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Sunbelt W2Knews™ Electronic Newsletter
The secret of those "who always seem to know" - Over 500,000 Readers!
Mon, Oct 7, 2002 (Vol. 7, #65 - Issue #396)
How Long Is My OS Going To Live?
  This issue of W2Knews™ contains:
    • Your Biggest Admin Headache
    • GUEST COLUMN: Give the IT Folks a Break
    • How Long Is My OS Going To Live?
    • Government Releases Top 20 Vulnerabilities
    • New Disaster Recovery White Papers
    • What's Your Network Security Plan? You Do Have One, Right?
    • NetIQ Buys PentaSafe
    • Why Print Manager Plus Won 4 Target Awards In A Row
  5. W2Knews 'FAVE' LINKS
    • This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
    • DVR-A04 DVD-RW CD-RW Drive
  SPONSOR: Altiris
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Your Biggest Admin Headache

Well, the last SunPoll is again making it abundantly clear that your biggest headache is Network Security. 1152 votes showed that almost 40% of you think this is item #1 to fix. DR is second with 22%, followed by W2K and AD migration with 19%. And this issue is full of news relating to these issues. I'd like to make you aware of a new tool called Active Administrator that will help dramatically with Active Directory management. See the sponsor just below this column.

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

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GUEST COLUMN: Give the IT Folks a Break

Today, IT professionals are facing harsh criticism. The IT magazines are riddled with quotes from critics berating the pervasive security flaws lurking in IT systems. When a new worm wreaks havoc, you can bet that these same experts will lay the blame on the system admins.

Most likely, these experts will also say that patches are available and the problems will go away if administrators would just install them. IT professionals are regular targets of rhetorical questions loaded with accusations of irresponsibility and incompetence. In fact, the stories usually focus on the IT people and not the new worm, which was the cause of the problem in the first place. Let's take a different tact and agree that perhaps these folks deserve a break.

In today's business environment, where security is the focus, we find ourselves at a juncture where best practices are changing and the old standards are no longer acceptable. Before explaining further, a brief history is required.

Consider software updates such as hotfixes and service packs. A year earlier, it was considered bad practice to automatically deploy the latest hotfix from Microsoft. IT professionals universally declared, "It ain't broke. So, we're not fixing it." Indeed, not that long ago, most of us thought that the risks associated with deploying all of those hotfixes were too great, and we left well enough alone. These risks included complete system lockup and other behaviors. IT managers would test, test and test some more.

This process was time-consuming and tedious. Besides, nobody ever got promoted for deploying hotfixes. In the end, the possibility of causing such catastrophic system failures weighed on the IT pro's mind to the extent that they learned to minimize the risks by not deploying updates regularly.

During the summer of 2001, awareness of security vulnerabilities reached critical mass ? and it hasn't subsided since. Gartner estimates that 20 percent of enterprises will suffer material loss as a result of a cyberattack by 2005. In the first half of 2002, there were 180,000 Internet attacks on U.S. corporations ? a 28% percent increase, according to Riptech. No wonder nearly 70 percent of IT professionals worldwide surveyed by Computer Economics believe large-scale cyberattacks will occur in their country within two years.

A cultural change was taking root, and system admins embraced it. Even though the problems associated with deploying updates still existed, a genuine desire to change the standard practice of reacting when systems were attacked faded. Now, IT professionals were looking for ways to deploy hotfixes, plug the security holes and be proactive at managing their systems.

Their desires for proactive management were strong, yet they suffered through a barrage of virus attacks, including "I Love You," Nimda, Code Red (and other colors from the rainbow) and various other intrusions. Although they firmly changed their culture and embraced this proactive approach of deploying hotfixes, they had no available solution offering the features that are necessary for total management of hotfixes and other software updates.

Most current offerings fall into one of two categories.

  1. The administrator programs a script for inventory and deployment, or
  2. The administrator walks around to each machine to run the updates.
If an administrator has to walk to all of the individual machines, he or she can count on spending 20 or more minutes per machine to install the fix. In the meantime, the project on which the admin was working is put on hold, waiting for the unscheduled fixes to be completed.

If the IT professional has to program a solution, he can count on at least 24 hours before deployment into production. The scripts must be tested for any exceptions, and, since no two hotfixes seem to be exactly alike, it can be an ugly mess requiring special know-how for all implementations.

What's more, so-called free and automatic updates, like those that come with licenses for Service Pack 3 for Windows 2000, are likely to cause more pain and heartache. Blindly installing patches that haven't been tested against each other can ruin the very data the admin is intending to protect ? and it's no secret that Microsoft's patches can contain bugs themselves. User groups have echoed this sentiment time and time again.

A better solution for IT professionals is investing in products that assist them in researching software updates, taking inventory, deploying patches and validating hotfixes, service packs, roll-ups, etc. In this model, a management console reports on activities and matches the actual inventory against the policies defined by the admin. The IT professional can then manage by objective using policy to define the objective as well as manage by exception using reports.

The pain this solution alleviates for the administrator is in not having to "de-conflict" the countless interdependencies among software updates. The right software will know what order to install the updates and if certain combinations are not deployable together. Such a solution leverages an extensive database that has been qualified by rigorous testing and analysis. This way, businesses can easily deploy the latest security fixes safely, while eliminating mistakes that can lead to system failures.

It is true that IT professionals are responsible for updating their systems and need to know what updates are applicable for their businesses, but when one understands the complexity of a comprehensive, proactive approach to managing hotfixes and other software updates, it is fitting to cut these administrators some slack. Deploying hotfixes is an unplanned event, arriving without warning. IT pro's need a break, and that break might just be spending some time and resources procuring the right tool to ensure quality, uptime and security ? and less time in the "blame game."

About The Author:
Ron Kaplan is the product Manager for St. Bernard Software's UpdateEXPERT, which solves system and application security problems by keeping software patch levels current.


How Long Is My OS Going To Live?

In our May 13 issue we reported on the fact that tech support for W2K would go into "extended phase" on March 31, 2003. This caused some concern. See the issue here:

Microsoft will soon come out with its first lifecycle support policy. It is going to specify for how long products are going to be kept alive and until what time you will get tech support. They say it will be valid for all Microsoft products. In the past, this kind of thing has been to a large extent been determined in a more or less random fashion. Most of us were always unpleasantly surprised to hear that tech support would not be available from "Day X" on forward.

What they are expected to say is that products will live for about 8 years, and you will be able to get support in some kind of form for them until that time. Keep in mind though that once they slowly "sunset" a product, support is only via the web. You will normally get 5 years worth of tech support as you know it. Then there is the extended (minimalized) support for two more years, and from that point forward you'll be using the MS Knowledge Base only. The two most recent service packs will also be covered under the new policy in some way, it is expected. The reason for all this? Pushback on Licensing 6.0 and compliance with the big players in the industry that have had these things in place for years.

Government Releases Top 20 Vulnerabilities

The General Services Agency lauded the cooperation now taking place between the public and private sectors on security issues, but it took the software industry to task for questions about quality and security. The current top 20 are on the SANS site:


New Disaster Recovery White Papers

The developer of Double-Take is going great guns in the market. They have impressive revenue growth over the past multiple quarters.

  • From Q1, 2001 to Q1, 2002, NSI Software had 73% growth
  • From Q2, 2001 to Q2, 2002, The growth was a whopping 144%
  • From Q3 to Q4 of 2001, NSI Software grew 54%, and they had explosive growth during Q2, 2002 with international sales increasing 416 percent over Q1 2002.
Double-Take now runs in well over a 100 of the Fortune 500. They just released some new interesting white papers you may be interested in:
  1. Double-Take in a HIPAA Regulated Health Care Industry:
    This paper was developed to help interpret the ramifications of HIPAA regulations on the health care industry and how Double-Take can be implemented to fulfill the requirements of the regulations.
  2. Meeting the New Requirements for Enterprise Data Protection:
    This white paper was developed to illustrate that the data protection requirements within enterprises are expanding. The document helps to illustrate infrastructure vulnerabilities and recommends data protection scenarios to alleviate issues.
  3. Technology Overview - Replication for the Masses:
    This is a tutorial on data replication, for people that want to read up on all the possibilities.
All three white papers are in the White Papers, Documents and Other Files section on the Double-Take page:

What's Your Network Security Plan? You Do Have One, Right?

Risk management is crucial. Logically, you have your network protected as securely as possible, but can you say that all of your NTFS permissions, Share and Registry permissions are correctly and safely managed on your network? What if a dishonest employee tried to gain access to an extremely private file or folder? Could he/she do so? Not with a network administered with Security Explorer. Allowing you to safely manage NTFS, Share and Registry permissions while giving you the ability to Grant, Revoke, and Clone permissions across subdirectories without affecting any other group or user's permissions, Security Explorer is one product your network needs. Make sure your network is secure, before someone else finds out it's not. Download a free trial version today at:

NetIQ Buys PentaSafe

Well, Sunbelt shows again it knows how to pick the best-of-breed tools. Just a year after we decided to carry the PentaSafe line, they got acquired by NetIQ for $255 million cash and stock. It will definitely help these two companies to expand into the market. NetIQ CEO Charles Boesenberg says his company's customers are increasingly interested in buying systems management and security services from a single provider. If you are already looking at PentaSafe via Sunbelt's website and reps, nothing changes. Just continue your evaluation with the knowledge this product is now backed by an even larger player in the industry!

Why Print Manager Plus Won 4 Target Awards In A Row

Print Manager Plus just won the coveted 2002 W2Knews Target Award for Print Management for the fourth year in a row. Here are some of the key reasons:

  1. Microsoft has only licensed one Print Management product in the world with its valuable Windows XP Logo Certification - this is Print Manager Plus 4.0.
  2. Print Manager Plus has recently released 6 new report modules that show in various scenarios the total cost of printing/savings in detail and where to quota printing to reduce costs in the enterprise. These reports are vital in helping reduce the cost of printing that has escalated your company's cost of labor.
  3. Print Manager Plus audits and reduces the cost of printing in the corporate, government and education markets worldwide.
  4. It supports printing from most operating systems through a Windows print server or workstation.
  5. Print Manager Plus is updated frequently. These updates (and major upgrades) can be obtained through the simple e-update feature built into the software.
  6. Print Manager Plus can easily bill users, clients or departments, provide complete accounting and audit trails as well as easily reduce costs as a result of uncontrolled printing. These costs are a major portion of any budget and are impossible to control effectively without Print Manager Plus.
Some comments from customers:

"... printing costs can quickly spiral out of control. With Print Manager Plus, we have been able to curb our over-zealous users with a simple, cross-platform solution."

"For some of our printers (the expensive dye-sublimation ones, for instance), we charge for usage. ...(Print Manager Plus) helps us track usage and generate billing info. With this product I am extremely satisfied. The product works as advertised and gets the job done with little fuss." JR, Harvard University.

Print Manager Plus is licensed by print server (the server or workstation from where printers are shared) covering unlimited users and printers. It lists for $795.00 including one year of upgrades and support.


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

  • How old are you? Put your birth date in the window when you click on this link below and see what happens.

  • http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=021007FA-How_Old
  • Awesome fave link with very interesting graphics:

  • http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=021007FA-Levitated
  • The Leading Website for Contract, Temporary and Permanent Employment

  • http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=021007FA-Employment
  • The leading Outlook and Exchange Solutions Center is Slipstick:

  • http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=021007FA-SlipStick
  • End to end off, play with these fireworks with your sound on...

  • http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=021007FA-Fireworks

    DVR-A04 DVD-RW CD-RW Drive

    Pioneer's DVR-A04 drive writes and reads DVD-RW, DVD-R, CD-R and CD-RW media, and also reads CD-ROM and DVD-ROM discs. The drive offers up to 4.7GB of storage capacity on a single sided DVD disc. Pioneer's DVR-A04 also provides wider compatibility, higher speeds, lower noise, UDMA33 support and buffer under-run protection for both CD and DVD recording. Check for best prices over here: