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May
21
GDPR and our Terms of Service
Posted by Amy Babinchak on 21 May 2018 11:58 AM

In the wake of GDPR we are all seeing a lot of change of Terms of Service on the various websites we use and I'm sure that you're seeing the same. Our Terms of Service remain unchanged because we have always used only opt-in (you had to create an account with us in order to be receiving this) and we have never sold or allowed our client list to be used by anyone. Further should you decide to delete your account, any ticket history that you have with us is automatically deleted too. Finally, when you log into your account you are viewing the full history that we have with you and you have the ability to delete as you wish. It's always been that way. We've never held anything back behind the scenes or prevented you from having full control over your data. 

thanks for your continued business and support,

Amy Babinchak

Managing Partner, Third Tier

 

Make your IT business better than the competition. IT Pro Helpdesk, TechYourBooks, Super Secret News, Women in IT Scholarship program, Ransomware Prevention Kit and more. http://www.thirdtier.net

 

 


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May
17
Windows 10 tools have been added to the Ransomware Prevention Kit
Posted by Amy Babinchak on 17 May 2018 12:41 PM

It has been about a year since we added new material into the Ransomware Prevention Kit. That’s a long time and it’s because Ransomware is somewhat a mature industry now. In the 5 years that we’ve been fighting this nasty with IT best practices we’ve noticed a certain stability. The attacks methods are varied but they really boil down into a few basic concepts that you need to avoid Ransomware.

  • An educated user population
  • Avoidance of Phishing
  • Near immediate patching of Windows, Adobe and Flash
  • Use of latest versions of applications
  • Good IT practices to protect backup, avoid unwanted applications and prevent permission sprawl

Another thing has changed in the last 5 years. Computers are now more frequently not joined to on-premises domains. Instead they are stand-alone or joined to Azure AD. This on top of the announcements that Group Policy is now considered legacy technology and Software Restriction Policies are no longer being actively developed which in Microsoft speak tells us that both of these technologies are being phased out, means that we have to change too.

To that end you are going to find .reg, .pol files are the predominate means to managing Windows 10 computers. But we’ve also still supplied the old software restriction group policies because they still work. We’ve just put the new configurations into a different format.

In the photo above you see the list of files that reside inside of the zip file you’re going to find in the kit called Win10RansomPreventionFiles.zip. Note the text filed called Read the PDF’s first. Guess what that means? It means that you really, really, really need to read the two PDF files first in order to understand what the local group policy and reg keys are doing and how to customize them for your use. The PDF called Ransomware and Windows 10 is a long article detailing out all of the settings, what they do and how to manually deploy them. Once you understand that, you can then move to using the pre-built tools that we provided so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

There’s a second PDF that you should also read. Preventing ransomware on Windows 10 depends on using Windows Defender so please read the Understanding Windows Defender PDF. Especially if you think you don’t care about Defender. Many of us did’t like Defender and I want you to rethink that as we have.

I hope that you enjoy these new additions to the kit. I’ve copied other relevant articles into the zip file for convenience mostly. They aren’t new but they go along with Windows 10 and represent a tiny start to a reorganization of the materials to make them easier to find and consume.

One last thing, as you know we raised money from the donations for the kit to launch a scholarship fund. It is working. We are providing scholarships, changing lives and improving our industry at the same time. You should be proud of yourself for your contribution. Here’s a note from a recipient and if you’d like to make another contribution, your money is welcome. You can make another donation here

Would like to say “Thank You” and make a donation

Greetings Amy, I was fortunate to be one of the recipient of a scholarship through Third Tier a while back for the completion of my Security+ certification. It came at a time where my life, let alone my career, was up in the air. Getting that cert gave me the confidence to pursue my CCNA Cyber Ops which led to a new position as an Information Security Analyst with a great organization where I am now on the fast track to becoming the Information Systems Security Officer. So, I want to truly say thank you!! I appreciate the work you are doing with Third Tier and I would like to pay it forward with a $500 donation. How can we facilitate this? Best regards, LaDon Williams

If you need need to purchase the Ransomware Prevention Kit you can do that here. If you would like to send us some more money for our work in the kit and keep funding this project you can do that too. Please do that here

_____________________________

About Third Tier

Established in 2008, Third Tier only works for IT Professionals by providing them with access to advanced support services. No one can know it all these days, so we give IT pros a place to go to get the hands on support they need in areas they normally don’t work in or problems they’ve never encountered. We also work on projects, fix their accounting practices and do many, many migrations and other installations. Our staff covers a wide range of technologies.

Website: http://www.thirdtier.net

Helpdesk: https://helpdesk.thirdtier.net

Blog: http://www.thirdtier.net/blog


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May
16

A recording is available for the webinar reviewing what's new with ransomware, where the bad guys seem to be heading, and explaining our new ransomware prevention recommendations and tools for Windows 10. We're now covering more easily both domain and stand-alone PC's. We've moved to favoring direct registry edits and local policies over Group Policy. This is in response to the changing nature of work and therefore networks. We're seeing a lot fewer Windows 10 computers that are joined to a traditional on-premises domain. 

In addition, later today you will be able to go to the Ransomware Kit share location and get the new files. I'll have another blog post with the details on that. Meanwhile, find out what's new by listening in. It's about 30 minutes long. 

Download it from here

_____________________________

About Third Tier

Established in 2008, Third Tier only works for IT Professionals by providing them with access to advanced support services. No one can know it all these days, so we give IT pros a place to go to get the hands on support they need in areas they normally don’t work in or problems they’ve never encountered. We also work on projects, fix their accounting practices and do many, many migrations and other installations. Our staff covers a wide range of technologies.

Website: http://www.thirdtier.net

Helpdesk: https://helpdesk.thirdtier.net

Blog: http://www.thirdtier.net/blog


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May
10
Webinar: Introducing Windows 10 ransomware preventions
Posted by Amy Babinchak on 10 May 2018 10:51 AM

Next Tuesday we are introducing policies, registry key settings, and gpo's pre-built for you use in the Ransomware Prevention Kit. These will configure Windows 10 for ransomware prevention. During this webinar we will explain what each of them does and how to use them. Please use the link below to register for the webinar. 

http://www.thirdtier.net/events/introducing-windows-10-ransomware-prevention-kit/

_____________________________

About Third Tier

Established in 2008, Third Tier only works for IT Professionals by providing them with access to advanced support services. No one can know it all these days, so we give IT pros a place to go to get the hands on support they need in areas they normally don’t work in or problems they’ve never encountered. We also work on projects, fix their accounting practices and do many, many migrations and other installations. Our staff covers a wide range of technologies.

Website: http://www.thirdtier.net

Helpdesk: https://helpdesk.thirdtier.net

Blog: http://www.thirdtier.net/blog


Read more »



Apr
27
Adopting change as a business strategy
Posted by Amy Babinchak on 27 April 2018 03:55 PM

This is the story of noticing when things started to change from on-premises to cloud and when clients became dissatisfied with the status quo. Many MSP’s missed the memo and thought that cloud would fail to thrive or that it wouldn’t involve them.

Change happened

Let’s be honest here. Not much changed in the MSP world for 15 years. Sure OS’s iterated to new versions; some new features crept in but MSP’s just kept on offering the same services and didn’t implement a lot of new features either. We kept things running, answer questions from users and perform migrations to the next version. What we do as MSP’s is pretty dull stuff when you stop to think about it.

But as MSP’s were going through the drudgery of daily tasks change occurred around them. The action was happening on the mobile device front. We saw users all shift from flip phone to smart phone over the course of about 24 months. Then the iPads appeared and businesses wanted them to function like laptops. We told them that that’s not how they are designed. They are supposed to consume content not create it. But mostly they didn’t listen and were shortly frustrated. That frustration though has been the driver of all of the technology change that we’re now fully immersed within.

An MSP transitions to the cloud accidentally

Around this same time which I put at 2008 my own MSP, Harbor Computer Service, had a disaster. A semi-truck hit the freeway overpass, created a massive fire that dropped the overpass onto the freeway and melted the road. Until that moment we didn’t know that our Internet and electricity home runs were both held within that overpass. Fortunately for us we had recently deployed Microsoft’s BPOS, the predecessor to Office 365, to ourselves. This meant that Sharepoint and email no longer resided on our local server but instead were in the cloud. We were also using SkyDrive, the predecessor to OneDrive, to store files so we had access to them while at client offices. Beginning in 2002 we were early adopters of Quickbooks Online. In fact our customer number was 12 until they finally changed it to something more grandiose sounding. Of course we had a lot of legacy data on our server but once it went down and we continued to work I made the decision to never go back. We’ve been fully in the cloud ever since and 2008 is when we, now confident that this could work, began to migrate some clients into the cloud.

It’s now 2018 and when we talk to clients we’re able to tell them that our company has been in the cloud for 10 years and we’ve been helping clients make that transition for a decade. We’re experienced at this and likely the most experienced firm they are going to encounter. It’s a competitive advantage and competitive advantages don’t happen by accident.

Early adopters

This fortune of circumstance occurred by accident but it didn’t happen by accident. Ours happened by culture. We are early adopters. We are early adopters of everything. It’s in my blood and bones to love technology so much that I force my company and my employees to live on the bleeding edge at all times. I consider it a significant part of my job as business owner to lead. We are not cautious with our own technology. We boldly go where our clients might go in the future. And where we might take them in the future.

We don’t just “eat our own dog food” we find the next big thing, try it and train ourselves on it. We toss a lot of things aside as not ready for primetime, doesn’t provide enough integration, support is lousy, feature set is lacking, but we try them all. I do get a lot of push back from my own staff sometimes as we frequently find ourselves with data in various locations with multiple ways of accomplishing the same thing. But eventually something grabs us, coalesces with what we are hearing from our clients and becomes part of our repertoire of recommendations.

The big red flag

Most of this story takes place around 2008. This was the point when MSP’s should have sat up and read the writing on the wall. Their clients and the users were inventing solutions to problems they had (those ipads) and that never bodes well for the person maintaining the status quo. You become the enemy of progress and the source of frustration. Today we are coming into businesses as their new IT firm because the current firm is holding fast to the status quo. We often speak to them during the transition period and we now know what they are going to say.

The old firm will tell us that the client doesn’t listen to them, that they are cheap, and that they don’t like change. The users will never go for what we’ve proposed. It is destined to fail. We also know what our new client is going to tell us about the previous firm. They are going to tell us that they don’t listen, don’t like change and aren’t able to help them with their needs beyond just maintaining what they’ve installed. If they have Office 365, then they are only using email, OneDrive and maybe Skype or SharePoint. The client knows enough to see that they are standing in front of a banquet viewing everything that’s available in technology today but there’s a glass wall between them and it and they are starving. And the reason for this circumstance is the previous firm. That why they let them go.

Back to change

How do you avoid this fate? How do you adopt change as a business strategy? I do it by loving what I do and doing what I love. I live in the future but don’t neglect the now. But you also have to have some constants. Harbor is a Microsoft shop staffed by Microsoft people. I made the decision many years ago to throw our fortunes in with Microsoft. I did this because I like their unwavering commitment to business. I too am in business for businesses. While they mostly focus on enterprise and I focus on small business, we are both focusing on business. Microsoft also puts out for better and for worse the greatest volume of technical documentation and I believe that they have a genuine desire to also appeal to small business. It’s not a perfect relationship. I have to interpret what they are saying to scale the solutions down to right size for my clients and I have to pay attention to ferret out what direction they are taking next. It’s a real firehose of information and opportunity but it’s the one constant that we have.

We have actually more than one constant in our business. We actually have four. Here they are:

  • We have always been and we always be a Microsoft shop
  • We have always been and we always be focused on small business
  • We will always adopt new technology
  • We will always be a business that makes money by providing services

Within that framework of constants leaves lot of room for change. We’re always looking for new technology that might solve a problem for our clients, that might turn into a new service offering, that scales in price not feature set to small businesses and that integrates well with Microsoft. When a new technology meets these criteria then we go to market with it.

Being early to market has been a critical component of our success but it isn’t limited to new technology, nor to cloud. It’s everything.

Everything

By everything I mean everything. When our clients heard bad things about Windows 8 we told them not to worry. We can show you in 5 minutes how to navigate around and you’ll be fine. When our clients heard bad things about Windows 10 we told them not to worry. We’d been running it on our laptops, which are our daily work devices, for 9 months before it was released to the general public. Today we are saying that we aren’t going to install an anti-virus software anymore. That’s a big change. It’s been a safety blanket that they thought they understood. But we know todays threats are different and so todays solutions have to be different too. We are the agents of change for our clients and it takes a big commitment on our end to make sure that we’re ready.

Doing this allows us to provide new technology for our clients and give them the confidence that we’re ready to support their use it. I just said something very important here. Here it is again. One  tenant of driving change is that you are not supporting the technology you are supporting your clients use of the technology. Having a culture of change and knowing the technology isn’t enough. You also need to understand how your client is going to use this new technology.

Getting business-y

Our clients use technology differently than we do. This is because we are in different businesses. We are an MSP. They are manufactures, engineers, architects, distributors, healthcare professionals, legal pros, financial wizards and are in any industry other than our own. It’s our job to understand their business, what their staff does and understand the technology well enough to shape it to their needs. We also need the confidence to bring new ideas to them that might cause them to change the way they work, for the better.

Not every change we bring to them will be adopted but some will and eventually enough will that they will see the impact on their business. They will come to trust that we will bring them new ideas, new technology and new ways of doing old things. They will see enough successes to take the risk with us of trying the new thing and together we will enjoy seeing their business succeed as a result. When that happens then we are both succeeding through the adoption of change.

_____________________________

About Third Tier

Established in 2008, Third Tier only works for IT Professionals by providing them with access to advanced support services. No one can know it all these days, so we give IT pros a place to go to get the hands on support they need in areas they normally don’t work in or problems they’ve never encountered. We also work on projects, fix their accounting practices and do many, many migrations and other installations. Our staff covers a wide range of technologies.

Website: http://www.thirdtier.net

Helpdesk: https://helpdesk.thirdtier.net

Blog: http://www.thirdtier.net/blog


Read more »




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