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UltraVNC

UltraVNC (or Ultr@VNC if you prefer) is a great choice of VNC software to use in corporate environments.

It's as lightweight as you want to make it, and has some extra features which make it a better choice than some other VNC software:

The first point is a great advantage in large Windows networks. Usually, VNC servers just ask for a password. There might be 10,000 computers in your organisation, and with other VNC packages, the password may well be the same for all of them. If it's not a strong password, and is cracked, that's an awful lot of computers you'll need to reconfigure with new passwords. With domain authentication, you can tell the computers to accept connections only from members of specific groups in your domain, or if you want, you can allow connections from specific local groups such as 'Administrators'. You're better off using domain accounts, as that way you don't have to tell everyone the local administrator password - and it's easier to set up a new account for a new member of IT staff in one domain that it is on 10,000 PCs.

Prompting the end user to accept a connection may be a pain (especially where multiple reboots are required), but it's certainly worth doing. If you just 'take control' of a computer, you're potentially breaking the Computer Misuse Act. Better to be able to prove you had permission, especially if your organisation has to comply with any information security standards. UltraVNC does support different levels of access, so you would be able to create one master account which didn't need permission from the end user, but if you're going to do that - make sure you keep the password very secret, only use it in an emergency, and change the password after each such emergency.

Having log entries in the event log is also a great help. Especially if you get one of those somebody from the helpdesk did such-and-such on my computer, and it's broken, but I don't knonw who it was type phone calls. You can look at the computer's event log, and see where the connection came from and which username was used. Then you can simply ask them what they did, or better yet, refer the call back to them ;-)
Also, if there's any suspicious activity going on, you can easily find out which account has been used to do it.

Encryption of the UltraVNC communications is vital. If you don't encrypt the traffic, things like keystrokes are sent in clear text, including any passwords you happen to enter during the session. This might not trouble you too much in a modern switched network, but you're better safe than sorry. UltraVNC supports RC4 encryption, and you'll need to generate a key file and deploy this along with the UltraVNC server.

Getting the Software

UltraVNC is freely available from uvnc.com, or from SourceForge.

All VNC setups consist of two parts - a client and a server. The server is what you'll want to deploy to all your workstations, and the client is the software your IT staff will use to establish connections to their adoring end user community.

A 'listening viewer' is a VNC client which also 'listens' for cries of help coming from workstations. In this example, we're just going to be sticking with a straight client/server setup to begin with.

The First of Many

Before we begin making plans for mass-rollout, let's manually install the UltraVNC server on one PC, and configure it the way we would like it to be configured across the rest of the network. Here we're using version 1.0.2, so the screenshots may differ slightly if you're using a different version.

UltraVNC Custom Installation

Here, we've opted only to install the Server component. The Mirror Driver will speed up your VNC experience, but note that it won't work on older versions of Windows, like NT4.

The Repeater should be deselected. This works like a VNC Proxy, and you don't want every node on your network to start forwarding TCP traffic all over the place. It's a handy thing to install if you're accessing a customer network via NAT, but for the sake of accountability and traceability, leave it out of the workstation configuration.

UltraVNC Select Additional Tasks