Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Software’ Category

24
Aug

Hewlett Packard HyperConverged HC380 Fun

I’m 1600 miles away implementing a multi node cluster of these HC380s and have run into a few bugs. One is an absolute deal breaker and needed to share this in hopes it helps others in the same process.

During implementation, you are asked to choose a username and password for the VirtualStore appliances that make up the storage back end of this solution. There are a few characters that are not accepted like colons, semicolons, etc.

One of the characters that they did not call out is the ampersand (&) – DO NOT use this character when deploying the HC380 environment. Your deployment will begin and then fail during the VSA deployment and configuration. The end result is a smoldering pile of HP software that requires a manual “reset” process on each and every node that will take about 45 minutes to run on each.

Pre-Implementation Tips:

  1. Verify you’re running the latest version – don’t assume the fresh hardware arriving has the latest version.
  2. Download all of the images available before arriving onsite… just in case you need them. The management VM is 20GB large and installed on each node, better to have that before you need it.
  3. Bring some longer Ethernet cable if you don’t want to be standing behind the HPC node balancing your laptop in one hand and deploying or resetting the environment with the other.

Don’t disregard implementation support costs. If you’re not ready to lean hard on your HP reps – purchase implementation support. HP production support may ask you to pay up for help implementing their solution even if the problem is 100% their software.

21
Oct

STARTTLS and OS X Mail

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 11.29.50 AMA change recently in OS X’s Mail application has caused an unusual problem of not sending mail on the regular SMTP or IMAP ports. I’m not sure if its El Capitan that initiated this change because I do not send mail often from my desktop mail client.

After a message stuck in my outbox, I fired up my firewall live log display and could see my computer hitting TCP port 587 a few times. This port is blocked on my firewall because I’ve never needed it open.

Normal humans don’t run a firewall at home that is this locked down – normally any outbound traffic is open – but this works for me.

I did some research and apparently TCP 587 is a known email port – for SMTP using STARTTLS, which I didn’t think Mail used (or it didn’t until recently) to send mail. Everything in Mail’s preferences mentions TCP 993 (IMAPS or IMAP using SSL encryption).

FastMail has a very good article on what this port is used for and why its being used. Essentially it’s a TLS encrypted SMTP connection that offers a better way of validating the destination – which could possibly coincide with Apple’s use of a “token” to authenticate iCloud users. So after opening up TCP 587, Mail was able to send my email message on its merry way.

 

 

21
Feb

Trust is Everything.

We spend so much time working toward a goal, delivering on an expectation, that it becomes business as usual. People trust me to do my job, I trust others to do theirs. Together we make great teams, great divisions, and a great company for our customers.

In the last two weeks, two major companies have lost my trust. One, Anthem, an insurance company, that had 80M customer medical records stolen and the other Lenovo, a computer manufacture, that installed software on their consumer laptops and desktops that intercepted TLS/SSL encrypted traffic using a self signed encryption certificate and embedded it into the operating system.

I trusted these companies like I know my company’s customers trust us. How can we prevent becoming the next untrustworthy company?

For Anthem, the problem was not following the basics of data security. Encrypt your data at rest, in flight, and protect your keys at all cost. Restrict data access to only those who need it – and ONLY the data they need. What a logistics nightmare to coordinate that among the entire company’s applications – but not as bad as the nightmare they’re living with now.

Regardless if you store your data in a colocation with insane physical and electronic boarder security or your own onsite datacenter with James Bond proof security – thieves don’t have to get out of their underwear to make off with a billion dollars with of data.Screenshot 2015-02-21 20.25.54

Lenovo had a simple task of maintaining their tradition of building computers that people want. Someone made the decision to install some extra software (presumably for profit) on their consumer computers that gathers “We thought [Superfish] would enhance the shopping experience…“. I call bullshit – the software was harvesting their customers data by decrypting encrypted browser traffic using a “Man in the Middle” attack. Lenovo decided to make an extra dollar and deceive their customers into thinking the lock on their browser actually meant they were secure. It took five months for the word to get out on the Lenovo malware, but in the week it hit the media – I’ve read about it everywhere. I’m watching LNVGY to see what happens when the stock holders finally figure out what this means.

It means companies large and small that buy one or thousands of their products in bulk may begin to question the integrity of Lenovo. If they installed privacy busting malware into their consumer goods – what kind of nefarious tricks were in the latest ThinkPad or X laptop in my business? Is my CIO’s bank account going to be hacked, company secrets leaked to a Lenovo partner in China, or my laptop used as a portal for Chinese hackers to run rampant in my network? A secret decryption chip and hook into the network hardware to leak secrets back to home base? Sure, it’s far fetched… or is it? Stranger things have been dreamed up.

Anyone can prevent these – stand up and say something. Call out bad ideas for what they are. Identify security risks when you see them. These are what makes great people, great. They take on the challenge  instead of letting the big sleeping dragons sleep. Eventually they’ll wake up, on their own or with the help of someone, and lay waste to your kingdom.

5
Oct

Sophos UTM and Xbox Live NAT issues

In a previous post about the Sophos UTM, I’ve received some comments about Xbox Live.

I’ve recently rebuilt my Sophos UTM and found that my backup configuration files were encrypted with a password I couldn’t locate… my bad. So I’m rebuilding all of my firewall rules again.

For the Xbox 360 Live and Kinect, there are some quirks that I hope these steps help you overcome.

  1. Setup a DHCP reservation for your Xbox so that your UTM will create a network definition and the IP will remain the same.
  2. Create new service definitions for each of the ports listed in the base article here
    1. Port 88 (UDP)
    2. Port 3074 (UDP and TCP)
    3. Port 53 (UDP and TCP)
    4. Port 80 (TCP)
    5. Port 1863 (TCP and UDP)
  3. In my UTM, I’ve named them Xbox Live UDP 88, Xbox Live TCP & UDP 3074, etc. This helps keep your definitions clean and searchable.
  4. Create a definition group and call it Xbox Live and Kinect (or whatever helps you keep organized).
  5. Create a new Firewall rule
    1. Source Xbox 360 -> Services Xbox Live and Kinect -> Destination Any
  6. Create a new NAT rule
    1. Rule Type: DNAT (Destination)
    2. Matching Condition
      1. For Traffic from: Any
      2. Using service: Xbox Live TCP and UDP 3074
      3. Going to: External (Address)
    3. Action
      1. Change the destination to: Xbox 360
    4. Automatic Firewall rule: Checked!
    5. Save

Save and don’t forget to turn on your Xbox 360 firewall rule before testing.

Here are some screen captures that may help show you what these all mean.

Sophos UTM Xbox 360 NAT Rule XBox 360 Firewall Rule Xbox Service Definitions

21
Apr

Master Images – hidden CPU time bombs

Wrapping up master images has become something virtualization engineers of all product disciplines have to become familiar with. A bad master image can be deployed dozens or hundreds of times – only to find out a simple tweak could have saved you thousands in necessary hardware costs.

Here’s a new hidden gem I found and I hope to add to this list as more arrive.

 

Installing or updating Dot Net

Almost all Microsoft patching includes some form of a dot net update. When this product is updated, it likes to recompile a lot of code to help speed up launching dot net applications – pre-compiling actually does help user perception of application launch speeds.

Typically you run windows update on a server or workstation and dot net installs its updates and queues items in a work list that dot net executes later. This typically happens later in the day or evening and almost always pegs your CPU for a minute to 1/4 of an hour while is pre-compiles code.

Microsoft is pretty clear about this process in this MSDN Blog post.

The problem is, when you’re patching master images – you don’t want to leave the queued items for each deployed VM to have to execute. Deploy a dozen servers, and now you have a dozen servers with queued dot net jobs waiting to flog your CPUs.

For Windows 2008 R2 and Windows 2012 servers, you can easily kick off these queued items before you wrap up your images for templates by following these simple steps:

  1. Run a comand prompt or powershell prompt with administrative privlegdges.
  2. Run this command:
    c:\Windows\Microsoft.NET\Framework64\v4.0.30319\ngen.exe executeQueuedItems
  3. Wait for the compiling to finish
  4. Exit

The blog post above contains other paths for other versions of Windows, but hopefully that helps others.

%d bloggers like this: