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(also teletype network)

Telnet definition

Telnet is a network protocol to access a command-line interface on a remote device over a network connection. Created in the 1960s, Telnet allows administrators to manage servers, routers, switches, and other network devices. However, it has several security vulnerabilities, mainly because it transmits data, including usernames and passwords, as plain text. Nowadays, more secure alternatives like SSH (Secure Shell) are preferred for remote access.

Telnet examples

  • Accessing a remote server: A network administrator might use Telnet to manage a remote server, such as adjusting configurations or monitoring performance.
  • Connecting to a router or switch: A network technician can use Telnet to troubleshoot network issues or configure devices on a network.

Comparing Telnet to SSH

SSH is a more secure alternative to Telnet, as it uses encryption to protect data transmissions. Unlike Telnet, SSH ensures that the data, including usernames and passwords, cannot be intercepted and read by unauthorized parties. Due to these security advantages, SSH is widely preferred over Telnet for remote access.

Telnet pros and cons


  • Simple and easy to use.
  • Supports multiple users and sessions.


  • Lacks encryption, making it vulnerable to eavesdropping and man-in-the-middle attacks.
  • Outdated compared to more secure alternatives like SSH.

Tips for using Telnet securely

  • Use a VPN to encrypt your network connection when using Telnet.
  • Avoid transmitting sensitive information, like login credentials or personal data, over Telnet.
  • Migrate to more secure alternatives like SSH whenever possible.

Further reading

Ultimate digital security