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TeamViewer stopped working? Let me guess, your ISP is TalkTalk...


March 10, 2017

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TeamViewer stopped working? Let me guess, your ISP is TalkTalk...

If you have ever had to provide remote technical support to a less-nerdy friend or member of your family, you’ll know just how hard it can be.

Over the phone you’re trying to get them to say what they can see on their PC screen, and attempting to describe the button they should be clicking on, or the file they need to drag from one folder to another.

Frankly, it’s a nightmare.

A much easier way to do remote technical support is to use a program that allows you – with permission, of course – to take remote control of the distant PC, and fix it over the internet. You literally take over control of the mouse and keyboard, and can see what is on your “patient”‘s computer screen.

Trust me, it’s a much easier way to fix things – and avoids the need to take a lengthy road-trip to their house.

Many in the IT world use software like Team Viewer to do this remote technical support, and help their friends and family out when they find themselves in a PC pickle.

But here’s the problem – bad guys use Team Viewer too. For years scammers have been contacting vulnerable people, pretending to be from their ISP or Microsoft technical support, and offering to clean-up non-existant virus infections. Because there’s no need to.

If you make the mistake of granting one of these criminals remote access to your computer to “clean it up” you may find that they end up stealing your files, planting malicious code, and even demanding you pay a fee for their bogus service.

British ISP TalkTalk has decided that the problem of scammers defrauding its customers has become so big that they have blocked usage of TeamViewer from its network.

That’s bad news if you’re a scammer, but it’s even worse news if you happen to be a TalkTalk customer who routinely uses TeamViewer to help out friends and family diagnose and fix computer problems.

Unfortunately it took TalkTalk a while to admit that they had blocked the software, leaving many customers posting messages on its forum in the dark as they spent hours trying to get to the bottom of why the software they relied upon was no longer working.

Eventually TalkTalk ‘fessed up that it was responsible for the block:

Apologies for the confusion, but I can confirm that we have implemented a number of network changes that have blocked a number of applications including Teamviewer

We constantly monitor for potentially malicious internet traffic, so that we can protect our customers from phishing and scamming activities. As part of this work, we have recently blocked a number of sites and applications from our network, and we”re working hard to minimise the impact on our customers.

We are working with teamviewer and other 3rd parties on implementing some additional security measures that would enhance the security to all customers of these services but we will continue to block any sites/applications reported by customers to reduce the opportunity for fraud to take place.

I can’t help but give a wry smile at the thought that TalkTalk is the one claiming to give security advice to others. This is, after all, the firm which suffered a massively embarrassing data breach after it was hit by an elementary SQL injection attack.

Judging by the forum messages, TalkTalk’s customers are unimpressed by the decision:

I and no doubt a great many other customers have been using Teamviewer (via TalkTalk) for many years without any problems, now all of a sudden with no prior warning we can’t and no one is saying how long (if at all) before we can use it again. Corporations, Businesses and IT departments worldwide can use Teamviewer but Talktalk customers can’t. Extremely unsatisfactory customer service IMHO.

It feels to me that TalkTalk had good motives, but has handled this issue poorly. It’s no wonder TalkTalk’s customers are upset.




Graham Cluley is an award-winning security blogger, researcher and public speaker. He has been working in the computer security industry since the early 1990s.

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