Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
Remote assistance is a very appealing feature to allow someone to remotely fix your machine. The risks, however, are significant.
Is it safe to allow a tech support person from a reputable firm to have remote access to your computer to solve a problem? I recently had an issue that required me to contact such a company, and permitted the tech to view my desktop. My problem was solved, but I couldn't help thinking that this was a bad idea. Can they browse around inside your machine if you give them this kind of access?
How much do you trust them?
No, seriously, how much do you really trust them?
Because, all other issues aside, this is all a matter of trust.
It depends on the technology that the remote assistant uses, but yes, you are in fact giving someone the potential of complete access to your machine.
They could presumably do whatever they wanted.
Now, most of the remote access technologies used by these firms allow you to watch what the technician is doing as he or she does it. That's kinda cool, and often even instructive.
The problem is that once connected, there's actually no guarantee that there isn't more going on that you can't see.
That's why I say it's all about trust.
Remote access is a wonderfully appealing tool. Rather than relying on your description of the problem the technician can see the problem, and investigate directly on your computer. Rather than trying to walk you through a complicated set of steps that you don't need or care to actually understand to resolve an issue, the technician can just do it for you.
I really, truly, honestly get the appeal.
The problem is compounded because there are several levels of trust at play as well. You might trust company X - many companies are absolutely worth your trust. You might trust that they or their technicians don't have malicious intent. But how do you trust that the technician you're talking to actually knows what he or she is doing? How do you even tell?
Personally, I'd be very reluctant to let anyone connect up to my machine that way. In fact, I can perhaps vaguely recall allowing someone to do it once, a long time ago.
But I do also realize that sometimes it's just the most expedient approach to problem solving, and that by-and-large the reputable companies and technicians doing it are probably quite competent.
But it still feels like a huge risk.
I'd just make darned sure that you only do this with companies that you trust deeply, and that you try to establish some level of trust with the individual technician you're dealing with.
And, for safety's sake, make a full backup of your machine first. Just in case they screw it up (which, sadly, I've heard of as well).
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