Deploy The MS12-020 Security Fix Or Face The Consequences

Security experts are urging people to deploy MS12-020, a security hotfix that was released this week. 

This security update resolves two privately reported vulnerabilities in the Remote Desktop Protocol. The more severe of these vulnerabilities could allow remote code execution if an attacker sends a sequence of specially crafted RDP packets to an affected system.

This is the sort of vulnerability that will be seized upon very quickly by hackers because RDP is typically enabled on high value assets – servers.  Deploy or be shamed like those who are still being hammered by Conficker.  In my opinion, it is professional negligence not to get patched for something like this.  BTW, I’ve read that people expect scripted attacks for this vulnerability within 30 days.  You have been warned!

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My Official Windows 7 Theme Pack – Raptors

A few weeks ago, a friend (Tim Bolton) pinged me to let me know that Microsoft had started inviting members of the community to submit photos for Windows 7 wallpapers.  And if you were lucky enough, all of your submissions could be used as a theme.  I spent a few hours selecting and preparing some photos.

A few days later I got an email to let me know that over a thousand people had entered photos and I was “the very first person” contacted with an acceptance.  Woohoo!

Click to download theme

Jennifer Shepherd posted more details on the program and the other lucky entrants on Thursday on the Windows Experience blog.

My theme is available to download.  In it you’ll find pictures of various birds of prey: Merlin, Barn Owl, Peregrine Falcon, Osprey (taking a trout), Short-Eared Owl, Red Kite, Little Owl, and a Long-Eared Owl.

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Carbonite on my Windows Home Server

When I set up my Windows Home Server I configure the normal Windows Server Backup task to backup the server folders to a USB disk.  That’s nice for normal backup/recovery.  But that doesn’t protect my data (documents, books, whitepapers, and thousands of photos) against fire and theft.  Sure, I could probably swap disks and store them offsite.  But I know how poor my discipline with doing that in the past was.  I need something automated for off-site backup.

So I decided to try Carbonite.  It’s one of the few online personal backup solutions that will work on WHS.  There’s a 15 day free trial so I signed up for that, and I added the offer code from the TWiT Security Now podcast – that gives you an extra 2 months free in addition to your 12 month subscription (unlimited storage for less than $60/year!!!!).

The install was easy.  The configuration wizard walks you through the few steps.  You’re warned that files like video will not be backed up.  I’m OK with that – I have no personal/holiday videos because I’m a still photo man.  Targeting a folder is easy – use Windows Explorer, right-click, and select the add to backup option.  I had two schedule choices: constantly backup changes or schedule.  I went for the first option.

OK, the flaw: I have 20GB per month limit and I’m on ADSL.  It’s going to take a very long time to get all of my photo collection backing up to the cloud.  I’ve been incrementally adding folders, starting with My Documents, and then I added some of my older photo folders to test.  All worked well.  I’ll continue testing, and then decided next week if I’ll pay for the service.

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Microsoft’s First Official View of Windows 8

I guess they had to do it because of the amount of leaks; Microsoft published a video showing us the new (codename) “Metro” UI for Windows 8.  This will be the primary way to use Windows 8 on touch enabled devices, such as the ARM enabled tablet PC.  I have to say, based on this (and this is probably too early to be 100% sure), Microsoft may have hit a grand slam.

This is the first of many promised videos.  I can’t wait for more.  Note the comment about multi-tasking Smile

This video appears to have gone viral.

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European Union Windows Browser Choice

KB976002 describes what operating systems will receive a choice of Internet browser and how this process will work.  This will bring Microsoft into compliance with the much discussed demands of the European Union on this subject.  Affected OS’s are:

  • Windows XP Service Pack 2 and Windows XP Service Pack 3
  • All editions of Windows Vista
  • All editions of Windows 7
  • Future versions of the Windows client operating system that are released within the duration of the agreement with the European Commission

Some more information on the process can be found on Stealth Puppy.  I’ve not seen the update yet but it appears to be delivered by Windows Update.  If you don’t have Windows Update enabled then I guess you don’t get a choice.

If you are running tightly controlled corporate PC’s then you’ll be glad to hear that you can prevent the update from being deployed via WSUS/ConfigMgr/etc.  You can also use the registry, according to KB2019411 (and therefore group policy) to prevent the update from executing:

  • Key: HKLMSoftwareBrowserChoice
  • Value: Enable (REG_DWORD)
  • Possible settings: Enabled = 1, Disabled = 0

MS Merged Windows Server & Azure Divisions

Microsoft has announced that the Windows Server and Tools division will merge with Azure online services.  This means that future developments can be integrated.  We’ve already heard that VMM v.Next will allow you to migrate VM’s from your Hyper-V private could up to Azure.  And with bolt-ons we know that we can integrate an internal Active Directory with things like Exchange Hosted Services and BPOS.  It looks to me like MS will make this a more seamless approach, probably leveraging Active Directory Certificate Services.

Interesting times ahead!

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