What is Telnet and why is it never recommended to use it?

What is Telnet?

When we talk about Telnet we refer to the acronym of 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 you use the TCP port 23 to establish those 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 in order 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 devices have this protocol activated.

Telnet uses

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.

Solve problems

One of the main reasons the Telnet protocol appeared was to solve any problem that was in another team. 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 also serves to access data remotely and be able to read them. 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 that it offers is that of being able log in on 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 plane text. This includes usernames 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 network protocol Telnet on 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 Turn Windows features on or off, which will appear at the top along with other options.

Activate Windows features

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. There will appear different network protocols among which is the Telnet client.

Activate the Telnet client

We just have to check the box and we click OK. This process takes just a few seconds and we will have activated the Telnet protocol 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.

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