I agree. Prudent paranoia is actually a good thing.
In this case, an ISP cannot access our PCs without us allowing it. The problem is that there are nuances that you might not realize.
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Is remote access bad?
In general, remote control is something that you must initiate at your end. When you contact your ISP or some other tech system that you trust, remote access is actually a viable and useful way to give the tech person access to your computer. This helps them resolve issues that are more complex than could be clearly explained in a series of spoken instructions.
I have been through this multiple times myself. As the person trying to help someone solve a problem, it’s just so much easier to say, “Let me do it.” So remote access is not necessarily a bad thing, if you initiate it and it’s with someone you trust.
I’ve used a tool called Team Viewer. I’ll have a friend or family member download and run a little utility. They then give me some information and poof, I can remotely access their machine.
What does make me a little uncomfortable are live chat sessions. These are perfectly fine on their own and I use this tool from time to time. My concern is the person (or robot) on the other end. How do we know that they’re reliable? And technically when you’re in a chat, you’re running software on your machine that – if malicious – could allow the person at the other end to “do things” that you might not want.
Remote access scams
Unfortunately, there is a scam where someone contacts you, claiming to be some kind of tech support, and they ask you to give them remote access. When you do, they install malicious software and more. The key here is that rather than you reaching out for help, someone randomly contacts you – that’s a sign that it’s a scam.
The scam doesn’t invalidate the technology. It just means that you have to be careful about who you trust.
Now, your ISP can’t just randomly shove something at your machine and have it start running. As long as you have a firewall up and running, only software that you download can run on your machine.
But if someone does contact you and directs you to download software, or tricks you into downloading software that could be malicious and has a remote access feature, then you could be in trouble.
Remember, you are the one that runs the remote access program; you have your machine connect to the remote control service and give the other person access.
Knowing who you’re dealing with and whether or not you can trust them is critical, and all part of that prudent paranoia. This helps you make sure that you invite only the software that you want on your machine.