Beware of the Dirtiest Trick in the IT Industry: Admin Password Piracy

Executive Briefing for Small Business Owners by William MacLennan, CEO at Your Computer Hero

Who does your Admin Password Belong To?

I recently got a call from a panicked business owner who was losing money by the minute because his computer network was down.  His usual IT company told him no one would be able to respond for two days…TWO DAYS!

The IT company informed the business owner that he could have shortened the timeline if he had a maintenance contract. Really???? This IT company was their go-to company for several years! Additionally, over the years, the business owner lost track of his admin password. He expected to be able to be able to retrieve it from their trusted company in a pinch.  The IT company was not forthcoming with the password. However, they kindly offered to come out for a four-hour discovery session to recover the password. Give me a break! I scheduled a meeting with this business owner for later that day and he had his admin password within thirty minutes…no charge.

I know it’s a little grinchy for the Christmas season, but this kind of dirty business really hits a nerve with me. It gets to the core values that drive me and our business. There is a reason the word “hero” is in our name. It stands for: Honesty to a Fault, Every Client Matters-large and small, Response time matters, On Budget.  I constantly preach this to our staff.

Now lets turn our attention to a couple of points that are imperative for business owners to arm themselves with when dealing with any IT company:

First, keep control of your admin password!

You should know that the IT industry is unregulated.

Therefore, you must be an educated buyer of IT services.

In 15 years of business, I have seen a lot of clever scheming around control of the admin password. I have seen business owners surrender control of their admin passwords through contract. I have seen “helpful” volunteers withhold the admin password from it’s rightful owner.  And, everything in between.

In my opinion, the number one question any buyer of IT services should ask is, “How do you handle the admin password?”  If they aren’t straight forward or give some reason why you (as the owner of the data and network hardware) can’t know it or have it any time for any reason, run away!

At Your Computer Hero your admin password and other network documentation is always kept in a secure location. It is made available to you in a timely manner, upon request. Period.  Since the business, hardware and data all belong to the business owner, so should access to it.  It’s a pretty clear-cut issue.

Second, let’s talk about the maintenance contract.

In the above example, we can see that the IT company is using this unfortunate circumstance to strong arm the business owner into a maintenance contract. Again, I believe that this type of maneuvering can never lead to solid, long term business relationships.

Let me start by saying that there are a lot of benefits to having a maintenance service in place for your network. It assures that security patches and updates are always done in a timely manner. Additionally, it can catch and prevent costly downtime.  However, in my experience, business owners are all over the map on how involved they wish to be with their own networks.  For most, it is better to have a maintenance service for security purposes and avoid the costly downtime situation. But, it is not for everybody.  The critical downtime situation is certainly not the time to discuss the importance of maintenance.

If you, or someone you know has been in a situation where they have lost control of their admin password for any reason, please have them call our shop. We’d like to introduce ourselves, retrieve your admin password and start a long term relationship built on trust and integrity.