Blog - - Seattle, Washington

12 Jun 2015

Windows 10 Free Upgrade: Make the Leap?

Windows 10

Windows 10 is coming soon; July 29, 2015 to be exact. Microsoft has announced that all systems currently running Windows 7 SP1 or Windows 8.1 are eligible to upgrade to Windows 10 free of charge. Beginning June 1, 2015, Microsoft activated a notification that appears in your PC’s taskbar which states “Get Windows 10. Reserve your free upgrade.” If you opt into the upgrade, Windows 10 will download to your PC as soon as it’s available, and you will be able to install it at your convenience after July 29th. The download consumes approximately 3 GB of disk space.

The logical first question you are probably asking yourself is “Should I take advantage of this upgrade?” Well, there’s good news and bad news.

The good news is that all indications point towards Windows 10 being a worthy successor to Windows 7 and corrects many of the flaws of Windows 8 (the Start menu is back!). Faster overall speeds along with quicker startup and system resume have also been promised, along with a boast out of Redmond that Windows 10 is “the most secure platform ever.” Even more good news is that you have an entire year to upgrade your system for free.

The bad news is that Microsoft has a long and distinguished track record of unforeseen problems in the days, weeks and months following new operating system releases. Many IT professionals would advise that you wait until the first major service pack release prior to making the leap to a brand new Microsoft operating system.

SisAdmin’s recommendation is to wait a few months to see how everything shakes out before considering the upgrade. When the dust has settled and the kinks have been worked out, please reach out to us so that we can assist you with a smooth transition to Windows 10.

If you decide that you’d like to be on the bleeding edge of technology and just can’t wait to take the leap, Microsoft has outlined what you can expect here. If you’ve already opted in and have reserved your upgrade, don’t fret, you can postpone performing the actual upgrade to a time that’s convenient for you.

19 May 2015

SisAdmin is 15!

Birthday Cake

SisAdmin is celebrating our 15th birthday today! We are so excited to have had the opportunity to serve so many customers over the years. I thought it might be fun to do a little journey back in time to celebrate.

SisAdmin was born in my dining room on May 18th, 2000. I had always wanted to own my own business but just didn’t know what I wanted to sell. In my early 20s I wanted to start a business called Tech Tutor, to teach all the new PC owners how to use computers. (Yes, I am that old.) I didn’t have any idea how to start a business, so it never got off the ground.

What made the difference for SisAdmin, my second business idea?  I asked the right people the right questions. I knew how to provide great IT service, I just needed to figure out how to run a business. No problem! With the help of several mentors, I got the info I needed, and got SisAdmin off the ground.

My first employee started working at Sisadmin in 2001. We did cold calls to drum up enough clients to support two people. It was a little easier back then–people answered their phones more than they do now. Though cold calling is never fun, it did work. We signed up one of our largest clients, a company we supported for 12 years, based on those calls.

In addition to building SisAdmin in 2001, I was also pregnant with Sarah. You should have seen me doing service calls and sales calls 8 and 9 months pregnant. Even after Sarah was born I would put her in the BabyBjorn carrier and go to work, breast feeding in the car.

I remember one night I had an after-hours project to complete that took all night long. My husband had to go to work so I told him to bring Sarah to me and I let her sleep in her car seat as I finished up. When the clients started to show up at 7AM and saw a baby on the floor with me and the server, they were astonished. We had some good laughs over my dedication for years on that one.

Ok, let’s move along in time a bit–SisAdmin grew and I learned how to be a better manager, sometimes the hard way. We had room in our home for an office which served for several years, but SisAdmin soon outgrew that space. We took over the office, formal living room and the dining room. It was time to move away from home. The timing was perfect. Pacific Ridge Homes, one of our clients, was purchasing a new building and looking for tenants. Not only did they have just the right size space, it was one mile from my home. Ask and you shall receive, I say!

Still, this was scary. Overhead was going up–would we be able to afford it? Will it put a strain on the relationship with the client to be their tenant as well? It ended up to being the best move we could have made. Having a commercial office legitimized SisAdmin. Clients rarely came to our office, so that didn’t change much.  Employees and prospective staff did, however, and having a professional conference room to interview in opened staffing to better candidates. In the meantime, we were growing quickly based almost solely on word of mouth, so we had no trouble paying the bills. My worries about the relationship with Pacific Ridge Homes never became an issue; in fact, we became closer. I think very highly of them and I hope they do the same of me.

As we grew, Outlook Tasks stopped being a sufficient way to manage our workload. In 2008, we not only moved to a large ticketing system, but we restructured how we did business to support moving into the Managed Service industry. Unfortunately, just as we got a handle on the new structure and tools, the economy started to decline. We held on to our staff and weathered the recession by having an open book policy and working together to listen to what our clients needed from us, so that they could weather through as well. We contacted each of our clients and proactively asked them what we could do to help them. We allowed our clients to reduce what they were contracted to do with us, we removed travel charges, even changed or removed products if that was what they needed. We always want to be part of the solution not part of the hardship. We did have two clients that did not make it out of the recession but we did not lose any clients.

We have been growing steadily ever since.

I have built this company on high morals, a solid work ethic, and a strong sense of caring for our clients and staff. To this day that has not changed, and I don’t ever want it to change. I want SisAdmin to grow but I don’t ever want us to forget about taking care of each other and our clients with high integrity. I feel strongly that these traits are the reason we have a high client and staff retention rate.

I love my work–I don’t really think of it as work. That trait is what I look for when hiring engineers to support SisAdmin clients. We love doing IT and we will do what it takes to keep the client networks up and stable. And that’s another thing I don’t ever want to change.

Can’t wait to serve for another fifteen!

06 May 2015

SisAdmin Sponsors Vistage Executive Summit 2015

VES 2015

Representatives from SisAdmin attended the Vistage Executive Summit 2015 yesterday, May 5th, at the Hyatt Regency Bellevue.

We would like to thank all of you that stopped by our booth to say hello.  We really enjoyed meeting and visiting with our existing customers, Vistage members and chairs, industry peers and colleagues, and guest attendees.  The venue was spectacular, the guest speakers were inspiring, engaging and insightful, the food was delicious and the atmosphere and energy was second to none.

We look forward to seeing you all next year!

The SisAdmin Team

01 May 2015

Security Alert: Wire Transfer Scam


We are issuing this security notice to alert our customers to a fraudulent wire transfer technique that some of our customers have encountered this week.  The technique is called spear phishing and relies upon email messages posing as urgent communications from senior officers to lower level employees.  The messages demand that employees wire funds to destination accounts provide in the message.

These emails can be very convincing and are typically sent to corporate executives, corporate finance personnel, or others likely to have roles in authorizing or executing accounts payable operations.  We highly recommend making your employees aware of this threat and cautioning them against falling victim to these attacks.  Typical signs to look for beyond the obvious tone of the funds transfer demands are:

  • Suspicious emails sent to executives or received from executives
  • Check the sender’s email address closely for spoofed or impersonated domains
  • The body of the email instructs the target to pay all new or outstanding invoices via wire transfer to a new bank account
  • The body of the message often includes a fake, back-dated “original message” in an attempt to set the context of the transfer request
  • Attached to the email is a PDF document containing wire transfer instructions, including bank name, account number, etc.
  • Wire transfer destinations typically include banks in the US, UK, China and Taiwan

The technical details of how scammers accomplish this are as follows:

  1. Scammers register “typo squatting” domains that for all intents and purposes look like the target company’s domain, but are subtly different.  For example, the legitimate domain would be registered as
  2. Scammers then create email accounts at the fake domain that mirror legitimate executive email accounts.  For example would be created as, and the common name that appears on the email account would be identical to the original account, such as Joe CEO.
  3. The attack often relies upon knowledge of key players within the company and emails that are highly convincing to the recipients are created.  They rely upon the fact that when the CEO asks you to do something, you do it!
  4. Emails are sent to lower level employees from executives that are brief and urgent, demanding the transfer of funds and the progress of the transfer, thus making the request appear more authentic.

Please let us know if you have any questions or need our assistance.

24 Apr 2015

Windows Server 2003 Support is Ending July 14, 2015


Amongst the geek speak you may have overheard recently, the term “End of Life” (EOL) may ring a bell.  This term refers to the product(s) supplied to customers that are at the end of their useful life and the vendor (more often than not Microsoft) intends to stop supporting it.  There are some key Microsoft products coming up on End of Life in the first half of 2015; the major one being Windows Server 2003 (all versions) which subsequently includes Small Business Server (SBS) 2003.   Specifically, support will end for these products on July 14, 2015.

So what does this mean to you and your business?  In a nut shell, continuing the use of these products becomes a liability and vulnerability as Microsoft will no longer issue security updates for any version of Windows Server 2003.  According to Microsoft “you need to take steps now to plan and execute a migration strategy to protect your infrastructure.  By migrating to Windows Server 2012 R2, Microsoft Azure or Office 365, you can achieve concreted benefits, including improved performance, reduced maintenance requirements, and increased agility and speed of response to the business.”

We’re here to aid you through this transition.  Contact SisAdmin if you have any questions or concerns about your technical infrastructure in light of these upcoming product retirements.

23 Feb 2015

Virus Alert: CryptoLocker + How To Protect Yourself

Welcome to the first installment of the new SisAdmin blog!  Keep an eye on this space in the coming months for lots of useful information to help your technology work for you.

The first topic we’d like to bring to your attention is CryptoLocker, one of the most serious malware types out there today, which can dramatically impact your business should you experience an infection.  CryptoLocker and its variants, a type of virus known as ‘ransomware’, are becoming more and more widespread across networks with each passing day.  These viruses are able to evade commercially available virus and malware protections due to their ability to exploit legitimate, trustworthy actions such as file sharing.  We have resolved several CryptoLocker infections, and while we’ve been able to recover the client’s data each time, the infection has caused downtime, lost productivity and lost income for the client’s company.

CryptoLocker works by encrypting the files stored in folders that are available via the drive letters on the infected machine (C: or D: for desktop drives, U: or S: or others for server drives).  The organizations that create these infections then attempt to charge the victim a ransom for the decryption key required to regain access to these files.  While it’s possible to pay the ransom, we don’t recommend it.  The creators of these viruses are not ethical business people—you don’t want them to have your credit card info, and there’s no guarantee that they will provide you with the key needed to unlock your data after you’ve paid.

Since this infection doesn’t limit itself to personal files stored locally on a desktop computer, but also targets files stored on a server via a mapped drive, it can be particularly malicious and can potentially encrypt an entire network file structure simply by infecting one user.

CryptoLocker and its variants are often spread through waves of millions of emails that are sent by internet criminals to company email addresses, pretending to be legitimate messages from major companies such as FedEx, UPS, etc.  These emails contain a zip attachment that, when opened, infects the computer.  Infections can also occur as a result of the download of an application that appears to be legitimate, or via methods that attempt to bypass authorized access to a computer.

Exercising tried and true email security practices, such as never opening attachments from unknown senders, can go a long way toward protecting you from these infections.

But what else can you do to protect yourself from Crypto and its variants?  Three things: back up your data, update your antivirus software, and retire all your Windows XP computers.

1.    Back up your data

CryptoLocker cannot currently be fully blocked via commercial antivirus products due to its ability to mimic legitimate application functions.  The only way to block such software completely is to disable the file-sharing functions of Windows, which isn’t an appealing solution.  The only way currently available to recover from a CryptoLocker infection is to restore the infected files from backup.  Therefore, having consistent, updated backups available at all times is critical to avoiding data loss from a CryptoLocker infection.

If you are a SisAdmin Safeguard or Observational client, SisAdmin monitors your backups for you, but it’s still worth checking with your engineer to confirm the backup platform you’re currently using meets your needs.  If you are only backing up once a day (or only maintaining one day’s worth of backups) and CryptoLocker is discovered more than 24 hours after infection, chances are high that you will lose critical business data–potentially all your business data.

It’s also a good idea to schedule some time with your engineer to perform a test restore of your environment—that way you know exactly what will happen in the event of an infection like CryptoLocker and have the peace of mind of knowing you’ll have minimal downtime.

2.    Update your antivirus/antimalware software

While there is no foolproof way to prevent CryptoLocker infection, updated antivirus and antimalware software can help detect the source of infections and catch future ones—usually before the encryption spreads too far.  SisAdmin recommends VIPRE Business and MalwareBytes as a solid antivirus/antimalware products, but there are many reputable alternatives if necessary for your specific network.  Check with your engineer or the SisAdmin Service Desk to determine your level of protection and how it can be improved—we’re always happy to help.

3.    Retire Windows XP

Ah, Windows XP—it’s like an old friend, and one we’re all sorry to see go.  However, since Microsoft ended support and security updates for XP in April of 2014, it is no longer being updated as new vulnerabilities are discovered.  This means that having Windows XP systems still in production and connected to your network is like putting out a sign saying “Please, hack me!  Hack me now and encrypt all my data!”

Replacing your Windows XP computers is critical to network security today, including removing a potential vector for CryptoLocker to infect your files.  If you have XP machines on your network, speak with your SisAdmin engineer or the Service Desk about the best way to replace them with Windows 7 or Windows 8 desktops.

That’s it for our first post!  As always, if you have any questions about CryptoLocker or any other network issue, please give the SisAdmin Service Desk a call at (425) 482-1919.

13 Feb 2015

Blog Coming Soon

Check back later!

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