What to expect during a remote desktop support session

When you contact Harvard Medical School Information Technology for assistance, IT support staff may request a remote desktop support session while on the phone.  A remote desktop support session allows IT support staff to interact with your computer while providing support.

To allow the support session to take place you must be present at your computer to allow certain activities to take place.

During the remote desktop support session you may see dialog windows on your computer requesting access. These dialogs may include the following types of access requests:

  • View access: Allows IT support staff to view the desktop of your computer.
  • Control access:  Allows IT support staff to control your computer.
  • Administrative access: Allows IT support staff elevated access to your computer with an IT provided user account.  This allows IT support staff to respond to dialogs requesting elevated access.
  • File transfer access: Allows IT support staff to transfer files to your computer.


  • Never share your password.  IT support staff will never ask you for your password.  You may be asked to enter the password in some cases.  IT support staff cannot see the password.
  • Never respond to an unexpected request for a remote desktop support session.
  • Do not respond to a remote desktop support session dialog if you do not understand what is being asked for or the IT support staff have not explained the dialog.
  • Do not approve a remote desktop support session if you are not on the phone with the IT support staff at the same time.  This enables IT support staff to provide instructions and information while the session is underway.

Computer Security

When starting a remote support session IT staff will send you a link to download a one-time remote application. You must be at your computer to run the application, allow the Remote Support Session to start and acknowledge the necessary access requests.  Access expires immediately once the remote desktop support session has ended. 

  • IT support staff cannot view passwords at any time during the remote desktop support session.  If a password dialog is present IT Support staff cannot see what you type there.
  • IT support staff cannot view, copy or modify any data on your computer without your knowledge or permission.
  • IT support staff cannot view activities such as login/logout, browser history, open applications, etc.
  • The remote desktop support application keeps a log that includes activities such as session start and end, access request approval or denial, file transfers, etc.  This information is kept for a minimum of 30 days.

For more information about data privacy and security please see the HMS IT Privacy Policy and HMS IT Information Security web pages.