remote maintenance

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Under Remote maintenance is defined as the spatially separated access to IT systems maintenance - and repair purposes . In addition to telephone systems , set-top boxes and industrial systems, computers and server systems are also serviced remotely.

Computer vs. Embedded Systems

Remote maintenance of computers is becoming more and more important when it comes to supporting hardware and software. Due to the increasing networking of computers via the Internet , the establishment of internal company intranets and conventional telecommunication channels ( ISDN , telephone ), the possibilities of direct support in support are expanding. Not least because of the savings in travel expenses and the better use of resources (personnel and technology), remote maintenance products are used to reduce costs in companies.

Remote maintenance programs enable remote service technicians to carry out actions directly on the computers to be maintained. Keystrokes and mouse movements can be transferred. The service technician sees the screen output on his own screen. There are now around 200 products on the market with different technological approaches and performance parameters.

Another frequently used option for remote maintenance is access to active network components for configuration or troubleshooting, such as switches or routers. In most cases, this access takes place from the internal network; access from external networks (e.g. Internet) should be restricted or prohibited.

For other embedded systems (e.g. machines, machinery, elevators, heating systems, small end devices), different requirements apply accordingly.


A distinction can be made between different methods of remote maintenance. If the user who is further away is supported, the passive transmission mode is often used. The service technician can provide assistance by viewing the remote screen. Keyboard and mouse inputs cannot be made. With active remote control, the service technician can also control the mouse and keyboard of the remote computer and thus give the user direct support on site. Active remote control is mostly used for troubleshooting.

A further distinction must be made between remote maintenance and normal user-controlled terminals, such as B. PCs, as well as pure embedded systems. The latter can be a mobile phone, but also, for example, a machine in an industrial plant or an elevator in a building. A direct connection between the device and the remote maintenance system (e.g. via modem / ISDN) is often used to maintain the latter devices. The conversion to IP-based remote maintenance systems is a current task for the future.


Security concerns always play a role when deciding to use remote maintenance software . In addition to the purely technical parameters, organizational regulations should also be included in the considerations when using remote maintenance software. Last but not least, remote maintenance means that there must be a relationship of trust between sender and recipient. Contractual agreements that regulate remote maintenance make sense.

The following security features are conceivable as examples and can be implemented depending on the security level or sensitivity of the computer to be controlled:

  • Those seeking help must expressly consent to remote maintenance of their computer before establishing a connection
  • Remote maintenance information that cannot be hidden is permanently displayed within the connection
  • the settings or configuration of the remote maintenance software used is locked and can only be changed by people who are involved in the remote maintenance process
  • the technician establishing the connection to remote maintenance must authenticate himself
  • Remote maintenance session is logged in an audit-proof manner (text log)
  • Remote maintenance session is recorded (video protocol)

The policy must be followed in all cases, as even can get to the controlling technician to inspect the remote computer may confidential data. Computer crime and negligent handling of data can cause great damage, for example in the form of a Technical Support Scam . Remote maintenance and security do not have to contradict each other. Clear identification procedures, secure firewall settings, high encryption (256 bit) and confidentiality agreements can guarantee a high level of security.

A well-known example of misuse of this technology was when Gary McKinnon broke into US government computers in the early 2000s.

new technologies

The latest technologies enable the simultaneous use of chat , file transfer , Internet telephony and video , monitoring of Internet sites and the help desk . Such an integrated live support system extends the performance of the support and brings together related processes into a workflow . In some cases, such online support systems can be connected to CRM systems and request data on the customer and possibly system data from the system via the network even before the actual service. This results in considerable advantages for customer service, since the support staff has additional information available that can make it much easier to support the customer.

This means that in addition to highly encrypted remote maintenance (256 bit), parallel communication channels are available to the user, which take the support options to a new level. Since the customer service representative can be seen and / or heard ( Voice / Video over IP ), there is a much more "human" contact between both sides, which enables the customer service representative to give support (almost) as if on site. However, since software has to run on the client here too (mostly ActiveX or Java ), certified software should be used for security-related requirements.

Platform-independent software solutions enable remote maintenance of devices with different operating systems.

As part of the conversion of outdated remote maintenance systems based on modem / ISDN in the embedded area, e.g. B. for machines or elevators, to IP-based remote management is often aimed at converting the underlying software platform of the client. One of the technologies used here is OSGi and its TCP / IP-based remote management concept. OSGi provides the basis for the control software - or runs parallel to it - and enables the remote management system to be connected. This change allows (if required) the continued use of GSM / UMTS or ISDN connections, but makes it easier to use the available IP infrastructure.

Another option is cloud-based remote maintenance. The data from the networked machines are collected and evaluated in this cloud from the time the machine is commissioned. In the event of a malfunction, the affected machine reports to the cloud what is defective. The remote maintenance technicians connected to the cloud can then fix this problem on the damaged machine.

Programs for unattended remote control

Programs for the unobserved remote control of PCs or servers were a special case . As an administrator, it is usually necessary to install appropriate software on the computer to be controlled, which monitors network activities. When using this type of software, it is essential to check the security parameters, as there is no human control.

Procurement and use

The decision for remote maintenance software should therefore not only be made by the IT department. The involvement of the data protection officer and, if necessary, the staff council should be mandatory. The necessary degree of encryption, access protection, organizational security (identifiability of the partner) and the reliability of the technical platform should be taken into account, since the possible damage from faulty software or insecure connections can also be very high due to damage to the image or monetary liabilities.

Questions to be clarified before use:

  • Does the software allow encrypted transmission of the data, which encryption is used?
  • Do settings on the firewall have to be changed?
  • Does the connection partner have to be authenticated?
  • Are passwords or key numbers openly transported?
  • Will the user of the device to be serviced be informed about the start of remote servicing and the effects, and do I have to agree to it?
  • Does any software remain on my PC after closing the connection?
  • Are data stored on external servers as part of remote maintenance?
  • Is the software certified?
  • Do I know the service provider?
  • How quickly does remote maintenance build up?
  • Can the user restrict access to only individual applications?
  • How many different PCs or servers are to be looked after in the foreseeable future?
  • What is the maximum number of PCs or servers to be managed at the same time?
  • How many licenses are required to provide the desired services?
  • Are the licenses on the customer service side tied to specific PCs or can they be used by different workstations?
  • How high are the installation costs (personnel costs) and other follow-up costs?
  • Are the licenses available as PC or server licenses or exclusively as ASP licenses?

If a support system is set up that z. If, for example, you want to organize communication via a live support system and organize the assignment of supporters via a help desk , save errors in appropriate databases and then also bring together several specialists, it makes sense to check the integration capability of the product. With a correspondingly high scope of use, an integrated one is preferred. From the error message to the elimination of errors, customer support can be provided without system and media disruptions. At the same time, measures for error analysis, performance monitoring and invoicing can be used.

A concrete needs analysis including the examination of organizational processes, technical parameters and legal framework conditions can prevent bad investments. A high degree of independence of the software from the location and the device of the customer service representative as well as the number and location of the PC or server to be remotely serviced bring decisive advantages with larger numbers of customers.

Remote maintenance software

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Cloud-based remote maintenance as a new level of process optimization ( Memento from April 2, 2016 in the Internet Archive )