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Geek Speak

4 Posts authored by: david.jensen

The need and quality of your product brings your customers through the door, but it’s your customer service that keeps them coming back. Your customers’ experience with your post-transaction service and support is a big contributor to your organization’s ability to gain customer confidence and loyalty.

 

Ideally, you want customers to use your products without needing technical assistance. But, with technology products, customer support calls are inevitable. Your value as a company is determined by your customers and their encounters with your organization. This means your customer support methods need to proactively accommodate your customers’ needs and timelines.

 

Often, customers needing technical assistance are in a time crunch so speedy resolutions are always desirable. So, what can you do on your end to avoid service delays, reduce customers’ wait time, and ensure that customer interactions are positive? Improving performance and productivity starts with organizing your workspace. With the right tools and staff, you can deliver a high standard of customer service that results in high customer satisfaction.

 

Automation to the Rescue

You likely get the customer-support ball rolling by creating a ticket after the initial service request (i.e. email, phone call, text message). Then there’s triage, routing, escalating, assigning a technician, and notifying the customer that a ticket is created and a resolution is in the works. Where customer service is all about efficiency and quick turn-around times, automating as many of these tasks as you can significantly accelerates these processes and keeps you organized.

 

Your help desk is staffed with a group of hand-picked, talented technicians with particular skills sets and specialties. This is always useful for the many times you need to re-route or escalate tickets. Your help desk tool also brings a cache of talents to the table. It’s worth your time to configure your help desk tool to recognize the specialties of individual technicians, groups of staff, ticket categories, and priority levels. This cuts down on much of the effort in manually expediting tickets.

 

Where the Customer Service Rubber Meets the Road

Raise your hand if you’ve ever had a customer call to check the status of an issue. It’s understandable that people don’t like to wait. Drumming fingers on the desk gets old pretty fast. But what’s worse than waiting is not knowing how long the wait will be.

 

Give your customers the benefit of the human touch by keeping them informed throughout the ticketing process. Over communicating is not annoying when it’s for the benefit of the customer. The majority of positive customer service stories include a testimonial about how he or she was kept in the loop every step of the way.

 

When you close tickets, make it easy for your customers to give you some feedback and lend their opinions about their customer service experience. Again, this is where your automated help desk processes give you the luxury of effectively interacting and building a rapport with your customers to assure them that their needs are important to you.

 

The customer relationship is the heart of any business. When a high level of customer satisfaction is your goal, your help desk ticketing processes is how you achieve most of your customer-centric milestones for that goal. 

Cloud technology has transformed the way we conduct business. Since its inception, Cloud technology has systematically dismantled the traditional methods of storing data (tape, hard disks, RAM, USB devices, zip drives, etc.) and replaced it with a more boundless storage environment. Now, the thought of storing proprietary data on a hard drive or local storage device seems “so last year.” The Cloud might be the latest trend in file transfer and storage, but in terms of security, it’s not exactly a vault-like storage receptacle.

 

For example, a phishing scam that targeted Dropbox resulted in a 350K ransomware infection and illegal earnings of nearly $70,000. In a similar incident involving note-taking and archiving software company, Evernote, hackers gained access to confidential information, email addresses, and encrypted passwords of millions of users at the California-based company. Evernote also offers file transfer and storage services.

 

A recent survey, conducted by F- Secure, indicated that 6 out of 10 consumers were concerned about storing their confidential data with Cloud storage services. This survey also found that out of the varying levels of technology users, the younger, tech-savvy generation was the most wary of Cloud storage. The survey revealed that 59% of consumers were concerned that a 3rd-party could access their data from the Cloud and 60% felt that the cloud storage providers might even be selling their data to 3rd parties for some quick bucks. In addition, other apprehensions were raised about the quality of technology used by these Cloud providers. Some recent security-breach incidents leads me to conclude that these concerns might have some merit.

 

Automated file transfer software not only simplifies and speeds up file transfers, it enhances the security of all file-transfer operations. This is important as data security is a high priority for all users. Unlike SaaS-based FTP services, Self-hosted FTP server solutions do not compromise data security and integrity by exposing your transferred and stored data to the Cloud.

 

A Self-hosted FTP solution is a safer option for transferring, storing, and accessing your confidential files and data. The following are some of the benefits of a self-hosted FTP solution:

  • Hosted on your premises and enables you to maintain the integrity of shared data.
  • Offers security for data that’s both at rest and in motion.
  • Offers internal resource protection (DMZ resident) enabling it to conceal internal IP addresses.
  • Provides granular access control.
  • Secures data transmissions with encryption and authentication features.

 

For an organization, Cloud-based storage services may be convenient, but the question is should you compromise on the integrity of your data. Data is precious. You need to ensure that your data is under the care of someone who is serious about its security and safety.

Stephen Covey, creator of the “7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” often said, “As long as you think the problem is out there, that very thought is the problem.”

There’s truth to that statement. But all motivational phrases and buzzwords aside, you can expend a lot of mental energy dwelling on the fact that there are problems in your day-to-day endeavors. Of course, when your role in life is a system administrator, you are no stranger to a plethora of problems. In fact, the notion that there are problems out there in your IT world is what keeps you moving each day.


The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) tells us that a problem is the unknown root cause of one or more existing or potential incidents. Furthermore, it stands to reason that an incident is an event which is not part of the normal operation of an IT service. For example, if the employees within your corporate IT network are unable to access network related services like email, printing, and Internet services, it may be a problem to them, but according to ITIL, that’s an incident. If the network access is hampered by an issue with the core router, that’s the root cause of the incident and hence, the actual problem.


Enter the help desk. Given that problems are your help desk’s reason for living, proactive problem and incident management is necessary for effective IT support and problem resolution.

Your help desk software can do a lot toward proactively managing your IT administration issues. Here are some useful features for an effective help desk solution:

  • Ability to integrate with network performance and monitoring solutions.
  • Ability to set up your help desk solution to receive and assimilate alert data and automatically assign tickets to specific technicians.
  • Automatic triggering of new alerts and note updates on existing tickets according to changes within the network parameters.
  • Configurable variables to filter alerts based on severity and location. (This can provide information about your operating system, machine type, IP address, DNS, total memory, system name, location, alert type, etc.).
  • Simplified ticketing, such as linking an unlimited number of incident tickets to a single problem.
  • The necessary tools, ITSM incident diagnostics, and ticket routing features, allowing for better integration and relationships with knowledge base articles, CMDB asset associations, service requests, known problems, change requests, and SLAs.


Getting to the root cause of incidents and resolving problems fast creates a good-to-great situation for your help desk department and staff. When customer satisfaction is key, allying yourself with an efficient help desk solution is how you achieve that.

While you’re in the thick of combating the plethora of IT security threats, network anomalies, intrusions, phishing, malware, etc., you know that through it all you need to be keenly aware of all file activity. And there’s lots of it. While file auditing is clearly an important part of any APT or malware detection strategy, being able to adequately monitor all system file changes and payment card data access is a primary requirement of PCI compliance.

 

For the sake of securing your network and data, you likely devote a fair amount of your IT budget to the cause. However, dealing with all the challenges that accompany file auditing can ring up some non-monetary expenses as well. File auditing is clearly a big part of your IT management and can consume a significant amount of your security staff and technology resources. It can also call for a lot of thinking, planning, and even more training.

 

For example, with Windows® File Auditing, how do you configure a consistent audit policy across multiple systems? How do you limit auditing to specific file types? The New Technology File System (NTFS) audit policy doesn’t provide support for wildcards.

Then of course there is the matter of collecting, analyzing, and alerting on file access events. This is something that a SIEM solution can assist with, but it needs to be a SIEM resource with some real knowledge of engineering to make sense of the cryptic events Windows generates.

One of the other big challenges you have to tangle with in Windows file auditing is noise. There are some things you can do in your audit configurations to reduce noise. But with Windows NTFS file auditing there’s no way to get rid of the noise.

If you’re in a small, budget-constrained security department, you could immediately start noticing implied expenses in terms of limited security expertise, the time and effort required to accurately set up and configure the tool, and the labor involved completing all of the necessary file auditing tasks. With adequate threat detection, file security, and PCI compliance on the line, file auditing is more than a financial investment.

 

Given the gravity of file auditing in your IT security operations, this is not a process that you should entrust to the nearest free file auditing tool. Sure, you might not have to put money on the counter for the tool, but you’ll soon start seeing the costs of “free” coming from all directions. A little thought, research, and education can go a long way toward controlling the costs and adhering to the compliance regulations.

 

 

To gain in-depth knowledge about file access auditing in Windows, attend this free, live training Webinar.

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