News: Windows Server 2016 RTM. Now available on the MVLS portal!

Microsoft have overnight made Windows Server 2016 RTM to download from the MVLS portal. This is the final code, bar any last minute Windows Update patches.

After testing the Windows Server 2016 techincal preview, i think this is going to be a really exciting release (As a virtualization specialist, my particular favourite is the new Storage Spaces Direct feature!).

Storage Spaces Direct

Both the 180 day trial of Server 2016, and the final release of the free hypervisor, Hyper-V 2016 can be downloaded from Microsoft’s site.

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Windows Deployment: PXE booting between VLAN’s

If you’re looking to PXE boot between VLAN’s (ie. a vlan for servers and a vlan for clients), you’ll need to add a couple of extra options into your DHCP server settings.

Its an easy enough process, following these steps should get things working for you:

In Windows DHCP, expand your VLAN’s DHCP scope, and select scope options.

svr-nja-dhcp-scope-options

add option 66 – enter the FQDN of your deployment server.

add option 67 – enter \boot\x64\wdsnbp.com (or if you’re deploying 32bit images: boot\x86\wdsnbp.com). 

For reference you’ll find this file is in your deployment servers REMINST directory.

svr-nja-dhcp-for-pxe

When you boot up your client computer, it will now receive the correct tftp response and will be able PXE boot!

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Defeat Ransomware: Use Microsoft File Server Resource Manager (FSRM) – with a twist!

You may have seen some advice floating about on the internet, showing  you how to use Microsoft’s File Server Resource Manager (FSRM) to prevent Ransomware.

The problem with these articles is that they all involve maintaining a block list. You’ll find those block lists rarely keep up with new variants of Ransomware. So, in this article, i’m going to show you how to defeat ransomware – with a twist!

Lemons... good for lemonade. Not so good at beating Ransomware!

Lemons… good for lemonade. Not so good at beating Ransomware!

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Using a Raspberry Pi as a Squid proxy cache

I was looking to build *something* that would possibly benefit several customers that have slow or laggy internet access (ie 2mb broadband or satellite).

The solution needed to be cost effective and unobtrusive.

I did some research and decided to use Squid.

Squid (amongst other things) can cache web objects (such as images and executables), speeding up page load times and download times.

 

Next, I needed some hardware to run Squid on.

Squid can run on Linux and Windows computers, but i ruled out Windows as thats a paid licenced product, thus not cost effective.  I also didnt want to install Squid on a desktop computer, i’d either have to buy a new computer, or re-purpose an old computer – (which can be noisy and unsightly). Both options would also consume significant amounts of energy per year, again not very cost effective.

 

Enter the Raspberry Pi!

pi pic

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Education. Education. Education

No, I’m not referring to one of Labour’s winning manifesto policies of the 1997 UK general election, in this case, I’m talking about educating end users about ICT security.

What lead me to write this article was an interesting issue I recently came across. I say issue, it was more of a surprise. A pleasant one I may add…

Think before you click!

pointer

In a typical world, most computers users are click happy. See an advert… click, new message pops up on screen… click, new email comes through… click!

In the brief pauses between the clicking of clicks, the computer user spends very little time, if any, to review what is actually being clicked on…

So, it came as a surprise (after many months and years of what I thought was a seemingly fruitless effort in trying to educate people), out of the blue, one of our customers emailed me to notify me that they had received a suspicious email, and could I investigate…

Sure enough, not only had the suspicious email happily passed across no less than four different AV & Malware venders to reach the users mailbox, none of the 56 vendors from Virus Total detected an issue either!

Of course, being highly suspicious, I sent the sample to one of our AV providers, an hour later they responded stating the attachment was in fact infected with a brand new virus: Halifax_Reactivation.pdf – PDF/Phishing.Agent.AV trojan and would be added to the next signature, which rolled out a few hours later.

So in the end, rather than a fruitless effort to make users aware of the risks; in this case at least, education proved itself to be above all else, a vital first defence against infection and potentially prevented major damaged to the business (imagine if that virus happened to be a new breed of Cryptolocker!).

Oh, and of course, that particular user was publicly thanked for bringing the problem to our attention, followed up with information from our AV vender…

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Windows Deployment: Advanced Part 3 – Driver Injection

In this article, I’m going to show you how to maintain a driver library within MDT 2013 and create different task sequences for each model of laptop.

It’s important to separate your drivers out to avoid conflicts and reliability issues with the workstations that you deploy the images to (although if your only ever deploying the same manufacturer and hardware class you’re unlikely to see an issue).

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