Newsletter Archives

  • MS-DEFCON 3: We’re not out of the printing woods yet

    AskWoody Plus Alert Logo
    ISSUE 18.45.1 • 2021-11-22

    MS-DEFCON 3

    By Susan Bradley

    The big news last week was Microsoft’s finally releasing Windows 10 version 21H2 and aligning the Windows 10 and Windows 11 annual feature release cadence.

    Changing the feature release cadence for Windows to an annual schedule is long overdue. From the first moment Microsoft announced that Windows 10 feature updates would be released on a semiannual basis, I’ve felt that the constant release process was too often, too fast. It’s good to see Microsoft finally listening to the feedback. Granted, it was pushed into this decision by the release of Windows 11, but I’ll take the win nonetheless.

    Now that 21H2 is officially out, I recommend sticking with 21H1 for the moment. That said, 21H2 will be a relatively easy and fast update with very few side effects. But I’m a cautious patcher and never install feature releases during the first week they are out.

    As November comes to a close, it’s again time to evaluate whether you can perform the basic process we all call “printing.” I discussed the annoyance of these constant and seemingly intractable printing problems in yesterday’s On Security column. The ongoing issues with printing force me, once again, to set our MS-DEFCON status at level 3. Exercise caution.

    Consumer and home users

    If you install the updates for November and can still print, pat yourself on the back and relax until next month. If you are still having issues with printing, I recommend installing the preview updates listed in the Master Patch list.

    For certain shared printers in peer-to-peer networks, we are still seeing issues triggered by the November 9 updates. While Microsoft has released out-of-band updates for authentication issues, they have not put the same priority on printing issues triggered by the updates.

    Business users

    Already, we’ve seen the out-of-band update KB5008602 to fix a known issue triggered on domain controllers and single sign-on that might cause authentication failures related to Kerberos tickets you acquired from Service for User to Self (S4U2self). This issue occurs after you install the November 9, 2021, security updates on domain controllers (DCs) that are running Windows Server, and you need to install this update on your domain controllers to fix this issue.

    References

    Read the full story in the AskWoody Plus Alert 18.45.1 (2021-11-22).

  • Why is printing so hard to get right?

    AskWoody Plus Newsletter Logo
    ISSUE 18.45 • 2021-11-22
    Look for our special issue on November 29!

    ON SECURITY

    Susan Bradley

    By Susan Bradley

    I work in an industry that keeps promising we are going paperless, but we still find ways to kill trees. Even though I regularly print to PDF, I continue to print to various desktop and network printers.

    Physical printing is still very important to me and many other professionals. Any problem with printing will affect productivity. Each month, when new updates come out, one of my top priorities is to test printing. Can I print? If I can, then I know I can keep the new patches installed. But why are we constantly fighting issues with printing, and why are we constantly patching our systems for printing?

    Read the full story in the AskWoody Plus Newsletter 18.45.0 (2021-11-22).
    This story also appears in the AskWoody Free Newsletter 18.45.F (2021-11-22).

  • Printing is a nightmare, once again

    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).

  • MS-DEFCON 4: The printing issues continue

    AskWoody Plus Alert Logo
    ISSUE 18.37.1 • 2021-09-28

    MS-DEFCON 4

    By Susan Bradley

    Printing or security — you decide

    We’re back to reasonable levels of safety and of understanding the nature of recent updates, so I’m recommending the resumption of update installation — but not without some major caveats. Sadly, there are still some side effects with printing, which is getting to be an annoying trend. It’s been months now.

    These updates also include new and expanded categories plus registry keys that allow you to officially defer Windows 11 and then choose to push off the upcoming 21H2 release. More about that later.

    Consumer and home users

    I haven’t seen printing problems with directly attached printers, the most likely scenario for home users. Therefore, I recommend applying the September updates now. The reason is that this month’s updates include expanded sections to choose various versions of Windows 10 or Windows 11 and specifically block what you don’t want.

    For those of you on Windows 10 Professional, after installing the September updates you’ll be able to click on the search box and type in “edit group policy.” Next, scroll down to Computer Configuration, Administrative Templates, Windows Components, Windows Update, and Windows Update for Business. Find the setting for Select the target Feature Update version. Click on Enabled, fill in the product version in the first box (“Windows 10”), and then the feature release version you want to keep.

    Of course, Windows 10 Home can’t do group policy. Instead, use registry keys to defer Windows 11 and stay on the version of Windows 10 you want. You’ll be adding a value under

    HKLM\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\WindowsUpdate

    Manually add the values “TargetReleaseVersion”=dword:00000001, “ProductVersion”=”Windows 10”, and “TargetReleaseVersionInfo”=”21H1”.

    I’ve made it easier for you by including links to download these registry keys. If you want to stay on 21H1, click on this link and install it on your system. If you plan to let your machine upgrade to 21H2, click on this link. And if you leave the setting alone and do nothing, and your computer does not have the hardware capabilities for Windows 11, you will not be offered the upgrade. If you do have hardware that can handle Windows 11, you’ll be offered — but not pushed to — Windows 11.

    Business users

    First the good news: Microsoft has finally acknowledged what we’ve known for weeks now — its updates trigger issues if your users do not have administrator rights. The bad news is that it hasn’t yet acknowledged the issues we’ve seen this month, nor are any fixes planned. Microsoft will only urge us to

    Verify that you are using the latest drivers for all your printing devices and where possible, use the same version of the print driver on the print client and print server.

    Microsoft indicates that the trigger is

    … caused by a print driver on the print client and the print server using the same filename, but the server has a newer version of the file.

    But here’s the problem: We never installed a newer driver on the server. We did nothing but install the software update to the server. I know that many of these notifications are triggered by the use of v3 (older) printer drivers versus v4 printer drivers. If you cannot upgrade to v4 drivers, you have a couple of options to “re-push” out drivers to fix this issue.

    Unfortunately, in this era of cumulative updates you can’t break out the parts of the update you want from the parts you don’t want. So if you don’t install this update this month, you put your business at risk from MSHTML-based ransomware attacks (CVE-2021-40444).  If you make the decision to not install these updates, make sure you use the registry keys I wrote about earlier to block the MSHTML vulnerabilities. Don’t go unpatched and unprotected.

    References

    Read the full story in the AskWoody Plus Alert 18.37.1 (2021-09-28).

  • PrintNightmare still a nightmare for patchers

    PATCH WATCH

    Susan Bradley

    By Susan Bradley

    As we start to ready ourselves for the September updates, we’re still haunted by the PrintNightmare issues from the August updates.

    The good news for home users and consumers is that we haven’t seen the August updates triggering side effects with printers. For business users, there are still issues requiring vigilance.

    Read the full story in the AskWoody Plus Newsletter 18.35.0 (2021-09-13).

  • Is it safe to print again?

    PATCH WATCH

    Susan Bradley

    By Susan Bradley

    Is Print Nightmare finally fixed?

    The August updates are out and finally include a fix for the fix for the earlier fix for Print Spooler issues that allow attackers to take control of your system via rights elevation. While the good news is that we finally have a fix for the current Print Spooler issue, I’m seeing in various tweets that an issue still exists. If you want SYSTEM (beyond admin) rights on any supported version of Windows, there is a way to use a remote/cloud malicious print driver to get them.

    Read the full story in the AskWoody Plus Newsletter 18.31.0 (2021-08-16).

  • Freeware Spotlight – Three tools to make your printer print

    BEST UTILITIES

    Deanna McElveen

    By Deanna McElveen

    The last few builds of Windows 10 have not played well with LAN and Wi-Fi printers. It’s not as if our printers didn’t have enough problems with just a USB connection.

    I spend a lot of time fixing customers’ printing issues and the networking issues caused by Windows updates. It seems like half of what we do at our shop these days.

    How do we fix our printer woes on a tight budget? Freeware to the rescue!

    Read the full story in the AskWoody Plus Newsletter 18.30.0 (2021-08-09).

  • MS-DEFCON 1 – Blue screens of death triggered by patches

    ISSUE 18.9.2 • 2021-03-10

    Logo

    PATCH WATCH

    Susan Bradley

    By Susan Bradley

    Don’t patch!

    I’ve moved the patching alert status to DEFCON 1.

    I don’t do this lightly but we are seeing issues with printing after the March updates are installed. Ghacks reports blue screens of death (BSOD) are being triggered after printing. At the moment, it is unclear whether this is the result of the March operating system updates or just the Windows 10 versions, but for sure the Windows 10 releases are triggering these blue screens of death.

    Read the full story in the AskWoody Plus Alert 18.9.2 (2021-03-10).
    Learn more about MS-DEFCON!

  • Freeware Spotlight — Graph Paper Printer

    If you provide IT services to schools, here’s a utility that should make teachers very happy!

    Graph Paper Printer is a tiny, flexible, and portable app that lets you print all sorts of graph-paper styles, from simple squares to music manuscripts — to other’s … well, we don’t know what they’re used for.

    See the full story in the June 10, 2019, AskWoody Plus Newsletter (Issue 16.21.0)

  • Office for iPad (finally!) supports printing

    It works pretty well. Hands on.

    InfoWorld Tech Watch.