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Google Is Bringing Chrome Remote Desktop App To Android 104

Posted by timothy
from the we-call-this-the-mom-view dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Google is building a Chrome remote desktop app, which lets you access other computers or another user access your computer over the Internet, for Android. The new addition, called Chromoting, will likely be pushed as a mobile version of the existing Chrome Remote Desktop offering. For those who don't know, the original Chrome Remote Desktop is an extension for Google's browser. It was first released as a beta in October 2011 and could be used to control another one of your own computers as well as a friend's or family member's (usually to help with IT issues)."
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Google Is Bringing Chrome Remote Desktop App To Android

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  • by NobleSavage (582615) on Saturday July 20, 2013 @01:57AM (#44335487)
    I feel dirty using Chrome. It's made by Google and I just assume they are snooping on me. For this reason I stick to Firefox even though Chrome is probably faster.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      "I feel dirty using Chrome. It's made by Google and I just assume they are snooping on me."

      Join the club.

      "For this reason I stick to Firefox even though Chrome is probably faster."

      Not necessarily. In a recent benchmark, Firefox beat Chrome. But that isn't necessarily also true for the Android versions. Hard to know.

      In any case, there is already TeamViewer for Android, which works nicely with Macs (and presumably Windows as well). I would really prefer one that doesn't use a 3rd party at all; if anybody knows of one I would appreciate hearing about it.

      As for remote file transfer, I highly recommend Total Commander because it works in the classic 2-pane file manager

      • by Lennie (16154)

        TeamViewer traffic gets routed through their servers too (unless you are using it on the same network, but you don't control that).

        Keep an eye on WebRTC protocol, they will add screen sharing (not just for your browser, there are libraries for mobile and desktop apps too). Then you are in control.

        • by rvw (755107)

          TeamViewer traffic gets routed through their servers too (unless you are using it on the same network, but you don't control that).

          I doubt that all traffic goes through their servers. You need to connect to their servers to get the ID working, and the ID is used to connect the computer to the proper IP-address. If you're on a local network, you can use a direct IP-address, and probably you can do the same using port forwarding. But on a local network no connection to the TV servers is needed. So if you setup a VPN, you can avoid this.

        • "TeamViewer traffic gets routed through their servers too (unless you are using it on the same network, but you don't control that)."

          That may be true; but the point is that it doesn't go through GOOGLE servers.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        Uhh, VNC? Been using it for years.
      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Not necessarily. In a recent benchmark, Firefox beat Chrome. But that isn't necessarily also true for the Android versions. Hard to know.

        It doesn't actually matter because Chrome for Android is not very good. If it were, then chromebooks wouldn't exist; they'd be Android devices which run Chrome for Android. The poor quality of Chrome for Android is literally the only reason why ChromeOS exists. Unless you think Google wants to maintain two Linux-based operating systems with substantial overlap?

        As for remote file transfer, I highly recommend Total Commander because it works in the classic 2-pane file manager style. Put the remote machine in one pane and your Android in the other, and just copy files back and forth. It's great. Other file managers work remotely too, but that's the only 2-pane solution of which I am aware.

        Why would I care? Run samba server (it's an app) on your device, and copy files to/from it using your PC, or run any file manager on your device, and

        • If it were, then chromebooks wouldn't exist; they'd be Android devices which run Chrome for Android.

          you don't understand chromebooks. they exist to provide a zero-maintenance cloud-only (mostly) device. android isn't that since it has local installs and "native" applications.

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            you don't understand chromebooks. they exist to provide a zero-maintenance cloud-only (mostly) device. android isn't that since it has local installs and "native" applications.

            You don't understand Chromebooks, or Android. Like Android, Chromebooks run a stripped-down Linux distribution designed for simplicity. If Chrome for Android were worth a crap, and if you had Android boot right into it and didn't give any options to get out of it, then it would be like a Chromebook in every way that mattered; all the rest would be details.

            • If Chrome for Android were worth a crap, and if you had Android boot right into it and didn't give any options to get out of it, then it would be like a Chromebook in every way that mattered; all the rest would be details.

              so this is your plan? take linux, patch the heck out of it to support the android platform, then throw hundreds of megabytes of code and services on top of it provide the android platform to allow execution of android apps ... then don't use any of it because you are booting straight into chrome. if only you had worked for google and could have shown them the error of their ways.

              • by drinkypoo (153816)

                so this is your plan? take linux, patch the heck out of it to support the android platform, then throw hundreds of megabytes of code and services on top of it provide the android platform to allow execution of android apps ... then don't use any of it because you are booting straight into chrome.

                "Then don't use any of it" is a colossally stupid way to describe what would be happening there. You'd still be using all of it. "Patch [blah blah blah]" is also a traumatically stupid thing to say, because they have already done this. That's the whole point of my comment. They don't need to create and maintain Linux all over again, because they are already doing that, and it is called Android. Android does everything ChromeOS does, except run a decent version of Chrome, but ChromeOS doesn't do everything A

                • my friend, i would recommend you go read a book. you don't understand how android is put together.
                  http://shop.oreilly.com/product/0636920021094.do [oreilly.com]

                  "Patch [blah blah blah]" is also a traumatically stupid thing to say, because they have already done this.

                  let me try to explain this to you. android is linux + linux patches + the android plafform. the linux patches are largely, but not entirely there to support running the android platform. so saying you want to run chrome (desktop) on android doesn't make sense. it means you are,

                  1) running it on top of a linux that has irrelevant and probably detrimental patches.

                  2)

        • "Why would I care? Run samba server (it's an app) on your device, and copy files to/from it using your PC, or run any file manager on your device, and copy files to/from your PC using it."

          I was referring to file transfer controlled by the mobile device. And I don't particularly want to run Samba Server on my dev machine.

      • by Zenin (266666)

        Not necessarily. In a recent benchmark, Firefox beat Chrome.

        Then I've no idea what they were benchmarking.

        Chrome is at least an order of magnitude faster the Firefox in nearly everything. At least in real time (which is all that actually matters). It doesn't take "benchmarks" to see clearly how snappy Chrome is and how much of a total dog Firefox has become.

        Granted, it's probably the JavaScript engine more then anything else. But on today's web, JavaScript is where 90% of sites spend 90% of their time.

        • by manu0601 (2221348)

          Not necessarily. In a recent benchmark, Firefox beat Chrome.

          Then I've no idea what they were benchmarking.

          Latest versions?

    • by hairyfeet (841228)

      While I don't really care for the phone home crap either last I checked the remote chrome thing worked just as good in Comodo Dragon which does NOT have the phone home to Google crap, so its not like you HAVE to take phone home to use this feature.

      that said I tried it and...meh, It doesn't really work as well as remote assistance on Win 7, its kinda laggy, mouse is jerky, and it just wasn't as pleasant to use as remote assistance. Say what you will about MSFT but that feature is a fricking lifesaver, don'

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Wow, I wonder if Google has ALREADY given their Buddies over at the NSA a BACKDOOR so we get spied on even more?

      • Wow, I wonder if Google has ALREADY given their Buddies over at the NSA a BACKDOOR so we get spied on even more?

        Even more than what?

        I had assumed that by now everybody was aware that all of the major search engines or other online services had backdoors for the NSA or other so-called "security" agencies. Similarly, everybody should now be aware that there is fuck-all you can do about it (other than complain, of course).

        The only things you can protect yourself against (to a large extent) are commercial interests that (for now, at least) don't have access to the pipes available to governments.

        From this point of v

    • by FPhlyer (14433) on Saturday July 20, 2013 @02:43AM (#44335609) Homepage

      Google owns my digital existence. They read my mail, know every website I visit, record all my voice mails, track who I call and can use GPS to track me to within just a few meters of my location on the planet at any given moment.
      Yet somehow Google's services make me feel like they've actually added value to my life. If Google were a government, I'd feel like Winston Smith. ...I try not to think about it.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        As for me, I'm a rabid, frothing Binger. When doctors were trying to find out why my daughter was severely ill, I used Bing to find the answer. I have Bing to thank for my daughter's life, and I now worship it as a God. I have zero doubt that you'd absolutely adore Bing if you just tried it out.

        Don't believe me? Bing it on, you worthless loser! Only human garbage doesn't use Bing in this day and age! [bingiton.com]

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by thegarbz (1787294)

        This! You're not going to get modded up here because of the typical group think on Slashdot. But the everything Google must be bad view has gone insane. Given all the services they provide I'll happily part with information so they can feed me ads that I don't click on, or datamine my information to produce better products (traffic in google maps).

        If I'm the product that Google is selling, why the hell do I feel so much like a really grateful customer?

        • by Seumas (6865) on Saturday July 20, 2013 @04:46AM (#44335915)

          I think you are missing the point. This is 2013 and the concern for Google serving you with targeted ads in return for a service has been superseded by the reality that they are essentially a massive data collection service (directly and systematically or indirectly and by coercion -- but let's not act like there aren't nefarious ties to the government, here) for state.

          It is 2013 and people *long* for the more carefree days of the past when the biggest security/privacy concern was targeted ads.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by thegarbz (1787294)

            Except that isn't Google's primary business but rather a side effect. Again I struggle to get upset at the data Google collects when every ISP is hording my emails and passing my phone conversations to the government too. At least I get something out of the massive amount of data Google collects. With most other companies I pay for the services, don't get any where near a polished product(s) in return, and yet the government still gets all my details.

            Sure privacy is a problem but lets not be cute and preten

        • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 20, 2013 @04:50AM (#44335925)

          If anything, for some time, Slashdot has had a everything-Google-must-be-good bias.

          I'm glad that their good-boy image is finally being revised.
          Recent events have shown that while Google may not be worse than other companies in the industry, they're certainly not better.

          • by thegarbz (1787294) on Saturday July 20, 2013 @08:12AM (#44336381)

            Which recent events?

            Recording unencrypted data on public Wifi? Discontinuing some free services? Complying with DCMA takedown requests? I'm still struggling to see how this puts them on par with anyone else in the industry. I mean there are companies out there who are actively at war against open access, others who will pull the plug on customers at the drop of a dime and NOT offer any opportunity to get at your own data. Some companies buy up and destroy competitors for no reason other than less competition, and I can think of a handful of companies who are far worse than Google in regards to privacy and the products they offer consumers while at the same time charging for the privilege of screwing us over.

            So please tell me, just what has Google done that puts them on par with the rest of the industry, because despite everyone being happy that Google supposedly is getting a bad image I have yet to see anything that makes me think that they aren't still the best on the block.

          • Recent events have shown that while Google may not be worse than other companies in the industry, they're certainly not better.

            Agreed. But if anyone really cares about the data that Google collects on them, there are quite a few steps that can be taken to limit or eliminate them.

            Or, of course, there is the option to simply not use any of Google's services.

            • if anyone really cares about the data that Google collects on them, there are quite a few steps that can be taken to limit or eliminate them.

              Starting with a move to a remote desert island with no electricity, food or water! Further steps may need to be taken thereafter, but if I told you, I would have to kill you!

        • by cjjjer (530715)
          The only difference is Google uses the data to profile you so they can show you targeted ads and slowly tell you how to make decisions based on their suggestions. The government uses the data to find people who they perceive as enemy's of the state.

          Lets face it more and more people are becoming sheep by letting companies say dictate what they like by constantly bombarding them with "suggestions".

          The way I see is if I have nothing to hide and my data the government collects is vanilla enough they are goin
          • Lets face it more and more people are becoming sheep by letting companies say dictate what they like by constantly bombarding them with "suggestions".

            welcome to the Real World, where people don't just give you billion dollar a year services for free. exercise your free will to either participate in the data collection + free service realm, or private + pay realm.

            google ads are generally unobtrusive enough to not block me from doing what i want. sure, i still see them and they most likely have a subconscious effect. the same effect that radio, TV, billboard, and print ads have on me. the same affect advertising has had on people from the day someone thoug

          • The government uses the data to find people who they perceive as enemy's of the state.

            And then accidentally loses it.

            The way I see is if I have nothing to hide and my data the government collects is vanilla enough they are going to leave me alone

            You must be new to this planet.

      • by Seumas (6865)

        I don't care what it adds to my life. It is still wrong.

        Unfortunately, there's not really a lot of other solutions. Running your own server doesn't solve anything. You think that big-name colos aren't either tapped or obligated to hand over access to your content on servers in their buildings or on their systems? You think your ISP doesn't have access to everything passing over the internet from your end? Even if you use a VPN, there is very little certainty that you are entirely protected at the provider's

      • Google watching your stuff as 'payment' for their services is not the same as the government watching you, as payment for being a citizen.

        One is a choice.

        • by tlhIngan (30335)

          Google watching your stuff as 'payment' for their services is not the same as the government watching you, as payment for being a citizen.

          One is a choice.

          Both are choices - if you don't like what your government does, immigrate. Of course, just like there's not necessarily a browser that fits your needs, there may not be a country that fits your needs either.

          Of course, Google spying through the browser and many interconnected websites and ad networks (Google has what, 99% of the online ad market? Even all t

          • by nurb432 (527695)

            Since *every* government spies on its citizens, i don't think your suggestion 'if you don't like it go somewhere else' is an actual option.

            Choosing another browser is an actual choice.

            Now, if you want to toss in 'meets my needs', well you are still talking choice. You don't *need* a browser, but you do need a place to live.

    • by Seumas (6865) on Saturday July 20, 2013 @04:07AM (#44335819)

      Yeah, the idea of letting them access my desktop (or even just potentially capture video of my desktop interactions) is fucking gross. It's sad that we're now in a world where this fear is entirely substantiated and not simple paranoia.

    • Not really, Firefox performance is much better. Chrome stagnated because there is only so much you can do to improve JS.
    • This.

      Just another massive pipeline of everything you do the NSA can spy on without a warrant. Oh, in many cases, but not all, "they're supposed to", but if the tech doesn't force them to with incorruptible logging of activities and multiple alarms going off, well...you know...

      Any politician would be a fool to use something like this.

    • by arisvega (1414195)

      It's made by Google and I just assume they are snooping on me.

      Fair assumption, I believe. They do snoop on all their other stuff, why not on this one as well.

    • by couchslug (175151)

      I feel dirty using the Internet.

      I know everyone who CAN snoop on me does.

  • Google may provide a group policy option to disable the chromoting function.... But who is to say an attacker or misbehaving user doesn't later find a bug to turn it back on or circumvent the disablement?

    • But who is to say an attacker or misbehaving user doesn't later find a bug to turn it back on or circumvent the disablement?

      you have to install a native binary to use chrome remote desktop. if an attacker can install arbitrary binaries on your device and twiddle arbitrary application settings, then you have bigger problems.

    • Just define "attacker" as the NSA, and you can remove all doubts that this function will be exploited.

  • Bad name (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I would have gone with Chroaming personally.

  • by Morgaine (4316) on Saturday July 20, 2013 @03:31AM (#44335725)

    Client-side Javascript is already a security disaster because the unvetted JS code bypasses your perimeter defenses (firewall and proxies) and executes deep inside your privacy domain. And it's not only unvetted code but also unvettable, because it changes with every page.

    15 years ago, everyone knew that only the clueless download untrusted 3rd party executable code and run it. Now with JS, all that sensible security advice has been forgotten, and everyone is required to behave clueless with their security. (Software sandboxes are no solution, because all non-trivial software like JS and the browser is riddled with bugs, this is inescapable with large software systems.) Add-ons like NoScript and Ghostery help control it a little, but technically unaware people can't be expected to use them, and more and more websites don't work at all without JS.

    And now, Google wants to make it especially easy for remote 3rd parties to access other people's desktops, as if JS didn't make it easy enough already (just ask any security pen-tester). It adds to the already hopeless security in Android, where users are disallowed from blocking the wide access typically demanded by an app on installation. Google doesn't want you to be in control.

    The whole Google scene is a security disaster by design. It beats me how a company with so many PhDs can be so cavalier with people's security and hostile to their privacy.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      How's your lawn?

    • by fpoling (2535392) on Saturday July 20, 2013 @04:09AM (#44335823)
      It is not the external code that is harmful, it is what external untrusted data could do to your system when you access them is important. Bug in HTML or CSS parser or a layout engine can just as well lead to arbitrary code execution as a bug in JS implementation. As the complexity of HTML/CSS/layout is comparable if not bigger than that of JS engines switching off JS brings you just a false sense of security.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Javascript is Turing-complete, so validation would require infinite time. Layout (and media) formats are not Turing-complete, and hence can in principle be validated --- usually this is trivial. More importantly though, you could ignore layout and still see the data, whereas ignoring the Javascript often means that the site is no longer operational, and sometimes not even visible.

        The difference between code and layout is huge.

    • by Lennie (16154)

      When was the last time you've seen an exploit only written in Javascript only (not abuse plugins and so on) that would own a computer in the wild on an up to date browser ?

    • by thegarbz (1787294) on Saturday July 20, 2013 @04:20AM (#44335859)

      Erm I am running unvetted code all the time. Right now there's gigs of unvetted code in my memory. Heck even your typical linux users will have unvetted code in the form of binary blobs for various drivers, maybe even software packages, not to mention the computer BIOS.

      Some how I find it hard to get up in arms about a bit of javascript knowing that it's scope is limited, it is sandboxed, and that it pales in comparison to the security nightmare which is 3rd party applications I am using constantly, most of which have some internet facing element or are riddled with exploitable bugs of their own.

      As much as bashing on Google is the in thing to do, the product being discussed is 2 years old, they are just releasing an Android client for it. The world didn't implode when it was released, and I haven't heard of the plugin being exploited in any way either. And users being disallowed from blocking access to Android apps? Well with the 1000s of apps that do the same thing on the market, why not just download the ones with sensible security requirements? When a fart app needs access to my contact list it doesn't get installed, no security risk. And for shit like Angry birds which plays full screen video ads, that's easily defeated by a single keypress which disables data traffic on my phone. I'm unlikely to be browsing the net while playing angry birds anyway.

      They are being cavalier with security partially because people don't care, and partially because security problems are usually blown way out of proportion.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Erm I am running unvetted code all the time. Right now there's gigs of unvetted code in my memory. Heck even your typical linux users will have unvetted code in the form of binary blobs for various drivers, maybe even software packages, not to mention the computer BIOS.

        All of those items of code are vetted, if not by you then by others. This is because they do not change all the time, but have versions numbers and can be tied down to a specific file, and that file can be analyzed. When people find a probl

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Erm I am running unvetted code all the time.

        Right, but two reloads of the same webpage might actually deliver you different code, and if you don't run with noscript then that code can be coming from all over the internet, and not just from the site you thought you were visiting, due to the miracle of ad networks — which have been used to deliver malware time and again. Whereas if I run the same program twice on my desktop, it's the same program both times.

        • Whereas if I run the same program twice on my desktop, it's the same program both times.

          that's a bad assumption. what's stopping the desktop app from connecting to the internet and downloading code and executing it? answer: nothing.

          there's nothing special about your browser. it's just a native application. anyone can write a native application that doesn't the same thing.

    • The whole Google scene is a security disaster by design. It beats me how a company with so many PhDs can be so cavalier with people's security and hostile to their privacy.

      yeah, great point. let's go back to having all pages rendered on the server and sent as static documents back to the client. while we are at it, let's get rid of any system that runs code locally on your device ... sandbox or not.

      while we are at it, let's blame google for all operating systems and environments that do anything other than the above.

      yep, sounds like you have a good grip on the solution alright.

  • Hm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shemmie (909181) on Saturday July 20, 2013 @04:01AM (#44335807)

    Am I the only one who's gone from 'oooo, that's cool!' to 'I'm not sure I feel comfortable with that' with a lot of new technology from 'the big guys' recently?

    Google own my life. And by extension, my Government, other Governments, security agencies, and many corporate interests own my life.

    I've known this forever (and tried not to think about it too much), but with recent disclosures, it's really brought it all home.

    All tech I look at now I'm finally asking "So... what data does that give you access to?". It's taking time to figure out a migration path for all my current solutions, but I'm slowly trying to find a route where I'm in control of my data. I know that this probably makes me an idiot, and those that were always privacy concious can laugh - but meh, it's better late than never to come to this realization that I can't trust any third party. Isn't it?

    • Yep, I'm in the exact same boat.
    • by Seumas (6865)

      If you ever find a solution that still involves the internet, but doesn't have obvious weak points (website, colo, service provider, vpn provider, etc) you should let us know. Unfortunately, I see absolutely no practical solution for privacy. Like free speech, privacy is something that you only have the benefit of as long as the state lets you have the benefit of it.

    • by skegg (666571)

      All tech I look at now I'm finally asking "So... what data does that give you access to?"

      Bud, you're definitely not alone.

      Large corporations will conduct due diligence [wikipedia.org] before committing to a course of action.
      I'm glad some of this mindset is starting to pervade ordinary consumers. (Though still a very small percentage of consumers.)

    • by Anonymous Coward

      If you're not running code you wrote yourself on hardware you built yourself running firmware you wrote yourself, which in turn is not communicating in any way except with other machines like this, you're just whipping yourself into a frothy paranoid mess pointlessly.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        If you're not running code you wrote yourself on hardware you built yourself running firmware you wrote yourself, which in turn is not communicating in any way except with other machines like this, you're just whipping yourself into a frothy paranoid mess pointlessly.

        A condom is not 100% safe, that doesn't make it meaningless to use a condom. Extreme black or white thinking like you outline is just giving up, instead of making informed choices along the range of risk/reward options that you have. Of course you can greatly influence your exposure to risk (security or privacy wise) without going to the extremes you describe.

    • by thegarbz (1787294)

      I've known this forever (and tried not to think about it too much), but with recent disclosures, it's really brought it all home.

      Slightly off topic but recent disclosures have driven a different point home to me, that I'm just a number in a horrendously massive database. I was less comfortable when privacy attacks were specific such as warrantless GPS tracking. But now we are in a situation where the governments know everything there is to know about everyone, and by extension they have shown time and time again to be unable to do anything even remotely useful with their information.

      The troubling thing is that most terrorists in rece

      • by Richy_T (111409)

        The problem isn't so much that they have a big bunch of data but that then rather than have a crime and find the perpetrator, they can now pick a person who they don't like and find a crime or other embarrassing data to fit them.

        You can argue that people shouldn't be doing things if they don't want to have them show up later. However, firstly, there are so many laws that most of us are committing a few every day, often without knowing. Secondly, what kind of world is it going to be if only the completely pu

  • In Your Dreams (Score:3, Insightful)

    by some old guy (674482) on Saturday July 20, 2013 @05:25AM (#44336021)

    Google really thinks I'm going to give a security sieve like Android mobile (or any phone for that matter) RPC/RDP permissions of any kind? Knowing that an Android can be "rooted" by Google, the carrier, a mildy capable script kiddy,or the government at any time?

    Fat fucking chance. The air wall between my phone and my desk stays up.

    • by Richy_T (111409)

      This is why I've avoided using it on my Chromebook. I've accepted that the Chromebook itself may be compromised but damned if I'll install Google's spy software on my main PC. Just waiting for VNC to become available for the Sammy...

  • by ja (14684)
    Actually, the lack of a decent Xserver is what makes Androids so totally unusable to me - but I suppose, since it could be useful, that that's not what they are up to.
  • You would think that Google's stuff would be first available on their own platform...

  • I run x11vnc on my Linux desktop and connect remote using androidVNC. Neither are likely to phone home to Google.

  • Sorry in advance if I missed some crucial piece of information relating to this in the last few weeks.

    At what point exactly did we determine that Google was giving ANY information to the NSA of their own accord? (ignoring DMCAs and the like, as I don't think that's the NSAs job).

    The whole point of PRISM is that it splits the light signal from fibre optic cables on the internet backbone, which is NOT under Google's control.

    As far as we know, when Google announced it had never heard of PRISM before, when it f

  • Here is what we can learn from Google's FAQ [google.com]

    The machine you remote connect on shall accept inbound UDP traffic, and TCP 443 (HTTP/SSL) and 5222 (XMPP, aka Jabber). Google claim to secure the thing using SSL, which suggests your machine will get a x509 certificate signed by Google. But what Common Name will it have? If it is the IP or DNS name, how Google is going to avoid clashes for machines on dynamic IP?

    Here is the answer for PRISM interception:

    While your connection setup is mediated by Google's servers, your actual remote desktop session data are sent directly from the client to the host, except in limited circumstances where they may pass through Google relays.

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