One of the things that is unusual about me is the fact that I like to take customer support calls. Now you might find that weird as I do run a global support organization, and presumably I have better things to do than to take tech support calls when I have a staff that I have hired to do that for me. However, I feel that in the interest of making my support organization better, I need to be on the phones from time to time, digging into cases that get submitted via our customer portal, or by e-mail. Here’s why:
Our Product Marketing Manager, Aaron, and I had a watercooler chat the other day about taking a fresh approach to a corporation’s IT Security in the likes and regularity of spring cleaning. An approach like this would be ideal – you would have an up-to-date inventory of your hardware, you would have up-to-date software, and a complete 360 view of your organization. After completing what might be an onerous task, you would be able to identify the robustness of your environment, where your gaps might be, and where you have room to improve. In general, one might argue you would feel ‘in control’.
Canada’s economy is built upon the success of our citizens, their ingenuity and innovations. WinMagic CEO, Thi Nguyen-Huu speaks of his passion for innovation in building WinMagic, its comprehensive data security solutions, and the value that we bring to our customers in this video produced by Collins Barrow, one of Canada’s largest associations of chartered accounting firms, in celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday!
Businesses and Organizations in the U.S. Healthcare Industry are arguably subject to the most stringent data privacy and security laws on the planet. If you’re a Healthcare IT leader involved in compliance efforts – we certainly sympathize with you. Recently, Aaron McIntosh and I held a webinar on HIPAA Compliance for 2017 and Beyond in partnership with HiMSS – a 60,000+ member not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving healthcare through the best use of IT1. Our aim was to improve Healthcare IT leaders’ understanding of HIPAA in the context of the trends, breaches and common compliance issues we’re seeing across the industry so far in 2017. But it turns out that we gained far more insight than we shared with our audience of more than 140+ IT and Compliance leaders.
Recently I was on a call with a customer where one of my Team Leads and the Support Agent did most of the talking. Part way through the call, the customer asked me why I wasn’t saying anything. My response was that both my Team Lead and Support Agent had a plan that made sense and could speak to that plan. On top of that they had the ability to make decisions and adjust the plan without running it by me. Finally, I had complete confidence and faith in their abilities. The fact that I was willing to put that much faith in my people and give them that much latitude was surprising to the customer. And it’s likely surprising to you as well. But I see making the people who report to me as independent as one of the keys to having a world class support organization. To that end, here’s what I do to encourage independence within the Tech Support organization at WinMagic.
As an enterprise, you should not need an occasion to ensure that your security practices are up-to-date, fine-tuned and resilient. However, when immersed in the day-to-day it’s easy to overlook or neglect some of the standard best practices to securing your environment. The first signs of spring seem to trigger an inherent need to clean, and it’s no longer isolated to the garage or the cottage. It’s easy and worthwhile to apply the concept of spring cleaning, an annual event, to getting your security house in order too.
Here’s a 6 point checklist to get you started!
Throughout our 20 years of experience in the endpoint encryption market, who do you think our biggest competition would be? Symantec? McAfee, maybe? Wrong, and wrong again. Native crypto solutions like BitLocker and FileVault 2 dominate the endpoint encryption market. After all, why wouldn’t they? They’re free, they’re integrated into the operating system, and they do their job well. But are they really our competition?
From May 17th to 19th, I had the pleasure of attending the Fifth International Cryptographic Module Conference (ICMC 2017) with my colleague, Alexander Mazuruc. Alex usually attends this conference which focuses on cryptographic modules and FIPS 140 type issues, but this year there were 8 tracks on related subjects such as Quantum-safe crypto (yes, that is a thing), and Common Criteria. The conference had about 35 different sponsors including the Trusted Commuting Group. Overall I found the conference very informative and a good place to network in the community.
We often talk about flexibility in IT in instances of user-friendly experiences like knowing your Microsoft Word doc will open in Apple’s Pages, or the ability to accept or decline a meeting request from your iPhone with an Outlook account. But, what is being developed behind the curtains for IT flexibility is going to change how the world uses technology.
As data privacy concerns and supporting regulations escalate, are companies really prepared to ensure protection of their customers’ personal identifying information (PII) and to quickly and accurately report a breach should one occur? WinMagic recently conducted a survey of IT decision makers in the U.S., UK, France and Germany to assess their companies’ capabilities in these areas – and the findings should raise some red flags.
To be frank, I wouldn’t be where I am right now if I didn’t cross paths with people who believed in me and gave me a chance. Thus I need to send the elevator back down to bring the next generation of talent up to where I am. That’s why I was thrilled to have been invited to represent WinMagic at the Glenforest STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) Conference as a “speed mentor.” That meant that I would be set up in a room, and high school students in groups of three to five will come in and be seated with a mentor. From there, the students will be given five minutes to ask questions pertaining to my career before rotating to another mentor. The logic was that by doing these “speed mentoring” sessions, the students would get an amazing opportunity to learn more about the STEM careers available to them as well as to ask questions in a more personal environment. Thus I agreed to be a “speed mentor” for roughly 1000+ students.
In May 1986, a little-known Swedish band called Europe released their international breakthrough album, The Final Countdown – topping the charts in 25 countries. Thirty years later in May 2016, the European Commission released the official EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – another international breakthrough with a far greater global impact, albeit on the data privacy and protection landscape. But when legislation becomes law on May 25th 2018, will you be prepared? With just one year left, it’s the final countdown.
Data flow is evolving from the ground up – quite literally – with Big Data, the Cloud and IoT changing the way we store, process and share information. But with the rapid growth of data – expected to reach 44ZB by 2020 according to IDC – comes an exponentially larger surface area for hacks, attacks, loss and theft.
As we evolve more and more to complete self-contained services like the mainstream Cloud services of Microsoft, Amazon, IBM and Google, I often express concerns about the Cyber aspects being coupled. Enterprises and users are, if they haven’t already, getting more and more comfortable with giving up their physical/virtual servers, applications and storage but are not, and should not, be comfortable giving up control of their sensitive data. The shared responsibility models of Cloud Services Providers (CSPs) delineates between the physical aspects (network, disks, memory, etc.) and the responsibility of what resides in the storage and computer.
Since I became Senior Manager of Technical Support at WinMagic about seven months ago, my mandate has been to take the support organization here to the point where they were consistently delivering an exceptional customer experience. To do that, I needed to build a solid foundation using the skills and observations that I have acquired from elsewhere. My first step in this was to audit the technical support team and identify areas where improvement was needed or more focus needed to be applied. Through observation, looking at the metrics that were being gathered, and even learning the product so that I could take customer calls in the interest of seeing firsthand what customers experience was, I was able to come up with these key building blocks as part of my foundation for exceptional customer experience. Since February 1st, we’ve been tracking these key items:
Recently, I got the opportunity to be a judge at the Nahani-Glenforest Lego Robotics Competition. This is a competition where groups of grade 1 and 3 students from Nahani Way Public School work with high school students from Glenforest Secondary School to build and program Lego robots to do specific tasks. For yours truly, this was an opportunity to give back to the community and inspire the next generation who will take up careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). This was a high profile event as in attendance was Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie as well as Navdeep Bains who is the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development for the Government of Canada.
Have you taken the #LayerUP pledge? It’s an ingenious way to get people’s attention on a topic that might be considered frivolous, but which could result in some rather costly consequences if not followed – and that topic is Password Compliance. In enterprises, getting all of the employees to adopt password best practices on a consistent basis can be very difficult – especially since its human nature to use repetitive patterns or familiar phrases as passwords. Why? Because password requirements are everywhere, and the demand from IT departments to make them lengthier and more complex continue to grow and well, let’s be honest, the more passwords you have, the more likely you are to forget them.
I have written about the security implications of using sleep with encrypted drives in the past and have offered both short term and longer term solutions that would allow users to use sleep under some conditions and not risk (too much) a data breach. Today I am writing to offer another, common sense, alternative: Just don’t use sleep because you don’t really need it.
One of many common denominators that modern corporations face regardless of size, industry vertical and revenue is technical vulnerability. Without reiterating the monetary impact and disruption to business that IT attack’s result in, taking a proactive and engaged approach is your best defense. The reality of the starting point is that Canadian small and medium businesses are faced with obstacles right off the bat such as: