SpireTech Company News and Tips
Although SpireTech uses Kaseya software for systems management, neither SpireTech or our customers were victims of the latest headline news breach. Our response, analysis of the hack, explanation of why we were not affected, and plans moving forward are below.
Kaseya makes software for IT systems management. It is used by enterprises and managed service providers alike to streamline technician effectiveness, enabling a few technicians to manage thousands of systems at scale, including patch management, health monitoring, and providing helpdesk services. Kaseya, based in Miami Florida, is one of the largest vendors of this type of software. SpireTech has been using Kaseya software for over ten years.
We sent the following notification to VIPsupport client key contacts on Friday afternoon:
On Friday 7/2/21 at 12:48pm PT we were notified by our Remote Monitoring & Management vendor, Kaseya, of an active security incident involving their software being used to deploy ransomware, and advising us to shutdown our management server until security experts can determine the cause.
We have shutdown our server under the presumption this will protect us (and you), and are actively monitoring our Sophos Intercept-X software for indicators of compromise – and at this point, there are none.
Our office will be closed on Monday July 5th in observance of Independence day. Technical support will not be available on this day so that our employees can enjoy the holiday with their families.
Due to changes in policy with our vendors, we can no longer credit Microsoft 365 services for partial months or partial years. This is a change in the cost structure to us, and we are simply passing these costs on to our customers.
Reassignment of licenses are ok, but reductions in license count will not result in a credit for the current month. Clients on annual Microsoft billing may wish to consider switching to monthly because of these changes at your next renewal.
Along with many of our clients, we’re switching the entire office over to Microsoft 365 Business Voice (Teams voice). We’ve been using it on the Professional Services side of the house for nearly a year, and now the entire team will be on it. Our legacy PRI service recently reached the end of its contract, and we will be saving several hundred dollars a month as a result. The move was accelerated by some problems with our incoming line provided by Lumen (formerly Centurylink) last week. Clients calling in may have noticed some disconnects or issues reaching us during that time.
The change will take effect Wed June 9th. After this happens, you may notice some differences when calling in for support. The menu options have changed, and the queue will no longer say your place in line when holding. These settings are subject to change as we adjust to the new system and learn what works best. Read more...
Ransomware is a plague on businesses and insurers. Cyber insurance can provide protection in the event your business falls victim. However – we’ve heard insurance rates are going up across the board due to ransomware, and hefty payouts that insurers have been forced to make. Fortunately, none of our clients have fallen victim, but we’ve heard some horror stories. Not only will the crooks encrypt your files, but they’ll also threaten to publish your sensitive data if you don’t pay – damaging your business reputation.
You may have heard about the ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline on Friday. They brought in specialists to examine the evidence to determine what happened, restore normal operations, and secure systems. Often this means replacing entire systems and networks. We’ve heard the IT people and the company management will suffer PTSD-like symptoms due to the stress involved. Of course this is all very expensive – not to mention hefty ransom payments that may be involved. Read more...
A new vulnerability affecting most Dell computers was announced this week. The vulnerability cannot be exploited remotely – but we have remediated the issue.
Our NOC team prepared an automation and removed the vulnerable file from all Dell systems supported under our VIPsupport management. Dell is releasing updates to their firmware update tool that will prevent this vulnerability from being exposed or reinstalled.
For more information on the vulnerability, you can visit Dell’s webpage regarding the issue here.
Our team has refined the process of migrating systems from on-premises Active directory servers to Azure AD quite well. We’re liberating our clients from the bounds of the office, removing legacy file servers, and enabling employees to work from anywhere. We can’t name clients here – but there are many more employees now enjoying the benefits of the modern workplace.
From an IT management perspective, there are a couple of key technologies enabling this transition. We’ve written about them before: one is Azure AD (Active Directory), the other is Microsoft Endpoint Manager (formerly known as Intune). Perhaps some explanation is order about why computer geeks (and any business owner that cares about security) thinks these things are cool.
When you purchase a new windows computer, your employees login to the initial setup screen using their company email address. No IT person has to touch the computer – Microsoft Endpoint manager will install your required business software, setup email accounts, and link to your company SharePoint libraries with OneDrive. Read more...
Microsoft recently released a new feature for M365 that automatically converts word documents to PowerPoint presentations. Why is this useful?
Perhaps you have prepared a proposal for a client that you’re going to be reviewing in Teams. Instead of going over a boring Word document, you can convert it to a PowerPoint! This feature is only available in Word online.
The AI uses what your document “says” to choose icons and images. Headers and document formatting is used as a clue to create new slides for each header section. Bullet lists often become stylized lists, sometimes with images.
Try it out in Word online by going to File->Export->Export to PowerPoint (preview). Choose a theme and watch what happens – it’s pretty handy!