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!
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.
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.
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:
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:
Another day, another breach. In a relatively unsurprising start to 2017, healthcare breaches are on track to reach new heights (or is it depths?). In what has become a somewhat satirical annual tradition, analysts forecast upcoming breach trends for the notoriously hard hit healthcare industry, and title each year with a fitting name. In 2015, it kicked off with the Year of the Healthcare Breach. In 2016, it was the Rise of Ransomware. So as I was reading about yet another breach in April, a question came to mind, what will “Year of the” be for 2017?
Have you ever called a contact center within a company because you had an issue, and felt like you were being “hurried” off the phone? If you’ve had that experience, there’s a reason for you feeling that way. Which is that the contact center that you were calling is actually trying to “hurry” you off the phone. Let me give you the inside scoop as to why you are being “hurried” to hang up from a contact center.
I’m passionate when it comes to coaching and developing a Tech Support team. Because when you make a sincere effort to coach and develop Tech Support agents, it results in a more engaged agent who delivers world class support. One who will go above and beyond not because they feel they have to, but because their efforts are validated by those that they report to and by the customers they assist. This is important because a Tech Support team talks to customers more often than any other part of an organization such as WinMagic which makes what they do very crucial to the success of that organization. I use a number of tools to make sure my coaching is effective as possible.
Have you heard of the great migration of Modern IT to the Cloud? It’s not new, revolutionary or innovative, and many enterprises are doing it. But what we are seeing is, regardless of industry, migrating to a cloud solution is occurring for a myriad of different reasons – from strategic reasons, to the flexibility, productivity and cost-savings gained by moving workloads and storage from on-site to the Cloud.
It has been a while since I have written about UEFI, Secure Boot and their impact on Full Disk Encryption (FDE) pre-boot authentication (PBA) so it’s time for an update on what is new in this area, but first here is a recap because this is a bit of an arcane technical subject. UEFI stands for “Unified Extensible Firmware Interface”. The UEFI specification defines a standard model for the interface between personal-computer operating systems and platform firmware. It provides a standard environment for booting an operating system and running pre-boot applications such as the PBA for FDE. It replaces the traditional legacy BIOS interface that was used with Windows 7 and older systems. Now that Windows 10 is being widely adopted I expect to see UEFI used on almost all new machines.