Remote Assistance Is Safe and Efficient: True or False?
Remote access is a double-edged sword: it can either save you time and effort or potentially expose your computer to infection from malware.
Let’s dive deeper into the topic to understand the possible risks and learn the best ways to protect yourself.
What is a remote desktop/remote access/remote assistance?
Some people think these terms are interchangeable, but this isn’t the case. Let’s define all three to see the differences:
- Remote access is the ability to connect with another computer and operate it as your own.
- Remote assistance is when somebody connects to your computer to help you solve an issue with your device.
- A remote desktop is a computer which you connect to from your local computer, so the device you’re using.
What is the difference between remote access and remote assistance?
You will need remote assistance when you require somebody to help you solve an issue with your computer: this is the process of providing support while accessing your device.
Remote access is a means of providing remote assistance or helping you solve a problem with your computer.
Is it safe to allow remote access?
The remote connection itself is quite safe: Windows and macOS have inbuilt remote desktop clients allowing remote connection between computers. Security concerns are more a matter of who accesses your computer and what they are doing there.
What are the main remote access risks?
Utilising remote assistance can expose you to certain risks - here they are.
Remote access scams
Scammers usually use social engineering tactics to gain access to your computer. They will pretend to be from a large telecommunication company, convincing you your computer needs an urgent fix via a remote connection. When you grant access, they can install malware or ransomware to breach your security or demand payment for the repair.
Full control over your computer
When you grant somebody remote access to your computer, in effect, you are physically handing over your machine to them - the person will be able to do almost anything with your system. This fact is quite concerning, especially if there’s a hacker on the other side.
Lack of understanding of what’s happening on the session
Even if you have an option to end a remote session at any time, a good question is when you should do it. What is the red flag sign at which you should halt the connection? You need to possess at least basic computer knowledge to realize when something is going wrong.
How to prevent risks and give remote access safely?
Only allow remote access to those you trust
👀 If out of a sudden you get a call from an unknown person who wants remote access to your computer. It’s probably a trap.
☝️Remember: a reputable company will never contact you first, especially to fix something you haven’t asked for. Do your research on any company you’re going to allow access to your computer.
🧐Don’t hesitate to ask someone why they want access to your computer and what they are going to do. If you are suspicious, ask about an alternative solution.
👩💻Good tech support will explain what you will need to do yourself to complete a task. The bad one will try to convince you how the remote connection is indispensable.
Make sure the company takes responsibility
🕵️♂️Sometimes even the right actions can give entirely unexpected results. Make sure the company whose representative accesses your computer takes care of the consequences if something goes wrong.
Back up your system regularly
🤫If you fell into the trap of a scammer or something went wrong during the legit remote connection session, restoring your system from the backup would be your fallback plan. This way you can minimize the risk of complete data loss after an unsuccessful or non-legit remote access.
End the session if you find the process suspicious
🙄If you find the techie’s actions suspicious, the best thing to do is to halt the remote session at once. Stop the connection immediately if the person controlling your computer asks for your credit card information, login credentials, social security number, any SMS confirmation codes, or any other sensitive information.
What problems can only be solved with remote assistance?
In many cases, remote assistance isn’t really indispensable, and there’s an alternative.
However, more often than not, remote assistance seems to be the fastest and most efficient way to solve the problem. Here are several examples.
Complicated software troubleshooting
Imagine you encountered an issue with an app. You contact support, try to explain what happened, and it turns out you caught a bug. In this case, support can offer remote assistance.
This way, they could either resolve the problem using advanced troubleshooting steps or collect the necessary information to pass it on to the developers who will work on a fix.
In such a case, remote assistance is a win-win solution: you save your time and effort, and the support tech has all the necessary information because they know what to look for.
Lack of knowledge or desire to fix basic issues
Let’s say you use your computer for basic needs - sending and receiving emails, watching movies, browsing the internet, and making online purchases. Suddenly, something goes wrong, and you are lost because you’ve never wondered how things work inside your device.
In this case, remote assistance will also be an appropriate solution providing you follow the precautions. You entrust resolving the issue to the professionals and get the result without drowning in jargon or techie details.
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To sum up, allowing somebody remote access to your computer is both appealing and risky. In a nutshell, it’s all about trust and knowledge. If you don’t trust the company, it’s better to find an alternative to the remote assistance you’ve secured.
If you don’t know anything about the potential risks of giving someone remote access - it’s better you learn them in advance. And Clario’s blog is the best place to start!