Remote access: gives you access to your personal information
How to minimize its risk, what it is, and why it is used
You probably checked things out online before allowing a contractor into your house to fix your broken window or door. The last thing you want is someone breaking into your house and robbing you.
This applies to technicians who need to access tablets, smartphones, PCs, or laptops remotely.
Sometimes, a well-intentioned computer technician who agrees to remotely access a personal computer can help when it is experiencing glitches or other technical issues. Most people are familiar with this approach when they have problems with their work devices and are seeking immediate assistance from their IT departments.
What you need to know is how remote access technology works and how it protects you from criminals using it to download viruses and ransomware to your device or steal your identity to commit fraud. To achieve this goal, you need to understand the steps you need to take.
The way it works is:
Your device is unlocked by remote access software. Upon connecting to a technical support agent, you will be asked to agree to the connection, so that they can remotely check your device, diagnose problems, and fix them without ever setting foot in the user’s home.
An individual experiencing technical difficulties with their device usually contacts the manufacturer, software company, or another trusted vendor and seeks technical support. A secure online chat or a phone call can be used to accomplish this. After verifying the user’s identity, the agent can ask the user to download or activate the remote access software (which in some cases may already be installed).
After the software has been activated, the user will be asked to grant access to their device to the technical support agent. An agent may need a one-time PIN or passcode to connect to the device.
Having access to a machine allows a technical support operator to use it as if it were his own computer. This allows them to resolve most technical issues.
One of our office’s complainants noted that a computer services company pre-installed remote access software on a computer they bought from them. During a service call, one of her support agents was able to access and delete the software from her computer without her consent. Even though we have not found any evidence that remote access software has been maliciously used, the example illustrates how important it is to monitor your computer for signs that remote access technologies may be used without your knowledge.
Remote access fraud: Who is he? Why did he call me?
Falsely posing as an employee or representative of a cybersecurity company, scammers can falsely claim that there is a problem with a victim’s computer or device, which has been diagnosed over the Internet. The victim is offered remote access to the computer so that he can fix the problem he is considering.
The first warning sign of something fishy is getting a cold call that offers help for a problem you didn’t know you had.
Fraud involving technology support or “remote access” involves convincing victims to grant fraudsters access to their devices.
Unsuspecting victims are often informed by email, phone call, or pop-up window that a problem or virus has been detected on their device and they should call a toll-free number. Most scammers approach users in an unwanted manner.
Many of these scammers use technical terms and language to trick their victims and are convincing, especially to those unfamiliar with technology.
Fraudsters usually claim to have “fixed” the problem on a victim’s computer after gaining access to it and then demand payment for their services.
Furthermore, the risk of fraudsters installing malware or viruses, downloading or uploading files, purchasing, or even stealing sensitive or personal data, such as a victim’s banking information, is present.
Reduce your risk by following these tips:
- You should be aware that accepting remote access may give third parties access to potentially sensitive information, such as passwords, photos, or financial information stored on your device.
- If someone contacts you unexpectedly, don’t give them remote access. Most major software companies do not contact their customers directly to request remote access to their computers.
- Only allow remote access to a trusted individual or organization.
- Having the right to revoke consent (i.e., ending a remote access session) is important.
In case of a damaged computer, follow these steps:
To protect your data, it is important to respond quickly if your device behaves strangely and you suspect that an unauthorized third party has taken control of it.
- Cut off your Internet connection immediately.
- Start the computer in “safe mode”, which uses only the essential programs required to start the computer.
- Take appropriate action after performing a full system scan.
- As well as updating your anti-malware software, you may want to change your passwords.
- Consider seeking the assistance of a professional if necessary.
- For those who believe they have been victimized by fraud, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center has also published a guide.
Additionally, we suggest sharing information about this type of technology and the dangers it poses with family members and friends who are less technically inclined, so they are aware of the danger and know what to do.
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