bitmap protocol that is widely available is RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) aka Terminal Services. RDP or Remote Desktop Connection has been bundled with the Windows operating system since Windows XP. Though there are great benefits to using RDP it requires more in the way of setup and configuration than VNC / RFB. For that reason it is mostly employed for common use situations such as accessing a server or corporate help desk support.