Telnet is a network protocol that allows us to connect to another computer remotely. This allows to carry out different actions in that system as if we were there physically, but we are really in another place. However, today it is little used due to its limitations and problems, as we will see. We will explain what it consists of and how it works, as well as talk about the dangers today and how we can activate it in Windows if necessary.
What is Telnet?
When we talk about Telnet we refer to the acronym for Telecommunication Network . It is not a new network protocol, far from it; It appeared in the 1960s. Since then it has been used by many users to establish connections remotely via TCP / IP.
It should be noted that it uses TCP port 23 to establish these communications by default. It works through the terminal, whether in Windows, macOS or Linux, and it does not have a graphical application as it does with other more modern programs and protocols.
It works in such a way that it is necessary to have a client and a server to be able to establish the connection. It works both on an intranet and outside of that network. What it basically does is create a remote connection between two computers. The client is the one who sends the request and the server responds asking for a username and password. The connection is subsequently established.
From there we can have remote access to a computer and use it as if we were there physically. Logically, it is necessary that both computers have this protocol activated.
We have explained what the Telnet network protocol is and how it works. Now we are going to see the main uses that we can give it. A series of typical actions for which it was created several decades ago, although also today we can continue to use it if we configure it on our computer.
One of the main reasons why the Telnet protocol appeared was to fix any problems on another computer. In this way, a user could connect remotely and access without having to be physically in a certain place.
This was a very important step, since it clearly bridged the gap. For example, in academic settings, a person could solve any problem that might appear and not be in front of the computer.
Access data remotely
It is also used to access and read data remotely . For example, see a database with information on members of an organization or consult anything within a computer that is accessible through the network.
Telnet offers this possibility and undoubtedly once again represented a significant technological leap. Any user could consult information and data remotely, as long as they connected to a compatible device using this network protocol.
Sign in to another computer
Another possibility it offers is to be able to log in to another computer remotely. For example, it allows us to work on a computer that we need to access and that has certain programs installed that we need.
This protocol allows precisely this and it is something very interesting. What you do once again is avoid having to be physically in front of that computer and simply log in remotely.
Why is it a safety hazard
Telnet is a protocol that today we can say is obsolete . Although it still exists and is still used, the truth is that its use has dropped considerably. One of the reasons is for security, of course. Why is this happening? Information sent from one computer to another travels unencrypted, in plain text . This includes user names and passwords.
It is undoubtedly an important problem and something that the SSH protocol solves, which emerged as a more advanced and novel option than Telnet, with a similar operation. In this case it works through TCP port 22.
The fact that it is an insecure protocol, already obsolete, has meant that modern operating systems do not bring it activated as standard. For example, in the most recent Windows systems we will not be able to use it unless we activate it manually.
How to enable Telnet in Windows
So can we use Telnet today? The truth is that it is possible. In fact, there are still users who, especially in internal networks, use it to connect computers and be able to access remotely, consult data, etc. Now, it will be necessary for us to activate it.
The process is simple, as we will see. You just have to carry out a series of steps and we will quickly enable the Telnet network protocol in Windows without the need to install any additional programs.
To do this, the first thing we must do is go to Home. Once there we will enter the Control Panel and go to Programs. Later we click on Activate or deactivate Windows features , which will appear at the top along with other options.
When we click, a new window will be displayed where it will show us a large number of Windows features that we can activate or deactivate. Different network protocols will appear there, including the Telnet Client .
We just have to check the box and we click OK. This process takes just a few seconds and we will already have the Telnet protocol activated in Windows .
Keep in mind that, if we are going to use this protocol to remotely access another computer, both devices must have it enabled. We would have to do the same process on the second computer, in case it does not already have it activated. In addition, if we want to deactivate it at some point we will only have to follow the same steps and uncheck the option.
In short, the Telnet network protocol is used to connect remotely to another computer. The problem is that today it is outdated and unsafe. It is not used as much as a few decades ago and we will even have to activate it in Windows, since it is not enabled by default.