Networking

TeamViewer: Secure remote access and a lot more

Does an app that shares desktops, sets up unattended remote control, facilitates online presentations, allows online audio/video collaboration, and provides VPN capability interest you?

Being able to access files on the work or home computer remotely is important to many people, including me. Hence my continuing quest to find the ultimate remote access app.

Meet TeamViewer

When I started researching TeamViewer, I thought it was simply another remote-access application, with the typical set of features. I was mistaken, TeamViewer offers more. How many remote access apps provide VPN connectivity and audio/video conferencing?

Something else caught my attention. TeamViewer is ported to the iPhone. That's an important consideration for me. As a consultant, I never know when I might get a please-help-me phone call. Being able to access computers remotely with my iPhone is a definite advantage.

Some questions

To learn more about TeamViewer I contacted Constantin Falcoianu of TeamViewer GmbH. We exchanged the following questions and answers during an email conversation.

TechRepublic: How did TeamViewer GmbH the company get its start? Is TeamViewer the only product? Falcoianu: TeamViewer was founded in 2005 to serve the need of connecting people with one another so that they wouldn't have to meet in person. This helps save time and money normally spent on traveling.

TeamViewer GmbH has developed TeamViewer as well as complementary software solutions such as TeamViewer Manager, TeamViewer Portable, TeamViewer Host, TeamViewer QuickSupport, TeamViewer Web Connector, a Mac OS X version, and an iPhone version. They all serve the same purpose of connecting people.

TechRepublic: Could you give an overview of TeamViewer? Falcoianu: TeamViewer is one of the leading desktop sharing and remote control software solutions with over 60,000,000 users in more than 50 countries around the world. The software is available in 16 languages. TechRepublic: There are several remote access applications on the market. What makes TeamViewer stand out?

Falcoianu: TeamViewer is an all-in-one solution for desktop sharing, remote control, online-presentations, and online collaboration. If you have one of those needs, TeamViewer will be able to help.

There are plenty of features included in the software, such as remote rebooting, VoIP, video conferencing, session recording, changing of view directions, VPN, and finally file transfers. TeamViewer is also available for Windows, Mac OS X, and as an iPhone app. The software is absolutely free for non-commercial use. For companies, TeamViewer has affordable lifetime licenses.

TechRepublic: You mentioned that VPN access was one of the additional features. If the session is secure, why would a VPN option be needed? Falcoianu: VPN technology is different from shared access. It allows computers to join remote networks. For example, VPNs allow people to reach remote printers or databases, not just computers. TechRepublic: TeamViewer has two ways for someone to log into a remote computer. What is the purpose of that? Falcoianu: TeamViewer has the capability of providing remote access within seconds if someone needs help with their computer. This can be done by using QuickSupport, a small executable file that doesn't need to be installed nor require administrator privileges on the remote person's computer.

Also, TeamViewer can be used to remotely access an unattended computer or server. For this purpose, TeamViewer Host is used. The program runs as a service on the unattended machine.

TechRepublic: I was surprised, every application on my computer has a new button in the upper right corner. I believe it is called the QuickConnect button. Could you explain what it does? Answer: The QuickConnect button is a feature that enhances the connection being shared by two or more parties. By clicking on the QuickConnect button, you share the associated program with everyone instantly. TechRepublic: TeamViewer offers the option of using VoIP or conference calling. Is it possible to have multiple remote sessions running concurrently? Falcoianu: Yes, you can have multiple concurrent sessions from your computer to different partners, and share the VoIP or conference feature with all of them. TechRepublic: I've read that TeamViewer's encryption is based on 1024 Bit RSA private/public key exchange and 256 Bit AES session encoding. Could you explain what that means? Is there a difference between encryption and session encoding? Falcoianu: For the connection, TeamViewer first generates a set of 1024 Bit encrypted RSA private/public keys which are exchanged. That key pair is needed for the encryption of the symmetrical AES 256 Bit session keys. In other words, the RSA keys keep the AES 256 Bit secure during the set up phase of the encrypted session. This offers state of the art security for every session established by TeamViewer. TechRepublic: The TechRepublic members are security-conscious. What assurance can you give that neither TeamViewer GmbH nor anyone else can decipher session traffic? Falcoianu: The technology used to encrypt the sessions is based on the same standards as https or SSL and is considered to be secure by today's standards. The private/public key exchange ensures that TeamViewer routing servers and as a result, TeamViewer GmbH cannot decipher the data stream which is sent through the network since the private key never leaves the client's computer. Final thoughts

TeamViewer is quite an application, being able to accomplish many different tasks with just one program. My experience with TeamViewer has been positive when both parties are computers. That was not true with the iPhone application; it always required several attempts to complete a connection.

I want to thank Constantin Falcoianu and the people at TeamViewer GmbH for taking the time to answer my questions.

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35 comments
sera9999
sera9999

PLZ ANYONE REPLY SOON..........PLZ


sera9999
sera9999

hiiiii i want to know abt the security of vedio call in team viewer.....is hacking and all is possible in TV?

Lucas199
Lucas199

My problem with Teamviewer is that I get a ???Secure session established??? message but no view of the target site; program appears to be hung up. The Teamviewer log-on screen shows the target site online. I suspected something was wrong when I clicked on ???Connect to partner??? and the password ID box did not pop up. I have tried to restore it over the past few hours with no luck. Finally i switched to Ammyy Admin http://www.ammyy.com which works fine.

trocas
trocas

I've been using Teamviewer for the past few weeks to access my office computer from home and noticed something weird. I would get the small popup informing me that the partner computer signed in even while I was accessing it. Thought it was some sort of software glitch and didn't pay attention to it. Today the computer at the office was updated from Vista to Windows 7 and I installed Teamviewer again. After a few minutes, same thing. I was connected and received the popup. So I ran Tcpview and surprise surprise. Established connection to Teamviewer from several different IP's. Excluding the Teamviewer server to keep track of the online clients and my computer, I had connections from the UK, Germany, Saudi Arabia and several Eastern European countries. After rebooting the computer and activating Teamviewer, not even five minutes and another random connection... Searching for someone reporting a similar problem I found these 2 posts: http://www.xtremecomputer.com/articles/view_article.asp?v=59 http://mursplace.blogspot.com/2009/11/teamviewer-session-hijacking-firewall.html Scary to think you happily going on about your business and that someone is watching. Even more if you consider that the company boasts that over 60 million users trust Teamviewer.

trmccow
trmccow

This all sounds awesome. I have a blackberry 8520, and I'm not much around the computer. Usually out and about.. So remote access would save me a lot of Trouble. I have seen these type of programs but I've never been able to understand all of the initial setup. I'm a fast learner(very fast..) But. Its something I just haven't really learned.

LockOutGirl
LockOutGirl

I use a Mac at home exclusively and my parents use PCs, so whenever they have a question they call me. I had to sit there, trying to envision the way it would look on their machine, or decipher their vaguely worded descriptions of what the problem was. Now, with Team Viewer, I just tell them to open the program and I'm in viewing their screen. It really came in handy just a few weeks ago when my father was fed up with the computer running at a snail's pace and not loading programs. If I hadn't been able to see in with TeamViewer, I would never have pinned it down to the Norton scanner eating up CPU in the background. Saved them frustration and money by taking the computer back to the terrible comp repair place they used before, and saved me a headache of having to drive to their house a few hours away for diagnosing. I've been VERY grateful to have this program now, and my parents have no hesitations in asking me to fix things now. Which may or may not be a good thing...

fredcoman
fredcoman

I love using Team Viewer. With me being a student in college I have quite a few people asking me to come over to their house because something isn't working right. Well, as long as they have access to the internet, I shoot them the link for Team Viewer and 9 times out of 10, I get the job done from my computer desk at home. It's very seldom that I have to travel across town to check something out.

RedTalon
RedTalon

I needed a remote access solution for fixing family members and friends computers remotely, and found that Microsoft's built in solution was just too much of a hassle for less computer literate people. I tried several different applications before I finally found Teamviewer. It's been great! I simply direct them to www.teamviewer.com and have them click on the "Join a Session" link, click on "Run" at the prompt, and then supply me with the id and password. Bam! I'm connected and controlling their desktop. I've been using the desktop version for about six months now with hardly a glitch. The other night I was working on my mom's computer with Teamviewer and didn't have time to finish what I needed to do, so the following day I connected to her computer from my job using the iphone app. It wasn't quite as convenient as the desktop version, but I was able to do everything that I needed to do. After you get the hang of it you'll be zooming around the desktop of the remote computer. The only thing that I have had any problem with is the "remote reboot" feature. Sometimes it will not actually reboot the remote machine or I will lose my connection and not be able to log back in without the remote partner's assistance. Other than that I recommend it for anyone who is seeking a remote access solution.

robertr
robertr

I read a previous ZIFFNET artical on Remote Help Desk which listed (and compared) programs, but in my book they all fell short of the power and simplicity Teamviewer provides. I found out about Teamviewer in a Forum so I installed it, but did not get the opportunity for about a month to actually use it to help a family member 800 miles away. I like the File Transfer capability as well. Great Program, and simple to use!

TeamViewer
TeamViewer

Michael, You are most welcome. Many thanks from all of us at TeamViewer for your research and the resulting post. Best, Constantin Falcoianu TeamViewer GmbH

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

TeamViewer has a bunch of features that make it more than just a remote access application. It even sets up a VPN effortlessly.

SniperHunter
SniperHunter

Indeed... any time the application (service) is running, the computers talk with Teamviewer Servers.. noted ip addresses 87.230.74.43 and 87.230.74.44 Having an application 'quietly' connected to anothers network really bites. I can't believe anyone would leave an application such as this or the plethera of other applications like it, connected to someone elses network. I understand why... but it would seem that they would allow you to disconnect when not in use. Instead, the connection is hidden from the user which leaves me again to say 'No way...' Remote access is NOT that important to use this or any other application that hides itself in the background.. icon by the clock or not... not making it known that there is a connection is poor practice. Yes 'Trust Me', we're a company and have lots of happy users is not adequate reason to leave the door open.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

I am curious as to why they did not mention this to TeamViewer? I will pass this information along to be sure.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

Your experiences. It is important to get other opinions.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

That can be a lifesaver versus trying to talk through the problem with someone over the phone.

TeamViewer
TeamViewer

Support of Windows Mobile is not planned yet. But we just released an iPhone app, maybe this helps ;) Best, Constantin TeamViewer GmbH

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

The QuickSupport app is great as well. You can email it to the person and start up a session very quickly.

peterado
peterado

I too use this for helping family members. My 88 yr old mother in law is 2000 miles away and needs help once in awhile. I've found it's convenient to run TV as a service on her computer so I can log in whenever I want as long as her lap top is powered on. This way I can do occasional maintenance without bothering her. This way also lets me reliably re-boot. I do have security concerns because TV is always running in the background. I do use a long random password. Any other ideas about how to increase her security? Or detect a 3rd party?

Realvdude
Realvdude

Sounds great for personal tech support and I plan on looking into it for that. I'm wondering if anyone is using this professionally.

theHankster
theHankster

I've used TeamViewer to support friends and family from a distance. One of the main benefits is that it can work through firewalls, or through 'crippled' ISP connections, without additional configuration. For example, at home, my wife occasionally needs help that's a little too difficult to try to work through on the phone. I tried setting up VNC and opening the needed ports on my router, etc., but never could get connected. We ran TeamViewer and were immediately connected. Now I have it running all the time on her computer with a fixed password and when she needs help, I can connect without additional input from her. BTW, I confirmed it was an issue with our ISP blocking ports as I bypassed my router entirely and still couldn't get VNC to connect on standard ports.

CG IT
CG IT

I end up being looking at the security implications [been labled the doom and gloom guy ] rather than the benefits for just about all remote access/remote assistance applications being marketed to IT pros as well as consumers. What sounds really nifty and a great tool to do work remotely, also sounds really nifty to those who would use it for criminal activity. Like LogMeIn, you put this thing on your work computer and you've created an easy method to gain access to the work computer from home, and since consumers are notorious for risky internet behavior, and getting their computers infected, have created a door to a business network by using a company user account through an infected home computer. This is why I think business use of Cloud Computing for company data, on a world wide public network is the worst idea to come along. Those who have remote access to the company data from home using their home computer, run the risk of creating a door for criminals to that data simply because of the users risky internet behavior on their home computer. Great idea, but as I mentioned, I've been labeled the doom and gloom guy because of my mantra "never trust the other guy, never trust what the other guy says".

robertr
robertr

I uploaded QS onto my FTP per the License. Great feature when I seem to be without my thumbdrive.

jeremial-21966916363912016372987921703527
jeremial-21966916363912016372987921703527

We looked at several options for remote control tools recently, for our HD staff. The HD supports c. 2000 employees, 10% of which are in the field in 20 different states. We had been using Citrix's Go2Assist, but that is expensive. There was also a need to just remote into a system over the open internet, when someone could not get connected through the SSL VPN. I had been using Team Viewer personally for support of friends and family, or to just connect to my machine while traveling, and loved it. So, we brought in a demo of the product for the HD staff for 60 days. Within 30, all 20 technicians had concluded this was the tool they wanted. The feedback we got was that Team Viewer is quick and easy for HD support; the end user can be directed to a site in our DMZ to click on a link. With a small, stand-alone client-side executable, the session could be up and running in a few seconds. The HD techs liked that it had a lot of the standard features, such as locking the remote screen, obtaining the system config of the remote machine, remote reboot and reconnect, etc. My personal favorite is the files transfer, it just seems to work much faster than in other tools I've used. The big sell for us, though, was price. We were paying well over $20k a year for 20 licenses of Go2Assist. With TeamViewer, it was just over $12k. And that price is a one-time hurt. For the $12k, you get a life-long license and access to upgrades, as well as customer support. I sold it as saving the company $88k over the course of 5 years, and got quick buy in. So far, the HD loves it. As mentioned, I have used it for years for personal support. I've tried LogMeIn, the Go2Assist product, and a number of others, but I like Team Viewer the best.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

You sharing your experiences. I have seen the same benefits.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

But, darn near every Windows computer out there has a remote access app on it already.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

I as well, just as soon as I am done here. Thanks for sharing.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

Any application can be turned off. I just did not see the point J was trying to make. Also, I have seen a malware demonstration where it turned it on.

Realvdude
Realvdude

and Remote Assistance doesn't give access until the user specifically grants it. To control the computer, the use must manually allow that as well.

CG IT
CG IT

I'll reference this article about smartphones by Galen Gruman on InfoWorld. http://www.infoworld.com/d/mobilize/who-should-own-your-smartphones-173?page=0,2 page 3 at the bottom: I'll cut and paste here. By Galen Gruman - Infoworld article page 3 quote ..."People take care of personal issues on their work phones and take work calls at home, so allowing for the same mix on a cell phone isn't a stretch. Data capabilities, however, provide a new wrinkle, and the fact that employees' smartphones can store and access company information such as emails, contacts, calendars, and documents is enough to make many IT and security pros wince at the thought of dual use. This problem is not unique to smartphones. Many employees work at home -- and even at the office -- on personal computers. A December 2009 Gartner survey estimates that 10 percent of midsize businesses allow employees to use their own personal laptop at work, a figure expected to rise to 14 percent this year. Also, some users play games, check personal email, or run iTunes or Windows Media Player at work to listen to their personal music on their work computers. "The focus is on mobile, but the problem is universal. What's the demarcation? There is none," says Telwares' Voellinger. "By owning the asset [the smartphone or PC], is the prevention [of abuse or breach] any different? The risk is still the same." That's why the "secret" to smartphone management is "treating employees like grown-ups and using a 'trust and verify' model for policy control," Forrester's Schadler says. "You have to stop treating it as an IT policing issue and instead treat it as a business risk management question." More and more companies are making this shift in their thinking, Schadler says, not just for smartphones but also for bring-your-own PCs (and Macs) and other user-facing technologies". end quote. There's the "Trust" word. The article mentions that to use employee owned smartphone and computer equipment like laptops, companies have to trust employees to be adults. We trust them to do the right thing. We trust them not to steal stuff, so that smartphones and employee owned equipment can be adopted by business. That "trust us" I just don't buy into and using tools that provide someone with access to your computer basically from anywhere in the world requires that "trust us" we won't steal anything. Gentleman's agreements, someone's word, no longer is valid.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

I don't get the relationship between the bad guys using remote access and the user. Bad guys can easily get a remote access program on any vulnerable computer. So what is gained by not making use of a program that may offer some benefit to you.

CG IT
CG IT

to turn em off. While remote everything seems like a great idea, everyone interconnected and sharing information with everyone else, all that activity requires an inherent trust. Criminals mainstay is using that inherent trust to their advantage. We trust that web sites on the world wide public network aren't out to steal our money, or our information. We trust that the credit card information we use to buy products online won't be stolen or used without our authoritation. We trust that the companies that gather our information from the world wide public network when we sign up and include our name or fake name email address will be kept private, yet how many get junk email after signing up? I do at every instance. While I really like the idea of a program such as this, and think in a world where there aren't people who will use trust to for their own profit and the truster's detrimental harm, it would be a great profit and a great help, I just don't have that warm fuzzy.