LAPS

Microsoft LAPS deployment and configuration guide

If you haven’t come across the term “LAPS” before, you might wonder what it is. The acronym stands for the “Local Administrator Password Solution.” The idea behind LAPS is that it allows for a piece of software to generate a password for the local administrator and then store that password in plain text in an Active Directory (AD) attribute.

Storing passwords in plain text may sound counter to all good security practices, but because LAPS using Active Directory permissions, those passwords can only be seen by users that have been given the rights to see them or those in a group with rights to see them.

The main use case here shows that you can freely give out the local admin password to someone who is travelling and might have problems logging in using cached account credentials. You can then have LAPS request a new password the next time they want to talk to an on-site AD over a VPN.

The tool is also useful for applications that have an auto login capability. The recently released Windows Admin Center is a great example of this:

LAPS

To set up LAPS, there are a few things you will need to do to get it working properly.

  1. Download the LAPS MSI file
  2. Schema change
  3. Install the LAPS Group Policy files
  4. Assign permissions to groups
  5. Install the LAPS DLL

Download LAPS

LAPS comes as an MSI file, which you’ll need to download and install onto a client machine, you can download it from Microsoft.

Schema change

LAPS needs to add two attributes to Active Directory, the administrator password and the expiration time. Changing the schema requires the LAPS PowerShell component to be installed. When done, launch PowerShell and run the commands:

Import-module AdmPwd.PS

Update-AdmPwdADSchema

You need to run these commands while logged in to the network as a schema admin.

Install the LAPS group policy files

The group policy needs to be installed onto your AD servers. The *.admx file goes into the “windows\policydefintions” folder and the *.adml file goes into “\windows\policydefinitions\[language]”

LAPS 02

Once installed, you should see a LAPS section in GPMC under Computer configuration -> Policies -> Administrative Templates -> LAPS

LAPS 03

The four options are as follows:

Password settings — This lets you set the complexity of the password and how often it is required to be changed.

Name of administrator account to manage — This is only required if you rename the administrator to something else. If you do not rename the local administrator, then leave it as “not configured.”

Do not allow password expiration time longer than required by policy — On some occasions (e.g. if the machine is remote), the device may not be on the network when the password expiration time is up. In those cases, LAPS will wait to change the password. If you set this to FALSE, then the password will be changed regardless of it can talk to AD or not.

Enable local password management — Turns on the group policy (GPO) and allows the computer to push the password into Active Directory.

The only option that needs to be altered from “not configured” is the “Enable local admin password management,” which enables the LAPS policy. Without this setting, you can deploy a LAPS GPO to a client machine and it will not work.

Assign permissions to groups

Now that the schema has been extended, the LAPS group policy needs to be configured and permissions need to be allocated. The way I do this is to setup an organizational until (OU), where computers will get the LAPS policy and a read-only group and a read/write group.

Because LAPS is a push process, (i.e. because the LAPS client on the computer is the one to set the password and push it to AD) the computer’s SELF object in AD needs to have permission to write to AD.

The PowerShell command to allow this to happen is:

Set-AdmPwdComputerSelfPermission -OrgUnit <name of the OU to delegate permissions>

To allow helpdesk admins to read LAPS set passwords, we need to allow a group to have that permission. I always setup a “LAPS Password Readers” group in AD, as it makes future administration easier. I do that with this line of PowerShell:

Set-AdmPwdReadPasswordPermission -OrgUnit <name of the OU to delegate permissions> -AllowedPrincipals <users or groups>

The last group I set up is a “LAPS Admins” group. This group can tell LAPS to reset a password the next time that computer connects to AD. This is also set by PowerShell and the command to set it is:

Set-AdmPwdResetPasswordPermission -OrgUnit <name of the OU to delegate permissions> -AllowedPrincipals <users or groups>

LAPS 04

Once the necessary permissions have been set up, you can move computers into the LAPS enabled OU and install the LAPS DLL onto those machines.

LAPS DLL

Now that the OU and permissions have been set up, the admpwd.dll file needs to be installed onto all the machines in the OU that have the LAPS GPO assigned to it. There are two ways of doing this. First, you can simply select the admpwd dll extension from the LAPS MSI file.

LAPS 05

 

Or, you can copy the DLL (admpwd.dll) to a location on the path, such as “%windir%\system32”, and then issue a regsvr32.exe AdmPwd.dll command. This process can also be included into a GPO start-up script or a golden image for future deployments.

Now that the DLL has been installed on the client, a gpupdate /force should allow the locally installed DLL to do its job and push the password into AD for future retrieval.

Retrieving passwords is straight forward. If the user in question has at least the LAPS read permission, they can use the LAPS GUI to retrieve the password.

The LAPS GUI can be installed by running the setup process and ensuring that “Fat Client UI” is selected. Once installed, it can be run just by launching the “LAPS UI.” Once launched, just enter the name of the computer you want the local admin password for and, if the permissions are set up correctly, you will see the password displayed.

LAPS 06

If you do not, check that that the GPO is being applied and that the permissions are set for the OU where the user account is configured.

Troubleshooting

Like anything, LAPS can cause a few quirks. The two most common quirks I see include when staff with permissions cannot view passwords and client machines do not update the password as required.

The first thing to check is that the admpwd.dll file is installed and registered. Then, check that the GPO is applying to the server that you’re trying to change the local admin password on with the command gpresult /r. I always like to give applications like LAPS their own GPO to make this sort of troubleshooting much easier.

Next, check that the GPO is actually turned on. One of the oddities of LAPS is that it is perfectly possible to set everything in the GPO and assign the GPO to an OU, but it will not do anything unless the “Enable Local password management” option is enabled.

If there are still problems, double check that the permissions that have been assigned. LAPS won’t error out, but the LAPS GUI will just show a blank for the password, which could mean that either the password has not been set or that the permissions have not been set correctly.

You can double check permissions using the extended attribute section of windows permissions. You can access this by launching Active Directory users and computers -> Browse to the computer object -> Properties -> Security -> Advanced

LAPS 07

Double click on the security principal:

LAPS 08

Scroll down and check that both Read ms-Mcs-AdmPwd and Write ms-Mcs-admpwd are ticked.

In summary, LAPS works very well and it is a great tool for deployment to servers, especially laptops and the like. It can be a little tricky to get working, but it is certainly worth the time investment.

Incident Response

6 Steps to Build an Incident Response Plan

According to the Identity Theft Research Center, 2017 saw 1,579 data breaches—a record high, and an almost 45 percent increase from the previous year. Like many IT service providers, you’re probably getting desensitized to statistics like this. But you still have to face facts: organizations will experience a security incident sooner or later. What’s important is that you are prepared so that the impact doesn’t harm your customers or disrupt their business.

Although, there’s a new element that organizations—both large and small—have to worry about: the “what.” What will happen when I get hacked? What information will be stolen or exposed? What will the consequences look like?

While definitive answers to these questions are tough to pin down, the best way to survive a data breach is to preemptively build and implement an incident response plan. An incident response plan is a detailed document that helps organizations respond to and recover from potential—and, in some cases, inevitable—security incidents. As small- and medium-sized businesses turn to managed services providers (MSPs) like you for protection and guidance, use these six steps to build a solid incident response plan to ensure your clients can handle a breach quickly, efficiently, and with minimal damage.

Step 1: Prepare

The first phase of building an incident response plan is to define, analyze, identify, and prepare. How will your client define a security incident? For example, is an attempted attack an incident, or does the attacker need to be successful to warrant response? Next, analyze the company’s IT environment and determine which system components, services, and applications are the most critical to maintaining operations in the event of the incident you’ve defined. Similarly, identify what essential data will need to be protected in the event of an incident. What data exists and where is it stored? What’s its value, both to the business and to a potential intruder? When you understand the various layers and nuances of importance to your client’s IT systems, you will be better suited to prepare a templatized response plan so that data can be quickly recovered.

Treat the preparation phase as a risk assessment. Be realistic about the potential weak points within the client’s systems; any component that has the potential for failure needs to be addressed. By performing this assessment early on, you’ll ensure these systems are maintained and protected, and be able to allocate the necessary resources for response, both staff and equipment—which brings us to our next step.

Step 2: Build a Response Team

Now it’s time to assemble a response team—a group of specialists within your and/or your clients’ business. This team comprises the key people who will work to mitigate the immediate issues concerning a data breach, protecting the elements you’ve identified in step one, and responding to any consequences that spiral out of such an incident.

As an MSP, one of your key functions will sit between the technical aspects of incident resolution and communication between other partners. In an effort to be the virtual CISO (vCISO) for your clients’ businesses, you’ll likely play the role of Incident Response Manager who will oversee and coordinate the response from a technical and procedural perspective.

Pro Tip: For a list of internal and external members needed on a client’s incident response team, check out this in-depth guide.

Step 3: Outline Response Requirements and Resolution Times

From the team you assembled in step two, each member will play a role in detecting, responding, mitigating damage, and resolving the incident within a set time frame. These response and resolution times may vary depending on the type of incident and its level of severity. Regardless, you’ll want to establish these time frames up front to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Ask your clients: “What will we need to contain a breach in the short term and long term? How long can you afford to be out of commission?” The answers to these questions will help you outline the specific requirements and time frame required to respond to and resolve a security incident.

If you want to take this a step further, you can create quick response guides that outline the team’s required actions and associated response times. Document what steps need to be taken to correct the damage and to restore your clients’ systems to full operation in a timely manner. If you choose to provide these guides, we suggest printing them out for your clients in case of a complete network or systems failure.

Step 4: Establish a Disaster Recovery Strategy

When all else fails, you need a plan for disaster recovery. This is the process of restoring and returning affected systems, devices, and data back onto your client’s business environment.

A reliable backup and disaster recovery (BDR) solution can help maximize your clients’ chances of surviving a breach by enabling frequent backups and recovery processes to mitigate data loss and future damage. Planning for disaster recovery in an incident response plan can ensure a quick and optimal recovery point, while allowing you to troubleshoot issues and prevent them from occurring again. Not every security incident will lead to a disaster recovery scenario, but it’s certainly a good idea to have a BDR solution in place if it’s needed.

Step 5: Run a Fire Drill

Once you’ve completed these first four steps of building an incident response plan, it’s vital that you test it. Put your team through a practice “fire drill.” When your drill (or incident) kicks off, your communications tree should go into effect, starting with notifying the PR, legal, executive leadership, and other teams that there is an incident in play. As it progresses, the incident response manager will make periodic reports to the entire group of stakeholders to establish how you will notify your customers, regulators, partners, and law enforcement, if necessary. Remember that, depending on the client’s industry, notifying the authorities and/or forensics activities may be a legal requirement. It’s important that the response team takes this seriously, because it will help you identify what works and which areas need improvement to optimize your plan for a real scenario.

Step 6: Plan for Debriefing

Lastly, you should come full circle with a debriefing. During a real security incident, this step should focus on dealing with the aftermath and identifying areas for continuous improvement. Take is this opportunity for your team to tackle items such as filling out an incident report, completing a gap analysis with the full team,  and keeping tabs on post-incident activity.

No company wants to go through a data breach, but it’s essential to plan for one. With these six steps, you and your clients will be well-equipped to face disaster, handle it when it happens, and learn all that you can to adapt for the future.


This article was provided by our service partner : Webroot

 

Active Directory

Three Active Directory Automation Scripting Tips Using PowerShell

Active Directory is one of the most common products I see being automated. After all, it’s the perfect candidate. How many times do new users have to be created, group memberships changed, or new computers added? Employees are coming and going all the time, and the actions to perform these tasks are the same—every time.

Microsoft® has an Active Directory (AD) PowerShell module that allows anyone to manage AD objects and write scripts to tie various tasks together. However, with PowerShell expertise, we can create scripts that go past just finding users and groups. We can automate any task you can think of in AD.

Find All Effective Members of a Group

AD has a great feature that allows you to add groups to other groups. This cuts down on the number of repeated group assignments you have to make, and makes AD much cleaner. However, when navigating to a group in the AD Graphical User Interface (GUI), you can only see the members in that immediate group. You may see others, but you’ll have to look at the members of those groups over and over again.

It can become a pain when you want to see all of the affected user accounts, but we can solve that using a PowerShell code and a recursive function.

To find members of a group with PowerShell, use the Get-AdGroupMember cmdlet. This command returns all members in just that group. However, a property on each of those members is an AD attribute indicating if it’s a user, a group, etc. That way, we know what kind of object it is. Knowing this, we can build code to look at each of those members, check to see if they’re a group, and if so, run Get-AdGroupMember again. If not, we return the member.

We need to use a recursive function—a function that calls itself, forcing it to find user accounts nested deep inside of various groups. By using a recursive function like this, a user can be nested ten groups deep, and we’ll still find it.

An example of how this can be done is below. This function can be called via Get-NestedGroupMember -Group MyGroup.

function Get-NestedGroupMember {
[CmdletBinding()]
param (
[Parameter(Mandatory)]
[string]$Group
)

## Find all members in the group specified
$members = Get-ADGroupMember -Identity $Group
foreach ($member in $members) {
## If any member in that group is another group just call this function again
if ($member.objectClass -eq 'group') {
Get-NestedGroupMember -Group $member.Name
} else { ## otherwise, just output the non-group object (probably a user account)
$member.Name
}
}
}
Easily Find Inactive Group Policy Objects

The next tip is finding inactive Group Policy Objects (GPOs). Especially in large organizations, GPOs can get out of hand and run wild unless controlled. Sometimes there ends up being dozens of GPOs created that aren’t doing anything at all. Rather than picking these out one at a time via the GUI, we can build a simple script to find them all in one shot.

There are two ways to define an inactive GPO. This GPO could have all of its settings disabled, or it could not be linked to an organizational unit. We can create a script to find both of these types. First, we’ll pull all of the GPOs in the environment:

$allGpos = Get-Gpo -All

Once we have them all, we can then filter those GPOs by the ones that have all settings disabled:

$disabledGpos = $allGpos | Where-Object { $_.GpoStatus -eq 'AllSettingsDisabled' }
foreach ($oGpo in $disabledGpos) {
[pscustomobject]@{
Name = $oGpo.DisplayName
Status = 'Disabled'
}
}

Next, we can find all GPOs that aren’t linked to an organizational unit. This is a little trickier, but nothing we can’t handle using the code below:

## Create an empty array
$unlinkedGpos = @()
foreach ($oGpo in $allGpos) {
## Gather up all settings in the GPO
[xml]$oGpoReport = Get-GPOReport -Guid $oGpo.ID -ReportType xml;
## Only return the GPOs that don't have a LinksTo property meaning they aren't linked to an OU
if ('LinksTo' -notin $oGpoReport.GPO.PSObject.Properties.Name) {
[pscustomobject]@{
Name = $oGpo.DisplayName
Status = 'Unlinked'
}
}
}

This script will return a list of GPOs that look like this:

Name Status
---- ------
GPO1 Unlinked
GPO2 Disabled
GPO3 Disabled
Find How Long Ago a User Reset Their Password

For my last tip, let’s figure out how long ago a user’s password was set. More specifically, let’s write a small script that will allow us to find only those users that have had their password set within a configurable amount of days.

This small script uses the Get-AdUser command and filters the users returned using the Where-Object command. In this example, we’re looking at the passwordlastset attribute for each user that is greater than 30 days ago.

$daysOld = 30
$today = Get-Date
Get-AdUser -Filter { enabled -eq $true } -Properties passwordlastset | Where-Object 
{ $_.passwordlastset -gt $today.AddDays(-$daysOld) }
Summary

We’ve just skimmed the surface on what’s possible when automating with PowerShell and Active Directory. By leveraging Microsoft’s Active Directory module and stringing together commands with PowerShell, we’re able to come up with some interesting scripts.

 

HIPAA

HIPAA Compliance — It’s the law…

As an IT Managed Services provider, we’ve heard it all…. I mean, who wants to take on another initiative that is as ambiguous and costly as HIPAA Compliance. Besides, your staff don’t have the time to take on more roles and responsibilities.

There’s only one problem though. These rules and regulations are signed into Law. That means, you are breaking the law. So, where does that leave us? Well, there’s 2 options: 1) Roll the dice and hope you don’t get audited/fined when PHI info is lost/stolen 2) Have someone like NetCal help you be compliant quickly and easily.

You see, we are forced to understand/implement the compliance requirements because as a Business Associate, we are also liable for our client’s non-compliance. We’re in this together and we got your back. It’s actually not as bad as everyone thinks. In particular, we know which items are important to focus on and we know how to get your business in compliance via best practices, trainings, templates, etc…

NetCal will perform the following tasks for you:

1. Perform HIPAA, MACRA, and Meaningful Use Risk Assessment
2. Write your Policies and Procedures
3. Train your Employees
4. Maintain your documents in a web portal
5. Provide support in the event of an audit

High-level Summary of Tasks Needed

1. BAA signings
2. User Training
3. Risk Assessment
4. Create HIPAA Policies
5. Perform IT Discovery and Vulnerabilities list
6. Create Recommendation and Security Plan

Major sites still largely lax on prompting users towards safer password choices, study finds

A study assessed whether or not the most popular English-language websites help users strengthen their security by providing them with guidance on creating safer passwords during account sign-up or password-change processes.

Some of the Internet’s biggest names largely fall short of nudging users towards safer choices when they create or change their passwords, a study by the University of Plymouth has found.

Steven Furnell, Professor of Information Security at the United Kingdom-based university, recently conducted an examination of the password practices of Google, Facebook, Wikipedia, Reddit, Yahoo, Amazon, Twitter, Instagram, Microsoft Live, and Netflix. The results – summed up in a paper called Assessing website password practices – over a decade of progress? – actually follow up on previous runs of the same survey in 2007, 2011, and 2014.

So what are the results? In short, some of the world’s biggest online services “still allow people to use the word ‘password’, while others will allow single-character passwords and basic words including a person’s surname or a repeat of their user identity”.

In other words, although there have been modest improvements on some scores, the picture has remained largely unchanged over the years, according to the survey. That is notwithstanding the increased threat of cyberattacks and privacy breaches, along with the fact that countless people continue to make one of the most common security mistakes by picking atrocious passwords.

On a positive note, the number of wildly popular sites in English that allow you to use “password” as your, well, password has dropped over the years. Also, the number of services that enable you to add an extra safeguard on top of your password by supporting two-factor authentication (2FA) has increased from three to eight between 2011 and 2018.

Enforcement of password restrictions and availability of additional support (source: Assessing website password practices – over a decade of progress? via TechCrunch)

Of the ten online services under review (although their composition has not remained unchanged over the years), Google, Microsoft Live, and Yahoo were found to provide the best assistance to users in designing a strong password. This holds true both for the survey’s 2014 and 2018 editions.

On the flip side, Amazon fared the worst, both now and four years ago, having been joined by Reddit and Wikipedia as the worst performers in the study’s latest run.

Now, in the absence of clear and thorough guidance on some of the biggest websites themselves, be sure to read our pieces on how to avoid the perils of passwords, their reuse, and, indeed, how to ditch your password and use a passphrase instead.

In addition, we’ve also reported on The Digital Identity Guidelines, drafted by the US National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) last year, which among other things recommend that every password should be compared against a “black list” of unacceptable passwords. Such a “wall of shame” should include predictable and easily guessable passwords, passwords leaked in past breaches, dictionary words, and common phrases that users are known to pick.


This article was provided by our service partner : Eset

Windows 10 quality updates explained & the end of delta updates

With Windows 10, quality updates are cumulative. Installing the most recent update ensures that you receive any previous updates you may have missed. We used a cumulative update model to reduce ecosystem fragmentation, and to make it easier for IT admins and end users to stay up to date and secure. However, cumulative updates can prove challenging when it comes to the size of the update and the impact that size can have on your organization’s valuable network bandwidth.

When a new Windows 10 feature update is released, the first cumulative update is generally between 100-200 MB in size. Across all versions of Windows 10, cumulative updates grow as additional components and features get serviced, pushing the size to somewhere between 1-1.2 GB. Generally, this happens within the first 6-8 months after the release of a feature update.

To help you reduce the burden on your network bandwidth, yet still receive the same equivalent update, Microsoft designed three different update types:

  • Full updates have all the necessary components and files that have changed since the last feature update. We refer to this as the latest cumulative update, or LCU. It can quickly grow to a little over 1 GB in size, but typically stays that size for the lifetime of that supported version of Windows 10.
  • Express updates generate differential downloads for every component in the full update based on several historical bases. For example, the latest May LCU contains tcpip.sys. We will generate a differential for all tcpip.sys file changes from April to May, March to May, and from the original feature release to May. A device leveraging express updates will use network protocol to determine optimal differentials, then download only what is needed, which is typically around 150-200 MB in size each month. Ultimately, the more up to date a device is, the smaller the size of the differential download. Devices connected directly to Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), System Center Configuration Manager, or a third-party update manager that supports express updates will receive these smaller payloads.
  • Delta updates include only the components that changed in the most recent quality update. Delta updates will only install if a device already has the previous month’s update installed. For example, assume in May that we changed tcpip.sys and ntfs.sys, but did not change notepad.exe. A device that downloads the delta update will get the latest version of tcpip.sys and ntfs.sys, but not notepad.exe. Delta updates include the full component (not just the individual files) that changed. As a result, they are larger than express updates, often around 300-500 MB in size.

Regardless of which type of update is installed on a device, that update is fully cumulative and installing the latest update will ensure that the device has all the necessary quality and security improvements.

Windows 10

This raises an important question: why make delta updates available if express updates are more optimized and don’t require the previous month’s update already be installed? Delta updates were originally created because the express update protocol was only available to devices connecting directly to Windows Update or Windows Server Update Services. In January 2017, the express protocol was extended to all 3rd party update management systems; however, we continued to ship delta updates to give companies and third-party update management tools time to implement support for express updates.

Currently delta updates are available for the following versions of Windows 10:

  • Windows 10, version 1607
  • Windows 10, version 1703
  • Windows 10, version 1709
  • Windows 10, version 1803

Now that express update support for third-party update managers has been available for over a year, we plan to stop shipping delta updates. Beginning February 12, 2019 Microsoft will end its practice of creating delta updates for all versions of Windows 10. Express updates are much smaller in size, and simplifying the cumulative options available will reduce complexity for IT administrators.

For more information on optimizing update bandwidth and more details about express updates, see Optimize Windows 10 update delivery. To learn more about Windows as a service, check out the new Windows as a service page on the Windows IT Pro Center.

 

Cyber threats

3 Cyber Threats IT Providers Should Protect Against

With cybercrime damages set to cost the world $6 trillion annually by 2021, a new bar has been set for cyber threats security teams across industries to defend their assets. This rings especially true for IT service providers, who are entrusted to keep their clients’ systems and IT environments safe from cybercriminals. These clients are typically small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), which are now the primary target of cyber threats and attacks. This presents a major opportunity for the managed service providers (MSPs) who serve them to emerge as the cybersecurity leaders their clients rely on to help them successfully navigate the threat landscape.

Before you can start providing cybersecurity education and guidance, it’s crucial that you become well-versed in the biggest threats to your clients’ businesses. As an IT service provider, understanding how to prepare for the following cyber threats will reinforce the importance of your role to your clients.

Ransomware

Ransomware is a type of malware that blocks access to a victim’s assets and demands money to restore that access. The malicious software may either encrypt the user’s hard drive or the user’s files until a ransom is paid. This payment is typically requested in the form of an encrypted digital currency, such as bitcoin. Like other types of malware, ransomware can spread through email attachments, operating system exploits, infected software, infected external storage devices, and compromised websites, although a growing number of ransomware attacks use remote desktop protocols (RDP). The motive for these types of attacks is usually monetary.

Why is ransomware a threat that continues to spread like wildfire? Simple: it’s easy for cybercriminals to access toolsets. Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) sites make it extremely easy for less skilled or programming-savvy criminals to simply subscribe to the malware, encryption, and ransom collection services necessary to run an attack—and fast. Since many users and organizations are willing to pay to get their data back, even people with little or no technical skill can quickly generate thousands of dollars in extorted income. Also, the cryptocurrency that criminals demand as payment, while volatile in price, has seen huge boosts in value year over year.

Tips to combat ransomware:
  • Keep company operating systems and application patches up-to-date.
  • Use quality endpoint protection software.
  • Regularly back up company files and plan for the worst-case scenario: total data and systems loss (consider business continuity if budgets allow).
  • Run regular cybersecurity trainings with employees and clients.

Phishing

Phishing is the attempt to obtain sensitive information, such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details (and, indirectly, money ), often for malicious reasons. Phishing is typically carried out by email spoofing or instant messaging, and it often directs users to enter personal information into a fake website, the look and feel of which are almost identical to a trusted, legitimate site.

Phishing is a common example of a social engineering attack. Social engineering is the art of tricking or manipulating a user into giving up sensitive or confidential information. The main purpose of a phishing attack can range from conning the recipient into sharing personal or financial information, to clicking on a link that installs malware and infects the device (for example, ransomware uses phishing as its primary infection route.)

Tips to combat phishing:
  • Ensure your employees and clients understand what a phishing email looks likeand how to avoid becoming a victim by testing your users regularly. Train them with relevant phishing scam simulations.
  • Hover over URLs in email to see the real address before clicking.
  • Use endpoint security with built-in anti-phishing protection.
  • Consider a DNS filtering solution to stop known phishing and malicious internet traffic requests.

Brute Force Attack

A brute force attack is a cyberattack in which the strength of computer and software resources are used to overwhelm security defenses via the speed and/or frequency of the attack. Brute force attacks can also be executed by algorithmically attempting all combinations of login options until a successful one is found.

It’s important to note that brute force attacks are on the rise. Earlier this year, Rene Millman of SC Magazine UK reported, “hacking attempts using brute force or dictionary attacks increased 400 percent in 2017.”

Tips to combat brute force attacks:
  • Scan your systems for password-protected applications and ensure they are not set to default login credentials. And if they’re not actively in use, get rid of them.
  • Adjust the account lockout policy to use progressive delay lockouts, so a dictionary or brute force combination attack is impossible.
  • Consider deploying a CAPTCHA stage to prevent automated dictionary attacks.
  • Enforce strong passwords and 2-factor authentication whenever possible.
  • Upgrade your toolset. RDP brute force is a major ongoing issue. Standard RDP is highly risky, but secure VPN paid-for alternatives make remote access much more secure.

Leveraging Common Cyber Attacks to Improve Business

As an IT service provider, it’s important to remember that communication is everything. With clients, I recommend you define what exactly you’re protecting them against in an effort to focus on their top cybersecurity concerns. If you “profile” certain attack vectors using common cyber threat attack types, like ransomware, phishing, and brute force attacks, you’ll be able to clearly communicate to clients exactly what it takes to protect against their biggest risks and which technologies are necessary to remain as secure as possible.


This article was provided by our service partner : webroot.com 

Tips to backup & restore your SQL Server

Microsoft SQL Server is often one of the most critical applications in an organization, with too many uses to count. Due to its criticality, your SQL Server and its data should be thoroughly protected. Business operations rely on a core component like Microsoft SQL Server to manage databases and data. The importance of backing up this server and ensuring you have a recovery plan in place is tangible. People want consistent Availability of data. Any loss of critical application Availability can result in decreased productivity, lost sales, lost customer confidence and potentially loss of customers. Does your company have a recovery plan in place to protect its Microsoft SQL Server application Availability? Has this plan been thoroughly tested?

Microsoft SQL Server works on the backend of your critical applications, making it imperative to have a strategy set in place in case something happens to your server. Veeam specifically has tools to back up your SQL Server and restore it when needed. Veeam’s intuitive tool, Veeam Explorer for Microsoft SQL Server, is easy to use and doesn’t require you to be a database expert to quickly restore the database. This blog post aims to discuss using these tools and what Veeam can offer to help ensure your SQL Server databases are well protected and always available to your business.

The Basics

There are some things you should take note of when using Veeam to back up your Microsoft SQL Server. An important aspect and easy way to ensure your backup is consistent is to check that application-aware processing is enabled for the backup job. Application aware processing is Veeam’s proprietary technology based on Microsoft Volume Shadow Copy Service. This technology quiescences the applications running on the virtual machine to create a consistent view of data. This is done so there are no unfinished database transactions when a backup is performed. This technology creates a transactionally consistent backup of a running VM minimizing the potential for data loss.

Enabling Application Aware processing is just the first step, you must also consider how you want to handle the transaction logs. Veeam has different options available to help process the transaction logs. The options available are truncate logs, do not truncate logs, or backup logs periodically.

Figure 1: SQL Server Transaction logs Options

Figure 1 shows the Backup logs periodically option is selected in this scenario. This option supports any database restore operation offered through Veeam Backup & Replication. In this case, Veeam periodically will transfer transaction logs to the backup repository and store them with the SQL server VM backup, truncating logs on the original VM. Make sure you have set the recovery model for the required SQL Server database to full or bulk-logged.

If you decide you do not want to truncate logs, Veeam will preserve the logs. This option puts the control into the database administrator’s hands, allowing them to take care of the database logs. The other alternative is to truncate logs, this selection allows Veeam to perform a database restore to the state of the latest restore point. To read more about backing up transaction logs check out this blog post.

Data recovery

Veeam Explorer for Microsoft SQL Server delivers consistent application Availability through the different restore options it offers to you. These include the ability to restore a database to a specific point in time, restore a database to the same or different server, restore it back to its original location or export to a specified location. Other options include performing restores of multiple databases at once, the ability to perform a table-level recovery or running transaction log replay to perform quick point-in-time restores.

Figure 2: Veeam Explorer for Microsoft SQL Server

Recovery is the most important aspect of data Availability. SQL Transaction log backup allows you to back up your transaction logs on a regular basis meeting recovery point objectives (RPOs). This provides not only database recovery options, but also point-in-time database recovery. Transaction-level recovery saves you from a bad transaction such as a table drop, or a mass delete of records. This functionality allows you to do a restore to a point in time right before the bad transaction had occurred, for minimal data loss.

And it is available for FREE!

Veeam offers a variety of free products and Veeam Explorer for Microsoft SQL Server is one that is included in that bunch. If you are using Veeam Backup Free Edition already, you currently have this Explorer available to you. The free version allows you to view database information, export a database and export a database schema or data. If you’re interested in learning more about what you get with Veeam Backup Free Edition, be sure to download this HitchHikers Guide.

 


This article was provided by our service partner : veeam.com

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Veeam Availability Suite 9.5 Update 3a is now available!

Platform support is a priority at Veeam. Whether that is the latest operating systems, new storage systems or updated hypervisors, we take platform support seriously. Since Veeam Backup & Replication 9.5 Update 3 has been released, a number of ecosystem changes have warranted an update ahead of the upcoming set of Veeam capabilities (due later this year) showcased at VeeamON. A larger update is coming soon, which is why we are referring to this release as Update 3a opposed to Update 4 (which is planned for later in the year). The main capabilities in this release are the new platforms supported as well as over 20 minor enhancements detailed in the KB article.

Update 3a will bring support for the latest VMware and Microsoft platforms that organizations need from Veeam. The list of new platforms supported by Veeam Backup & Replication are:

  • VMware vSphere 6.7
  • VMware vCloud Director 9.1
  • Preliminary support for VMware vSphere 6.5 U2  (See more below)
  • Microsoft Windows Server 1803
  • Microsoft Windows Hyper-V Server 1803
  • Microsoft Windows 10 April 2018 Update

There are supplemental platforms also supported in this update:

  • VMware Cloud on AWS version 1.3
  • Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 1801

This update is important as it means Veeam Backup & Replication will do the following:

  1. Install Veeam Backup & Replication 9.5 Update 3a on the new Windows operating systems
  2. Install components (such as proxies, repositories, etc.) on the new Windows operating systems
  3. Perform backup and replication jobs from the new vSphere platforms and the Hyper-V roles in the Microsoft Windows Server 1803 operating system

One different notation is the “Preliminary” support for VMware vSphere 6.5 Update 2. Those of you who have been following the weekly forum digest emails have additional insights to the many milestones that had to be achieved to get to this point. This is very important as with a product providing backup in the data center, we cannot take any risk of a false sense of security. These emails are also where you can get the latest from R&D on all the catch points that may arise; namely what we are seeing with vSphere 6.5 Update 2. Support for this release will likely come in an update to 6.5 Update 2 itself. The support statement is clarified well in this forum post, basically stating as it is there is a known issue a critical API for our use failing under load.

To remain on the cutting edge, many organizations like to maintain aggressive policies on upgrading to the latest vSpherevCloud DirectorWindows 10 and Windows Server releases; and ensuring that these platforms are supported for backup should be an important consideration. This is yet another reason why Veeam continues to work hard to deliver updated platform support as soon as possible. As you plan your next moves for your business, you can know that the platform support needed to keep those applications, systems and data available will be there with Veeam.


This article was provided by our service partner : veeam.com 

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Veeam Availability Console U1 is now available

Managed service providers (MSPs) are playing an increasingly critical role in helping businesses of all sizes realize their digital transformation aspirations. The extensive offerings made available to businesses continue to allow them to shift day-to-day management onto you, the MSP, while allowing them to focus on more strategic initiatives. One of the most notable services being backup and recovery.

We introduced Veeam Availability Console in November 2017, a FREE, cloud-enabled management platform built specifically for service providers. Through this console, service providers can remotely manage and monitor the Availability of their customer’s virtual, physical and cloud-based workloads protected by Veeam solutions with ease. And, in just a few short months, we’ve seen incredible adoption across our global Veeam Cloud & Service Provider (VCSP) partner base, with overwhelmingly positive feedback.

Today, I’m happy to announce the General Availability (GA) of Veeam Availability Console U1, bringing with it some of the most hotly requested features to help further address the needs of your service provider business.

Enhanced Veeam Agent support

The initial release of Veeam Availability Console was capable of monitoring Veeam Agents deployed and managed by the service provider through Veeam Availability Console. New to U1 is the ability to achieve greater insights into your customer environments with new support that extends to monitoring and alarms for Veeam Agents that are managed by Veeam Backup & Replication. With this new capability, we’re enabling you to extend your monitoring services to even more Veeam customers that purchase their own Veeam Agents, but still want the expertise that you can bring to their business. And yes, this even includes monitoring support for Veeam Agent for Linux instances that are managed by Veeam Backup & Replication.

New user security group

VCSP partners wanting to delegate Veeam Availability Console access without granting complete control (like local administrator privileges) can now take advantage of the new operator role. This role permits access to everything within Veeam Availability Console essential to the remote monitoring and management of customer environments (you can even assign access to your employees on a company-by-company basis), but excludes access to Veeam Availability Console server configuration settings. Now you can assign access to Veeam Availability Console to your staff without exposing settings of the Veeam Availability Console server.

ConnectWise Manage integration

We’re introducing native integration with ConnectWise Manage. Through this new, seamless integration (available in the plugins library tab), the management, monitoring and billing of Veeam Availability Console-powered cloud backup and Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) can now be consolidated with your other managed service offerings into the single pane of glass that is ConnectWise Manage. This integration makes it easier and more efficient to expand your services portfolio while making administration of multiple, differing managed services much more efficient.

Matt Baldwin, President of Vertisys said, “This integration is exactly what my business needs to streamline our managed backup and DRaaS offering. The interface is clean and intuitive with just the right number of features. We project a yearly savings of 50 to 60 hours.”

Let’s take a closer look at some of the integration points between Veeam Availability Console and ConnectWise Manage.

Mapping companies

Firstly, the integration will help avoid a lot of manually intensive work by automatically synchronizing and mapping companies present in ConnectWise Manage with those in Veeam Availability Console. Automatic mapping is achieved through the company name. Before mapping is fully-complete, Veeam Availability Console allows you to check over what it’s automatically mapped before committing to the synchronization. If no match is found, mapping can be completed manually to an existing company or through the creation of a new company, with the option to send login credentials for the self-service customer portal, too.

Ticket creation

The integration also enables you to more quickly resolve issues before they impact your customers’ business through automatic ticket creation within ConnectWise Manage from Veeam Availability Console alarms. You can specify from the list of available alarms within Veeam Availability Console all those that are capable of triggering a ticket (e.g. failed backup, exceeding quota, etc.), and to which service board within ConnectWise Manage the ticket is posted. We’ve also enabled you with the capability to set delays (e.g. 1 minute, 5 minutes, 15 minutes, etc.) between the alarm occurring and the ticket posting, so issues like a temporary connectivity loss that self-resolves doesn’t trigger a ticket immediately. Every ticket created in ConnectWise Manage is automatically bundled with the corresponding configuration, such as representing a computer managed by Veeam Availability Console. This makes it incredibly easy for support engineers to find which component failed and where to go fix it. The integration also works in reverse, so that when tickets are closed within ConnectWise Manage, the corresponding alarm in Veeam Availability Console will be resolved.

Billing

The final part of the integration extends to billing, reducing complexities for you and your customers by consolidating invoices for all the managed services in your portfolio connected to ConnectWise Manage into a single bill. Not only this, but the integration allows for the automatic creation of new products in ConnectWise Manage, or mapping to existing ones. Service providers can select which agreement Veeam Availability Console-powered services should be added to on a per-customer basis, with agreements updated automatically based on activity, quota usage, etc.

Enhanced scalability

Finally, we’ve enhanced the scalability potential of Veeam Availability Console, enabling you to deliver your services to even more customers. The scalability improvements specifically align to the supported number of managed Veeam Backup & Replication servers, and this is especially useful when paired with the enhanced Veeam Agent support discussed earlier. This ensures optimal operation and performance when managing up to 10,000 Veeam Agents and up to 600 Veeam Backup & Replication servers, protecting 150-200 VMs and Veeam Agents each.


This article was provided by our service partner : veeam.com