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Administrative Alert

Are you the owner or key manager of a business? Do you know the passwords for your network and the software packages that keep your business running? If you answered “yes” to the first question and “no” to the second, it’s time to take the necessary steps to get control of your lifeline.

We’ve been seeing a lot of this password problem lately when called in to take over a company’s IT services. Neither the owner nor a key manager has any idea of the administrative user name or password, and that means they have no access to their system.

The issue typically shows up when a business takes on a new IT company to manage or troubleshoot its data system. It creates a huge problem because you can’t switch ownership of your system back to you and your new IT provider. That, in turn, prevents you and the provider from being able to fix problems with your network and operating system or from being able to update or upgrade your software packages.

As you would suspect, no business changes its IT provider unless it’s unhappy with the service. When we start with a new account, we find a system has deteriorated from neglect for one reason or another. Sometimes, we can use special tools to unlock a password and get into a system and/or software package. It all depends on whether the set-up is simple or complex.

When hard feelings and money are involved, the break-up is pretty bad. At worst case, the old IT provider can withhold or threaten to withhold passwords. Even if a company owner can successfully sue a former IT provider for the password information, it still takes time and money.

One of our new clients was in the middle of installing new hardware and software. With only part of the system delivered over the course of six months and only partial payments being made, the company’s owner decided to scrap the whole project and order all new hardware and software.

That’s extreme. But key point to remember is that not having your passwords makes next to impossible – if not totally impossible – to service your system properly.

To protect yourself from impending disaster, you should follow these steps:

  1. Make a list of all the user names and passwords your business has for your operating system, email system, software packages, Internet access, etc. Put them in an electronic format and decide who has access to what. As the owner, you should have all the access. You can give all or partial access to other people in your business, but make sure they will always be there or be accessible to provide the access information when needed.
  2. When you install or upgrade any system, make sure you have all the user names and passwords and that you give the information to people as required.
  3. When you change IT providers or when someone with access information leaves, change user names and passwords immediately. We recommend a complete password reset because bad break-ups lead to security breaches.

If you’re not sure about all of your passwords and access information or not sure how to set it all up, we’d be more than happy to help you resolve any problems. Just call us – 973-433-6676 – or drop us an email to schedule a consultation.

This article was published in Technology Update, the monthly newsletter from Sterling Rose LLC.