Tag Archives: NT

Advantages and disadvantages of Windows 3.0

I hear the question from time to time what the advantages and disadvantages of Windows 3.0 were. Windows 3.0, released in May 1990, is generally considered the first usable version of Windows. The oft-repeated advice to always wait for Microsoft’s version 3 is a direct reference to Windows 3.0 that still gets repeated today, frequently.

Although Windows 3.0 is clumsy by today’s standards, in 1990 it had the right combination of everything to take the world by storm.

Continue reading Advantages and disadvantages of Windows 3.0

Windows 10 is out. I say you should upgrade, just not necessarily right now.

Windows 10 is out today. Of course I’ve been getting questions about whether to upgrade from Windows 7 to 10, and I’ve been seeing mixed advice on upgrading, though some of that mixed advice is regarding Microsoft history that isn’t completely relevant today.

My advice is to upgrade immediately if you’re running Windows 8 or 8.1, and to wait, perhaps six months, if you’re running Windows 7, but I still think you should do it. I’ll explain.

Continue reading Windows 10 is out. I say you should upgrade, just not necessarily right now.

Yes, we need to run vulnerability scans inside the firewall

I got an innocent question last week. We’d been scanning an AIX server with Nexpose, a vulnerability scanner made by Rapid7, and ran into some issues. The system owner then asked a question: The server is behind a firewall and has no direct connection to the Internet and no data itself, it’s just a front-end to two other servers. Is there any reason to scan a server like that?

In my sysadmin days, I asked a similar question. Nobody could give me an answer that was any better than “because reasons.” So I’ll answer the question and give the reasons.

Continue reading Yes, we need to run vulnerability scans inside the firewall

Why every breach is different

I’ve grown used to being asked what unpatched vulnerability was used in the most recent breach, in an effort to make sure some other company is protected.

I appreciate the desire to learn from other companies’ mistakes and not repeat them. But there are several reasons why the answer to that question is complicated, and not necessarily helpful.

Continue reading Why every breach is different

Don’t wait for Service Pack 1

I was on a conference call discussing the Microsoft product lifecycle with several coworkers and our Microsoft-assigned support engineers when someone asked if a server version of Windows 10 was going to come out.

The Microsoft rep said no comment. Then I chimed in.

“We need to assume they will release a server version, probably about six months after the desktop version, and we need to start testing and preparing to deploy it when it comes out,” I said.

“Shouldn’t we wait for Service Pack 1?”

I went in for the kill. Continue reading Don’t wait for Service Pack 1

What is Winshock?

So the other day I got blindsided with a question at work: What are we doing about Winshock. Winshock, I asked? I had to go look it up, and I found that’s what they dubbed what I’ve been calling MS14-066, the vulnerability in Schannel, which is Microsoft’s implementation of SSL/TLS for Windows.

Based on that, I’d argue it has more in common with Heartbleed than Shellshock, but I guess “Winshock” is catchier than “Winbleed.”

Then the lead of another team asked me to brief his team on Winshock. I actually managed to anticipate all but three of the questions they asked, too, which was better than I expected. Some of what I shared with them is probably worth sharing further.

Continue reading What is Winshock?

Predicting the future, circa 2003

In the heat of the moment, I searched my blog this weekend for quotes that could potentially be taken out of context and found something rather prophetic that I wrote in the heat of the moment 11 1/2 years ago:

Keeping up on Microsoft security patches is becoming a full-time job. I don’t know if we can afford a full-time employee who does nothing but read Microsoft security bulletins and regression-test patches to make sure they can be safely deployed. I also don’t know who would want that job.

Who ended up with that job? Me, about a year after I left that gig. It actually turned out I was pretty good at it, once I landed in a shop that realized it needed someone to do that job, and utilized that position as part of an overall IT governance model.

Continue reading Predicting the future, circa 2003

Computer, how old are you?

Yesterday I wrote about finding old computers. Here’s how I determine how old a computer is.

There’s a registry key called HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\InstallDate that stores the system build time in Unix format (the number of seconds since 1 January 1970) and hexadecimal. With a few mad skilz you can make that data human-readable.

Continue reading Computer, how old are you?

More details on the Target hack come to light

Yesterday I read, via Ars Technica, that the malware resided on cash registers (which I’d heard elsewhere before), and that the first step to getting there was via a compromised web server.

And that led to a question in the comments, that sounds like it came from an IT professional:

don’t they have their network segregated into zones!!!? It shouldn’t be possible for a web server to touch a POS system in a store….

The commenter right, it shouldn’t be. But it doesn’t need to be, either. Continue reading More details on the Target hack come to light

Why the government (and others) still deal in floppy disks

The revelation that the Federal Government still relies on floppy disks for some of its business is making it the butt of some jokes this week. And although that will serve as confirmation for some people that the government is completely backward, there are actually multiple good explanations for it.

From a security standpoint, using floppy disks isn’t a bad idea at all. Continue reading Why the government (and others) still deal in floppy disks