Privacy Blog

"Friends don’t let friends get spied on.' – Richard Stallman, President of the Free Software Foundation and longtime advocate of privacy in technology.

Anyone Can Remotely View Thousands of Insecure Desktops

This is a major security problem! If your computer is not configured properly, it is possible that anyone with Internet access can view what is happening on your computer’s screen right now. The problem affects Windows, Macintosh, and Linux systems that use the very popular VNC software.

NOTE: All Macintosh systems have VNC installed although Apple calls it “screen sharing.” The software is turned off by default but many Mac users later enable it in order to remotely access the computer. If configured properly, there is no problem.

Virtual Network Computing (VNC) is a graphical desktop sharing system that allows for remote viewing and/or control of other computers. It transmits the keyboard and mouse events from one computer to another, relaying the graphical screen updates back in the other direction, over a network. The problem is that thousands of computers have VNC installed without a password, granting access to anyone who can find the address of the computer. Then, to make matters worse, a website called VNC Roulette seeks out these insecure computers and displays the screens to anyone. It also displays the I.P. address of the insecure computers so that hackers may return again and again.

Details may be found in an article by Zack Whittaker in ZDNet at

To view the insecure computers, go to and then click on “Random Image” to cycle amongst the computers. You should hope that one of your systems does not appear!

It strikes me that VNC Roulette is providing a great service by identifying insecure computers and drawing attention to the problems. It also allows for VIEWING the screens but not for taking control of the computers.

Categories: Online Privacy & Security

2 replies

  1. I read the article. Interesting and frightening. How do I know if I have this VPN on my home Windows PC? Does it usually come installed when you buy a PC or is it something I would have had to install myself? I’ve never installed a VPN myself, so I’m hoping I’m in the clear.


    • I doubt if VNC was pre-installed on any Windows computer. But, to make sure, click on START (on older Windows PCs) or on the Windows icon (on Windows 10) and then select ALL PROGRAMS or ALL APPS. That will show all programs installed in your computer. Look for anything with the letters “VNC” in the name. The original program was simply called VNC while newer versions made by other companies have similar names, such as: TightVNC, RealVNC, TigerVNC, RealVNC, etc.

      In addition, the problem only exists if one of those programs is installed WITHOUT A PASSWORD. If you do find the program is installed and if you wish to keep it, simply add a password to it. That is normally done by launching the program and then looking at the set-up parameters. Any VNC program that has a password will not be a problem.


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