Telstra announced earlier this week its plans to introduce remote access software onto customers’ computers to provide a faster customer support but, Webmaster Drew says beware.
What is remote access software?
Remove access software allows an individual to take control of your computer via a username and password system. The person logs in and has administrator access to all your files.
The positives of remote access
Example: Jill calls up her service provider with a feeling something is wrong with her computer or internet connection. Jill frequents youtube on a daily basis and has never had a problem with streaming videos instantly. The past three days she has been encountering sudden loss of internet and slow downloads speeds resulting in stop start streaming of videos.
The representative logs onto Jill’s computer using the remote access software Jill downloaded and within five minutes finds the problem. The representative then walks Jill through how to fix it over the phone, as the modem needs to be turned off.
The above is an example of a textbook fix which could be provided through the software. This is further enhanced when the person calling up for help has little to no knowledge about computers.
The negatives of remote access
Example 1. Jill calls up her service provider with the same problem as above. The representative logs onto Jill’s computer and fixes the problem. Before he logs out, he loads a virus onto Jill’s computer which captures every word Jill types and websites she visits and uploads the data to a secure feed online. Jill gets her credit card bill two months later to find it has been maxed out due to fraud.
Example 2. Jill calls up her with the same problem as above. The representative logs onto Jill’s computer and immediately spots a file-sharing program running on her computer downloading music. By law, the representative is instructed to report this offence to the police. Jill is jailed for six months for stealing music.
The above examples are extreme consequences of what could happen to you if you install such software and allow anonymous technical support staff to fix your computer from behind their desks.
You are of course entitled to refuse the installation of such software and it is worthwhile keeping in mind that it is highly unlikely that the first example would occur. Communication service providers have in place extensive protocols when they hire staff and implement security software which should not allow a virus to be uploaded through their computers.
To discount remote access software because of the above potential dangers would be naive. Internet banking and purchasing online has similar problems involved, but they have been adopted by companies worldwide.
The major positive of remote access is the ability to provide technical help to those located in remote areas of the country. Further more, the amount of time it takes for someone to travel to your house to fix the problem is taken out of the equation and should result in time saving for the service provider and the customer.
Beware, but have an open mind!