WindowsNetworking.com - Monthly Newsletter - June 2015
Hi Security World,
Welcome to the WindowsNetworking.com newsletter by Debra Littlejohn Shinder <http://www.windowsnetworking.com/Deb_Shinder/>, MVP. Each month we will bring you interesting and helpful information on the world of Windows Networking. We want to know what all *you* are interested in hearing about. Please send your suggestions for future newsletter content to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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1. The Evolution of the IT administrator
Today I was going through some of my ancient notes and remembering back almost a decade ago, when I attended an IT pro "community leaders' townhall meeting" in Redmond with Steve Ballmer. The purpose was for Microsoft personnel to get feedback on key trends affecting IT professionals.
At that time, "cloud" was a word we used to describe the Pacific Northwest weather; the main topic of the day was "data center trends and managed services." It was that last phrase that had some of my colleagues who had been invited to this event up in arms. It was a small group of pretty headstrong individuals engaged in a rather lively discussion, and several of them expressed their concern that we were on the brink of a big and not so positive change in the IT world: the end of the network administrator.
The group of panelists who were leading the group assured us that no, the role of the IT professional wasn't going away, but that it was going to change - just as it had been changing ever since the beginning of IT as an occupation. And indeed, the job has evolved and grown and changed in many ways over the years, as the technology itself has changed.
Back in the olden days when I first got involved with computers and dinosaurs roamed the earth, the focus of IT was on the computer systems. Thus the job title that prevailed in those days was that of systems administrator. The sysadmin was responsible for the deployment, configuration and day to day maintenance and operations of an organization's systems, especially servers. Sysadmins were command line kings back in the days of DOS and UNIX but with Windows, the GUI became the preferred way of interfacing with the operating system. PowerShell came along and the pendulum swung back to the CLI. Either way, sysadmins were the gurus who were intimately acquainted with how the individual machines functioned.
In the 90s, the focus shifted from the systems themselves to the networks, and we began to see fewer references to systems administrators and more to network admins. No longer made up of just a few computers that were wired together, networks had gotten more complex. Network administrators took care of all of the components that make up the network infrastructure - not just the servers and client computers but also a myriad of routers, switches, WAPs, firewalls, printers and often phone systems and other peripheral systems that connect to the network, as well. In some cases, sysadmins and netadmins worked together but in smaller orgs, the netadmin was expected to do it all.
In making the transition from sysadmin to netadmin, IT pros had to learn new skill sets and new ways of thinking. The sysadmin operated in a more insulated world, but the netadmin had to worry not only about one company's network but about its interconnection to other networks, including the Internet. We now had to deal with multiple subnets, virtual LANs, DMZs (or perimeter networks), and keep in control of how traffic flowed between them all.
Today, the network administrator is giving way to the cloud administrator. The sysadmin's and netadmin's job duties have merged and Software Defined Networking (SDN) has weaseled its way into our lives. Network boundaries are being redefined through the convergence of the on-premises data center and public cloud services. We have networks without borders, manned by users who don't stay put at a desk inside company walls to do their work on strictly controlled, company-owned computers but instead are bringing their own devices and using them at work, at home, and on the go to access the organization's resources. Those resources may be stored on hard drives on file servers, on storage area networks (SANs) or network attached storage devices (NAS), or somewhere "out there" in the cloud in a service provider's data center that might be across town or halfway across the world.
With all of these changes in our technology, how could the job not change to accommodate them? Yet many who work in this business are just as anxious about the impending changes as the people in that room in Redmond who were convinced that managed services would put them out of work.
Meanwhile, the profession, like medicine and law before it, has split off into specialties. We have Exchange admins, SharePoint admins, database admins and others who focus on a particular software application. We have network architects, network programmer/analysts, telecommunications specialists, and security admins. Where do all of these fit into a brave new "cloudified" world?
The complexity of the typical data center and the sheer volume of users, equipment and traffic it has to handle has created the need for specialization. But the aim of the cloud is to simplify IT for businesses; while in most cases there will still be a need for IT professionals on-premises, they will have far less of the minutia associated with running a network to deal with. Someone in the company will still manage the email accounts and policies and configurations - but when the Exchange servers themselves are located in a cloud provider's data center and the hardware problems and software updating and troubleshooting are taken care of there, will that person need the kind of in-depth application knowledge of a dedicated Exchange admin? Probably not.
There's a good chance, then, that the rise of the cloud will take us backward in time, in a way - to the time when IT pros were more generalists and could put their energies into the big picture instead of concentrating on one application or small area of expertise. Those IT pros who stay on the customer company side will need broader but shallower skill and knowledge bases. But that doesn't mean there's no place for specialists. All those cloud service providers will need plenty of them to run those hosted mail servers, hosted SharePoint servers, hosted SQL servers and hosted everything else.
Bottom line: IT pro jobs are likely to still be plentiful - but the bar may be raised. Those who are scraping by with minimal ability in a specialty area may need to look for another line of work, as the big cloud providers will undoubtedly be looking for the best and brightest to fill their positions, and company IT departments will probably have fewer employees with the ones they retain being jacks of all trades and/or capable of strategic thinking and planning, rather than simple technicians.
It's up to you to objectively evaluate your current role, determine whether you're well positioned for the changes ahead and if not, create a plan - sooner rather than later - to get the training and knowledge you'll need as we head into the next era of networking.
'Til next time,
Instead of telling the world what you're eating for breakfast, you can use social networking to do something that's meaningful. - Edward Norton
Or - you can do both. - Me :)
2. Windows Server 2012 Security from End to Edge and Beyond - Order Today!
Windows Server 2012 Security from End to Edge and Beyond
By Thomas Shinder, Debra Littlejohn Shinder and Yuri Diogenes
From architecture to deployment, this book takes you through the steps for securing a Windows Server 2012-based enterprise network in today's highly mobile, BYOD, cloud-centric computing world. Includes test lab guides for trying out solutions in a non-production environment.
Order your copy of Windows Server 2012 Security from End to Edge and Beyond. You'll be glad you did.
3. WindowsNetworking.com Articles of Interest
PowerShell essentials (Part 10)
This lengthy series of articles by Brien Posey has taken beginners on a journey of 1000 steps - or at least a journey of 10 parts - in the quest to become competent with Microsoft's favored command line tool. This article wraps it all up, finishing the discussion began in Part 9 about options for interacting with .NET.
IPv6 for Windows Admins (Part 2)
In this series, Mitch Tulloch provides guidance for IT pros who are ready to "move on up" to the next generation of the Internet protocol. After discussing the "big picture" regarding version 6 of IP, in this installment he delves into the different types of IP addresses and what they can be used for.
Patch Management: More Important than Ever (Part 1)
Arguably the most essential elements of network security is keeping all of the software on the network up to date. That might seem like old news, but in this era of exploit kits that make it possible for even the non-technically savvy to launch sophisticated attacks, patching takes on a new importance. In this article, I take a look at your options for meeting the increasing challenge of managing the patching process in today's networking environment, where the BYOD trend has brought us a plethora of different operating systems and applications running on different types of hardware that aren't owned and under the complete control of your organization's IT department.
Best ways to secure your wireless network
Sure, you know all about wireless security by now - or do you? One thing you do know (I hope) is that it's important. The wireless portion of your network can be hacked, eavesdropped on, or interrupted anywhere within the coverage area, which can even be extended beyond the normal range with high-gain or directional antennas. Often times this includes areas outside of your physical security, such as in neighboring offices, buildings, and parking lots. Unfortunately, you might not know as much as you think you do.There are many myths that surround wireless security and techniques that can be used to secure Wi-Fi, such as not broadcasting the SSID, MAC address filtering, or IP address restrictions. In this article, Eric Geier will share some of the better ways to secure your wireless LAN, techniques that truly offer good protection.
4. Administrator KB Tip of the Month
IPsec is not compatible with TCP offloading (called TCP Chimney Offload on the Windows Server platform) so if you're using IPsec for domain or server isolation in a Windows Server environment then you will want to disable TCP offloading on both your network adapter properties and in the registry where TCP/IP parameters are stored.
There are two ways you can easily do this. First, you can use the Netsh command at a command prompt like this:
netsh int tcp set global rss=disabled
netsh int tcp set global chimney=disabled
Alternatively, you can use the REG ADD command to modify the registry like this:
REG ADD HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Tcpip\Parameters /v EnableTCPA /t REG_DWORD /d 0
REG ADD HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Tcpip\Parameters /v NetDMA /t REG_DWORD /d 0
The above tip was excerpted from Mitch Tulloch's book Training Guide: Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2012 <http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0735673101/> from Microsoft Press. For more admin tips, see
5. Windows Networking Links of the Month
Microsoft adds global array of new certifications, including U.S. DoD DISA Level 2
Windows 10 to offer application developers new malware defenses
Microsoft kills off Skype for Windows touch app in favor of desktop version
Four things to watch for as net neutrality rules go into effect
Microsoft leaks plan for worldwide wi-fi network
Researchers: The Internet backbone is reaching its physical limits
6. Ask Sgt. Deb
New versions of web browsers have something called InPrivate browsing or Incognito or probably some other names but my question is what, exactly, does it do? How much privacy does it really give you in a browsing session? Does it prevent keylogging or keep your ISP or your company from tracking what web sites you visit? Thanks! - Daniel J.
Private browsing implementations are, indeed, built into most web browsers now and they are useful for limiting some of the information that is routinely collected and stored, including cookies. A session that's started in private mode also will not keep your browser history so that someone else who uses the computer can open up the History pane and see what sites you've been to.
However, this mode only affects what the web browser itself stores on the local computer. It doesn't affect the collection of information as it passes over the network, such as through a firewall or proxy or other gateway device/software that logs information on web requests sent from the local network, as most companies have configured. The same thing goes for your ISP; they can still capture that information as the web requests and returned pages pass across their network. And it doesn't affect key logging software or hardware that might be installed on the computer, either.
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