WServerNews: Slippery slope

In this issue:

Editor’s Corner – Cogent, Lumen, root CAs and MITM attacks. This Week in IT – chip and tech gadget fab problems. Windows news. Window Server news. Microsoft 365 Login: Troubleshooting User Sign-In Problems. Upcoming SANS webcast and other events. Wazuh. Oracle on Azure IaaS. Freebies!! (NEW SECTION!) Russian bans Facebook, Instagram, Twitter – economy quickly recovers. And Finally. Plus lots more — read it all, read it here on WServerNews!  


Watch it, be careful—especially when it comes to managing routing on the Internet! Photo by Odd Fellow on Unsplash

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Editor’s Corner

A few days ago I received a notification email from Krebs on Security that a new article had been posted on their site. The email included the following blurb summarizing the article:

“Lumen Technologies, an American company that operates one of the largest Internet backbones and carries a significant percentage of the world’s Internet traffic, said today it will stop routing traffic for organizations based in Russia. Lumen’s decision comes just days after a similar exit by backbone provider Cogent, and amid a news media crackdown in Russia that has already left millions of Russians in the dark about what is really going on with their president’s war in Ukraine.”

You can read the full article here (Krebs on Security).

When I read this, I thought “Yikes!” No, this is not good, not good at all. Cutting Russia off from parts of the Internet in any form or fashion is the first step on a very slippery slope. Because it’ll lead to the eventual fragment of the Internet into disconnected segments based on ideology, nationality, and other concerns. It’ll be the death of the free and open Internet—not that this already hasn’t happened in certain countries like China with its Great Firewall.

Digging a bit deeper into the earlier Cogent story made me rethink a bit what might be happening. For example, Cogent’s actions may have been motivated more by concern about their not getting paid for the services they provide in Russia rather than upon any security or ethical concerns with regard to what’s happening in the Ukraine. By no longer peering with Rostelecom, which isn’t a Tier 1 provider, Cogent could reduce their financial risk going forward since with the international banking sanctions now in place they probably wouldn’t be able to receive payment for the services they provide. And if they were able to continue receiving payment from Rostelecom, accepting such payment could run them afoul of Western governments who have put sanctions in place barring companies from doing business with entities in Russia. On the other hand, what will probably be more painful on the Russian side than disconnection is the potential for reclamation of IP address space by Cogent. And as for Lumen, the public-facing reason for their own action is that “We decided to disconnect the network due to increased security risk inside Russia.” This may or may not be the whole story of course. Cloudflare and Akamai have fortunately declined to follow such steps according to ZDNet.

Ensuring reliable communications between hostile parties is often an important key in ending hostilities between them. Cutting off Russia from the Internet in any shape or fashion will probably be counterproductive and result in similar actions on Russian side—and possibly on the side of nations who sympathize with Russia’s stance on the Ukrainian situation. And as Russia’s recent steps to set up its own trusted root CA to enable Russian websites to renew their TLS certificates whose renewal was being impeded by Western sanctions illustrates, the potential for man-in-the-middle attacks against HTTPs traffic increases which can compromise users even outside Russia—see this article on BleepingComputer and this bug report on Bugzilla which concerns this issue for the Firefox browser.

To clarify, what appears to be occurring here is that the certificates of Russian websites are expiring due to Western sanctions, and existing CAs are refusing to renew these certificates. So Russia creates its own root CA for renewing certificates of websites in its country. It then needs to install its root CA certificate in web browsers of Russian users. To do this it might block downloads of Chrome or Firefox from outside its country and distribute its own version of these browsers with its root CA added to them. These “modified” versions of popular browsers then leak out (or get leaked out) into the wild outside Russia where they spread and present a security vulnerability for users of these browsers unless they delete the Russian root CA from the certificate store of their browser.

Recall that Mozilla Firefox users its own certificate store instead of leveraging root CA’s trusted by the underlying operating system of the computer that the browser is running on. AFAIK the Chrome browser relies on the root CA store of the underlying operating system though it also has its own root CA revocation program. But even if all browsers did utilize the Windows root cert store for HTTPS cert validation, if temperatures continue to rise and Russia decides to legalize software copyright violations (The Register) and ends up distributing its own customized version of Microsoft Windows that includes their root CA certificate in the Windows certificate store, the result could eventually be a cybersecurity nightmare for the whole world.

Having said all that, it’s not all bad news these days. Because Spring has almost arrived and it’s +2 Celsius here in Winnipeg and the mountains of snow everywhere have begun slowly melting away. So there’s still hope in the world—at least hope for nice weather finally coming.

Take care and enjoy the rest of this week’s newsletter. And email me if you have any thoughts or comments about any of this.



This Week in IT

A compendium of recent IT industry news compiled by Your Editors. Feel free to email us if you find a news item you think our newsletter readers might be interested in. Tectonic shifts appear to be underway in the hardware world as economies and supply chains are rebalancing due to the twin stresses of the continuing COVID pandemic (at least in China) and the Ukraine situation. Intel has announced that they plan to invest 88 billion dollars to build new chip fabs (fabrication facilities) in Germany and other European countries (CNET). With about 80 percent of chipmaking happening presently in Asian countries, this rebalancing if it occurs would be significant. But don’t hold your breath. Foxconn, the Taiwan-based company that manufactures iPhones and other Apple devices is apparently worried about the future too as it’s talking with Saudi Arabia about building a new 9 billion dollar facility there (9to5 Mac). Makes sense I guess for Apple to further hedge its bets like this given the way the current geopolitical situation has been evolving—and also because of how the COVID outbreak in mainland China has led to lockdown in Shenzhen (Yahoo Finance). Expect what’s happening in China’s “silicon valley” to have further ramifications on global supply chains for a wide array of tech companies’ products (Tom’s Hardware). And then there’s the neon situation:


No, I said neon, stupid, not Neo. Sigh, just another example I guess of the dismal state of STEM education here in Canada. Oops, sorry if you’re reading this in Germany where science and technology are still valued as a career path—Deutschland rocks J Seriously, things are going to get bad—or at least very expensive—in the high-tech products and components world very soon. Partly due to rising prices due to scarcities and supply problems, partly because of inevitable hoarding and price scalping which is sure to occur, and partly because most of us are totally addicted to our smartphones. But there’s probably a business opportunity there for those who are savvy (South China Morning Post). Gotta love being an entrepreneur.

Windows news

The Register reports that Dell is not going to include Microsoft’s new Pluton technology in most of the PCs it sells. Microsoft touted Pluton back in November 2020 as the security chip designed for the future of Windows PCs but PC makers have been slow to adopt it. Microsoft’s new Windows 11 operating system only supports installation on devices that either have a TPM 2.0 chip or a Microsoft Pluton security chip. And Pluton is already being used in Microsoft’s Azure Sphere application platform. And this is not strictly a Windows matter but it’s good to finally hear that Microsoft and Google are going to work towards resolving compatibility issues between their web browser platforms (OnMSFT). Developers in particular will be happy about this if the two players follow through on their promises, while ordinary users of Windows PCs will also benefit from a more uniform and reliable web browsing experience.

Windows Server news

On the Windows Server side of things, it’s unfortunate that the January 2022 updates had a devastating effect on Exchange servers by causing domain controllers to constantly reboot. And all your Windows Server aficionados out there will probably be excited to learn that the beloved Microsoft Windows Server Blog has finally come back to life after four months of being eerily quiet. Read the latest post which is called Get the most out of Windows Server with these 5 best practices.

Tip of the Week

From our own Brien Posey here at TechGenix comes the following helpful article: Microsoft 365 Login: Troubleshooting User Sign-In Problems (TechGenix)

Upcoming webcasts, events and conferences

Got an event, conference or webcast you want announced in our newsletter? Email us!

SANS Protects: File Storage – This SANS webcast on March 23rd will examine current, prevalent threats to file storage solutions, how adversaries abuse them, and steps your organization can take to mitigate these threats. Login to register or join the Community if you’re not already a member.

Extend to the Cloud with Azure VMware Solution – Microsoft digital event on March 23rd, register here.

Addressing Today’s Data Center Construction Challenges with Modular Infrastructure – Free webinar from DataCenter Knowledge on Tuesday April 19th, register here.

Integrate 2022: The World’s Largest Microsoft Integration Tech Conference – June 13 – 15, a hybrid event in London and remote. Sponsored by Kovai, more info here.


Also be sure to check out Redmond Channel Partner’s calendar of upcoming Microsoft conferences for partners, IT pros and developers!

Got comments about anything in this issue?

Email us! We love hearing from our readers!

Meet the Editors!

MITCH TULLOCH is Senior Editor of both WServerNews and FitITproNews and is a widely recognized expert on Windows Server and cloud technologies. He has written more than a thousand articles and has authored or been series editor for over 50 books for Microsoft Press and other publishers. Mitch has also been a twelve-time recipient of the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award in the technical category of Cloud and Datacenter Management. He currently runs an IT content development business in Winnipeg, Canada that produces books, ebooks, whitepapers, case studies, courseware, documentation, newsletters and articles for various companies.  

INGRID TULLOCH is Associate Editor of both WServerNews and FitITproNews. She was co-author of the Microsoft Encyclopedia of Networking from Microsoft Press and collaborated on developing university-level courses in Information Security Management for a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) program. Ingrid also manages Research and Development for the IT content development business she runs together with Mitch.

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The Workshop – tools, whitepapers and more

Got a product or solution or some other resource you’d like to tell our readers about? Email us!

Our TOOL OF THE WEEK is Wazuh a free, open source and enterprise-ready security monitoring solution for threat detection, integrity monitoring, incident response and compliance. Read more about it in The Hacker News.

 Be sure also to check out some of the product reviews on TechGenix for more terrific tools!

Want to build your business? Here are some of software tools from IgniteTech that can help grow your business to the next level:

·         Acorn from IgniteTech is activity-based costing and profit management software that enables you to obtain cost-to-serve customer insights for direct and indirect costs, and precisely attribute against products, customers, regions, business units and facilities.

·         Computron from IgniteTech efficiently and securely manages accounting and business management processes while meeting shifting regulatory demands.

·         Everest from IgniteTech lets you integrate and automate routine business functions, giving managers more time to concentrate on strategic areas.

Find out also about IgniteTech Unlimited—one subscription, unlimited solutions.

New White Paper- Recommended Practices for Oracle on Azure IaaS (Data Architecture Blog)

Freebies!! (NEW SECTION!)

Got a freebie you want to offer our readers? You can reach almost 200,000 IT pros worldwide with our newsletter—email us!

Securing Your Organization from Threats for Dummies- New ebook! (VMware Security Blog)

Get FREE posters and cheat sheets from SANS the most trusted source for information security training, certification and research. These popular cybersecurity resources are available for areas such as:

·         Digital Forensics & Incident Response

·         Penetration Testing

·         Industrial Control Systems

·         Cloud Security

·         Cybersecurity Leadership

·         Cyber Defense

You can download them here. (Requires joining SANS, free membership)

IT Bookshelf

This section will return as soon as we receive more books from publishers for us to review.

Factoid: Russian bans Facebook, Instagram, Twitter – economy quickly recovers

Our previous factoid didn’t garner any responses so let’s move forward with this week’s factoid:

Fact: Russia bans Instagram, a week after blocking Facebook, Twitter (BleepingComputer)


Question: The part about the Russian economy quickly recovering as a result of the social media bans that the Russian Internet watchdog Roskomnadzo has imposed is obviously “fake news” and we just said this for “clickbait” to get you to read this Factoid so we could ask the following question: How does your organization deal with the tendency of employees wasting time browsing and posting on social media during work hours? Do you see this as an important issue? Do you block access to Facebook and other properties? Do you monitor what your users do on the Internet?

Email us your answer and we’ll include it in our next issue!

And Finally

The odd, the stupid and the remarkable. Enjoy. [EDITOR’s comments added inline.]

U.S. eliminates human controls requirement for fully automated vehicles (U.S.News)

[What could possibly go wrong?]

FreeDOS 1.3 Arrives, First Major Update Since 2016 (Tom’s Hardware)

[But I’ve thrown out all my floppy disks!]

PepsiCo’s Decision to Stop Selling Chips to Loblaws Symptomatic of Larger Problem in Food Industry (Retail Insider)

[Not sure though if rebalancing power between food manufacturers and grocers is going to have much benefit for us lowly chip-munching consumers.]

Dymo causes a stir by adding DRM to printer paper (ZDNet)

[As long as they don’t do it to toilet paper.]

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer gets candid about the company’s recent acquisitions (OnMSFT)

[We included this for all you Ballmer fans still out there. I miss Steve, he was fun.]

Please tell others about WServerNews!

We hope you enjoyed this issue of WServerNews! Feel free to send us feedback on any of the topics we’ve covered—we love hearing from our readers! And please tell others about WServerNews! It’s free and always will be free—and they can subscribe to it here. Thanks!!!

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