This week I had a need to set up a RADIUS server in my lab. I decided to use an on-premise version of Azure Multi-Factor Authentication Server. It literally took just 5 minutes to set up and I was then receiving One-Time-Passwords via SMS for a measly sum of $0.17 (AU) per authentication. This is a very simple, flexible and impressive solution. More info and step-by-step instructions here:
Reviewing Microsoft 10 over the last week, I am very happy with the approach that Microsoft are taking with their ‘Windows Update Delivery Optimization’. In short, this is peer-to-peer (P2P) sharing of Microsoft updates and Apps instead of content delivery directly from Microsoft servers. I like the concept behind this and I believe that this is an delivery method that we’ll start to see more of from other Internet-based software and service providers in the coming years.
The main concepts behind this are:
WUDO lets you get Windows updates and Windows Store apps from sources in addition to Microsoft.
Windows doesn’t download the entire file from one place. Instead, the download is broken down into smaller parts. Windows uses the fastest, most reliable download source for each part of the file.
WUDO creates a local cache, and stores files that it has downloaded in that cache for a short period of time. Depending on the settings, Windows then send parts of those files to other PCs on the local network or PCs on the Internet that are downloading the same files.
Delivery Optimization is turned on by default for all editions of Windows 10 (an opt-out scenario as opposed to opt-in), with the following differences:
Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows 10 Education: The PCs on your local network option is turned on by default.
All other editions of Windows 10: The PCs on your local network and PCs on the Internet option is turned on by default.
Users can turn this feature on and off, and can also set whether they can get and send updates to either just PCs on their local network or to PCs on the Internet as well.
There isn’t any detailed technical information available from Microsoft on how this works so one can only assume that it may be a larger implementation of Microsoft’s SCCM BranchCache concept.
As we all know, as of July 14 2015, Windows Server 2003 will no longer be a supported operating system. This means that customers using Windows Server 2003 will no longer receive new security updates, non-security updates, free or paid assisted support options or online technical content updates from Microsoft.
However, it isn’t that well publicised that on this same date, customers using System Center Endpoint Protection on Windows Server 2003 will stop receiving updates to antimalware definitions and the engine for Windows Server 2003.
As a result, the SCEP agent will stop functioning. Starting on July 14 2015, systems running Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 that have the System Center 2012 Endpoint Protection client installed will receive the following system tray notification:
This purpose of this post is to highlight another reason we need to keep Domain Controllers physically secure – in fact the principle here also applies to standard Windows Servers too.
My home test lab had been powered down for a few months and I’d forgotten my Domain Administrator password. I knew there was a method to log onto a Windows Server without a username and password back in Windows Server 2003 and I thought that surely this still wouldn’t work with Windows Server 2012 R2 – however to my horror it still did. Here is how I reset my Domain Administrator account password – scary stuff!
So I’d forgotten my Domain Administrator password. Time to attach the Windows Server 2012 R2 ISO to the VM.
Adjust the boot order to force booting from ISO first.
Restart the VM and boot to the DVD/ISO. Click Next on the first setup screen. On the following screen make sure you select “Repair your computer”.
Then click on “Troubleshoot” followed by “Command Prompt”
You will now be presented with a Command Prompt. Change your directory to c:\Windows\System32. Then rename the Utilman.exe executable by running the command “ren Utilman.exe Utilman.exe.old”. Then make a copy of cmd.exe named Utilman.exe using the command “copy cmd.exe Utilman.exe”. See below screenshot.
Close the command prompt and restart the machine, booting back into the regular Windows logon screen. Once the logon screen is presented, press the “Windows Key” and “U”. Much to your horror you will see a Command Prompt appear. If you check Task Manager, you will see that the Command Prompt (executable called Utilman.exe) is running in the SYSTEM context. Given that this is a Domain Controller, effectively this mean the commands run within the Command Prompt are executed with the Domain Admin permission level.
To reset the Domain Administrator account password, we simply need to run the “net user Administrator password” command.
You can now close the Command Prompt and log onto the domain with the Administrator account and the newly set password.
I have also seen this work with the Sticky Keys executable (sethc.exe) being replaced instead of Utilman.exe.
Once again this highlights why we need to keep our Domain Controllers physically secure – from this demo you can see that anyone with physical access to the server can have control over your entire Active Directory domain in a very short amount of time!
I was frustrated with the Tools Pane being displayed every time I opened Adobe Acrobat Reader DC. Surprisingly, there is no option/preference within the application to permanently turn this off. Here is a nice trick to get the Tools Pane to not be displayed at all:
Go to the install directory and head to the AcroApp\ENU subfolder, usually “C:\Program Files (x86)\Adobe\Acrobat Reader DC\Reader\AcroApp\ENU”.
Create a new subfolder, the name doesn’t matter – for example “Disabled”
Move the following 3 files from the “ENU” folder into the new “Disabled” folder: AppCenter_R.aapp, Home.aapp & Viewer.aapp
Open a Adobe Acrobat Reader and the Tool Pane is no more!
Microsoft have released a new tool to manage local Administrator account passwords for domain joined machines. The solution automatically creates and manages the password on each managed computer so that it is unique, randomly generated and securely stored in Active Directory. ACLs are then used to allow access to view the password.