Newsletter Archives

  • MS-DEFCON 2: 2004 is out of support

    alert banner

    ISSUE 19.18.1 • 2022-05-05
    MS-DEFCON 2

    By Susan Bradley

    Check your Windows version, then update accordingly.

    I regularly come across PCs that are running old, out-of-support versions of Windows because they aren’t on the Web long enough to be “serviced” by Windows Update. For example, there are two Surface laptops in my office that are used by people on cellular connections. As a result of sporadic use, they never get a feature update.

    Just the other day, I realized they were running Windows 10 2004 and thus no longer were getting security updates, a serious matter.

    Anyone can read the full MS-DEFCON Alert (19.18.1, 2022-05-05).

  • MS-DEFCON 2: Deferring April

    alert banner

    ISSUE 19.14.2 • 2022-04-07

    MS-DEFCON 2

    By Susan Bradley

    Don’t let April showers rain on your PCs.

    I love April. It’s the end of the busy tax season at the office, and it’s spring where I live — the tulips are in bloom. But what I don’t love is updates disrupting my business before the end of the busy season. So I urge you to do what I do at the office: defer those updates.

    Anyone can read the full Plus Alert (19.14.2, 2022-04-07).

  • MS-DEFCON 2: Is it still safe to defer?

    alert banner

    ISSUE 19.09.1 • 2022-03-03
    MS-DEFCON 2

    By Susan Bradley

    Global troubles lead to patching worries.

    Even with all the heightened concerns regarding cybersecurity, my deferral strategy and recommendations for patching will not change. Use the time between now and next Tuesday (Wednesday for those of you outside the northern hemisphere) to wrap up whatever patching and updating you are doing, and get ready to defer updates. Hopefully, a window will open toward the end of the month, when we can have high confidence that applying patches and updates will be safe.

    Anyone can read the full AskWoody Plus Alert 19.09.1 (2022-03-03).

  • MS-DEFCON 2: Batten down the hatches again

    AskWoody Plus Alert Logo
    ISSUE 19.05.1 • 2022-02-03
    MS-DEFCON 2

    By Susan Bradley

    It’s time to wrap up updating or feature-release installations and pause as we wait for February’s Patch Tuesday.

    I am recommending that home and consumer users install the regular updates from January 11 and that business users install the out-of-band updates released on January 17. Get these done right away. Skipping them means you are vulnerable to some active attacks, especially CVE-2022-21882.

    Anyone can read the full AskWoody Plus Alert 19.05.1 (2022-02-03).

  • MS-DEFCON 2: Batten down the hatches for January

    AskWoody Plus Alert Logo
    ISSUE 19.01.1 • 2022-01-06
    MS-DEFCON 2

    By Susan Bradley

    Microsoft has started off the patching year — and not in a good way.

    Soon after midnight all across the world, mail administrators running Exchange 2013 and Exchange 2016 started noticing that mail was not being delivered in their organizations. Horror of horrors, this has been dubbed the “Y2K22” bug — just what we wanted to hear.

    Anyone can read the full AskWoody Plus Alert 19.01.1 (2022-01-06).

  • MS-DEFCON 2: Final patch ever!

    AskWoody Plus Alert Logo
    ISSUE 18.47.1 • 2021-12-09

    MS-DEFCON 2

    By Susan Bradley

    We’ve come to the last patch we ever have to worry about.

    Well — for 2021, anyway. Of course, in January we start the whole patching process all over again. But wait! For those of you with Windows 10 2004, this is really the final update.

    During the month of December, Microsoft takes a break, with only one update planned due to the holiday season. As Microsoft noted in its Windows message center, there will be no preview updates released during the third or fourth week of the month. This also means that, should there be any side effects from this month’s updates, there won’t be optional preview updates to fix any issues. I’ll be paying close attention to side effects of this month’s updates as a result.

    Consumer and home users

    Windows 10 Installer DownloadClick on Start, Settings, System, and then About on your Windows 10 computer to check your version. If you are still on 2004, this is the very last month that you will receive an update. In that case, I recommend that you visit the Windows 10 download page and click on Update now under “Windows 10 November 2021 Update.” This will download the installer for upgrading — Windows10Upgrade9252.exe, as shown to the left above. Follow the prompts to install Windows 10 21H2. I’m comfortable with that version at this time and recommend it.

    Once you get yourself onto Windows 10 21H2, ensure that you are set to defer updates. I recommend you defer until after Christmas. Click Start, Settings, Update and security, Advanced options; choose to defer updates until December 28.

    Printing side effects seem to be on the wane. If you haven’t already installed the November updates, do that now.

    Business users

    For business patchers, if you are still having issues with printing, ensure that you either install the out-of-band updates released at the end of November or test the December releases as soon as they come out — to see whether they fix your issues. For Windows 10 versions 2004, 20H2, 21H1, and 21H2, Microsoft has indicated that Windows print clients might encounter the following errors when connecting to a remote printer shared on a Windows print server.

    I’m seeing this reported most on peer-to-peer shared printers in a business setting. The optional updates released in late November specifically address these issues. For Windows 10 2004, 20H2, 21H1, and 21H2, this update is KB5007253. This fix will also be included in the December updates, so you may wish to wait until that patch is released to see whether this fixes the printing issues you are dealing with.

    References

    Read the full story in the AskWoody Plus Alert 18.47.1 (2021-12-09).

  • November patches here we come

    Here comes updates for November. Remember at this time I urge you to defer, not install UNLESS you have a test bed/good backup plan and you are one of the regulars that love to test for the rest of us to let us know how the patching looks.

    For those updating Macs, recently they fixed an issue where the Monterey release was bricking some machines with the T2 security chip.

    Peter Deegan over on Office-Watch has a post about how Microsoft is “aligning support of consumer OneDrive sync with the life cycles of the platforms.” Once again Windows 8.1 is the red headed step child of the operating systems and I’m not buying this “alignment” when it’s still fully supported for another year. We’ll have more on alternatives in an upcoming newsletter.

    I always link to resources like the Zero day blog, because to me it’s like the green start flag on the patching race. It’s now officially the release date. However here at Askwoody, we’re always flying the yellow warning flag to slow down, watch and be cautious.

    So far the only patch I’d urge business patchers to jump on is the Exchange security updates – and for that you first need to ensure you have a backup/a maintenance window to deploy updates/and recovery plans just in case. There are several Office bugs and make sure that you don’t open up attachments blindly – like Excel files. Finally there’s a bug in Remote desktop and for that there’s another “duh” workaround – make sure you don’t click on any RDP files offered or emailed to you.

    As always I’ll be looking for side effects and issues and will be reporting on them in the newsletter. Remember, you want to be the tortoise, not the hare when it comes to updating. Ensure your browser is updated, be a bit more paranoid about clicking, and stay tuned as I keep an eye out for the side effects and issues and report on them in the Plus newsletter.

  • MS-DEFCON 2: Here comes 21H2

    AskWoody Plus Alert Logo
    ISSUE 18.42.1 • 2021-11-04

    MS-DEFCON 2

    By Susan Bradley

    Microsoft is beginning to push 21H2, Microsoft’s least interesting feature release in the Windows 10 era.

    With new features that are interesting only to businesses, this feature release will serve only one purpose — that of providing you with lifecycle support for several years.

    So what’s in 21H2?

    • Addition of WPA3 H2E standards support for enhanced Wi-Fi security
    • In Windows Hello for Business, introduction of cloud trust, a new deployment method to support simplified, passwordless deployments and achieve a deploy-to-run state within a few minutes
    • GPU compute support in the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) and Azure IoT Edge for Linux on Windows (EFLOW) deployments, for machine learning and other compute-intensive workflows

    In other words, not much that will excite most of us. I don’t recommend installing feature releases until several weeks (at least) after their release.

    I strongly recommend that you use either group policy or the registry key methods to keep yourself on 21H1 at this time. You can review your options to defer feature releases.

    Consumer and home users

    For consumer and home users, I recommend that you push off updates until right before Thanksgiving, no sooner than November 23. Click on Start, Settings, Update and Security, and click the Pause for 7 days button. if you want to pause for more than seven days, click the button more than once.

    Do remember my mantra. I always want to install updates — it’s just a matter of timing.

    Business users

    By now (hopefully), you have found a resolution to any printing problems that have been driving you insane over the last several months. If not, we can hope that the November updates will include more printing fixes. We already know that the preview updates released at the end of October helped to fix issues for some. Those patches will be included in the November update releases, because Windows 10 patches are always cumulative.

    References

    Read the full story in the AskWoody Plus Alert 18.42.1 (2021-11-04).

  • MS-DEFCON 2: October updates right around the corner

    AskWoody Plus Alert Logo
    ISSUE 18.38.1 • 2021-10-08

    MS-DEFCON 2

    By Susan Bradley

    Enjoy the fall season — take a break from patching!

    With the October updates bearing down upon us, it’s time to take a break. Wrap up patching and updating from September, and prepare your PC to delay the upcoming patches.

    For those of you still on Windows 10 2004, this is an excellent time to upgrade to 21H1 and let it settle in. As for Windows 10 21H2, we still don’t have a definite date.

    Windows 10 will be fully supported until 2025, but it’s still unclear whether Microsoft will be switching to an annual feature-release schedule, as with Windows 11, or keeping the twice-per-year cadence we’ve had for the past five years.

    Consumer and home users

    Based on the information I have now, I will probably sound the all-clear for consumers to install this round of updates on or after October 26. Go into Start, Settings, Update and Security, and Advanced options. In the Pause Updates section, pick October 26 from the drop-down menu.

    If you’ve installed the September updates for Windows 10 2004, 20H2, or 21H1, including KB5005565, you can turn your print spooler service back on and use your printer normally — Microsoft has finally fixed its Print Nightmare bugs. It’s safe to turn it on and leave it on (we hope).

    Business users

    For businesses, I’ll urge you to unofficially shoot for deploying updates a week earlier on October 19. Every time I’ve tried to urge businesses to patch earlier than consumers, we’ve hit side effects and needed to wait for workarounds.

    This is also the time to be testing — but not deploying — Windows 11. Microsoft started releasing Windows 11 as it became Tuesday, October 5, in each time zone around the world. All the tools that help us control, patch, and deploy Windows 10 will also be used to control, patch, and deploy Windows 11. Microsoft is releasing much of its Windows 11 content and will be updating it as more information comes out. Tuesday marked the start of the 36-month servicing-support lifecycle for Enterprise and Education editions of Windows 11. The Home, Pro, Pro for Workstations, and Pro for Education editions of Windows 11 will receive 24 months of servicing support. But I see no need to rush into Windows 11 — it’s a time to watch for side effects and issues.

    References

    Read the full story in the AskWoody Plus Alert 18.38.1 (2021-10-08).

  • MS-DEFCON 2: September – here we go again

    AskWoody Plus Alert Logo
    ISSUE 18.35.1 • 2021-09-09

    MS-DEFCON 2

    By Susan Bradley

    It’s time to start getting ready for Windows 11.

    The countdown is on to the release of Windows 11 on October 5, and it’s the time of the month when I urge you to take actions to ensure you are ready to install updates when you want to.

    The security updates this month begin the process of introducing group policy settings to control Windows 11, as well as Intune policy settings. But never fear — we will provide you all the information you need to either avoid or embrace Windows 11, as you see fit.

    Consumer and home users

    First, and as I always recommend when we get close to the second Tuesday of the month (now infamously known as Patch Tuesday), make sure that your backup is working properly. Open whatever backup software you use, and review the log of recent actions to confirm that the backup is running and backing up as it should. At a minimum, browse your backup location to see whether the file dates in that location are recent.

    Next, decide what type of patcher you are. If you have spare machines and know you have a solid backup, you could actually be in the patcher category “Extreme” — because you let Windows install updates on its own terms and you simply review for side effects afterward. There are quite a few AskWoody Plus members who do exactly this, because they know that a good backup allows them to recover from updates, just as it protects them from ransomware.

    The next patcher category is “Deferral.” Go into Start, Settings, Update &  Security, Advanced options and choose September 28 as your deferral date, the date when you allow Windows to do its thing.

    Next? “Cautious.” For this group, I recommend the use of WUMgr to control updates. You can review how to use this tool in the forums.

    Business users

    I predict that I’ll be urging business patchers to install updates no later than September 21, 2021. For now, I don’t anticipate that Microsoft will be providing solutions to the mess that they introduced with the PrintNightmare patches, so we’re still going to have to deal with the fallout and side effects of the August updates. I’ll be recapping these known issues in the September 13 AskWoody Plus newsletter.

    We’re soon going to be adding the ability to get text alerts sent to you when the AskWoody MS-DEFCON level changes. You can follow the alert account on Twitter now, but soon you can sign up for text alerts as well. You’ll need to be an AskWoody Plus member in order to receive texts to your phone when we send out alerts; look for more information soon.

    Read the full story in the AskWoody Plus Alert 18.34.1 (2021-09-09).

  • DEFCON 2 – August updates include Print Spooler fixes

    And they are out…..

    August updates include fixes for the Print spooler bug that wasn’t quite fixed last month so if you disabled the print spooler as a precaution you can re-enable it.  (1) For businesses, I’d recommend that you leave it off on your domain controllers and only turn it on machines and servers where you absolutely need it.

    I’ll be researching and reading and testing and as always more details will be in the newsletter this weekend.

    Until then:

    1. Ensure that your backup software is functional and you have a good solid backup. If you have any questions, remember to visit our forums.
    2. For those of you with spare machines, use this time to test the impact. Given that we know it’s fixing issues with the print spooler software – remember specifically to test printing and scanning.

    Resources to read:

    https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/microsoft/microsoft-fixes-windows-print-spooler-printnightmare-vulnerability/

    https://msrc.microsoft.com/update-guide/releaseNote/2021-Aug

    https://www.zerodayinitiative.com/blog/2021/8/10/the-august-2021-security-update-review

    Point and print driver change

    edit 8/12/2021 (1) Leave it disabled or keep your extra paranoid surfing level enabled , it’s still not fixed.

  • MS-DEFCON 2: Print Nightmare causes printing nightmares

    AskWoody Plus Alert Logo
    ISSUE 18.25.1 • 2021-07-07

    PATCH WATCH

    MS-DEFCON Level 2

    By Susan Bradley

    Microsoft has released an emergency update for a Print Spooler vulnerability.

    Consumer and home users

    Microsoft has released an out of band update for a recent vulnerability that is being referred to as  “Print Nightmare.”

    Zebra Label printers have been impacted by this out-of-band patch. The only remedy is to uninstall the update. Because I don’t see active attacks on home users at this time, I recommend that you hold off installing this update. In fact, I’ll probably wait until the July updates come out next week before encouraging you to install any patches. Next week’s updates will include these fixes; there is no urgent need to install them right now.

    Business users

    For businesses with Active Directory, disable the print spooler service on your domain controllers.

    It only impacts “clean up jobs” for printing artifacts and I suggest keeping this service disabled going forward. Reports suggest that the patch does not fully provide all protections for networks, so it’s best to keep print spoolers disabled in the short term. More testing and evaluation is required.

    References

    Read the full story in the AskWoody Plus Newsletter 18.25.1 (2021-07-07).