In this issue:
Get ready to celebrate! Ask Our Readers (new): Windows 11 update mess! Ask Our Readers (answered): Best RMM solution for a small MSP? Reflections on add-on licensing. Melting datacenters, severed Internet cables. More Windows printing problems. Simulated Phishing and Awareness Training (HOT). Tool for migrating user profiles. Switching to Proton Mail. IT Bookshelf: Evidence-Based Cybersecurity. Factoid: Droning on. What COBOL programmers like to eat. Plus lots more — read it all, read it here on WServerNews!
Digging into our mailbag this week we find Dean Baird sharing these thoughts on the subject of certifications:
I found the comments by Bill Zilinek regarding his career in desktop support and views on certification very interesting (probably because I identify with what he has done and the irrelevancy that some certifications have to the job)! I have been retired for many years now but my exposure to programming in college (remember punch cards?) was back in the 1960’s! I got into desktop computers when they were in their infancy and I developed my skills in the field by self-teaching and much investment on my own. I also spent many years doing end user desktop support. I never was “certified” via any formal means so I don’t have any fading, crumbling paper certificates acknowledging that I passed any certification tests. My college degree was in business administration with a major in accounting….my long career in computer support didn’t use much of my accounting education! I am also a US Army veteran having served in the early 1960’s during the Vietnam fiasco. I look at someone with a long list of certifications much the same way as I look at a military officer with a chest full of ribbons…questioning whether they could even tell you what all of the ribbons stand for or why they have them. I respect a person for their ability to pass certification tests but how many of the certifications apply in the “real world” except in very specialized situations. Sometimes it is what we learn “on the job” that keeps the place running more than a piece of paper on the wall. Certifications certainly have their place and are essential for many positions just as doctors need to pass tests for specialties. After all none of us would want a foot doctor performing heart surgery nor do we want a plumber running the computer center! My wife worked for many years at a university and there were many PhD’s as faculty. Her description for PhD was “piled high and deep”. That also may be an appropriate description for a long list of certifications when the IT field has, and continues to, change extremely rapidly.
We also received the following email from longtime reader Paul Cuthbert who lives in Melbourne, Australia and who shares his perspective concerning Cisco router vulnerabilities which we talked about two weeks ago:
Over many years in the industry I have undertaken a huge range of upgrades for good and sometimes bad reasons. The latter include takeovers and discontinued product lines, and greedy vendors who stop supporting products to force me to make further purchases. Of course new hardware is sometimes necessary to enable new functionality, but in so many cases these upgrades happen simply to facilitate more sales. I think the key point in the Cisco router conversation that is being missed to date is the fact that Cisco wrote poor code. It’s not like a mechanical device where they can blame “normal wear and tear” and say it’s the user’s fault. This one is down to incorrect programming that has allowed an attacker to do things that should not be possible. If the router code was correctly designed then the security vulnerability would not be present so no patch would be needed. It’s not the fault of the purchaser, so given Cisco got it wrong in the first place they should be obliged to fix it and not just opt out when it suits them. Yes I understand we can’t expect more functionality to be added, but they have a responsibility to fix inherent code bugs while the product is still widely used, regardless of their self-proclaimed EOL. That is determined by the market not the supplier despite their attempts to make it appear so.
Dean has been a subscriber to our newsletter since the days when it was called W2Knews. Which reminds me to make an ANNOUNCEMENT that the 25th birthday of our newsletter will be coming up soon, so get ready to CELEBRATE!
Got comments about anything in this issue?
Email us! We love hearing from our readers!
Ask Our Readers (new question): Windows 11 update mess!
The following was sent to us by Sam Garcia from Washington, DC:
Manager of automotive shop got to work. Computer said to restart to finish updates. She did and EVERYTHING was erased, I mean programs, documents, etc. Is this now the norm for W11? Thanks to the external backup, the loss of data was minimal. This is the second time that this erasure happens after an update from W11. Any suggestions on how to avoid this in the future?
I asked Sam for some more info about the setup and steps taken to troubleshoot and he replied:
After restoring the backed up image, W11 works fine. Lost the printer for a few minutes and had to reinstall it along with the external speakers. The set up is a workgroup of 6 computers, one is the data base and it is ok. There were no error messages or logs at all. Really unusual but second computer that has had this event. Even the anti virus ( MCFee) had to be reinstalled!!! The computers are Dell AIO and newer than 2 years old!
Do any readers have any ideas why this might have occurred and how to prevent it from happening again? Email us!
Ask Our Readers (a reader responds): Best RMM solution for a small MSP?
Last week a reader who runs a small Managed Services Provider (MSP) and who prefers to remain anonymous sent us the following request concerning Remote Monitoring & Management (RMM) solutions:
My little MSP is a Connectwise house. We use Manage for our ticketing, CRM and invoicing. Whilst I’m sure we’re only using a small percentage of its features, we’re happy with the job it does. Our RMM tool is Automate, also from Connectwise. This, we aren’t so happy with with, especially in the last few months. The most critical problem is reporting – for all our managed backup customers we send them a report at the beginning of each month for the success/failures of their offsite backups for the previous month. In November an update to Automate somehow broke the link between Automate’s reporting engine and the Shadow Protect reporting tool that keeps track of the data. End result is these reports come out with titles, explanations but no data. As you can imagine most customers interpret this as the backups not working – something I have to constantly assure them isn’t true because it’s part of our morning routine to check the backup success list. Multiple calls to CW support, raising it with the sales people, tech managers, even the CEO has resulted in absolutely nothing. Nobody has been able to get the reports to run as they used to. It’s now been more than six months and I’m over chasing CW. I consider these reports mission critical – some of our government clients REQUIRE them for their auditors. So now I’m on the lookout for another RMM. The CW changes to the licensing of Automate “add ins” are confusing and nobody has been able to explain what’s included and what isn’t. I think it’s time it was ditched. I’d be interested to hear what RMMs your other MSP readers use, their pros and cons. Most importantly, if you were to be buying again right now, would you select the same one?
Jeanne Lisse from Madison , Wisconsin USA offered this suggestion:
We LOVE Atera. Tried a few other platforms before finding them many years ago. Several levels of monthly service options, so you pay for the things you need for your business. The fee structure is charged by the tech, and not the seat, which is unique and works well as one grows their MSP base of clients. Great support and they truly listen to their MSPs.
If any other readers have suggestions concerning the above please email us.
Got questions? Ask our readers!
WServerNews goes out each week to almost 200,000 IT pro subscribers worldwide! That’s a lot of expertise to tap into. Do you need help with some technical problem or are looking for expert advice on something IT-related? You can Ask Our Readers for help by emailing us your problem or question. Do it today!
Just a short editorial from me this week as we’re getting ready to take a short holiday break for a couple of weeks. But you’ll still be receiving WServerNews in your inbox each week while Ingrid and I are OOF as we’ve put together a couple of Special Edition newsletters for you to enjoy. And keep sending us email about anything in the newsletter, we’ll catch up on everything once we’re back in our offices. Meanwhile, here’s something to chew on while we’re OOF…
We live in Winnipeg, Canada and it gets pretty darn cold here in the wintertime! That’s why I love the heated seats in my old BMW. And it’s also why I was shocked—SHOCKED—when I recently read the following article:
BMW starts selling heated seat subscriptions for $18 a month (The Verge)
So it’s come to this, has it? As an IT professional we already have to deal with add-on licenses for software platforms from Microsoft, VMware and other vendors. But for comfortably driving my car?
This just highlights the madness of how software is in everything these days, how everything is controlled by code. And if everything is online as well then vendors control everything, you own and control nothing. Add-on licensing like this give vendors tremendous leverage over us who use their products. In my thinking this represents an even greater threat to consumer rights than the battle over right-to-repair happening in various industries in different jurisdictions.
Of course this kind of thing has been been happening for a long time in a wide range of industries, but it’s not too late for some serious blowback to begin happening. I for one love my old BMW with its wimpy computer that gives me, not BMW, control over the car’s functions. I also prefer *owning* software instead of renting it. Because I find a few one-time purchases easier to budget than a bunch of monthly or annual subscriptions whose terms can be changed without warning by the vendor.
Where will it all end? Will I need to pay extra each month if I want my intelligent fridge to make more than 5kg of ice cubes each month? To have my self-cleaning oven clean itself properly? To have our security cameras capture video in 60 frames per second instead of only 30? Will subscription-based software make all of us poor slaves to technology oligarchs? Will any of us truly own *anything* in this fast-approaching dystopian future?
OK maybe I’m going a bit overboard here and am just in need of a holiday. But what do you think about all this?
Anyways, enjoy this week’s issue of WServerNews.
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. And for more tech news coverage see the News section of our TechGenix website.
We don’t know about you our readers but in our opinion here in Canada we’re already in the midst of a recession. And it’ll probably be one that is long and deep—won’t that be nice? After all, tech industry giants like Alphabet, Amazon and Apple are already bracing for the coming recession (TechGenix) and if you can’t trust those three companies, who can you trust?
Wait a minute—what did I say there?
Anyways, let’s look into some other news that’s happening in our industry. First comes news on the datacenter front that Google and Oracle data centers are melting in the UK heat wave (Protocol). Now I’ve heard of watering the foundation around your house to prevent sinkage and cracking during a dry spell, but using hosepipes on roofs to keep data centers cool sounds more like a hack to me than a mitigation strategy (DataCenter Knowledge).
Then there’s the news that critical flaws in GPS tracker enable “disastrous” and “life-threatening” hacks (Ars Technica). Using unencrypted HTTP communications in any system or device nowadays is simply unacceptable from a security and privacy standpoint.
Phishing attempts and ransomware attacks continue to become more sophisticated and effective. KnowBe4 has a couple of scary articles about this where they describe a ransomware attack disguised as a copyright claim email and a phishing kit that imitates PayPal.
A number of initiatives are being put forward to counter the growing cyberthreat landscape. For example the US Department of Labor has announced the promotion of cybersecurity apprenticeships (TechGenix). And (ISC)2 is launching free scheme to get 100,000 UK citizens into cyber security (ITPro). We’re sure other countries have similar initiatives planned or underway.
Finally in case you haven’t heard about about it, several key Internet cables near Paris were physically severed causing outages for many residents (Wired). The perpetrators and their motives are still unknown—any ideas?
We mentioned last week how Microsoft waffled over blocking VMA macros in their Office platform. Günter Born has a take on this that brings some clarity on the matter.
BetaNews confirms that recent update KB5014666 has been causing printing problems in Windows, specifically for USB-connected print devices.
And finally Microsoft has taken a reflective look back at this past year’s innovations in their Windows 365 platform (Windows IT Pro Blog).
More Windows news when we return from our holiday break.
Upcoming webcasts, events and conferences
Got an event, conference or webcast you want announced in our newsletter? Email us!
***HOT!*** Simulated Phishing and Awareness Training – Live demo by KnowBe4 on Aug 3 – Register now!
Open Source Summit Latin America – Virtual Event on August 23-24 – Register
VMware Explore is returning as an in-person event – Aug 29 to Sept 1 in San Francisco, California – Save your seat!
Mastering Azure Infrastructure – Sept 15-16 in Köln, Germany – More info
Also be sure to check out the following event listings:
- Redmond Channel Partner’s calendar of upcoming Microsoft conferences for partners, IT pros and developers.
- TechRepublic’s 2022 tech conferences and events to add to your calendar.
Meet the Editors!
MITCH TULLOCH is Senior Editor of WServerNews 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 WServerNews. 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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IT 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 ForensiT Profile Migration Wizard a workstation migration tool that can migrate your current user profile to your new user account while enabling you to keep all your existing data and settings.
Here are some MORE TOOLS our IT pro colleagues have recently recommended:
- Infobright DB from IgniteTech lets you store and analyze large volumes of big data, and perform interactive and complex queries for better and faster business decisions.
- Beyond Compare from Scooter Software is a Robocopy alternative that lets you quickly and easily compare files and folders using simple, powerful commands that can focus on the differences you’re interested in while ignoring those you’re not interested in.
- CPU Stress Test Online from CPU Expert is a free processor performance test that enables you to check online how your processor responds under heavy load.
Tips and Tutorials
Got tips or tutorials you’d like to recommend for our readers? Email us!
Here are five tips that some of our power users might find useful:
How To Tell If a Ransomware Message Is Real or Fake (ITPro Today)
How to Remove File Type Association Windows 10 Easily (Partition Wizard)
How to test your RAM with Windows Memory Diagnostic (Tech Republic)
Blocking Unwanted Calls and Text Messages in Signal App (Alexander’s Blog)
Got a freebie you want to offer our readers? You can reach almost 200,000 IT pros worldwide with our newsletter—email us!
Check out this blog post if you need to send files to someone by way of a service that’s both free and secure:
Free Services to Send Files End-To-End Encrypted (Helge Klein)
Are you a student at an accredited educational institution and want to learn how to build in the cloud using Azure? Check out the following:
Host your website on Azure Static Web Apps for free (Educator Developer Blog)
IT Bookshelf: Evidence-Based Cybersecurity
Evidence-Based Cybersecurity: Foundations, Research, and Practice (CRC Press, 2022) is a fascinating book that raises some important but uncomfortable questions. Say for example your company has spent X dollars buying Y products to enable your IT staff to safeguard corporate information systems and data from cyberattacks. Questions: How can you determine the effectiveness of your investment? Are you able to quantify the degree of reduction in risk to your business a result of implementing your cybersecurity program? What scientific evidence do you have that the products and services you’ve purchased are the best ones available in the marketplace to meet your organization’s needs?
I can see your head of cybersecurity squirming in his or her chair as these questions are being asked. These kinds of questions however are important—and necessary—to ask about any kind of business or business process. Without real, concrete evidence of the efficacy of your business decisions—including decisions relating to IT procurement and operations—you open your business up to wasting precious and limited resources with the possibility of incurring business loss or even failure down the road.
This book aims to apply an evidence-based approach to cybersecurity. Evidence-based methodologies, which are based largely on the social and behavioral sciences, have been successful in many cases in other discipline areas such as policing, education and health care. So it would seem logical to apply such a scientific methodology to the field of IT security, and that in essence is what the authors seem to be attempting to do by proposing a framework and providing supporting research and case studies regarding its viability. I would say that they have largely succeeded in this aim, with the caveat that real-world success in this area will require extensive academic research and experimentation—which of course takes time and costs money. Meanwhile new threats appear each day on the cyber landscape, and no matter how much money governments, academia and corporations throw at the problem it’s likely only going to get worse.
This doesn’t mean however that developing an evidence-based paradigm for cybersecurity is a futile effort. What perhaps is needed, and I’m not sure if the authors explicitly clued into this (since I’m still reading the book) is investment of time and money for research that targets certain specific high-risk and/or low-hanging fruit in the cyber vulnerability landscape. In my thinking such an approach could result in significant gains in safeguarding IT systems and data. For example, by scientifically researching the behavior patterns and social milieu of malicious actors who launch ransomware attacks, it might be possible to reduce the incidence of such attacks more effectively than by focusing on training users not to open attachments from unknown senders and so on. For this reason I’m all for what the authors are attempting to do. I just think it’ll be difficult unless the evidence-based paradigm is narrowly targeted where it can have hope of significant gains.
The book isn’t light reading but it’s well-written and gives one a lot to think about. Cybersecurity experts and those in IT management who are responsible for corporate cybersec policy would do well to read it. So would vendors who create and sell cybersec products and services, and there are many of them, more every week it seems. You can buy this book on Amazon.
Factoid: Droning on
We’ll catch up with responses to our Factoids when we’re back from holidays. In the meantime here is this week’s factoid:
Fact: You can capture some stunning aerial footage with photography drone (ZDNet)
Question: Do any of our newsletter readers have drones? What do you use them for?
Email us your answer and we’ll include it in our next issue!
Fun videos from Flixxy
Do any of our readers enjoy mountain-biking? If so you may enjoy these videos!
Extreme Mountain-Biking in Peru – Peruvian national champion mountain bike rider Alejandro Paz takes his helmet-cam for a fast ride down a rocky mountain trail.
Freeride Mountain Biker Andrei Lacondeguy – Freeride mountain biker Andreu Lacondeguy from Barcelona, Spain impresses the spectators and judges at Red Bull Rampage 2018.
Racing Drone Follows Urban Mountain Biker – Watch a racing drone follow Tomas Slavik at the Red Bull Valparaíso Cerro Abajo 2022 Urban Mountain Bike race.
Worlds Biggest Mountain Bike Jumps – Nico Vink pushes the limits of freeride mountain biking at the Darkfest 2020 in Stellenbosch, South Africa.
The odd, the stupid and the remarkable. Good for your mental health.
QBot phishing uses Windows Calculator sideloading to infect devices (BleepingComputer)
[Good thing I still own an abacus!]
Woodpeckers don’t have built-in shock absorbers to protect their brain (NewScientist)
[No wonder they’re such dumb birds.]
Google Engineers Lift The Lid On Carbon – A Hopeful Successor To C++ (Phoronix)
[How wonderful, just what we need—another programming language.]
100 million-year-old footprints of world’s biggest dinosaur species found at restaurant in China (Phys.org)
[Probably from a COBOL programmer who ordered take-out.]
Hey reader! Got an amazing or weird or funny link you’d like to suggest for this section of our newsletter? Email us! But please make sure that it’s G-rated as in “Gee whiz”, “Golly!”, “Good grief!”, “Gaaahh!!” and so on. Thanks!
Please tell others about WServerNews!
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