Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.

1/31/2012

Essential Tools for System Admins

Filed under: Geek Work,GUI Center,MicroSoft,Review — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:09 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a First Quarter Moon

There are more free sysadmin tools for Windows than you can shake a memory stick at these days.

But, here are a few of the better collections of them.
First, from Infoworld, 15 “Essential” Open Source Tools for Windows Admins.  I’m not sure I’d say these are all essential, but they are a pretty good start.  I can only vouch for three of them on this list; Wireshark, Nmap, and ClamWin Antivirus.  Though I’m familiar with them from the Linux/Unix world, these are the Windows equivalents and they work just fine.  Old network geeks will recognize Wireshark and Nmap as a reliable packet sniffer and a security vulnerability scan tool, respectively.  You may not be as familiar with ClamWin.  It’s based on the ClamAV engine, which in its Linux boot-disk incarnation, has saved my bacon more than once!  There are a couple inventory tools in this list I plan on looking more closely at, not to mention the add-on for Nmap they talk about.  Good stuff and worth checking out!

Secondly, from TechRepublic, there’s Five Free Windows Registry Cleaners.  Again, I’ve only used two of these five; CCleaner and Wise Registry Cleaner.  CCleaner does everything I generally need in regards to shoring up old, creaky registries, but I’m always looking for new tools.  The version of Wise Registry Cleaner I used was an older one, but it worked well enough.  And, it does have the nice feature of being able to backup and restore older versions of your registry.  Believe me, that can come in handy sometimes!

Thirdly, also from TechRepublic, Five Microsoft Tools to help with Server Management.  Of these five, again, I’ve only used one; dcdiag.  Naturally, it’s the only command-line tool in the bunch.  Though, I hear Microsoft has been talking about going back to a command-line, terminal interface for their server products.  I’m a little leary of any security utility that is based on a wizard, but I have to admit, at least it’s something that might encourage Windows sysadmins to do some work at securing their servers more.  And, I have to admit, I wish I had known more about the file server migration wizard a few years ago.  It sure would have helped me more than once!

And, finally, the venerable, but ultimately useful, More Sysinternals for Windows Admins.  Now, these I’ve used quite a bit!  At least, some of them.  All the disk usage utilities have been super helpful over the years in determining who has been sucking up all the drive space on my servers!  And I’ve used PsInfo to attempt to gather information in various attempts to inventory my various networks.  And, these days, everyone will need the RootKitRevealer sooner or later.  Sadly, almost everyone has been, or will be, effected by a rootkit virus of some kind.  It seems inevitable.

So, there you go, system administrators.  There’s my gift to you in the form of links to tools to do your jobs, faster, easier and more efficiently.  Enjoy!

10/31/2011

The Worst Kind of Cross-Platform Porting

Filed under: Apple,Linux,News and Current Events,Rotten Apples,The Dark Side — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 6:58 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Hackers are porting Linux viruses (virii ?) to OS X.

Last week Monday, ZDNet reported that hackers have ported code for a trojan from Linux to Apple’s OS X.  For those of my readers who don’t know what a trojan is I’m referring to a malicious program that opens the door for other, usually even worse, programs to come into the infected operating system, like the Greeks did in the classic stratagem known as the Trojan Horse.  It hasn’t been seen in the wild yet, but apparently the C source code for this has been available for quite some time.

Frankly, I’m surprised that this doesn’t happen more often than it does.  In the old days, virus writers had to really know something because they used assembly to create them.  Now, with Windows and all the other object-oriented programming languages filled with bloated libraries of programming calls, along with the availability of existing code on the internet, they hardly have to know anything to write fairly nasty malware.  And, as I’ve mentioned before, as Apple laptops become more popular, more malware will start to show up there.  I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before they figure out how to infect iPads and iPhones, too, if they haven’t already.

I hate people like this.
I spent most of my day today cleaning a malware infection off a machine.  This little bugger had not only disabled the Windows Task Manager, which is pretty common these days, but it also cleaned out the Start Menu, including all the built-in things like the link to Control Panel and My Documents and all those things on the right side of the Windows XP default Start Menu.  But, it also flagged most of the drive as Hidden and System, making it even more difficult to load the software I used to clean it.  I had to go into Safe Mode just to get the system clean enough to restart into Safe Mode with Networking so I could update Malwarebytes, which is what I eventually used to get rid of the beastie.   (I used Spybot Search and Destroy to keep the malware from loading to make the machine useable with networking support so I could update Malwarebytes, incidentally.)
So, yeah, these slimeballs keep me in a job, but, really, I’d appreciate it if they stopped helping me stay employed.  I promise I can find plenty of other things to do!

So, look lively out there people!  Be suspicious of what you download and click on!

UPDATE:  Apparently, this has been found out in the wild now.  And, according to TechWorld, it has a purpose; to use your system to generate BitCoins for it’s evil masters.  Very clever.  Nasty, but, still, very clever.

5/26/2011

Mac Malware News Update

Filed under: Apple,Geek Work,MicroSoft,News and Current Events,Rotten Apples,The Dark Side — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 6:26 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Good news!

First, there are things you can do to protect yourself from this new Mac malware:
Start by disabling the automatic opening of downloaded files.  The world has changed for you Mac users and you simply can’t trust just any download any more.  Welcome to the world that Windows users have lived in for years and years.
Also, don’t let things install on your machine unless you’ve gone out looking for them!  Again, don’t trust anything that looks like an automatic update or a “free” program that wants to install automatically, especially if you haven’t been searching for any thing!
Seriously, you can’t trust people on the Internet.  I know this may come as a shock to the Hippie, “free-love” sort of people Mac users think themselves to generally be, but, yeah, not everyone on the Internet has your best interests at heart.  Well, except me.  You can trust me.  Honest.

Secondly, in a “few days” Apple will allegedly put out an update to make you safe again.
At least, that’s what they’re saying.  No definite deadline on that, though, so be careful and make sure to check your updates regularly!  Staying up to date on patches is one of the better ways to help prevent an infection.  Also, if you haven’t already, please, consider getting an anti-virus program for your Mac.  OS X is a growing target for hackers as the installed user-base grows, so, sooner or later, you’ll see more of these little nasties coming your way.  Your platform’s growing popularity will make it a growing target!  So, before it’s too late and you’re asking your friendly, neighborhood network geek for help in cleaning up the mess, install an anti-virus to prevent the mess in the first place.  The computer you save may be your own!

12/15/2010

Free Computer Security Tools

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Geek Work,The Dark Side — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:25 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

It’s a dangerous digital world out there!

As I’m sure you’ve seen this year, there have been lots of warnings about increased malicious activity.  Everything from phishing to new malware, the cyber-criminals are really working overtime to make your life a living hell.  There’s plenty you can do to stay safe, like only going to sites that you know and not opening attachments from strangers, or even from friends that don’t normally send you attachments.  But, let’s face it, sometimes, things slip by you.  So, what else can you do, especially when you don’t have money to spend on high-end security tools?

Well, check out eWeek’s list of 9 Free Security Tools to be Thankful for and start using them.  At least make sure you have some kind of anti-virus installed.  There are several suggestions on that list.
And, be careful out there!


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers."


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