RMM

Best Practices for Optimizing Patch Management with RMM Software

Patching—the act of updating, fixing, or improving a computer program—is an important part of maintaining your clients’ systems against viruses and hacks. The majority of MSPs do this through remote monitoring and management (RMM) tools. But no matter how well your RMM software can fix a bug or close a vulnerability, if you don’t follow the right patching policies and procedures, you may end up putting those same clients at a higher risk of security breaches.

According to the Ponemon Institute, 57% of data breaches can be directly attributed to attackers exploiting a known vulnerability that hadn’t been patched. That’s a real problem. And patching doesn’t just improve system security—it facilitates overall smooth processing, ensuring that there are no bugs slowing down your (or your clients’) day-to-day operations.

Clearly, regular patching is important—but how can you make it a seamless part of your workflow? To help you out, here are some best practices to follow as you use RMM tools to perfect your patching processes—and reasons why they’ll help you, your technicians, and your clients.

Make Patching a Priority—and Ensure Your RMM Tools Facilitate That

In 2018 alone, there were upwards of 15,500 published common vulnerabilities and exposures (CVEs). And as technology increases in complexity and sophistication, these numbers will only continue to multiply. Keeping up is a challenge for businesses and their IT service providers—especially those that may continue to rely on manual patching processes rather than their RMM software.

In addition to managing the sheer volume of vulnerabilities cropping up each day, the actual patching process can drain time, resources, and disrupt the end-user experience. That’s why any RMM software comparison should take into account the ability to use these tools to streamline and simplify patch management. With the right RMM tools, it’s much easier to work regular patching into your workflow and to ensure your whole team is equipped to make it a priority.

Follow a Simple Framework Built Around Your RMM Software

When it comes to patching, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Aligning on well-established procedures or protocols for patch management works fine—applying them consistently is the key. For a strong start, select a simple and repeatable process to use as a guide. The entirety of this basic workflow framework can be performed with RMM tools:

  1. Deploy regular rediscovery of all systems
  2. Schedule vulnerability scanning—especially for systems at higher risk
  3. Install patches and patch definition databases
  4. Monitor, test, and deploy patches to vulnerable systems
  5. Perform regular data collection and reporting, and review processes for future improvements

This framework should provide a good jumping-off point. Build on it to customize the process to your specific team, organization, and RMM software.

Always Watch the Clock

A central challenge facing managed services providers (MSPs) is that once a vulnerability is officially announced, all information about it is disclosed along with it—giving hackers all of the information they need and a wide-open window to target and further exploit the vulnerability across your clients’ systems. The chances of exploitation and infection increase the longer an organization waits to apply the patch. At the same time, hackers and other cyberattackers are becoming increasingly quick to attack, giving organizations less and less time to patch.

Being cognizant of every disclosure and using your RMM tools to stay on top of each alert is critical. Even a few hours can make all the difference.

Integrate Patching Tools with Your RMM Software

With multiple vulnerabilities to remedy in little time, you want to implement as many tools as possible, as quickly as possible. Rather than having your technicians spend most of their time approving and applying patches to disparate machines, you can implement an integrated RMM tool like ConnectWise Automate, to alert you and handle much of the heavy lifting.

With the right RMM tools and increased automation capabilities, your technicians spend less time on tedious manual patching tasks and you reduce the likelihood of human error or important updates slipping under the radar.

Consider Third-Party Patching

Cloud-based, automated patch management software allows you to schedule regular update scans and ensures patches are applied under specific conditions. As you take on new clients, the software gains even greater value, enabling you to remain on top of patching while your business continues to grow.

Third-party patching is a native component of ConnectWise Automate, simplifying and securing the entire patch management workflow. The platform enables application updates, along with a host of other automatic capabilities—including automated billing through the professional services automation (PSA) software you already have with ConnectWise Manage

As you audit, patch, document, and bill for third-party application updates, all third-party patch definitions are deployed following our best practices. Automatic daily updates and downloads ensure that you’re always patching with up-to-the-minute technology. And as you streamline patch management for you and your clients, you gain recurring monthly revenue streams.

Generate Regular Reports

It’s important to make patching and staying on top of every client relationship a priority. With streamlined automated regular reporting you have a simple and effective solution right in your hands.


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

DNS over HTTPS – What You Need to Know about Content Filtering

In September, Mozilla announced its plans to implement the DNS-over-HTTPS (DoH) protocol by default in the Firefox browser. Subsequently, Google announced its intention to do the same for the Chrome browser. Firefox has already started to gradually shift to DOH. Chrome is expected to start shifting some traffic by the end of the year.

What is DoH?

DNS stands for Domain Name System; it’s the system for matching the domain names to IP addresses, this obviously makes it easier for us to browse the internet by name rather than having to remember IP addresses. Until now, all of that has happened via an unencrypted DNS connection. As the name DNS over HTTPs implies, DoH takes DNS and shifts it to a secure, encrypted HTTPs connection.

What is http/https?

http is a system used where a browser make a GET request to a server, then server then sends a response, typically a file containing HTML. Of course, the browser usually does not have a direct connection to the server so this request with have to pass through multiple hands before it gets to the server, the response is dealt with in the same way.

The problem with this is that anyone along the path can open the request or response and read it. There is no way of knowing what path this traffic will take so it could end up in the hands of people who do harmful things such as sharing the data or even changing it.

HTTPS fix this poor state of affairs, with https – each request/response has a lock on it. Only thye browser and the server know the combination of that lock meaning only the browser and the server can read the contents of this data.

This solves a lot of security issues, but there are still some communications happening between the browser and server that were not encrypted, this means people could pry on what you are doing. One of the places were this type of communication was exposed is in DNS. In steps DoH which works on the same idea described above to prevent tampering and eaves-dropping.

By using HTTPS to exchange the DNS packets, we ensure that no one can spy on the DNS requests that our users are making.

Mozilla and Google are making these changes to bring the security and privacy benefits of HTTPS to DNS traffic. All those warnings about the security risks of public WiFi? With DoH, you’re protected against other WiFi users seeing what websites you visit because your activity would be encrypted. DoH can also add protection against spoofing and pharming attacks and can prevent your network service providers from seeing your web activity.

Privacy vs. content filtering: a conundrum

So far, so good – we have underlined the possible privacy benefits of DoH but could there be a problem on the horizon for schools and organisations that use DNS based content filtering?

DNS-based content filtering is so prevalent that almost every parental control device (whether its installed on your network or via some type of web service) uses it. If DNS queries are now encrypted before passing through these products, they could see cease to work.

This could see broader DoH adoption by web browser disrupting existing content filtering implementations.

DNS-based filtering still possible

Since the DNS queries are only encrypted when they go beyond the router, DNS-based threat intelligence and parental control functionality can still work. For example, if someone accidentally stumbles on an adult website, the router will intercept his DNS queries and show him your custom message instead. It’ll also encrypt the rest of his innocuous queries so that people outside of your network won’t be able to exploit his browsing history.

Next steps?

You need to confirm that your existing content filtering will work when browsers start support DoH by default.

Security Awareness

Should You Be Offering Security Awareness Training?

Nearly half of all office workers have had their data compromised at some point. And as if that wasn’t scary enough, the numbers only get more concerning from there. Following an incident, a whopping 35% of office workers don’t change their passwords—a measure that can go a long way to preventing future information theft. And while at work, 49% of respondents admit to clicking links that were sent to them by unknown senders – so should your service provider be offering security awareness training?

In this age of heightened awareness around cybersecurity, most employees have some appreciation for the risks this kind of behavior opens their companies up to. But data thieves and scammers can be incredibly cunning and deceptive—preying on workers’ information deficits and busy schedules to sneak in under the radar.

Employees and businesses need to master the basics of good cyber hygiene to keep sensitive data safe. Educating employees in the difference between a safe link and link that’s part of a phishing scam can spare companies the time, money, and PR headache of being compromised.

Since every employee has a different level of knowledge and awareness when it comes to cybersecurity best practices, training can be an essential tool to bring everyone up to an acceptable baseline. And this isn’t just true for large organizations anymore. Nearly half of all cyberattacks today are targeted at small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs)—and 60% of those targeted go out of business within six months of the attack. As a result, SMBs are increasingly looking for security awareness training programs to keep their employees, and their information, as safe as possible.

This presents an opportunity for MSPs to deliver even more value to their clients—and become trusted advisors in the process. And to help you make the most of this opportunity, our recent webinar, Why Security Training, Why Now, and What’s in It for Me?, covers the what, why, and how of offering cybersecurity awareness training—and doing it effectively.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the webinar to help you decide whether to offer this training to your customers.

Who Benefits From Security Awareness Training?

A properly managed security training program can be beneficial to everyone involved.

Increasingly, companies’ compliance obligations mandate that they participate in these programs—and allocate budget specifically to them. With an existing budget and a real need among customers, security awareness training represents a huge opportunity for MSPs—one that can yield significant returns.

The training can also be invaluable for the customers, saving them money and headaches in the long run. Even a tiny data breach can have wide-reaching implications, so every dollar spent on training can pay off in spades. Emphasizing the long-term benefits of security training will be an essential part in upselling existing customers and showcasing the value to prospects.

To get buy-in from individual employees, it’s also useful to point out that this training can benefit them in their personal lives—helping them keep hackers out of their bank accounts and far away from their families’ private information.

What Makes a Good Security Awareness Training Program?

The value of security awareness training programs is evident, but how can you get companies to choose your program?

The most important thing any MSP can do is make sure their program is effective. A robust program will cover everything from phishing awareness to social engineering to mobile device security. That being said, it’s important to start with the basics and build up to more complex security lessons. While some employees will come in with a thorough understanding of general best practices, others may be entirely new to the subject. Never assume that something is obvious. Besides, a little refresher course never hurt anybody.

Behavioral change takes time, so it’s also important for your program to follow a pace that refreshes participants’ memory over time without overwhelming them. Consider outlining clear participation guidelines from the start to help everyone involved understand what’s expected of them. For example, you might plan two phishing simulations per month and offer three cyber awareness courses per quarter. Knowing what’s coming, the training won’t feel like a burden to employees—it will just be another part of their week.

To help ensure the training sticks, tailor it to your audience, making it department-specific when appropriate. You can also be proactive and integrate security training into existing onboarding processes so that security is prioritized from the get-go. These steps, while seemingly small, can make security training more digestible to your audience—and make their data safer as a result.

So, Should You Offer Security Awareness Training?

There has never been a greater need for security training. With cyber threats growing increasingly deceptive and dangerous, the market for efficient, high-quality training is one that’s worth tapping into. While MSPs don’t specialize in education, this situation offers the potential for you to step in and be the hero—helping your clients protect themselves from malicious threats.


This article was provided by our service partner : connectwise

Windows Server 2019

How to backup a Windows 2019 file server cluster

A cluster ensures high availability but does not protect against accidental data loss. For example, if a user (or malware) deletes a file from a Microsoft Windows file server cluster, you want to be able to restore that data. So, backup for data on clusters is still necessary. But also, it can save much time for the Windows operating system to have a full backup. Imagine that one of the cluster member servers has a hardware issue and needs to be replaced. You could manually install Windows, install all updates, install all the drivers, join the cluster again and then remove the old cluster member, or you could simply do a bare metal restore with Veeam Agent for Microsoft Windows.

Backup and restore of physical Windows clusters is supported by Veeam Backup & Replication with Veeam Agent for Microsoft Windows. It can backup Windows clusters with shared disks (e.g., a classic file-server cluster) or shared nothing clusters like Microsoft Exchange DAG or SQL Always-On clusters. In this article I will show how to backup a file server cluster with a shared disk. Earlier blog post ( How to create a file server cluster with Windows 2019) show the setup of the system.

The backup of a cluster requires three steps:

  1. Creating a protection group
  2. Creating a backup job
  3. Starting the backup job

Create a protection group

A Veeam Backup & Replication protection group is a logical unit to group multiple machines to one logical unit. But it’s not only used for grouping, it manages the agent deployment to the computers. Go to the inventory and select “physical and cloud infrastructure” to create a new protection group. After defining a name, you need to choose the type “Microsoft Active Directory objects”.

In the next step, select the cluster object. In my case, it’s “WFC2019”

Only add the Active Directory cluster here. You don’t need to add the nodes here. You can also find the cluster object in Active Directory Users and Computers

As I run my cluster as a virtual machine (VM), I do not want to exclude VMs from processing.

In the next step, you must specify a user that has local administrator privileges. In my lab I simplified everything by using the domain administrator

It is always a good idea to test the credentials. This ensures that no problems (e.g., firewall issues) occur during agent deployment.

The options page is more interesting. Veeam regularly scans for changes and then deploys or updates the agent automatically.

The distribution server is the machine that deploys the agents. In most cases, the backup server is also fine as distribution server. Reasons for dedicated distribution servers would be if you have branch office deployments or when you plan to deploy a hundred or more agents.

On large servers we recommend installing the change block tracking driver for better incremental backup performance. Keep in mind that the driver requires a reboot during installation and updates.

In the advanced settings, you can find a setting that is particularly relevant from a performance perspective: Backup I/O control. It throttles the agent if the server has too high of a load.

You can reboot directly from the Veeam Backup & Replication console.

After the installation has succeeded and no reboots are pending anymore, the rescan shows that everything’s okay.

Create a backup job

The second step is to create a backup job. Just go to the jobs section in “home” and select to create a new backup job for a Windows computer. At the first step, select the type “failover cluster”.

Give a name to the backup job and add the protection group created earlier.

I want to back up everything (e.g., the entire computer)

Then, select how long you want to store the backups and where you want to store them. The next section, “guest processing,” is more interesting. Veeam Agent for Microsoft Windows always does backups based on VSS snapshots. That means that the backup is always consistent from a file-level perspective. For application servers (e.g., SQL, Microsoft Exchange) you might want to configure log shipping settings. For this simple file-server example no additional configuration is needed.

Finally, you can configure a backup schedule.

Run the backup job

Running a Veeam Agent for Microsoft Windows backup job is the same as a classic VM backup job. The only thing you might notice is that a cluster backup does not use per-host-backup-chains if you configured your repository to “per-VM backup files”.  All the data from the cluster members of one job is stored in one backup chain.

Another thing to note is that the failover of a cluster does not result in a new full backup. There is not even a change-block-tracking reset (e.g., CBT-reset) in most failover situations. A failover cluster backup always does block-level backup (e.g., image-level backup). Of course, you can do single-item or file-level restore from block level backups.

During the backup, Veeam will also collect the recovery media data. This data is required for a bare-metal or full-cluster restore.

Next steps and restore

After a successful backup, you can do restores. The user interface offers all the options that are available for Veeam Agent for Microsoft Windows restores. In most cases, the restores will be file-level or application restores. For Windows failover clusters, the restore of Microsoft Exchange and SQL is possible (and is not shown in the screenshot because it’s a file server). For non-clustered systems, there are additional options for Microsoft Active Directory, SharePoint and Oracle databases.

Download Veeam Agent for Microsoft Windows below and give this flow a try.


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

veeam office 365

How to manage Office 365 backup data with Veeam

As companies grow, data grows and so does the backup data. Managing data is always an important aspect of the business. A common question we get around Veeam Backup for Microsoft Office 365 is how to manage the backup data in case something changes. Data management can be needed for several reasons:

  • Migration to new backup storage
  • Modification of backup jobs
  • Removal of data related to a former employee

Within Veeam Backup for Microsoft Office 365, we can easily perform these tasks via PowerShell. Let’s take a closer look at how this works exactly.

Moving data between repositories

Whether you need to move data because you bought new storage or because of a change in company policy, from time to time it will occur. We can move backup data by leveraging Move-VBOEntityData. This will move the organization entity data from one repository to another and can move the following types of data:

  • User data
  • Group data
  • Organization site data

The first two are related to Exchange and OneDrive for Business data, where the last option is related to SharePoint online data. Each of these types also supports four additional data types such as Mailbox, ArchiveMailbox, OneDrive and Sites.

If we want to move data, we need three parameters, by default, to perform the move:

  • Source repository
  • Target repository
  • Type of data

The example below will move all the data related to a specific user account:

$source = Get-VBORepository -Name “sourceRepo”
$target = Get-VBORepository -Name “targetRepo”
$user = Get-VBOEntityData -Type User -Repository $source -Name “Niels Engelen”

Move-VBOEntityData -From $source -To $target -User $user -Confirm:$false

The result of the move can be seen within the history tab in the console. As seen on the screenshot, all the data is being moved to the target repository. However, it is possible to adjust this and only move, for example, mailbox and archive mailbox data.

Move-VBOEntityData -From $source -To $target -User $user -Mailbox -ArchiveMailbox-Confirm:$false

As seen on the screenshot, this will only move the two specific data types and leave the OneDrive for Business and personal SharePoint site on the source repository.

Deleting data from repositories

We went over moving data between repositories, but what if somebody leaves the company and the data related to their account has to be removed? Again, we can leverage PowerShell to easily perform this task by using Remove-VBOEntityData.

The same algorithm applies here. We can remove three types of data, with the option to drill down to a specific data type (Mailbox, ArchiveMailbox, OneDrive, Sites):

  • User data
  • Group data
  • Organization site data

If we want to remove data from a specific user, we can use the following snippet:

$repository = Get-VBORepository -Name “repository”
$user = Get-VBOEntityData -Type User -Repository $ repository -Name “Niels Engelen”

Remove-VBOEntityData -Repository $repository -User $user -Confirm:$false 

The same applies here. You can choose not to add an extra parameter and it will remove everything related to the account. However, it is also possible to provide extra options. If you only want to remove OneDrive for Business data, you can do this by using the following:

Remove-VBOEntityData -Repository $repository -User $user -OneDrive-Confirm:$false


This article was provided by our service partner : veeam