Disabling Remote Access Doesn’t Disable All Remote Access

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Among the very first few things I did when our family first got our most recent computer was to disable remote access entirely. I no longer remember how I managed to do this, but that’s just as well because I wouldn’t even dream of re-enabling it!

That’s a comment I received from a reader relating to the pernicious “tech support scam” where scammers call you, say they’ve detected problems originating from your computer, and offer to fix it for you — perhaps even for free — if you just give them access to your computer.

Disabling remote access in Windows does not disable this kind of remote access.

I’ll review the setting in Windows and compare it to the types of remote access more commonly used by scammers.

And, of course, I’ll review what you need to do to stay safe. There’s a good chance it’s something you’re doing already.

Read moreDisabling Remote Access Doesn’t Disable All Remote Access

What’s the Difference Between Remote Desktop and Remote Assistance?

Remote Desktop and Remote Assistance both allow remote control of your computer, but they serve different purposes.

Remote Desktop is designed to allow you to “take over” a computer as if you were sitting in front of it. I might use Remote Desktop to use a computer in another room, or one that doesn’t even have a keyboard and monitor attached.

Remote Assistance, as its name implies, is designed to allow one person to help another by accessing their computer — either to view or to control it — while the person being helped watches.

Let’s dive deeper.

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Can an ISP Remotely Access My Computer without My Knowledge?

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In a live chat session that I instigated, my cable ISP technician support wanted to remotely access my PC. “Connect to your computer and share your screen” to troubleshoot my inability to change some account information on their website. I was flabbergasted that they would suggest it and I told them no. As it turned out, my third attempt to change the information worked. The previous attempts brought a cryptic error message. What I’d like to know is whether an ISP can access our PCs without our knowing it? I guess not, but being paranoid is prudent these days.

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.

Read moreCan an ISP Remotely Access My Computer without My Knowledge?