Technology can be wonderful at giving greater freedom to users through computers, but regrettably can also open up whole new areas of criminal activity due to the ubiquity of technology in modern life. Just recently I experienced the two coming together in a most troubling way.

I have mentioned this before, and you should by now be aware of the scam where you get a call from someone purporting to be from a recognised technology company, such as BT or Microsoft for example. They then ask you to install something called Team Viewer which allows them to access your computer remotely.

I had been contacted because someone’s partner had a call from just such a scammer, had fallen for the trick, and had allowed access to their computer. How could someone have fallen for such a well-known scam? Unfortunately, the partner had early-onset dementia.

So how do you stop someone with limited short term memory from repeating this same mistake over and over again? In this type of scam, the success hinges on the computer user being willing and able to download the remote access software and then allow access to their computer. If the user is either not willing, or not able to install the software, then the scam stops right there.

Often Windows computer owners are given full Administrator access when their computer is set up. This is a quick and easy way to make sure they can download programs and install printers, etc without having to get a techie involved. It is possible to set up lower level accounts which restrict certain abilities, and these should definitely be used for children’s accounts.

So what if someone with dementia already has an account with Administrator privileges? They can be given an account with less privileges, or an alternative option is to limit access to certain features such as program installation by using software designed to control what users can do with their computers. Although there are liberty issues, it is also quite possible to keep tabs on what is being typed or what websites the user visits online.

There are also brain training programs and games which claim to retard the onset of dementia. According to the Alzheimer’s Society there is currently no proven basis for this claim, but brain training certainly can help all of us to maintain our faculties as we get older.