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  • MS-DEFCON 3: Ready or not, it’s time to update

    Posted on October 26th, 2021 at 02:45 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge
    AskWoody Plus Alert Logo
    ISSUE 18.41.1 • 2021-10-26

    MS-DEFCON 3

    By Susan Bradley

    It’s not exactly an all-clear.

    Normally, this is the time in the update cycle when I give an all-clear. It’s when most, if not all, of the side effects of patches have been identified.

    This month, unfortunately, there are still issues. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t want you to install updates. Even though there are documented problems with network printing after the October updates, they are not widespread.

    Many system administrators report that printing problems most often occur when the operating system of the server hosting the print server is older — and possibly unpatched — while the workstations are newer platforms that are patched. Therefore, after installing the updates in your peer-to-peer network, Make testing printing your first step. If you can print, leave the updates installed and pat yourself on the back — you survived October.

    If you are impacted by the October updates and do have printing issues, consider your situation carefully before you uninstall and block updates. There are several vulnerabilities included in the October updates, one of which, CVE-2021-40449, has been used in targeted malware attacks to elevate privileges on a system. My ongoing philosophy is that when the risk of being unpatched is higher than the risk of applying a patch, it’s time to install updates. I also don’t want to go a month without installing an update unless the reasons for doing so are very clear.

    I’ve installed the October updates at my home and office, including a collection of Ricoh network printers as well as stand-alone Brother, HP, Lexmark, and Canon printers (black-and-white as well as color printers). I’ve had no issues printing after installing the October updates, whether at home or office. I have mixtures of server operating systems including Server 2019, Server 2016, and Server 2012 R2 as well as Windows 10, plus a Windows 7 system under extended security patches. In short, just because you read in the headlines that we’re seeing printing issues doesn’t mean that you will have issues.

    Consumer and home users

    For those of you in a home setting, install updates now and immediately test for printing issues. My best guess is that you’ll be fine, with no problems. As mentioned above, everything is good at my house.

    Business users

    I’m sorry to say that business users must not be so sanguine — you are more likely to experience problems. If you do, there are several options. The first (which I’d rather you not do) is to uninstall the updates and block them (pause updates) until next month. The second is to install one of the preview updates that Microsoft will be releasing soon, especially if you are having issues deploying printers using Internet Printing Protocol. Microsoft has already released KB5006744 for Windows 10 1809, which includes a fix for:

    Addresses a known issue that might prevent the successful installation of printers using the Internet Printing Protocol (IPP).

    This month, there’s no clear resolution. You may have no issues at all with the October updates. You may have issues printing. If you are required to patch, and you end up having issues printing, I’d urge you to install the preview updates that I’ll be listing in the Master Patch List. If that doesn’t work, ensure that you understand the risks involved in not being patched this month.

    *Edit 10/26/2021 – Microsoft released KB5006738 for 21H1, 20H2 and 2004. It includes printing fixes that may help the issue. If you are impacted, install it and see if it helps.

    Bottom line: install the updates, see whether you can print. If you can, pat yourself on the back. If you can’t, prepare yourself for a bit of testing and hassle.

    References

    Read the full story in the AskWoody Plus Alert 18.41.1 (2021-10-26).

  • Big Sur and Monterey are out for Apple

    Posted on October 25th, 2021 at 18:26 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    The unofficial Apple security twitter account posted that there are updates for Big Sur 11.6.1 (if you want to stay on Big Sur) or macOS Monterey 12.0.1.

    When you go to software updates, you may see “Upgrade now” and Monterey offered up to you. Alternatively is you want to stick with Big Sur, click on the More Info in the middle there

    And you can opt to install that.

    Should you install Monterey at this time?  Eh, it’s like Windows 10 and their feature releases. Unless you have a backup and an alternative computer, day one is not a good time to install new operating systems. So I recommend you stay on Big Sur at this time. I’ll let you know when it feels right to be upgrading to Monterey.

    P.S. While this is a valuable account to follow if you are into twitter – I don’t believe the https://twitter.com/ApplSec twitter account is “officially” Apple. It’s still a valuable account to follow as it’s extremely up to date on it’s information, but just be aware it’s not an official communication from Apple.

  • Printing is a nightmare, once again

    Posted on October 25th, 2021 at 02:42 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    PATCH WATCH

    Susan Bradley

    By Susan Bradley

    The October updates are again triggering issues with some — but not all — printers.

    This month, printing problems are rearing their heads with older platforms hosting the print server. After reviewing many postings describing this situation, I find the operating systems on the older platforms are no longer being updated and thus not getting the PrintNightmare fixes. Then, when client workstations that have been updated try to print, printing fails.

    Read the full story in the AskWoody Plus Newsletter 18.41.0 (2021-10-25).

  • Tasks for the weekend – October 23, 2021 – what should an Apple user do?

    Posted on October 23rd, 2021 at 23:48 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Youtube here

    If you are an Apple Mac or phone user, what are some of the basic computer steps you should do?

    First off, just like with Microsoft platforms, you too need to be on your guard. Attackers are more and more going after the Apple platform. Recently Apple has patched several zero day attacks that were used in targeted attacks. Just like with Microsoft, you need to ensure your machine is on a platform that obtains updates and is not out of date. Next you need to make sure you are aware of Apple updates when they come out. I’d recommend that you sign up for the Apple security update notification service if you own either a Mac computer or an iPhone (especially if you manage iPhones in a business setting).

    Next review apps on your systems and make sure that they are currently supported as well. If you are bored some day, take your iphone and remove all of those out of date apps that the vendors are no longer supporting.

    Next review the literature out there on how to maintain your systems. If you are moving to Macs in business, make sure you pay attention to the guidance released for managing and maintaining Macs in business. NIST has included guidance as well.

    Bottom line, don’t think that you don’t have to be careful on any platform (hint, next week I’ll give tips on Chromebooks)

    (edit, sorry messed up the Apple mail notification link – Security-announce Info Page (apple.com)

  • Just in time for Thanksgiving

    Posted on October 21st, 2021 at 13:01 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    It’s kinda, sorta official now. Over on the Windows insider blog Brandon LeBlanc is announcing that Windows 10 21H2 will be out in November of 2021. Just in time for American Thanksgiving.

    This also means it’s REALLY squirrel away time for the Windows 10 ISO based on 21H1. Remember the process here, I strongly recommend keeping a copy of 21H1 for a rainy day and the easiest way to do this is by downloading it now from the Microsoft ISO page. Click to download the “Download tool now” and then run the EXE and run through the prompts to download an ISO either on a flash drive or somewhere on your computer.

     

  • The annoyances of printers

    Posted on October 19th, 2021 at 14:53 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    We are supposedly in a paperless business world. Yea… right.  Meanwhile every month we keep hitting printer issues (for some printers, not all) triggered by Microsoft updates. So we get told to buy a new printer to make our lives easier and then the printer manufacturers get downright … well how can we say this nicely…. overbearing, and nearly evil in their ways to hook us into their ink and cartridge programs.

    Once upon a time I had an HP laserjet 4 printer that would run and run and run. The next version of that printer for home users, the HP Laserjet 4L would just run and run and run. (You can still buy one on ebay). I finally had to get rid of it when plastic parts would break off but I must have had that printer for 15 years or more?

    So then the printer manufacturers realized two things – thing one selling printer cartridges was a good business to be in and thing two – if they made a printer that was indestructible we’d never buy another printer again.

    In the small business industry there are certain models of printers that work nicer with working from home and remote printing. A plain laser jet printer of the Lexmark or Brother variety tends to not give you grief when remote printing unlike a USB connected all in one. I also try to not connect home printers via USB when I’m sharing them, rather I look to see if they have a network jack and connect them via a rj45 cable to my home router. Then I go into “add printer” and add a network printer and they find the printer on the network.

    Bottom line it’s 2021. We’re not paperless. We still have issues printing. Each time you install an update (and a reminder, we’re not ready yet to give the all clear to install updates) you need to test that you can print as your first post reboot activity.

    Printing is still such a mess.

    So what printer do you use and what annoys you about your printer?

     

  • Windows 11 is officially vulnerable

    Posted on October 18th, 2021 at 02:41 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    PATCH WATCH

    Susan Bradley

    By Susan Bradley

    Call me silly, but I never consider a Windows release as “official” until the first security updates come down on Patch Tuesday.

    Windows 11 has 39 vulnerabilities; two of the fixes are deemed critical and 37 are important. KB5006674 also includes several fixes that, according to reports, impact performance on specific computers.

    Read the full story in the AskWoody Plus Newsletter 18.40.0 (2021-10-18).

  • Tasks for the weekend – October 16, 2021 – what ports are open?

    Posted on October 17th, 2021 at 00:40 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Youtube video here

    One of the ways a home user can see if you are vulnerable for external attacks – especially if you have devices that allow for remote access is using a port scanner. One such tool is Shieldsup from GRC. You can visit the site and have it scan typical ports.

    But keep in mind it only scans about 1000 ports on the “all service ports” and there’s over 64,000 ports that can “talk” in your computer system.

    Shields up showcases ports from the outside of your computer.  It lets you see what an attacker can see on your system from the outside.

    Green means “stealth”.

    Now mind you the attackers can still get you with browser attacks and phishing these days so I’d argue that this “direct” attack method is less likely to occur these days, but especially if you have older tech that relied on specific ports to be open, this is still a quick and dirty tool to use to check that your outside edge of your network is what you expect it to be.

    Edit 10-17-2021

    I was trying to provide the ultimate url and grc doesn’t work using the landing page.

    Try https://www.grc.com/default.htm and scroll down to the 2nd tool in the list:

    NEW SHIELDS UP! TEST: UPnP Exposure Test!

    Go to ShieldsUP! and click GRC’s “Instant UPnP Exposure Test”.

  • Got a Western Digital My Cloud device?

    Posted on October 15th, 2021 at 15:11 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Make sure that you know if you are supported or not – if you still plan to use these devices make sure they are NOT set to have remote/Internet access and are only accessible internal to your home network.

     

    Support for your My Cloud device is changing
    Western Digital continuously evaluates and improves our hardware, software, and services as security standards evolve. As a result, we’ve determined that it’s necessary to end support for prior generations of My Cloud OS, including My Cloud OS 3. You should act now to protect your content.
    On April 15, 2022, support for prior generations of My Cloud OS, including My Cloud OS 3, will end. Your device isn’t compatible with critical security updates that are only available for My Cloud OS 5-compatible devices. As a result, you’ll only be able to access it locally. After April 15, 2022, your device will no longer receive remote access, security updates, or technical support. To help protect your content, we recommend that you back up your device, disconnect it from the internet, and protect it with a strong, unique password. Check out our recent My Cloud updates to learn more.
    Thank you for being a long-time Western Digital customer. We understand that your content is important to you, and we appreciate that you trust us to help you preserve it. To show our appreciation, we’re sending you a 20% discount coupon in January 2022 that you can use toward an eligible device. Keep your eye out for another email from us with information about that discount. 

    Sincerely,
    My Cloud Team

     

  • October Patch Day – MS DEFCON 2 – here comes Win 11

    Posted on October 12th, 2021 at 12:36 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Dustin Childs is first of the block with his October 2021 security update review.

    And yes Virginia, we have security updates for Windows 11.

    There is one bug that is reported as being used in targeted attacks, however it did not impact Windows 11.

    Microsoft is already fixing some bugs in Windows 11:

    “Compatibility issues have been found between some Intel “Killer” and “SmartByte” networking software and Windows 11. Devices with the affected software might drop User Datagram Protocol (UDP) packets under certain conditions. This creates performance and other problems for protocols based on UDP. For example, some websites might load slower than others in affected devices, with videos streaming slower in certain resolutions. VPN solutions based on UDP might also be slower.”

    That should be fixed in today’s release.

    As usual – we are at MS DEFCON – 2 – meaning that “Patch reliability is unclear. Unless you have an immediate, pressing need to install a specific patch, don’t do it”.  We’ll be watching for side effects in the meantime.

    Edit 10-12-2021:  Starting to see smatterings of printer issues again. One thing to keep in mind, make sure all servers and workstations get updates and are rebooted at the same time.

    Edit: 10-15-2021:  Seeing more than “smatterings” of issues with printers.  <sigh> Hang loose as we figure out workarounds.

    A reminder — You can be alerted automatically when the MS-DEFCON level changes, in one of two ways.

    Twitter:  Sign up for Twitter and follow the defconpatch account. Then set up notifications in your Twitter app so that you get alerted when the account tweets a change.

    Cell phone notifications via text: If you are a Plus Member, you can sign up for our SMS text alert service. To cover the extra costs associated with the hosting and SMS service for this exclusive benefit, we ask for a small fee of your choosing. One you have signed up you’ll get a text message whenever the MS-DEFCON level changes.

  • Becoming more security-aware

    Posted on October 11th, 2021 at 02:42 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    ON SECURITY

    Susan Bradley

    By Susan Bradley

    Windows 11 is now nearly a week old, and are we magically more secure? I’d argue not.

    An up-to-date operating system does help to make us more secure, so I cringe any time anyone wants to disable updates because they don’t feel that updates improve their security. But I’d also argue that installing Windows 11 isn’t a magic pill that, overnight, grants you the goodness of security.

    Read the full story in the AskWoody Plus Newsletter 18.39.0 (2021-10-11).

  • Tasks for the weekend – checking those URLs

    Posted on October 10th, 2021 at 00:08 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Youtube here showcasing the malicious email

    So today I got an email that almost ‘caught’ me. It was a fedex email that looked nearly legit. But if you hovered over the links, they clearly were not proper for fedex.

    I wanted to see what the links were trying to do. Come to find out they were attempting to install/download a .jar (java archive file) file. Yet virustotal indicates that no one has reported it malicious. (Reverse.it report here)

    It reminded me that too often these older style of files can be used to infect our systems. Just for grins I tested to see what would happen if I tried to click on the link in a virtual machine. In the case of edge and Chrome browsers it was automatically blocked. Firefox still tried to download it.

    But what about Office macros?  Another way that bad guys try to get in?

    Later on this year, Microsoft will be blocking these older Excel 4.0 style macros by default in Microsoft 365 because that’s become a key way that ransomware enters into systems.

    So what about you?  Do you hover over links before you click?