Remote desktop software provider TeamViewer has added two-factor authentication (2FA) to incoming connections to alert users when someone is attempting to remotely connect to one of their devices.

Users that enable 2FA connections will receive a push notification giving them the option to allow or deny an incoming connection to registered devices. It is available now on Windows and will be rolled out on iOS and Linux over the coming months.

The software is installed on 2.5 billion devices worldwide and is used to provide remote support by IT teams, as well as by families to less tech-savvy relatives.

Because TeamViewer gives complete remote control over a device it has been a popular target for cybercriminals. Leaked TeamViewer credentials can give an attacker a way in and once inside they can install malware, access online banking or observe the screen to steal sensitive data.

In February an attacker raised the sodium hydroxide levels at a water treatment facility in Oldsmar, Florida, to dangerous levels after taking remote control of the system via TeamViewer. The password to the TeamViewer account was shared among the plant’s employees and there was no firewall in place.

“We are constantly updating our security features to provide the most secure remote connectivity solution while being committed to our easy-to-use approach,” said Christoph Schneider, director of product management at TeamViewer. “No matter if for business purpose or non-commercial users, with the layered approach of multiple security features, everyone can adapt the level of security to their needs.”

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By GlobalData

The German company already had 2FA available for TeamViewer account protection but the new addition provides an extra layer of security welcomed by cybersecurity professionals.

“TeamViewer and other off the shelf remote tools can be dangerous when used for simplicity and convenience, which can often overrule security,” said Jake Moore, cybersecurity specialist at ESET. “Segregating networks for maximum security is vital to reduce the risk of threat actors nefariously dialling in remotely to control the devices.

“Including 2FA will add another level of security which reduces the chance of a remote attack slightly. However, people often look for the path of least resistance and will connect remote tools for ease of use, sparing the thought of it being misused so it is vital that those in control force the use of this layer of protection.”