Newsletter Archives

  • Passwords don’t work — until they do

    ON SECURITY

    Susan Bradley

    By Susan Bradley

    Let’s get real. We all would love it if every website requiring credentials would just launch to our desired page without our having to enter in a password or do any sort of authentication.

    The process of entering a password or passphrase that is unique to every website is essential for security, but untenable. We usually counter our inability to remember more than a few passwords by using a Password Manager program (hopefully your display is not surrounded by Post-It™ notes). Password managers work great, until they are no longer safe.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (20.05.0, 2023-01-30).

  • Printers can drive you insane

    After months of print spooler patches hardening the print spooler so that attackers can’t use printers to gain a toe-hold into the network and then launch ransomware, printer vendors are having to go back and redo printer drivers/or you are having to install more modern drivers to deal with these issues.

    Show me a Patch Tuesday and probably SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE has hit a printing issue.

    I’ve had to reinstall/touch every printer in the office or home during the course of a year.  Yesterday I was fighting with an HP printer getting it to work reliably doing remote printing. But at first I couldn’t even get the Color Laserjet to recognize that it WAS a color printer in the first place.

    I showcase in this video the spot I found to get the device to “update now” and recognize it was a color printer.

    Now I’m trying “basic” printer drivers. I have to wait until tomorrow when the person is there to test if remote printing will now behave.

  • Microsoft you have made this confusing

    Just bought a new workstation. HP small form factor (with the largest power brick ever) with a Windows 11 Pro downgraded to Windows 10 Pro so I KNOW it supports Windows 11. Joined it to the domain. Started to install Win11 as the first business rollout of 11.  I’ll use Fences program and corral icons so the user won’t be annoyed, and it will be like his Windows 10.

    So for grins I go and run the WhynotWin11 just to test.

    And it says the 12th generation i7-12700 is not supported.

    Huh?

    But it is clearly listed on this page as being supported.

    AND it states in the web sites it’s licensed for Windows 11. But as Microsoft still hasn’t fixed their “official” application to work in a domain I can’t use their official tool while the workstation is on a domain.

    Note that while Microsoft is now pushing 22H2 to “unmanaged” pcs (that means you, the huddled masses), I don’t consider it still quite ready for prime time.  The fix for the remote desktop not working (which impacts some but not all Windows 11) is in the PREVIEW release of KB5022360.  (This update addresses an issue that affects mstsc.exe. It stops responding while connecting to a RemoteApp and Desktop Connection.) So until that rolls into next month’s security update, 22H2 still isn’t ready for letting home users remote into their workstations.

    Microsoft when you start selling Windows 12 make this process easier of determining which ones are and are not supported?

    As a kind reminder – don’t forget to use either group policy, registry keys or incontrol to select the version you are on.

  • Group policy is cool but….

    Stumbled across this video tonight from Linus Tech Tips (not Linux but Linus). The video is about enabling Group policy editor. BUT on a Home PC even enabling Group policy editor  on Home doesn’t necessarily make Group policies work on Home skus. Some settings will work, some will not.

    The video is a bit hard to follow but the command(*) to enable group policy editor can enable group policy editor on Windows 10/11 Home skus but that doesn’t mean that if you enable a setting that it actually WORKS on a Home sku.

    Also be aware that you will need to have a computer that can support virtualization in order to run Linux on Windows (WSL).

    There is a Github group policy editor tool but I honestly haven’t tested to see if it works.

    Okay I’m a critic tonight because he’s glossing over a lot of the system requirements and details in this video. That said, it is showcasing that under the hood of Microsoft they aren’t just doing “Windows” but actively putting cross platform features into Windows 11.

    What key tip or trick would you recommend others should know and probably don’t?

    (*) Commands below:

    FOR %F IN (“%SystemRoot%\servicing\Packages\Microsoft-Windows-GroupPolicy-ClientTools-Package~*.mum”) DO (DISM /Online /NoRestart /Add-Package:”%F”)

    FOR %F IN (“%SystemRoot%\servicing\Packages\Microsoft-Windows-GroupPolicy-ClientExtensions-Package~*.mum”) DO (DISM /Online /NoRestart /Add-Package:”%F”)

  • January’s patching cyclone

    PATCH WATCH

    Susan Bradley

    By Susan Bradley

    We’re a bit soggy and wet at the AskWoody Tech LLC Global Headquarters here in central California.

    We’ve had nearly a week of rain, and more is coming. I shouldn’t complain — severe drought has brought our state’s water supply down to historically low levels, so the water is needed and much appreciated. But when Microsoft rains down upon us at the same time, the total deluge is a bit much.

    For January, Microsoft fixed 98 security vulnerabilities, said goodbye (for the final time) to the much-beloved Windows 7, also said goodbye to the less used (but popular among its buffs) Windows 8.1, and actually released updates to Microsoft’s on-premises mail server, Exchange.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (20.03.0, 2023-01-16).

  • Thinking of moving to Apple?

    Now that Windows 7 is at it’s end of life, if you are thinking about moving to a different platform remember that if your data is filled full of basic stuff like Word documents, Excel files, music files, photos and what not all of this will be able to be viewed and opened on platforms like Apple or even Linux. But if you use the native apps in these platforms, remember to export or save as PDF or back to a Microsoft centric file format if you plan to share with others.

    Often the built in applications in these other platforms save in a file format that isn’t able to be natively opened on a Windows machine. So that person will need to find a converter or ask you to export it to a Microsoft format. Fortunately, this is pretty easy to do.

    I’ve done a video showcasing the Apple versions of Word and Excel as well as the native applications that can save in the .doc and .xls format.

  • Attack surface reduction rule triggers a mess on Friday the 13

    #Fridaythethirteenthmess

    Microsoft 365 Status on Twitter: “The revert is in progress and may take several hours to complete. We recommend placing the offending ASR rule into Audit Mode to prevent further impact until the deployment has completed. For more details and instructions, please follow the SI MO497128 in your admin center.” / Twitter

    If you set up the Attack surface reduction rule to check Office macros, you have woken up to missing shortcuts. It appears to have been triggered after a defender update. Note this will only occur IF you have attack surface reduction rule enabled. On machines where this is not set, no issues will be seen using Defender.  It is just those with ASR rules enabled.

    The specific rule causing this is

    Block Win32 API calls from Office macros

    Rule-ID 92e97fa1-2edf-4476-bdd6-9dd0b4dddc7b

    In Intune or group policy set the rule to audit if Microsoft hasn’t done it for you already.  Now how to deal with the missing shortcuts?

    Emin reports that “If you’ve volume shadow copy enabled, you can find these shorcuts in a VSS snapshot. I still use nowadays this code whenever I’ve to mount/dismount VSS snapshots. https://p0w3rsh3ll.wordpress.com/2014/06/21/mount-and-dismount-volume-shadow-copies/

    Alternatively you can get the shortcuts from Onedrive if the Desktop synchronization was enabled.

    Microsoft’s guidance here:

    I’ll also note this on the Master Patch list – but it’s NOT exactly patch related side effect.

  • Master Patch list updated as of January 10, 2023

    #PatchTuesday #DeadBodyWedneday #KeepaneyeoutforissuesThursday

    Consumers:  Defer updates at this time.

    I’ve updated the Master Patch List for Tuesday’s releases.

    It’s too soon at this time for consumers to be making recommendations, I’m still watching for issues.

    For businesses, the impact to look out for and keep an eye on are any Exchange on premises server you are still patching.

    As a reminder

    • Windows 11 22H2: Not recommended
    • Windows 11 21H2: If you have a Windows 11 PC, recommended
    • Windows 10 22H2: Recommended
    • Windows 10 21H2: Recommended (if a vendor won’t support 22H2)
    • Apple Ventura – tentative. Check with the applications you rely on if they recommend this release.

    As always, thank you all for supporting the cause! Remember a donation will give you access and if you donate $50 or more you’ll get a special code to enable text messages sent to your phone each time the Master Patch List gets updated and when I change the MS-DEFCON level.

  • Batten down the hatches for January updates

    #PatchTuesday

    As the wind blows in California where I live, we’re trying to batten down the hatches (as the trite saying goes).  So batten down the hatches on your computer as here comes the January Windows patches

    98 updates.

    1 publicly disclosed.

    11 critical

    Stay tuned and remember to defer at this time and I’ll be reporting on any side effects and issues.

    Remember it’s the end of the road for Windows 8.1 and the last of the updates for Windows 7 ESU.

    I’ll be discussing options you can take for these two platforms (yes once again 0patch is coming to the rescue)

    Don’t forget the OTHER needed updates:  Chrome, Firefox (14 critical), Citrix, Foxit, VMware.  As always don’t forget to check your browser updates.

    Edit of 1-12-2023.  I’m not sure if this is a coincidence or not but I’ve had to run the QB tool hub tool to fix printers on two of the three test machines at the office. All other printing was fine, it was just printing a report from INSIDE of QuickBooks that wouldn’t print. Ran the printer fix up tool and all was well.

  • Welcome to our twentieth year

    newsletter banner

    ISSUE 20.02 • 2023-01-09

    FROM THE PUBLISHER

    Susan Bradley

    By Susan Bradley

    Time flies.

    It seems like only yesterday. Out of the blue, I got an email from Brian Livingston, asking to meet with him while I was in Seattle attending a Microsoft event. Over dinner, he explained that he wanted me to write a column in the Windows Secrets Newsletter that would track issues with Microsoft patches and analyze their impact on PCs and their users.

    It was the dawn of “The Patch Lady.”

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (20.02.0, 2023-01-09).
    This story also appears in our public Newsletter.

  • Do you know the easy way to get into the boot menu?

    During last week’s video I recommended that you look for a backup software that adjusts the boot menu so you can easily get under the operating system and recover should something happen. Do you know the OTHER way to get under the operating system into the troubleshooting screen that’s just as easy? Watch it here!

    On Windows 10 and 11, Click the Windows Start menu, then the Power button. While pressing down the Shift key, click the Restart button. This will take you to the Windows Troubleshooting options, where you can reboot to BIOS.

    But wait there’s another way…. you can access Windows Settings by right clicking on the Start Menu. Then navigate to the Update and Security section then the Recovery section. In the Recovery settings, under the Advanced startup section, click Restart now.  Note that if you don’t see an option for UEFI as an extra option (like in the video) it’s because your system doesn’t support uefi boot or is in legacy mode.

    Then wait for the loading screen to complete and then click the Troubleshoot button. Tap the advanced button and then choose what you need to do – you can even boot into the bios settings from here.

    Now if your computer isn’t bootable, you can still get to these boot options menu via the Windows 10 USB installation drive.  Plug the USB drive into your usb drive on your computer. While booting, before Windows starts to load (and you’ll need to do this quickly) you need to continuously press F12 to enter your PC’s BIOS. Then select USB Drive as the boot device and Press Enter key.

    This has ALWAYS been annoying to me:  The keys to press, such as F12, F2, Delete, or Esc, differ on computers from different manufacturers.

    Got a Macintosh? Do you know it has similar firmware booting options?

    First is it the newer style with Apple silicon or older Intel based?

    If newer, turn on your Mac and continue to press and hold the power button as your Mac starts up. Release the power button when you see the startup options screen, which shows your startup disks and a gear icon labeled Options.

    If it’s the older Intel style, you can read this post for the various key combinations.

  • MS-DEFCON 2: Getting ready for 2023

    alert banner

    ISSUE 20.01.1 • 2023-01-05
    MS-DEFCON 2

    By Susan Bradley

    Once again, we are preparing for another year of patching.

    And to start out the year auspiciously, I must raise the MS-DEFCON level to 2. That’s because I’m recommending that updates to Windows be deferred until later in the month. Although Microsoft takes a long Christmas vacation, and the resulting January is usually limited to just security updates, it’s best to be very cautious until the issues that cropped up in December are resolved.

    Anyone can read the full MS-DEFCON Alert (20.01.1, 2023-01-05).