How Do I Address Users' Security Concerns? Print E-mail

Question: Because Mac HelpMate allows me to take control of my customers' computers, I'm afraid that they might not trust me or become uncomfortable once they find out what I can do, and might be wary that I can get into their computer without their knowledge or approval.

Answer: Ultimately, it's your part of your task as a consultant or support professional to make sure that you have a trusting relationship with your customer or your end users. However, Mac HelpMate was designed with certain security mechanisms in place that you can convey to users in oder to reassure them that they remain in control of their computers:

1. Mac HelpMate Remote screen sharing can only be started by the user or customer themselves. Mac HelpMate Remote has no mechanism for starting screen sharing without the cooperation of the person who wants to share their screen.

2. The session timeout feature of the Mac HelpMate Remote screen sharing window ensures that the user's computer won't be open to control for an extended period of time.

3. If, at any time, the user wishes to stop the screen sharing session, they can simply click on the "Stop" button on the screen sharing window to stop it instantly.

4. Each screen sharing session has its own, unique single-use security secret generated when the user clicks "Start" to being sharing their screen. When they, or the support professional clicks "Stop," then that secret can never be used again. Extra security measures include a private screen control account and password known only to the Mac HelpMate Professional subscriber, and a unique control key for each computer that is required in addition to the screen control username and password and the randomly generated security secret.

5. All information sent during a screen sharing/control session uses tge  AES-128  encryption algorithm  from end to end which, as configured in Mac HelpMate, is stronger than the cipher in SSL certificates used to secure credit card orders or financial information transmitted over the Internet. The AES-128 algorithm is used by the Federal Government for classified information, and by Apple to secure user data with FileVault.

Question: My users are worried that Mac HelpMate might install some hidden "scripts" or "agents" on their Macs that allow you to spy on them if they choose to remove the Mac HelpMate software.

Answer: Mac HelpMate does not require an administrator password to start screen sharing, and will not install any hidden scripts unless it's for the purposes of automated maintenance tasks, which requires admin rights. The Mac HelpMate application can be run from the user's home directory or even from a disk image, and is easily removed by deleting it from the Mac.

Question: What about Auto HelpMate? Does it install any "hidden" agents or scripts?

Answer: Auto HelpMate does install some scripts in a hidden UNIX directory to enable unattended screen sharing. However, it uses the resources from the Mac HelpMate application itself to share the screen. Therefore, if a user were to remove a consultant's personalized edition of Mac HelpMate from their computer or even move it outside the Applications folder, Auto HelpMate would cease to work. 

Question: My users are worried that Mac HelpMate might be sending some of their private information to a server on the Internet. What infomation does Mac HelpMate tranmist and receive when it launches?

Answer: On launch, Mac HelpMate checks in with a server to see if there are any application updates available. Update checking may be turned off in the Mac HelpMate preferences. Mac HelpMate also checks the personalizaiton information to make sure that it's not possible for anyone to "spoof" a trusted consultant's identity, logo, or URL. Mac HelpMate may also send an email message to the consultant or support professional on request, or, if configured to do so in the Mac HelpMate remote screen sharing window, will also email randomly generated screen sharing secrets and keys to the consultant or support professional.
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