Preview of ScreenConnect 5.0

We're adding function and form improvements to the upcoming ScreenConnect 5.0, including a more aesthetically pleasing interface for guests and some added functionality that's quickly guest-accessible. Review the video below for a visual preview.

On the surface, we updated the UI on the guest page to give more separation to each joining method. In 4.x, if you had sessions created that used multiple joining methods (public sessions plus named sessions that required an input box, etc.) these sections would be simply stacked on top of each other on the guest page. In 5.0 we've worked to clearly define these parts and give them a bit more visual appeal. You'll also notice background images -- these are fully customizable, of course.

Functionality was added as well. We've added a configurable option to the guest page that allows guests to start a session themselves. The ability for a guest to start a session from the guest page has been a recurring request from our users. In fact, in previous versions, some of our users have been doing this ad-hoc by creating several public sessions and letting their clients join a session on their own time. Now you may accomplish this using the built-in module.

We've also reinserted the footer and placed a link in it to allow quick download of your unattended access client installer.  This can be turned on or off and is placed to be accessible but not prominent on the guest page. 

Posted by John Carey at 5:07 AM       0 Comments       Share
Categories: Development | Remote Support | ScreenConnect

Expanding ScreenConnect with Extensions

While ScreenConnect is fairly extensible, and many of our users modify the app to accomplish their particular goals, we've yet to produce an environment for our users to implement and send packaged code alterations and additions. To harness and encapsulate the creativity and customization that our users are capable of, we'd be well suited to develop a mechanism to do package extensions/plugins. ScreenConnect 5.0 will be our first release to offer this as a page in the administration section. 

An extension, in this case, can be anything from an aesthetic change, 3rd party integration, to a new event trigger. In the video below, a developer shows two example extensions, both of which modify the guest page to add additional functionality. Adding a quick link on the guest page to create a session or to download your client installer could be a matter of installing and activating a plugin, much like the system WordPress and many browsers utilzie today. 

See the demonstration below: 

Posted by Jeff Bishop at 9:11 AM       0 Comments       Share
Categories: Development | ScreenConnect | feature

Security Enhancements in ScreenConnect 4.4 -- Timeouts, Restricting IPs

Security is always a concern for us and our clients, and we're always asked on the forum to implement new features to enhance security. In ScreenConnect 4.4, we've rolled out the ability to use a more intelligent, granular timeout capability to reduce the chance of your site being compromised. We've also made the IP Security module included out of the box (this was an optional modification previously). This module allows admins to restrict access to certain resources (primarily the host and admin pages) to certain IPs. 

You can download the pre-release of ScreenConnect 4.4 here.  

The need: time out inactive hosts/admins to decrease the chance of those resources being compromised. In addressing this, we decided that the general, all-encompassing timeout idea wouldn't fit the the typical usage model. A higher threshold of security would probably be necessary for the admin page, depending on the user's configuration. Thus we introduce resource-specific timeouts.

In the web.config file, you can adjust a few new keys on a per-page level. Take note of "MaxLongestTicketReissueIntervalSeconds," which allows us to set, in seconds, how long the user can remain idle (including mouse activity) while on this resource (in this case, Administration.aspx):

 

 <configuration>
   <location path="Administration.aspx">
      <appSettings>
         <add key="MaxLongestTicketReissueIntervalSeconds" value="1800" />
         <add key="MinAuthenticationFactorCount" value="0" />
         <add key="RestrictToIPs" value="" />
         <add key="BlockIPs" value="" /> 
      </appSettings>
   </location>

   <location path="Host.aspx">
      [........]
   </location> 

 

As you can see, we've included other security features out of the box to give you more flexibility while protecting each resource -- restrict access to a certain page by the user's IP, blocking IPs, etc.

Posted by John Carey at 5:54 AM       0 Comments       Share
Categories: Development | ScreenConnect

ClickOnce Plugin for Chrome: Recommended Update

We know many of you use a ClickOnce browser plugin for Chrome to help speed up the join process, particularly for techs who are entering and exiting sessions regularly. We have previously recommended a plugin to use, but we've recently switched our recommendation to a different one due to the old plugin sneaking in ads. We suggest uninstalling the old one and installing the new one, as detailed in our forum

While we'd prefer to not rely on 3rd party applications, Google is soon to drop support for this type of browser extension anyway, so we've decided not to create one ourselves and to use a 3rd party plugin for this convenience.

Posted by John Carey at 5:31 AM       0 Comments       Share
Categories: Development

Reviewing Recent Additions and Improvements (Database Maintenance & more)

Though we recently released ScreenConnect version 4.3 as stable, version 4.2 brought a couple key ingredients and improvements. A database maintenance mechanism was introduced to regularly and automatically prune data stores. We also improved Mac and Linux client functionality, including the ability to reinstall/upgrade the ScreenConnect client software on those machines in a much more seamless manner. Now they, too, can be updated with a click from your Host page

Keeping your database trimmed via the new maintenance function (found by clicking the "Database" link on the Admin page) can be accomplished by selecting some (or all) of the seven cleaning tasks, telling each task how old an object must be before deletion, then setting the tasks to run at a regularly scheduled time. 

On the Mac/Linux front, we made strides improving the installation process (a new shell script installer for both) and the aforementioned reinstall process via the Host page. You can also now run them headless for the purposes of inventory and running commands. The full list can be found on the 4.2 Release Log on the Output Stream
Posted by John Carey at 10:07 AM       0 Comments       Share
Categories: Development | ScreenConnect

Role-Based Security Limits Technician Access to Certain Machines

While we have a wealth of information about nearly every aspect of ScreenConnect usage (the help wiki and forum being two big ones), we occasionally lack a central storehouse for information regarding key topics. One of these is the concept of using session groups to effectively limit (or "jail") technicians to only a certain group of machines. It's one of the most common questions we receive and it's easily done with our session groups model.

The concept is simple:  

  1. Create your filtered subgroup using the "Manage Session Groups" link on the lower left of the Host panel
  2. Create a Role that only has access to that new group (plus other necessary permissions as you see fit)
  3. Create a new User with the new Role. 
  4. Save 
When creating the new session group, you'll notice quite a few filter options. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the reference by choosing "Show Reference." Filtering by organization name, number of connected hosts, or the guest's operating system are some of the possibilities. Some popular examples: 
  • Name Like 'ACME*'
  • Notes LIKE '*server*' (Returns sessions with 'server' in the Notes field)
  • CustomProperty1 LIKE 'CompanyA' (Using the 'Organization' field)
For a live demo, see below:
 

 

Posted by John Carey at 3:42 AM       0 Comments       Share

Annotation in Upcoming ScreenConnect 4.4

You asked (again and again), and we listened -- the upcoming ScreenConnect 4.4 will have annotation tools. Despite some creative solutions developed by power users on the forum, we knew that this is a needed feature and we'll officially implement it in 4.4. Drawing tools are customizable (pen, line, rectangle and ellipses) and are layered over the guest's screen in the standard translucent, "highlighter" style. Of course, these can be turned off, on and allowed for only hosts or the entire session to partake using "All Draw" mode. Meetings would certainly benefit from the use of these tools, and if the host turns everyone's drawing access on, each user will automatically be assigned a different color. 

As always, keep tabs on news from the developers on the Output Stream on the forum. 

Posted by John Carey at 11:07 AM       0 Comments       Share

Increase Client Interaction with ScreenConnect 4.4's Event Triggers

Recently, we added the ability for your unattended Access clients to send messages to you -- even if you're not currently connected in a session. Many of you expressed some frustration with our leaving out a critical aspect of this new communication paradigm -- alerting you, the agent, that a user has messaged you. To that end, considering ScreenConnect captures this and other events already, in ScreenConnect 4.4 we decided to give users more power and flexibility by adding the ability to hook onto these various events with custom defined actions. Notifications can be triggered by a number of events and communicated via several methods.

Typically, a busy support agent who must oversee many unattended access computers will not be able to constantly monitor each session for new messages from those client machines. If a user on the other end sends a message to the host agent, it can become buried in a sea of other data and lost. With ScreenConnect 4.4's ability to tap into the chat event, we can actually create a user-customizable action that can alert a support agent via email or other (via HTTP) methods. 

For example, if a support agent has 100 remote, unattended access machines and one of those remote clients decides to send in chat message, one can tap into that event and route the chat and corresponding information instantly in an email to the agent -- even if the agent is not currently in a session with the access machine. When setting up the event handler, there are a number of variables at your disposal to describe the event, so the amount and type of data is completely up to you. SMTP can be a great way to communicate not only to human readers, but to other software applications with simple parsing.

Another typical usage would be capturing data and sending it directly to an outside application like helpdesk, RMM or CRM software. ScreenConnect 4.4 can send event data via an HTTP transmission as well as emails, so if you have an application that can accept this data, you can easily send the event specifics in XML, JSON or standard HTTP Post/Get formats. This allows a busy support admin to keep tabs instantly on events like connects or disconnects, even down to the addition of a note.

We've demonstrated the system below:

Posted by John Carey at 11:06 AM       0 Comments       Share

FAQ: ScreenConnect for Remote Access

We’ve received a large volume of calls in the past week on how our unattended access works. Below is a concise outline of how ScreenConnect manages unattended connections.

ScreenConnect provides technicians the ability to open a secure channel to unattended workstations and servers through firewalls via a customizable ScreenConnect installer. Hosts can build both Windows Installer packages (.msi) and Mac installer packages (.pkg) to deploy ScreenConnect to remote machines. This permanently installs the ScreenConnect unattended guest client which is designed to connect back to your ScreenConnect server without any additional configuration. Sessions will appear in the Unattended Sessions table once the remote machine connects back to your ScreenConnect server.

Role based permissions allow administrators to establish groups that have similar permissions, access rights, and constraints for security purposes. Role based security can be used in conjunction with session grouping and filtering so administrators can specify certain permissions for different session groups.

By managing sessions groups, hosts and administrators can filter remote support, meetings, and remote access sessions. The Session Groups Panel features several columns and tools for arranging, defining and filtering session groups.

By default, if the guest machine was turned off or not connected to the internet for an extended period of time, the unattended session will expire and be removed from the host page after twenty-four hours. This duration can be easily reconfigured by editing the web.config file. If the connection is reestablished the machine will be re-listed into the unattended client table.

ScreenConnect does not have any limits on the number of unattended computers per account. Many of our competitors including Bomgar, GoToAssist and now LogMeIn Free limit the number of connections per account. Additionally, ScreenConnect not only gives the option of remote access and managing unattended connections, but it also features two additional use models: remote support and remote meetings.

We hope this helps answer some of your questions on how ScreenConnect handles remote access. Feel free to test ScreenConnect by downloading our free 30-day fully functional trial. If you have any questions please contact us.

Posted by Anna Morgan at 10:25 AM       0 Comments       Share