Computer Tutor in the San Diego Union Tribune    10/01/17
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Hijacking a PC for Ransom
"Your PC is locked. It can be unlocked for $****"
     Weíve all heard about cyber-criminals "locking up" someoneís computer and "holding it for ransom." If you've been victimized by this cyber-crime, we suggest contacting IT technician Michael Scheer at 760-730-5246. (MichaelAScheer@hotmail.com)

The process of remotely taking over a PC is not new. It has long been used by professional technicians to examine and repair computers via the Internet.

If you are unfamiliar with this scam, it usually starts with a phone call from someone who claims to be with Microsoft and says "We have detected a virus in your neighborhood and we can kill it if you will let us take control of your computer for a few minutes."

Just hang up!

If you agree, youíll be asked to click on an OK button that appears on your screen Ė which immediately takes away your control of the PC and gives it to the crook (who usually has an Indian accent).

    Recently, the crooks have been asking for permission to take control of your PC via an email or a popup on your screen, that includes a toll-free 800 number (allegedly from Microsoft).
    Do not fall for this -- it's still the same SCAM.

Historically, the technology used for controlling a PC remotely has been expensive software designed for professional technicians.

Now, however, this capability has been built into Windows 10 and itís called "Quick Assist."

Quick Assist lets you use your mouse and keyboard to remotely operate someone elseís computer, which means allowing you to do everything on a remote computer that you can do on your own PC.

You can launch Quick Assist by typing its name into the Windows 10 "Type Here to Search" box (activated by clicking the Cortana "magnifying glass" on the Start menu).

Launching the app presents you with two choices: "GIVE assistance" or "RECEIVE assistance." And Quick Assist requires two people to initiate the connection. To GIVE assistance, start by logging in with your Microsoft account.

You will then be provided with a six-digit security PIN that you must relate to the person youíre assisting. (Both parties must enter the same PIN.)

Be aware that the PIN security code is active for only 10 minutes.

Letís assume youíre the one giving assistance. Once Quick Assist is activated, youíll see on your screen a window displaying the other personís desktop, which is surrounded by a border containing several special icons.

You will click inside this window to make your cursor take control of the other personís PC.

Quick Assist comes with few limitations ó you see the other personís entire desktop displayed on your screen along with being able to open folders and run whatever apps are inside a folder.

The icons on the newly-created border allow you to "annotate" the window with "digital ink," expand the Quick Assist window to full-screen, reboot the computer, or bring up the "Task Manager" (via CTRL+ALT+DEL).

The "annotation tool" may be slightly awkward to use with a mouse, but itís definitely worth some experimentation.

A "Pause" and "Stop" button allow you to pause or disconnect the remote PC at any time.

Navigating the remote computer gives you all the rights and privileges of the computerís owner: You can change settings, use "Personalization" options, delete files, etc.

Remember, Quick Assist uses an Internet connection, so tweaking any network settings as you work may disconnect the procedure.

Most importantly, bear in mind that Quick Assist opens the door to your friendís digital world. When receiving help, remember that anything on your computer can be seen by your helpful friend, even if youíre monitoring him/her the whole time.

Quick Assist is powerful, but it requires absolute trust on both sides.

    (Above information was prepared with assistance of my friend Carl Von Papp, retired computer instructor/technician at Bellevue College, WA).

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