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Sunbelt W2Knews™ Electronic Newsletter
The secret of those "who always seem to know" - Over 500,000 Readers!
Thu, Aug 2, 2001 (Vol. 6, #58 - Issue #293)
Dramatic Drop In MCSE's
  This issue of W2Knews™ contains:
    • Dramatic Drop In MCSE's
    • Tool To Switch Between Multiple Network Configs
    • Protests Against New MS-Licensing
    • Microsoft Security Rollup Q299444 Has Problems
    • Code Red Turns Out To Be Dud
    • WinXP Release Candidate 2 Is Here
    • Possible New Laws: Thou Shalt Patch
    • UltraBac Real Life Advantage: Disk-to-Disk Backup
  5. W2Knews 'FAVE' LINKS
    • This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
    • MCSE Windows 2000 Core Exams
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Dramatic Drop In MCSE's

In a move that I think is one of the more ill-advised MS is making, more than half of all MCSE's are going to lose their certifications by the end of this year. I'm sure most of you know why: MS requires everyone that has passed the NT exams to retake the new W2K ones.

It looks like that a lot of companies that rely on MCSEs to keep their systems up and running will have to rethink their formal certification requirements. Many of the people they hired as MCSEs will not be having that cert by next year. More over, when hiring new techies, requiring an MCSE might stop them dead in their tracks if they want IT projects actually get done.

Microsoft's director of certification skills and assessment (Anne Marie McSweeney) said at the moment there are 400,000+ MCSEs. That is the total for the whole planet. And she added that only 130,000 have upgraded to W2K certification. That means the writing is on the wall if only 33% have actually made the W2K-grade. MS could lose 60% of their MCSEs by year-end unless a whole wave of people starts cramming hard right now and try to recertify.

This of course could happen, but these exams are a lot harder. I think MS is counting a bit too much on people passing the W2K exams. A lot of MCSEs are ticked off with MS, and went to Linux, Cisco and other certifications. It's an error to retire the NT version of the track. What they -should- do, is at LEAST grandfather all the NT-MCSE's into their new "MCSA" certification. This is the code name (Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator) I gave to their new third Cert that sits in between MCP and MCSE-W2K and is expected later this year. That would somewhat soothe the upset that MS has created.

Warm regards,

Stu Sjouwerman (email me with feedback: [email protected])

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Tool To Switch Between Multiple Network Configs

I was sent the following email by John Vins. It was such a good recommendation that I decided to copy it in its entirety for all of you in the Tech Briefing. Here goes!

"Stu, Just a quick note regarding the "Switching Between Multiple W2K Network Configurations" blurb from your 7/8/2001 W2Knews. I'd like to point out a very useful product that I've been using for the past couple of years that makes changing network configurations almost effortless. It not only handles site configurations for IP addresses and domains, including both static IP and DHCP, WINS, and DNS, but also printers, web settings, drive mappings, you name it, it handles it.

It's a shareware application called NetSwitcher, and it only costs $9.00. It is well worth 5 times that much due to the amount of time it will save you. I use daily it to reconfigure my Win2K laptop between my different customer sites, and also use it to configure between home and office. I keep telling the developer, Joe Hance that he should be charging more for it (which I would gladly pay), but he refuses to raise the price.

Rather than me telling you more about NetSwitcher, check out netswitcher, download the trialware version and check out all of it's capabilities. I believe this app is worth telling all of your readers about. It is a super time saver, and make switching configurations a breeze -- John

I went over and the site looks a bit scrappy, but the product works OK. Here is the link!


Protests Against New MS-Licensing

I received the following from the NGN in Holland. Read and be warned.

"The Dutch Network User Association (NGN, http://www.ngn.nl - 4000 members together managing 700.000 desktops) is looking for similar groups or corporations who agree that the new licensing policy of Microsoft is too much, too soon. The NGN thinks the new licensing is harmful for customers, and will continue their protest against MS.

"Please look at what Microsoft plans to do and make an estimate what this will mean for your company. The NGN thinks that most companies will have to pay up to more than 100% more for their upgrades in the future. And this goes beyond MS Office, all MS-software is involved!

"The NGN tries to create a worldwide effort to force Microsoft to change its licensing policy to something more customer-friendly. The NGN doesn't ask for reactions from individuals, but from big user groups or corporations, who want to participate in this effort.

Cooperating organizations could benefit, because the NGN is developing a spreadsheet which you can use to see what will be the consequences for your company of the new license-policy. You can get in touch via email at [email protected], or read more at:

Microsoft Security Rollup Q299444 Has Problems

Microsoft just released what they promised a while ago. Instead of a Service Pack 7, they shipped a Post-SP6a Security Rollup Package (SRP). This relatively small (just 14.3MB) bundle gets you all the security updates released for NT 4.0 since the release of NT 4.0 SP6a. So far, so good. But there are several people on the NTSYSADMIN newsgroup that already reported problems with this roll-up.

One system admin had a test server blow up with BSOD STOP 0x0000000a in NTOSKRNL.EXE after installing the roll-up and the machine is not booting anymore. After checking, more admins are fighting this same problem. It looks like machines (both WS and SV) with older firmware are potentially causing the problem, that affects both single and multi-CPU boxes.

So, I'm not saying this thing is full of bugs, but I'm simply repeating what I have said over and over these last 5 years. Test it out first, do NOT run this on a production machine without knowing it will work OK. Here is where you can get the rollup:

Code Red Turns Out To Be Dud

First of all, well done to all of you for patching that IIS hole. Tuesday, everybody and their brother in the mass media including CNN were warning everybody that "the Internet was going to crash" at 8pm. Hah! Clueless. These guys are only good at making the environment look more dangerous than it really is. Sure, there still are 100K servers infected but that's a minor mop-up job.

Anyway, the lesson we learn from this particular exercise is that one needs to protect one's machines with many different layers of security. SecureIIS is an interesting Application Firewall, and is something that would have prevented your servers from getting infected with Code Red in the first place, but it is -one- piece of the puzzle as it is limited to IIS. You have to have what they call "Defense in Depth".

So, you also need to prevent your webservers to make contact with the Net in general. It's a matter of properly configuring your firewalls. (for instance, I have BlackICE running on my W2K Pro WS to prevent baddies to get in, and ZoneAlarm to prevent stuff from getting out).

Web servers essentially should only service incoming requests from the web. That means your firewalls should stop those machines from reaching out to other servers which is exactly what Code Red was doing. So, obviously you need to grab that patch from MS and fix this hole in your web servers. But also, make your firewalls deny any connections to the Net your web server tries to make. It's time to review your firewall logic now. (If you need help, we have consultants that can come on-site and do this with you). Check:

WinXP Release Candidate 2 Is Here

Last Saturday, WXP RC2 was pushed out and this is supposed to be the last public release of the OS. Build 2526 was promoted to be the RC2, and pretty much immediately beta testers got access to it. Sunbelt is an MSDN subscriber and we got access on Sunday.

If you signed up for the Windows XP Preview Program, you should be able to download it over the coming days. MS will let you know when you can get it. One of the things I have to admit I do like about WXP, is that it has a built-in Internet Connection Firewall (ICF). This is turned ON by default on any XP machine that you hook up to the Internet. It is a great first line of defense.

RC2 does not add new features, it's mainly bug fixes and an at this point completely useless option to remove Internet Explorer. For more on WXP RC2, check this link to the Wininformant site:


Possible New Laws: Thou Shalt Patch

Wired Magazine just reported that there may be a new law coming soon for USA's Financial Institutions, just like there is one now for health care. FBI's National Infrastructure Protection Center often finds itself waving its arms, hoping for attention when a threat like the Code Red virus emerges. Often, the warnings go unheeded. But that may be changing. Federal rules that will make it obligatory for specific sectors to download virus patches are already here, and more are coming.

On Monday, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) proposed a regulation that will require financial service companies to protect their networks against anticipated threats and generally take measures to protect their information. It means financial institutions will have a legal obligation to take steps to preserve the security of their organization, very much like now the health care industry is required to do as per the HIPAA regulations. The whole article is here and is a recommended read:

UltraBac Real Life Advantage: Disk-to-Disk Backup

We all know that prices for hard disk space are falling like a stone. That means adding more storage is not such a big problem anymore. But backing up all that stuff becomes a bigger and bigger headache. A recent trend is to simply forget about tapes at all, and backup from disk to disk instead. It's got some major advantages.

UltraBac Software has a reputation for being first to market with key features customers want. They continued that tradition with their new version 6.3 by being the first to offer Network Disaster Recovery from a single boot floppy, integrated disk flashing technology and Windows XP support.

But the main thing system admins are now interested in is backing up to a remote disk. Backing up a bunch of critical servers to a high capacity RAID 5 machine is now even easier then backing up to tape. UltraBac allows easy set up of "unlimited target directories" on a remote hard drive(s) allowing Ultra-fast backup to disk (with fast software compression) as well as Ultra-fast (De-fragmented) restores from disk. You can then run a stage two less frequently, scheduled backups to tape for archiving or off-site storage.

UltraBac will even write a INDEX to disk AND THE TAPE so the need to re-catalog the tape before restoring is no longer a time consuming issue. This is one of the hottest solutions (for obvious reasons) critical environments are looking for and UltraBac was tailor made to provide such a solution. It's easy to install and set-up as no accelerator agents are required.

This solution is used in some of the most critical environments in the world. It also happens to be one of the easiest to use for any level user and any sized networked system. UltraBac will backup file-by-file (up to 32 simultaneous jobs) to remote disk, UltraBac can even write an Image backup of a disk or partition to ANY high capacity storage device available on the network.

NOTE, there are two critical advantages here: UltraBac runs the IMAGE ON-THE FLY, you do not have to bring the server down. When an IMAGE backup is running, it ONLY IMAGES THE ACTIVE CLUSTERS on the partition as opposed to the entire partition. Thus the backup is much smaller and much faster.. UBDR allows a user to boot a machine and restore an image of a partition that was previously backed up by simply booting from a DOS-based floppy and running the new program. With UBDR, users can restore failed machines from either a local tape drive or disk path (local/CD/remote) to perform a fast and simple network recovery in a matter of minutes.

Support for Windows XP and the most popular versions of Unix and Linux operating systems are now available with this release of UltraBac as well, making the software more compatible than ever with today's diverse network architectures.

Optional flashing technology has also been incorporated into UltraBac 6.3. 'Flashing' an image of a disk, storing it to media, then replicating it to another disk, is the process that the software uses to enable rapid cloning and setup of servers and workstations. This version 6.3 is worth checking out:


This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff

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