Operating Systems

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Operating systems perform basic tasks, such as recognizing input from the keyboard, sending output to the display screen, keeping track of files and directories on the disk, and controlling peripheral devices such as disk drives and printers. For large systems, the operating system makes sure that different programs and users running at the same time do not interfere with each other. The operating system is also responsible for security, ensuring that unauthorized users do not access the system. Operating systems provide a software platform on top of which other programs, called application programs, can run.

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Here's a simple security tip: lock your computer when you're away! An unlocked work station leaves you ridiculously vulnerable and it's a simple thing to avoid.  Just get in the habit of hitting Ctrl-Alt-Del and choosing Lock every time you get up (for Windows anyway, adapt as needed for your specific OS choice).

You wouldn't leave your front door wide open when you're not at home, right? Same principle here :-)
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by:Brandon Lyon
There was a person who used to work here who would prove that point by using unlocked computers to send a random silly email to everyone
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Author Comment

by:Brian Matis
@Brandon: I've also seen people get a browser extension installed that would cause Guy Fieri to start showing up on webpages they'd visit. (Note: I don't really endorse these sorts of shenanigans—it can be easy to accidentally take it too far and inadvertently do something actually malicious—but I will admit to getting a good chuckle out of them.)
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What does it mean to be "Always On"?
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What does it mean to be "Always On"?

Is your cloud always on? With an Always On cloud you won't have to worry about downtime for maintenance or software application code updates, ensuring that your bottom line isn't affected.

Here is a tip for faster linux software updates: make sure your software sources mirror lists are ranked and optimized. The link below explains how to do that with Arch based distros like Manjaro.

https://wiki.manjaro.org/index.php?title=Pacman_Tips#Ranking_mirrors
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Good to know - The upcoming Windows update, Redstone 3, will patch the vulnerability that enables EternalBlue exploits. Not all SMB version are that vulnerable as compared to SMBv1.
Microsoft doesn't recommend disabling SMBv2 or SMBv3 for Windows client and server operating systems. Disabling SMBv3 will deactivate encryption that provides protection from eavesdropping on untrustworthy networks. Organizations should proceed with caution when disabling either protocol as a temporary troubleshooting measure.
http://searchsecurity.techtarget.com/answer/Stopping-EternalBlue-Can-the-next-Windows-10-update-help?
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SysAdmin Day is this Friday! If you have a story of a time when your technical skill and expertise saved the day comment here. You can also message us!

Looking forward to reading more of your experiences!
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A recent post by Brian Matis motivated me to make this alternate post to see what sort of reaction others might have about these recent revelations.

A recent article on The Verge claims that "The older operating system was less vulnerable that anyone expected"

Windows XP computers were mostly immune to WannaCry

Another article from the same source claims "Windows XP was ‘insignificant,’ researchers say" with regards to helping the WannaCry outbreak spread.

"Almost all WannaCry victims were running Windows 7"

Lots of folks (from their perspective) with a genuine need to keep running on Windows XP suffered a lot of grief in Tech forums as being one of the root causes of giving WannaCry a platform to spread and thrive from, yet now it appears all the criticism may have been a little premature and unjustified.

For the record, I personally don't condone anyone using unsupported operating systems and actively encourage everyone I deal with to get themselves up to date, but I am also sympathetic to those who feel they have a genuine need to do that, so also think they shouldn't be …
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by:Thomas Zucker-Scharff
We have too many XP computers at my institution (some with only SP2) - mostly due to budgets and instrumentation.
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by:Andrew Leniart
Hi Thomas,
Have you considered purchasing an XP Updates agreement with Microsoft? Might be an easier solution if budget restraints prevent you from upgrading? I wouldn't feel comfortable with a lot of XP machines in an environment as it would be a case of when, not if, it will come back to bite you.  Patches are available, just at a cost.

Incidentally, SP3 for XP is still provided by Microsoft - why not install it?

Steps to take before you install Windows XP Service Pack 3

How to obtain Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3)

Cheers..
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Using 2003 or XP?  Something older?  I have little sympathy for you.  Things get old.  Software is constantly evolving and those creating it utilize new features and capabilities that (in theory) bring you more capabilities and ease of use.  It's impossible for any software developer to support everything they've ever created indefinitely.  Their abilities to continue innovating would grind to a halt.  Even for the largest of companies, like Microsoft.  They MUST cut off support at some point.  Microsoft has, it would seem, set this standard to 10 years.  Given how long that is and the advancements that can be done in 10 years, in my opinion, that is reasonable.  XP and Server 2003 are now 14+ years old.  WELL BEYOND their support life.  

Now I'm confident Microsoft doesn't actively seek to "break" their newer products ability to connect to the older, now unsupported ones, but I would say it's reasonable to EXPECT they no longer test and see if a Windows 10 computer can connect to a 2003 domain.  They MAY, at points, decide to remove functionality from 10 but I'm confident they do so to improve security.  And if that aspect that is removed happens to be the "main" way something was done in an older version that is no longer supported? Well, they warned you!

Ten years is a reasonable time frame.  If you're using what is now antiquated technology, I have little sympathy.

"Fine Lee, but what about me - I use a program that controls a device that requires it run on …
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Expert Comment

by:Jim Dettman (Microsoft MVP/ EE MVE)
I suppose in the end that what it boils down to is whether you consider safety a function of software or not.  I would say not.  

 But if you do, the problem is in measuring how safe it is and I don't think you ever can.   You can throw a battery of tests at it, but what's safe today may not be safe tomorrow.

 On the flip side, upgrading is no guarantee of being safe either.   To use your car analogy, if my new vehicle uses a Takata air big, then I'm not very safe am I despite that I now have an air bag.  

 So do I use "safety" as a measure in the decision to upgrade or not?   I don't see how you can.

 One could even make the argument in general that by upgrading into a situation with more complexity then what I currently have, I will probably be less safe than I am now (more complexity = more potential holes).    So in regards to safety, not upgrading may be a better choice.    Sometimes, the Devil you know is better than the one you don't.  

 To wrap this up,  I don't think there are any simple answers here of course, but I don't hold it against people for not wanting to upgrade.  I also don't think software vendors should sunset support for products they release.    If someone calls me on something I wrote 15 years ago, I'm not going to say "sorry, can't support that" just because it's old and they decided to keep it.
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Author Comment

by:Lee W, MVP
Funny, as I was formulating my response to you yesterday, I was going to include a reference to the Takata airbag thing - any time you add new capabilities, you get more complicated and though overall safety can improve, it can also, in some circumstances, become less safe.  I believe there is a net benefit (both with airbags and with new software's increasing complexity).

I guess it depends on how you value things.  To me, safety (security) is extremely important.  And I think most people should feel that way.  As such, people need to take responsibility for their continued existence and accept how technology generally (and technology companies) generally work and the economics attached to it.
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ransomwareEmail2.png Friday, May 12th, a new Ransomware threat named WannaCry came onto the scene, affecting organizations in over 150 countries. Damage includes more than 200,000 people infected with the malware and roughly $28,463 paid in bitcoin to decrypt files. That number may only rise unless companies act to mitigate the threat.
Though WannaCry wasn’t a targeted attack on any particular company, institutions using Microsoft operating systems no longer supported by Microsoft security updates found themselves affected by the fast-moving malware.
For a more in-depth look at this attack, check out the following resources:
1. Learn how to prevent this threat without paying a dime.
2. Explore ways to plan ahead and prevent against possible future ransomware attacks.
3. Mitigate damage with these tips if your organization has been affected, and more.
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While we're all running around getting things patched and making sure our clients know how to keep from getting ransomware, let's also take a minute to disable SMBv1 as well. Patching will help this time, but you *know* someone is going to try to find another huge hole in SMBv1 to exploit. No Windows OS after Windows XP uses SMBv1, but MS had to include it in their newer OSes for compatibility. All the OSes that only use SMBv1 have been EOL for years. Let's just get future SMBv1 exploits off the table now, shall we?

https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/filecab/2016/09/16/stop-using-smb1/
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What have we learnt today about the WannaCry ransomware attack, what you should do.

1. do not block the URL KILLSWITCH - This will stop the spread in your network.

2. Make sure your Anti-Virus Definitions are up to date. 30% of Vendors had definitions updated by end of play Friday 15th May. This will stop trojan exeuting.

3. Patch Risky OS first e.g. Windows 2003 and XP, there are PATCHES available! - This will stop the payload exploit getting into the server.

4. Patch Windows 7, 8, 10, 2008, 2012 and 2016.  Check for a Security Rollup since March 2017.
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Author Comment

by:Justin Pierce
Great Scott!

Alright, that was an 80's interjection but I still used it right through the 90's (I'm a geek, so give me a break).  ;)

I do remember the Zip Drive (one is lurking somewhere in my attic).

Touching upon your story, that's pretty awesome! Finding Mac malware back then would have been like finding a golden Easter egg containing Willy Wonka's golden ticket (I know it was a candy bar and not an Easter egg, lol), or the ever elusive star on the Native American's bow and arrow on the Tootsie Pop wrapping. Remember when you could turn those in for another Tootsie Pop?

During your travels did you happen to run into an old TRS-80? Besides the Apple II, I loved/hated that old monchrome beast.

All of this said, you make a good point in that malware for Macs has always been around (albeit in smaller numbers).

Now I have Huey Lewis & The News stuck in my head. Thanks Brian! Lol. Hip to be Square!
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Expert Comment

by:Kyle Santos
thisisfine.png
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Operating Systems

34K

Solutions

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Contributors

Operating systems perform basic tasks, such as recognizing input from the keyboard, sending output to the display screen, keeping track of files and directories on the disk, and controlling peripheral devices such as disk drives and printers. For large systems, the operating system makes sure that different programs and users running at the same time do not interfere with each other. The operating system is also responsible for security, ensuring that unauthorized users do not access the system. Operating systems provide a software platform on top of which other programs, called application programs, can run.