Seitel Systems https://seitelsystems.com IT Support Made Simple Fri, 10 Jul 2020 22:20:00 +0000 en hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.2 https://seitelsystems.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/cropped-Logo-large-square-32x32.jpg Seitel Systems https://seitelsystems.com 32 32 Your IT Cares Little About the Pandemic https://seitelsystems.com/blog/your-it-doesnt-care-about-the-pandemic/ Fri, 10 Jul 2020 21:41:53 +0000 https://seitelsystems.com/?p=3556 The world is changing fast – is your IT on cruise control? If so, you’re inviting chaos into your world.

As we enter the fourth month of the pandemic-induced world of working remotely, it’s time to take stock of whether you’re making the right moves to maintain, improve and otherwise ensure that your IT environment remains effective in supporting your business. Cruise control is a great feature when you’re on the highway, but it can be a disaster when applied to IT operations.

Here are 3 key principles to focus on to help keep your IT environment running securely, reliably and at peak performance.

Principle #1: Systems maintenance never takes a sick day

Sick emoji

All of those systems that you rely on each day are counting on you and your team to keep them maintained and running smoothly. Time out of the office could result in your IT systems being “out of sight and out of mind” – don’t let that happen as they may go awry and drive you out of your mind.

  • Failure to keep core infrastructure current can leave your world unstable or, worse yet, vulnerable to attack. Regardless of whether your core IT is onsite at your office or hosted with Amazon, Microsoft or elsewhere, it all needs to be kept current on patches, hotfixes and firmware updates.
  • Similarly, your user workstations and laptops also need to be kept current. Without regular trips to the office, are they still getting their updates in a timely manner? The solution you had in place while in the office may not extend to remote locations, and if that’s the case then you run the very real risk of something sneaking in through the back door and making a mess.
  • Your antivirus solution is typically your last line of defense. If it isn’t staying current on updates, then each day there are new variants out there ready to exploit the gaps. COVID-19 is unlikely to infect your computers, but Cyborg, CryptoMix Clop, GoBrut, Jokeroo and Trojan Glupteba each have new variants that will be only too happy to deploy.
  • Be sure your team practices good data hygiene and puts things back where they belong. When we were all in the office it was routine to remember to save your documents and data to the network, where it was safely backed up during the day or at least at night. Now that your team is working remotely, are they continuing this important practice or are your firm’s intellectual property and/or confidential information winding up stored on local machines?  If that machine dies, the data goes with it. And speaking of backups . . .
  • Keep an eye on the successes and failures of your backup system. In the event of a ransomware attack or system failure it is vital that your backup system was running smoothly and holds the data you’ll need to recover. Now is the time to make sure your environment is being monitored and backups are successful.

Principle #2: In the chaos, danger lurks – security is more important than ever

Cartoon of a computer with a skull and crossbones

There are bad actors waiting to take advantage of the ongoing disruption for their own benefit, as we saw with the fraud perpetrated against the Washington State Employment Security Department. With everyone dispersed to their home workspaces, what we in the IT world call the Attack Surface has grown massively to include everyone’s home offices where new vulnerabilities may emerge. The next step after a successful breach is for the bad actor to recon the environment to see what’s valuable, and shortly thereafter comes the Friday-night-when-no-one-is-looking ransomware attack.

  • Phishing attacks have increased exponentially, tricking even vigilant users into opening a malicious email or attachment. The days of spotting an unusual email address or finding spelling errors in the email body are long gone as attackers are now better at impersonating people you trust. The email that brings your system down is likely going to come from someone you trust, after their email was hacked. Never trust an email, and make sure you’re using the latest and greatest tools to filter your email stream.
  • Stick with known, trusted websites for your information sources. We’re all interested in the latest information about the pandemic, and the internet is typically the go-to place for the latest news. The bad actors know this, and they’ve deployed numerous websites that deliver malicious payload along with the latest graphics on pandemic statistics. Again, never trust a link!
  • Downloading VPN software from the wild can result in malicious content deployed exactly where you want it least. There’s been a surge in demand for remote-access tools since March, and for obvious good reasons. Just make sure the remote access software you’re installing is what you think it is, and it’s wise to let your IT team point you towards the trustworthy places to find it.

Principle #3: Time to pick up your pace

Cartoon of a person scared by a bear

Just like the old joke with two hikers in bear country – “I only need to be able to run faster than you!” – it’s time to pick up the pace and improve your firm’s IT posture. You don’t want to look around and suddenly realize you’ve been left behind, exposed to hostile elements.

  • Start with security. I assume you’ve already taken care of the basics like strong passwords, two-factor authentication and rigorous training for your users around good practices. With those in place, your next low-hanging fruit is to step up from your plain vanilla “I use a mugbook” antivirus system, to something that combines a mugbook with a watchful eye for unexpected systems behavior. If your systems start communicating regularly with eastern Europe, a next generation antivirus system will flag that as something to be concerned about.
  • Configure your email systems to provide maximum protection for end-users. This applies to everyone, including hosted by Office365 or Google but doubly so if you are one of the last holdouts with an onsite Exchange Server. There are “Best Practice Analyzers” available for just about every flavor of email solution, and it’s on you to make sure your systems are better protected than those of your internet neighbors. (On a related note, Office365 and Google are both more reliable, accessible and cost-effective than your onsite solution, time to join the 21st century and migrate.)
  • If your onsite server hardware is reaching end-of-life, this is the right time to consider migrating your system to Amazon Web Services or Microsoft’s Azure. Both offer more cost-effective solutions than a capital investment, and both allow you to stop worrying about power outages, hardware failures and running out of capacity or storage.
  • Consider deployment of a hosted Security Incident and Event Management (SIEM) solution. Ready to step up to the next level? These solutions will aggregate log data from your firewall, servers and other systems and look for correlations that warrant further review. A new connection to the firewall from a foreign land, combined with your backup system going offline and an increase in CPU usage on your servers correlates to a scary diagnosis: you’re in the midst of a ransomware attack.

There’s a lot to think about here, but it’s all feasible. We’ve talked before about IT maturity, and in the past few months we’ve have seen that our clients who have been ahead of the game have weathered this crisis incredibly well. Stay tuned as we’ll be sharing some of their experiences and what worked well for them, so that you can learn from their successes.


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Optimizing your Business IT for Remote Work https://seitelsystems.com/blog/optimize-your-business-remote-work/ Fri, 17 Apr 2020 17:00:24 +0000 https://seitelsystems.com/?p=3506 Is your team remote-ready? Key questions to answer right now to help your business navigate the COVID-19 crisis.

In technology as in your own health, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. As an IT support firm based in downtown Seattle – the first epicenter of the US COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak – we’ve spent the past month helping our business clients prepare and transition their teams to remote work for what may be an extended period of time. For example, in early March one of our clients decided on Friday afternoon to transition to remote operations, and by Monday morning had “flipped the switch” to working from home with nary a bump.

But what happens if you didn’t plan ahead? What do you do now if you thought the impacts to your business would only last a week or two, and didn’t take preparations to transition your team to work remotely for a longer period? We’re finding out now that business owners who didn’t take proactive steps are trying to catch up to the reality that they have to find creative ways to work remotely, or face shuttering their business for the long term.

The good news is that IT firms like ours are still here working, providing IT support to our area’s industries and seeing them through this challenge. Our clients have largely been ready for such a circumstance and most have transitioned fairly seamlessly.

The bad news is that if you don’t have strong IT leadership, and your business delayed infrastructure upgrades or maintenance, you may find yourself with far fewer (and more expensive) options in an extended crisis.

For those in the latter camp, here are some key questions that you need to have the answers to as soon as possible in order to help your teams work successfully from remote locations for as long as it takes until we get the “all clear” to return to normal life.

1) Does your existing IT environment already have the capabilities you need to swiftly move employees to remote work? How will your employees remotely access data & critical applications?

The best-case scenario is that your existing IT environment is ready to switch over to remote access. This is made possible by proactive care and upgrades to your IT environment, so you have built-in capabilities that make your business nimble when faced with big decisions in a rapidly developing situation.

While the systems architecture will vary for every environment, in general you’ll need robust internet connection speeds, a high bandwidth firewall and the right security measures to keep it all safe.  If your environment already has key servers, databases and applications in the cloud, then moving your workforce remote can happen pretty quickly.

By now, if you haven’t transitioned to remote work or are having problems doing so, the reason is likely that your IT infrastructure wasn’t as solid and updated as you thought it was. So take this as an opportunity for your business to improve your IT situation for your business’ long term benefit. Migrating email, documents and other services to cloud-hosted environments can improve performance for everyone by reducing the load on the office’s internet connection.

2) How will your team collaborate on documents & projects?

There are many solutions available that allow teams to work on documents remotely, and even simultaneously. Centralized Cloud Collaboration platforms like SharePoint (which is integrated with Office 365) and Google Docs can keep things moving along smoothly.

Your team will quickly grow tired of communicating by email, so an investment in Microsoft Teams, Slack, Basecamp or any of a wide range of collaboration tools will be key to keeping communications and company culture intact.

3) How will you host remote meetings?

Many of these same tools used for team collaboration also offer the ability to hold audio or video conference calls which can, again, provide some level of continuity when in-person meetings aren’t an option. Microsoft Teams supports video and audio calls, and since it is already integrated into Office 365 it can be a good solution.

If your team doesn’t have O365 or wants to consider alternatives then Zoom, GoToMeeting, and Google Hangouts Meet are also possibilities (though unlike Microsoft Teams, each of those options will require separate licensing fees). If you go the Zoom route, make sure to read our COVID-19 security update for additional security considerations about Zoom meetings. (In fact, you should probably read that post anyway because there are a lot of other emerging threats besides just Zoom vulnerabilities.)

To sum up, remember that technology is no different than any other business discipline; if you plan ahead when times are calm you’ll be better prepared to ride out the storm.  If you haven’t had that opportunity, don’t panic as it’s not too late to collaborate with your IT team and external resources to make things better. The sooner you start, the sooner things will get better. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you need our help.

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Step Up Your IT Security During the COVID-19 Pandemic https://seitelsystems.com/blog/itsecurity-during-covid19-coronavirus/ Wed, 01 Apr 2020 21:12:47 +0000 https://seitelsystems.com/?p=3493 As if we didn’t all have enough to manage these days, the “bad guys” on the Internet are taking advantage of the novel coronavirus situation and the upended work environment to step up their activities. So now even more than ever, we ask you to pay special attention to your IT security.

Here are some examples of what to watch out for:

Email Based Attacks

There has been a dramatic uptick in the frequency of broad-based phishing attacks as well as user-targeted spearphishing attacks. We are all receiving COVID19-related emails from government agencies, external vendors and business partners with whom we don’t normally correspond. This leads people to incorrectly trust email links and expose their systems to attack.

What to do: Use good judgement around links and attachments in your inbound email, and just because it’s coming from an email address you recognize that doesn’t mean it’s safe. If you’re a regular Seitel Systems client then we have your email system configured to protect you as best it can but not all threats can be filtered out. Be vigilant and practice good email hygiene.

Masquerade Attacks

With the uptick in remote working many users are being tricked into installing fake remote-access/VPN clients as well as remote meeting software onto their home systems.These fake clients promptly install malware, harvest credentials and otherwise cause damage.

What to do: Be sure to source your software from your internal IT team or a trusted vendor like Seitel Systems. Do NOT simply search the internet looking for the software to download.

Fake COVID-19 Apps and Maps

As users are scouring the internet for information about the pandemic, attackers are publishing fake Coronavirus coverage maps, dashboards and other information resources. These webpages are weaponized to deliver malicious payload to the underlying computer.

What to do: Source your information from known, reliable resources and again avoid blindly searching the internet for information.

Ransomware

While the attack vectors for Ransomware are varied – and they include all of the items listed above – the destructive nature of the ransomware attack cannot be overestimated.  Sophisticated attacks will not only encrypt the documents and data in your environment, they will also attack your backup system.

What to do: Do not underestimate the damage that can be done, so if you have any open action items with respect to security, ransomware protection or general system upkeep now is the time to get that sorted.

Zoom Meeting Attacks

With the increase in people working from home or at least remote locations, Zoom meetings have become very popular.  That increase has led to an increase in the number of attackers seeking to exploit its weaknesses.

What to do: Here are some helpful tips for staying safe and keeping your online meetings private:

  • When you create a meeting request, make sure you require participants enter a “waiting room” from which they are admitted to the meeting by the organizer.  This helps avoid so called “Zoom bombing” where uninvited guests find their way in. In lieu of a link – which above we recommend you not necessarily trust – please use your internet browser to access the Zoom help center and search for “Using a Waiting Room with Zoom Rooms”.
  • There are also reported cases of “pranksters” keying in random ten-digit meeting IDs and then screensharing content that… well, isn’t necessarily what you want to see in a Zoom meeting. this can be avoided by requiring a meeting password.  Again, go to the Zoom help center and search for “Meeting and Webinar Passwords”.
  • And finally, attackers are always trying to steal your company login and password. Even inside of a Zoom meeting please use extreme caution when clicking on links.  At the risk of getting too nerdy, Zoom will convert links to shared files into what look like internet addresses, and clicking on the link will transmit your username and password in a format that can, eventually, be decrypted by an attacker.  Friends don’t let friends click on links!

Be vigilant and ready act quickly if you see suspicious activity.

As an IT support firm in the Seattle area, we are keeping an eye on these emerging threats so that local businesses can swiftly navigate the unique challenges. In the event you suspect you may have clicked on something you shouldn’t have please act promptly – time is, literally, of the essence.

Existing Seitel Systems clients, if you have questions or concerns please follow your firm’s customary protocols for contacting our Service Desk. Also, for your protection you may find us taking additional steps to verify your identity when you call our Service Desk.

To all businesses who are not clients at this time but need some assistance setting up your teams with remote work technology, we are happy to help. That said, we need to prioritize our existing clients right now since they are facing unprecedented challenges. You’re welcome to subscribe to our mailing list so you’ll receive more updates like this one, and to reach out to our sales team if your business needs an outsourced IT support partner.

Thank you for your business and trust in Seitel Systems. Be well.

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IT Security Alert: Windows 10 Critical Patch Required https://seitelsystems.com/blog/windows-10-jan2020-critical-patch/ Tue, 21 Jan 2020 20:54:53 +0000 https://seitelsystems.com/?p=3470 A critical security update was released by Microsoft on Tuesday Jan 14th. This update addresses a security vulnerability that impacts workstations and laptops running Windows 10 as well as servers running Windows 2016/2019.

The NSA discovered this potential vulnerability and informed Microsoft of the issue because of its wide potential impact. Per Microsoft, “This vulnerability is one example of our partnership with the security research community where a vulnerability was privately disclosed and an update released to ensure customers were not put at risk.”

The good news is that if you are signed up for our SRP plans at Seitel Systems, you’re already protected. There’s no need to worry because all of the associated security patches were approved and took place as part of your regular patching schedule. If you’ve subscribed to one of our SRP plans, you’re covered for this and future updates. Yet another reason why choosing us for your IT partner makes your life easier, we take care of these important tasks for you (in most cases, before it ever even hits the news 😉), so that you can focus on running your business.

If you’re not a Seitel Systems SRP client, make sure that you get these updates installed as soon as possible either through an automated update or by manually updating your systems.  And if your system prompts you to run an update, make sure you allow it to run. Anyone out there who doesn’t have allow this update to run could find themselves exposed.

We also point out that this update coincided with Microsoft’s end-of-support for Windows 7 and Server 2008.  This means that Microsoft will not be issuing any security fixes for these operating systems, so as new vulnerabilities are discovered these platforms will grow increasingly defenseless.  If you’re still running Windows 7 or Server 2008 in your environment, you’re doing it wrong. It’s time to contact your IT partner – hopefully Seitel Systems – to arrange for a migration off these operating systems as soon as time permits.

Further reading from the Microsoft Security Response Center: https://msrc-blog.microsoft.com/2020/01/14/january-2020-security-updates:-cve-2020-0601/

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Educators, join us at NCCE 2019 Feb 27-28! https://seitelsystems.com/blog/ncce-2019/ Wed, 20 Feb 2019 22:54:37 +0000 https://seitelsystems.com/?p=2526 Educators, are you going to NCCE next week? We are! 

NCCE is the largest ed-tech event in the Northwest, influencing educators looking to harness the power of technology to advance learning and teaching. We’re thrilled to once again be joining this year’s conference in Seattle! Look for us in the exhibit hall on Wednesday and Thursday, Feb 27-28.

We are excited to talk with you about how Seitel Systems has become a top-choice IT support partner among school districts, empowering students and teachers to make technology a part of the learning environment. We’re happy to share some case studies about the role of technology inside and outside of the classroom,. We’ll also be spreading the word about some of the upcoming issues that school districts will face in the coming year . . . like Microsoft’s looming end-of-support for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008! 

If you haven’t yet registered, information is at https://ncce.org/conference2019/

We look forward to seeing you soon!

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IT Maturity: The Overlooked Key to SMB IT Success https://seitelsystems.com/blog/it-maturity-for-the-smb/ Tue, 04 Dec 2018 21:38:12 +0000 https://seitelsystems.com/?p=2460

This is the first installment of our new three-part series, Demystifying IT for the SMB. Over the next few months we’ll be sharing some of the keys we’ve seen are central to IT success in the small-medium business world. We’ll give insights from our real-world experiences with companies who are doing it well — to the benefit of their day-to-day operations, and their bottom line.

Part 1: IT Maturity

How does my business measure up in IT world? Small, medium, or large business – what am I?

The rapid increase in small business IT offerings in recent years is enough to make your head spin.

For example, where technologies like SharePoint used to be so expensive that they were only feasible for enterprise-level organizations, now services like Office 365 have made the benefits of SharePoint Online affordable and accessible to much smaller companies.

At at the same time, it can be time-consuming for small business owners to navigate the maze of new technologies, and implementing these new tools can be intimidating.

Healthy businesses come in all shapes and sizes, and business technology solutions are as diverse as businesses themselves. Some businesses have to be early adopters of technology because their customers are online, and the cutting edge matters to their product or their brand identity.  Others work more in the face-to-face world, and as long as there’s an internet connection with functioning email and a corporate website, that’s enough for them.

With that diversity in mind, business IT systems need to be designed and managed within the context of what is important to your business. That’s where IT Maturity comes in.

Applying Big-Business Strategies to Small-Business Environments

Before deciding on any specific technology solution, it helps to take a holistic view of the company’s business drivers and approach toward technology in general. Regardless of the size of your business, the first step to IT maturity is to look at the major factors that impact your business IT priorities, size, and scale.

A lot of MSP’s compartmentalize their clients by size strictly by numbers… how many employees or workstations or servers you have. But two companies that have the same exact numbers may have a very different experience with IT in their day-to-day workings of the company.

So rather than focusing on the not-always-helpful metrics of “size,” we prefer to focus on IT maturity and what that looks like across businesses of ALL shapes and sizes.

IT Maturity takes the best strategic and organizational IT management lessons from the big-business world, and applies them to the smaller SMB’s IT environment.

IT Maturity is a Universal Standard

Over the years, we’ve worked with a wide range of clients across many industries, and have come up with a few key questions that help determine where a company currently lives on the IT Maturity spectrum:

  • How dependent is your business on technology in its day-to-day operations? Or, if you’re starting a new business, how integral do you want technology to be in your business operations and processes? Understand how and why IT is important to the different functions of your business. 
  • How prepared are you (financially and organizationally) to take care of your IT assets over the course of their usable life? When you make your IT purchase decisions, do you budget for their maintenance?  Make sure to account for the cost of ownership and maintenance for the life of the equipment. As time passes, make a plan for replacement and upgrades so you don’t get caught off guard when those assets reach the end of their usable life.
  • Who is (or will be) responsible for maintaining your IT systems and supporting your staff? Make sure you have plans in place to perform essential maintenance along the way. Know who owns the management of your equipment, and who will perform support and maintenance tasks.
  • How do you deal with organizational change, and the implications on your IT environment? Do you plan to grow, add or change locations, hire staff, or change the primary focus of your business? Understand how those plans will impact your IT decisions.
  • How resilient could your company be in the face of a major technological crisis? Do you have data backups, a breach response plan, and resources who can help you get back up running? It’s not a matter of *if* your business will face such a crisis, but when. You can’t control when such things will happen. But planning for the worst ahead of time can bring the outcome back under your control. 

The answers to these questions help to understand the scope of your organizations’ IT needs. But more than that, how well you can answer these questions gives us a good initial handle on your organization’s IT maturity. This holds true across all industry verticals, and all phases of an organization’s life.

What does IT Maturity look like?

“Small business” isn’t a classification determined by physical size or revenue alone … sometimes there are systemic issues with the way a small business runs their IT simply because they lack the resources available to larger organizations. And these lead to the same types of issues, regardless of the industry.

Let’s compare and contrast two hypothetical competing companies, the same size in the same industry in the same geographical area, to see what this looks like in practice.

Bob’s Widgets has been growing, and along with them they have a network that has grown organically over time, made up of whatever equipment could be found on sale, set up by a tech-savvy family member or volunteer that was able to lend their skills for a while. Documentation may be sparse or missing altogether. Bob relies on one person who is familiar with this environment and holds the keys to the IT kingdom.

These are the hallmarks of a small business that is on the low on the “IT maturity” spectrum. Contrast that with a competing SMB that has taken care to plan its network around the priorities of the business.

Debbie’s Gizmos has also been growing, had the foresight to think ahead about how the business planned to grow, and implemented a well-laid out infrastructure that would allow for future expansion. They keeping good records of documentation so that their outsourced IT team can react efficiently and effectively to problems. They have built a budget for IT maintenance and upgrades into their long-term plans, so that they aren’t caught off guard by crashes caused by extending systems long past their usable life.

Debbie’s company ranks higher on the IT maturity spectrum. Though these two businesses may be similar on paper – with similar employee counts, revenues, numbers of servers, etc… their corporate culture, efficiency, and the daily work environment for their employees is like night and day.

As a result of this difference, Debbie is better positioned for growth relative to her competitor, Bob, better able to recover from a technology crisis, and is likely better able to retain good employees, too..

That’s what IT maturity looks like. And that makes all the difference.


Stay tuned for part two, where we’ll share three different SMB IT management models, how they typically measure up on the IT Maturity scale, and how to tell which one will best help you to succeed.

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4 Key Questions to Ask Before Switching IT Providers https://seitelsystems.com/blog/switching-it-providers/ Fri, 21 Sep 2018 17:02:53 +0000 https://seitelsystems.com/?p=2441 When switching IT providers, ask these key questions to ensure that your new IT firm doesn’t repeat the old vendor’s mistakes.

By David Leonhardt, Managing Partner


The phone rings and it’s a potential new client calling – they’re switching IT providers. Even before we start speaking with them, there’s one thing we already know for sure: their IT environment is not healthy.

I often joke with my friends, we are like the emergency room doctor. Patients never walk in and say, “I feel fantastic, just wanted to let you know!”  Nobody ever comes to us when their IT systems are running great—customers are calling us because however they have met their technology needs in the past, it’s just not working anymore.

Perhaps the last straw was a big event like one too many system crashes. Or maybe it’s been a slow-burning complaint of lost productivity due to IT problems. Sometimes the IT folks have been showing up late or not showing up at all – or my personal favorite, “the IT folks aren’t returning phone calls!”

Figuring out where things went wrong

As we start the conversation, many folks are surprised at the questions we ask like, “Have you spoken with your current provider about this, perhaps this situation could be improved?” And depending on how the conversation flows, we often will back up a step and say, “Switching IT providers is something of an endeavor, do you really think this is best for your firm?”

Whoa, now you may be thinking that’s not necessarily the best recipe for sales success! Perhaps not, but let me be completely candid, here. After many years of providing IT services for our clients we recognize that we make mistakes – everyone makes mistakes – and when that happens we are fanatical about looking for ways to make things right. We believe that vendor-client relationships are worth saving whenever possible, even if it’s not to our benefit.

In many cases, low satisfaction with the IT department is due to poor communication

Maybe the necessary vendor-client communication channels weren’t open. Or maybe the two parties were talking, but simply out of sync with each other because they didn’t have the same priorities. Companies and priorities can change over time, which is why we think it’s so important to talk regularly with our clients to ensure they’re getting the service they need from us. We find that resetting those expectations can fix the client-vendor relationship 99% of the time.

That said, the sad truth is that sometimes client-vendor communication is just so broken that you can’t really move forward. Vendors don’t like losing clients, and clients don’t like leaving vendors, either. But the reality is that switching IT providers is significantly harder for a business than changing many other service providers like copier repair or cellular providers. If you can avoid the headache, then we encourage you to do so!

We’ve decided that we’re switching IT providers, what happens next?

Fair enough, sometimes a change is warranted and now you’re trying to figure out how to accomplish this without spending weeks talking with firms that remind you of Mr. Magoo, The Mumbler or The Mad Scientist! Or worse yet, being trapped in a conversation with a Herb Tarlek plaid-sportscoat lookalike sales person who promises you the moon and winds up delivering far less.

Herb Tarlek

“It’s bad luck to take advice from a crazy person.” – Herb Tarlek (WKRP in Cincinnati)

image via ProProfs

When switching IT providers, it helps to have a good idea of where things went wrong with the old vendor, so that you can clarify your needs with potential new vendors. With eyes wide open, you can ensure you’re selecting an IT firm that’s really in a position to be able to help you, plus the new IT firm can avoid repeating the old vendor’s mistakes.

Four questions to ask yourself as you start your search for a new IT provider:

1)  What things are important to you: Technical skills, cultural match, communications skills, all of the above?  Looking at your current service providers in other areas, is there a common thread among your favorites?

2)  How do you plan to conduct your search: Google, trade association, friends & family, yellow pages, neighboring firms?  I would counsel all of the above, but your most trusted sources should be referrals from people you already know and trust.

3)  When would you like to make a change? And are you ready for the learning curve as your new provider gets to know you and your team?  Beware the honeymoon period, both you and the new provider have a lot of history to make up for (and they won’t know where all the “bodies were buried” in your system). Be ready to invest the time needed to build the partnership.

4)  Are you prepared to make some investment into your IT infrastructure to get it up to speed? Given that you are seeking to make a change, it’s likely that all is not well under your hood and you might have to catch up with some deferred maintenance. Be ready for increased costs for a while with the new vendor, as they are going to have to make investments to bring things back up to speed.  “Patience, Iago, patience!”

Now don’t get me wrong, we here at Seitel Systems would love to be your IT firm. But before you leave the dark side and switch IT providers, perhaps see if you can’t turn on a light bulb or two to make things better.

If that doesn’t work out, think of us as your emergency room doctor and give us a call.

 

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Collaboration Services: A fresh approach to SharePoint and Office 365 https://seitelsystems.com/blog/collaboration-services/ Fri, 11 May 2018 00:01:05 +0000 https://seitelsystems.com/?p=2236 SharePoint has been a part of our IT Engineering skill set for several years, as we’ve done major On-Premises SharePoint infrastructure projects, including server farm / back-end Installation and Maintenance for Enterprise-level environments.

Sharepoint Collaboration: A Fresh Start for Small Business

SharePoint Online O365

Now, we’re excited to introduce a new approach that helps make SharePoint more accessible and easier to implement for our small business clients. Many small businesses are using Office 365 for their corporate Email and OneDrive storage, yet aren’t using SharePoint… even though it’s included along in the user licenses they’re already paying for.

In some cases, organizations aren’t using SharePoint simply because they aren’t aware of its capabilities, or its potential as a platform for streamlined collaboration and integration with OneDrive storage.  For others, the vast configuration options are intimidating because they are beyond the business’ capabilities to set up and maintain.

We know your focus is on managing your business, not managing your IT systems. Seitel Systems is happy to help optimize your business productivity and navigate the SharePoint Online implementation process with our Office 365 Collaboration Practices.

  • SharePoint Online Infrastructure Design

    Building a solid foundation for your organization.

  • Collaboration Solution Planning

    Designing collaboration processes around your team’s unique needs.

  • SharePoint Project and Support Services

    Refine and improve systems dynamically over time.

Our SharePoint consultants understand that when you’re talking about collaboration solutions, one size does not fit all—we seek to understand your company’s priorities and goals, and how your team uses technology and performs essential tasks. We then analyze, design and automate business processes and workflows using Microsoft’s SharePoint platform and related collaboration applications to give your staff the best possible work experience.

Seitel Systems will work with you to document your day-to-day workflow and content organization and will coach you through the content discovery and information architecture processes as necessary. We can also deliver in-person training to help your business get up to speed on the new collaboration solutions and foster user acceptance.

We’re happy to introduce a SharePoint Strategic Design Consulting package that provides exceptional value, starting the conversation about SharePoint and developing plans for how you can leverage this underutilized resource to make your business more dynamic, more efficient, and more adaptable.

Please reach out if you’re interested in learning more – we offer a free no-obligation consultation with one of our SharePoint experts.

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NYTimes: The Importance of Laptop Encryption https://seitelsystems.com/blog/nytimes-laptop-encryption/ Tue, 13 Mar 2018 20:27:17 +0000 https://seitelsystems.com/?p=2209 It’s always encouraging to see solid nuggets of information about technology show up in places where business leaders are likely to see it.  In case you missed it, today’s New York Times has a great (and brief!) piece about steps that you can take to protect sensitive data that lives on your business laptop.  We are always bringing this up in our conversations with clients – and it’s a relatively quick step that can really save your bacon in a crisis.  Highly recommended reading!

The One Thing That Protects a Laptop After It’s Been Stolen

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Security Alert – O365 Phishing https://seitelsystems.com/blog/o365-phishing-alert/ Tue, 20 Jun 2017 20:02:58 +0000 https://seitelsystems.com/?p=2028 A new O365 phishing scam is circulating, and users should be aware of this potential threat.  This scam is spreading quickly because the phishing email comes from a contact you may recognize and trust.  Here’s what one of our clients recently encountered, and reported to our Service Desk:

A user received an email from someone they’ve done business with in the past.  The email contained a PDF document.  When the user opened the PDF, it contained a link that led to a very convincing fake Office 365 login page.  The user entered their Office 365 login credentials, but (surprise) nothing happened. 

Except… something DID happen.  The next morning the user’s account started blasting out emails containing the same PDF with a link that the user had received the day before.  The hacker had full access to the user’s O365 account because they had the real credentials the user had divulged. It wasn’t until our technician had changed the account credentials and locked down the account that the flood finally stopped.

A particularly disturbing part of this whole adventure was that *literally* hundreds of people replied to this user saying, “I opened the attachment and clicked the link but nothing is happening.”  Among those hundreds who responded, several replied to let this user know that the link wasn’t working – and the hacker actually impersonated the user and replied to those emails with a new link that DID work, presumably capturing their credentials as well. This all happened before our support technician had locked down the account, disabling the attack.

You can easily see how this attack spreads like wildfire. Most everyone knows by now that you should never open an attachment from a contact you don’t recognize, but this phishing scam is exploiting users’ trust in known contacts.

The primary points for users to take away from this incident are:

  • Never divulge your O365 credentials (or other sensitive credentials, like banking) via a browser link you received in an email. If you really think it might be genuine and needs your attention, point your browser directly to the real URL and log in from there.
  • If you in any way suspect an email from a trusted contact to be fraudulent, respond to the contact directly via a different method to ask if it’s legitimate before opening any attachments or following any links. Call their office, talk in person, send a text message to their cell phone… if it’s really important, chances are they won’t mind and will appreciate the caution.
  • Alert your IT support team right away so they can investigate and take action in case your credentials wound up loose in the wild. If you have any doubts about whether something is legitimate, or if you are fooled by a convincing fake site but “nothing happens” when you try to log in… don’t forget about it and assume nothing has happened.

IT support clients, remember to contact our Service Desk right away if you receive any suspicious emails like this… we’re here to help!

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