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What you don’t see can hurt you – the dangers of remote support
Remote support theoretically offers a quick and easy way to fix computer problems, at home or at work. A technician logs on to your machine via a remote access program and plays around with it until he or she has fixed the problem – at which point they withdraw from your PC and you can go back to whatever it was you were doing before the world fell apart.
So far, so good. However. Remote support is remote, which means that a) you’ve no idea who is sitting at the other end of the “line” and b) you have no idea where they, or their machine, are. A typical example: pcAnywhere, the most popular remote support tool by a mile, can be logged onto by anyone who has access to a computer terminal and your password. Generally, pcAnywhere is used by you, to access a site-bound PC from any other computer, by logging in to your machine through the pcAnywhere portal.
Fine. Except that, without proper control over what data is being logged, and where, by the machine you are using to get in touch with your home computer, you have no idea what information subsequent users of that second machine might find. The remote support aspect of using something like pcAnywhere works fine – you can jig about in your own machine from anywhere in the world: but the rest of it? Computer security nightmare. It’s like leaving directions to the safe in your house on a packed commuter train. Who knows who’ll be picking them up?
When the person doing the supporting isn’t you – when a third party logs into your machine through pcAnywhere or any other access package, in the name of remote support – the danger is magnified many times. Particularly if you’ve never met them. The person or persons offering you remote support for your home or office computer could be anyone, with any agenda – you only have to look briefly at the terrifying internet fraud statistics bandied around these days to realise there are far more people out to get you than help you – and giving them remote support access allows them to realise those agendas without you ever knowing who they are.
Remote support can sound appealing because it offers dynamic quick fixes to often irritating holdup situations. When your PC goes down, all you want is to get it back up and running again. Remote support, done safely, can do just that – but remote support can never be done safely, for the reasons given above. So you’re buying a quick fix that could cost thousands when Joe Public suddenly empties your bank account.
Think about it this way. Would you let some guy you’d never even seen go to work on your car, or fix your boiler? More specifically, would you allow somebody to walk freely around your house at any time of the day or night without your knowing they are doing it? Once a person has access to your PC for remote support they can get into it whenever they want, and use any information they find there in whatever way they choose.
Here’s the bottom line: people, or companies, offering remote support, have something to hide. Don’t trust them. Find a company who will speak to you on the phone and send qualified technicians out in person. Anyone who starts using the words “remote support” is far more likely to be dodgy than not.
If you have worries about remote support – maybe you’ve agreed to remote support with someone and now you’re having second thoughts – give Computer Repair Ltd a call on 020 7473 1583. They’ll arrange a free consultation and will remove any remote access software you have in such a way that third parties can no longer get into your machine. For more information: www.computerrepairltd.co.uk.