WServerNews: Are managed service providers an asset or a liability?

Editor’s Corner

Managed service providers (MSPs) are typically used by companies to remotely manage their IT infrastructure. MSPs are most often used by smaller businesses that don’t have the resources or expertise to manage their infrastructure in-house. In a typical scenario a small business like a dental practice or law office pays a monthly subscription fee to the MSP who then manages the network, systems, printers, firewall, and/or whatever other aspects of their infrastructure the business want to outsource the management of.

Having someone else remotely manage your IT needs almost sounds to be too good to be true. This does in fact seem to be the case if you’ve been following the tech news lately.

Take the following story that surfaced just a few days ago:

Ransomware hits hundreds of dentist offices in the US (ZDNet)

Security news reporter Catalin Cimpanu commented on Twitter that “The biggest irony about this incident is that the software abused in this incident is advertised as a way to protect dentist offices from ransomware.”

That’s not the only MSP-related nightmare that’s happened recently however. This Reddit thread from six months ago mentioned how a local MSP got hacked and all its clients got cryptolocked:

And this article from June describes another example of ransomware spreading from hacked MSPs:

Sodinokibi Ransomware Spreads Wide via Hacked MSPs, Sites, and Spam (Bleeping Computer)

Of course it’s not only MSPs that are being targeted in this fashion — cloud providers in general make fruitful targets for hackers whose strategy is to spread ransomware and other forms of malware to the cloud provider’s customers:

Phishers are Angling for Your Cloud Providers (Krebs on Security)

So now the question becomes: Can the cost and availability benefits of migrating your business to cloud offset the risk of what could happen if your cloud provider gets hacked?

What do you think? Email us at [email protected]

Mitch Tulloch, Senior Editor


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Got questions? Ask our readers!

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Tip of the Week

>> Got any IT pro tips you’d like to share with other readers of our newsletter? Email us at [email protected]

Password Checkup extension for Chrome

This Password Checkup extension helps you resecure accounts that were affected by data breaches:


Admin Toolbox

>> Got any admin tools or software you’d like to recommend to our readers? Email us at [email protected]

Have you ever spent time on finding an important email or attachment? Email archiving with MailStore can be the solution to the problems associated with managing emails. Learn more:

KeePass is a free, open-source, easy-to-use password manager:

NetLimiter is an Internet traffic control and monitoring tool for Windows:

Unchecky helps you keep potentially unwanted programs out of your computer:



More from our readers about some of the swag they’ve snagged attending IT conferences over the years:

I don’t see much any more living here in Brazil, but many years ago I worked as a break fix tech at a major computer retailer. We got all kinds of stuff – my all time favorite was a t-shirt advertising the BigFoot Quantum 1.2 Gigabyte hard drive! I wore it out years ago, wonder what it would be worth today – money or the look on people’s faces? I still have and use my blue Microsoft duffel bag, circa 1997. It’s got images of Back Office, Internet Explorer and NT among others. I’ll take offers! –Howard from Brazil

Wow, a Microsoft duffel bag with a BackOffice logo on it — that’s cool! Anyone out there still got swag laying around that has a logo of Windows 95? Windows 3.1? MS-DOS? Email us at [email protected]

And in the Factoid section of our recent issue titled WServerNews: Automating software package installs with PowerShell I mentioned that while researching different brands and makes of SUVs on sites of car dealers in our locality, I decided to visit the financing site of one of them to find out more information on financing terms for purchasing new vehicles. When I opened the home page of their financing site, this is what I found — note the part I’ve highlighted in red:

Ted from Ontario, Canada actually went to the trouble of trying to translate the above placeholder text which I had assumed was simply nonsense but which actually turned out to mean something in Latin:

Hi Mitch, My Latin is somewhat rusty after 50 years (wow!) of not using it so I put this into Google Translate:

Nemo enim ipsam voluptatem quia voluptas sit aspernatur aut odit aut fugit, sed quia consequuntur magni dolores eos qui ratione voluptatem sequi nesciunt.

and it responded with:

For no one rejects, dislikes, or avoids pleasure itself, because it is pleasure, but because they do not know how to pursue pleasure rationally encounter consequences that are the sorrows of those who have.

A quick dip into Wikipedia informed me that lorem ipsum placeholder text is “typically a scrambled section of De finibus bonorum et malorum, a first-century BCE text by Cicero with words altered, added, and removed to make it nonsensical, improper Latin.”

Well you learn something every day.

Ted also added:

I didn’t think getting a car loan was a pleasurable experience. Getting a car, maybe, but not a car loan. And especially not the payments. I’ve heard that the brand name ‘Infiniti’ refers to the payments.

Ain’t it the truth!


Ask Our Readers – Strange emails coming from Yahoo addresses (new question)

Boris from Alabama sent us the following question:

First time asking a question here. Lately I’ve been getting weird emails with no subject and no message body, looks like this in Outlook:

Anyone else been getting emails like this? What are they for, some kind of recon or attack?

Can any readers make any sense of what Boris is experiencing? Email us at [email protected]


Factoid – Do Bose headphones float?

Last week’s factoid and question was this:

Fact: Cubicles are making a comeback as workers tire of the noise and distractions of the open floor plan office.

Question: OK so calling them “Office Pods” makes them sound cool and trendy, but aren’t they still really just cubicles? How do readers feel about working in today’s open floor plan offices, and would you rather work in a cubicle (or pod) if you could have one?

Pete, a Solution Architect based in Australia responded to this as follows:

My first (long term full time) job I had an entire floor to myself (looking after computer labs) plus an office. Each job change since then has resulted in smaller office, shared office, cubicle, dedicated desk in open plan, to finally “activity based working” in an open plan office where we are “encouraged” to move around. Open plan definitely has some benefits but not for work focus and productivity. Noise cancelling headphones and status lights can help a bit, but I’d rather have a pod option available (especially when co-workers decide to start a nerf and stress-ball war).

Good point Pete about using noise-cancelling headphones when you work in open office areas and a great topic for this week’s factoid, see below!

Also coming from Down Under is the following story from Wayne:

Hi Mitch,

Having worked in both environments, I have to admit that I much prefer the cubicle, simply because I hate having people staring over my shoulder. I have worked in a Stockbrokers, where all the desks were in banks and your neighbour was right next to you. The prime seats here were the ones near the window because you effectively got a return along the window sill.

Being in IT, I constantly have sensitive material open on screen so feel that having this in an open plan area is asking to be hacked.

Up until recently I was sitting at a desk that had me with my back to the entrance and I found it very difficult to concentrate as there was always someone walking past.

At least with a cubicle, my cartoons and family photos are a bit more private.

Well I guess noise-cancelling headphones won’t solve the privacy issues of having people look over your shoulder when you’re working in an open area office environment, so we’ll have to leave it to our readers to come up with some creative solution to that problem — any takers? Email me at [email protected]

Now let’s move on to this week’s factoid:

Fact: Way back in the Mailbag of our 30 Oct 2017 issue we included an email from a reader named Charles who said “My Bose noise cancelling headphones are a life saver when it comes to getting work done.” I assume he meant that the headphones kept him from getting distracted as opposed to something he could hold onto if the office he worked in was suddenly deluged by a flood. Anyways, the certainty of his comments leads us to accept it as a Fact.


Question: What kind of experience have other readers had with noise-cancelling headphones? Do you use them at work to help you concentrate? Which brand/model would you recommend?

Email your answer to [email protected]


Conference calendar

>> Got an IT conference or event happening that you’d like to promote in our newsletter? Email us at [email protected]

Microsoft Ignite 2019

Nov 4-8, 2019 in Orlando, Florida

Other Microsoft conferences

Microsoft Licensing Boot Camps

  • Sept 10-11 in Chicago, Illinois
  • Oct 15-16 in Dallas, Texas
  • Dec 9-10 in Seattle, Washington

Infosec conferences

Cyber Security Summit – Sept. 25 in Charlotte, North Carolina

Cyber Security Summit – Oct 3 in New York City

SecTor – Oct 9-10 in Ontario, Canada

Global Cyber Summit – Oct 13-16 in Miami Beach, Florida

Cyber Security Summit – Oct 17 in Scottsdale, Arizona

Cyber Security Summit – Nov 7 in Boston, Massachusetts

Cyber Security Summit – Nov 21 in Houston, Texas

Cyber Security Summit – Dec 5 in Los Angeles, California

Other conferences

CloudyCon – Sept 10-12 in Burlingame, California

Hosting & Cloud Transformation Summit – Sept 23-25 in Las Vegas, Nevada

VMworld – Nov 4-7 in Barcelona, Spain

Midwest Management Summit – Nov 11-13 in New Orleans, Louisiana

European SharePoint, Office 365 & Azure Conference – Dec 2-5 in Prague, Czech Republic

SharePoint Fest – Dec 9-13 in Chicago, Illinois


Podcast Corner

Microsoft Cloud News – Hurricane Dorian Edition (Microsoft Cloud IT Pro Podcast)

Office 365 Governance with Martina Grom (RunAsRadio)

Changes In Network Monitoring (This Week in Enterprise Tech)


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Citrix Managed Desktops offers new desktop-as-a-service functionality

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7 DevOps collaboration tools that can accelerate application development

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Using the new Azure PowerShell Az module in automation runbooks

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Multicloud vs. hybrid cloud: Exactly what is the difference?

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Review: Exchange Online backup solution NETsec Mailbox Archiver

Businesses needing to restore mailboxes in Exchange Online often use a third-party product. NETsec Mailbox Archiver is one such solution. Here’s our review.


Fun videos from Flixxy

Australian Angler Fishes While Lifted By A Home Made Drone

Fisherman Sam Foreman gets lifted by a custom made drone, catches a fish and safely returns to shore:

Gigantic 33 Foot R/C Concorde – Maiden Flight

Otto Widlroither brings his giant homemade Concorde into the air for the very first time in Mühldorf, Bavaria:

Drum Duel with Buddy Rich on Muppet Show

It’s a rare pleasure to see the worlds greatest drummer performing on a children’s show:

Elon Musk: ‘It’s Financially Insane To Buy Anything Other Than A Tesla!’

Elon Musk: ‘It’s financially insane to buy anything other than a Tesla. It would be like owning a horse in 3 years.’


More articles of interest

What are the steps for an Exchange certificate renewal?

An expired Exchange 2010 certificate is one of those issues that catches everyone’s attention. Check and replace certificates with these basic commands.

How does Azure Update Management handle patching?

Microsoft built Azure Update Management for administrators who require a centralized tool to automate patches for systems both on premises and in the cloud.

Consider VDI alternatives to major VDI vendors

VDI options from smaller vendors can help organizations simplify and save money on implementation. Here are three cost-saving VDI alternatives to major vendors.

Open source MDM offers flexibility, with challenges

Determine whether the open source route is best when it comes to managing mobile devices. To start, weigh the pros and cons, and then evaluate the market.


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Got feedback about anything in this issue of WServerNews? Email us at [email protected]

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