Shavlik Technical Support from Start to Finish

We recently caught up with the Shavlik technical support team to learn more about its role in solving customer issues with Shavlik products and services. The Backline Support team, which includes Chase Norton, Adam Gindt, and Charles Putnam, has built a strong support staff as well as a lively online community of Shavlik users, who help each other through peer-to-peer questions and use cases.

Q: Can you tell us more about how you help customers find the support they need?

Shavlik’s support team is comprised of two separate teams that work together to solve problems in the quickest and most efficient way. Our frontline technical support engineers, or (TSE), handle all inbound phone calls and problems that are flagged through our online portal. Our backline engineers, or (PSE), are our escalation point; they handle escalations from our frontline team and engage our engineering team to ensure any questions or issues from a customer stand point are addressed from an engineering level.

Q: Can you tell us more about how important personalized service is to the Shavlik support team?

At Shavlik we are about first responsibility ownership. All customer facing relations are handled through the TSE team, from start to finish. TSE engineers will work with the PSE team to get the resources they need for the customer, without having to send the customer to several different people to get their answer. From past experiences, we believe it’s important to provide the customer with one support staff member to handle their case through the entire process, no knowledge is lost and the customer can feel comfortable with their representative.

Q: Along with personalized support, are there any other things that make your structure unique?

Since our spinoff from VMware, we’ve been focusing on building up our online community. We’ve created forums where customers can come and ask questions to the community, get answers from peers, and read knowledge articles about our products. It opens up the opportunity to ask real world question to people who are using the products every day in their businesses.

On top of the community, we’ve built a smart support portal where customers can submit a case and the portal will generate relevant articles that can answer FAQs.

Q: Any general advice you’d like to offer customers?

Logs are the technician’s best friend. To ensure customer issues are solved quickly and efficiently, we want to stress that customers should send us everything they can about the case before they submit it, such as logs and detailed information. We can solve the problem substantially quicker when we have the log information, because the engineers can see the problem and cause directly.

Q: Tell us a little about yourselves:

Adam

Adam

Meet Adam Gindt: Adam is a product support engineer at Shavlik, located in Salt Lake City. He covers all components of the Shavlik Protect and Shavlik Patch for Microsoft System Center products. In his free time he enjoys playing video games, running, and hiking and exploring.

 

 

Meet Charles Winning: Charles is a product support engineer at Shavlik, located in the New Brighton office in sunny Minnesota. None of his cars are less than 400 horsepower, even his winter beater.

 

Chase Norton

Chase

Meet Chase Norton: Chase is a support manager for Shavlik, located in Salt Lake City. Chase is married with a 2 year old son and 8 month old daughter. He loves playing sports, especially football, and enjoys boating with his family.

April Patch Tuesday Round-Up

We are one week past April Patch Tuesday.  Taking a look back, XP’s End-of-Life may have been overshadowed a bit with Heartbleed and Update 1 for Windows 8.1 and Server 2012 R2.  Let’s start off by recapping Patch Day.

For those of you who caught our Patch Day webinar (playback found here), you may recall the recommendations we gave.  High priority on MS14-017 (plugs publicly disclosed Word vulnerability) and MS14-018 (IE Cumulative which also happens to be Update 1 for 8.1 and 2012 R2 systems).  These two updates are Critical and plug a number of vulnerabilities.  While still important, the other two Microsoft updates are a bit overshadowed by the 3rd Party updates for Adobe Flash and Google Chrome that released on Patch Day as well.  These two updates are also a high priority this month resolving 35 total vulnerabilities between the two of them.  That is triple the vulnerabilities resolved by the 4 Microsoft updates this month.

Let’s take a closer look at MS14-018.  When assessing machines you will see one missing patch on most systems, but for 8.1 and 2012 R2 you will see the missing IE patch and 5 additional updates that make up Update 1 with the biggest and most important being KB2919355.  Without this last one you will not be getting the next round of OS updates on 8.1 or 2012 R2.  Our sources have confirmed what Microsoft stated in their blog on April 10th, that newer patches will apply to 8.1 and 2012 R2 only if they have Update 1 applied.  By the way, you will not see or be able to install 2919355 unless you have applied an important non-security update 2919442 (MSWU-905) as well.  In our Content release on 4/15 we changed the designation of MSWU-905 from Non-Security to Security to ensure the majority of Protect users will see this patch and deploy it so 2919355 will be applicable to the system.

Now, you may have seen a lot of press around Update 1 causing issues on systems.  The biggest was impacting WSUS 3.2 if running in specific configurations.  This will NOT affect Shavlik Protect customers as we have no reliance on WSUS 3.2.  Other issues identified seemed to be around properly licensed systems and got more obscure from there.  Microsoft will be releasing fixes for these issues possibly later today.  A fix for the WSUS 3.2 issues (2959977) appeared yesterday, but a patch did not release.  It will likely release soon.   Recommendation for our customers, get Update 1 applied before May Patch Tuesday, but make sure to test the rollout to your environment.

Last week Thursday’s Content Release was Non-Security related.  There were many updates released, but nothing of a Security nature.  Yesterday, however, Oracle released a Critical Update for Java 7 update 55.  This update plugs 37 vulnerabilities, 4 of which were given CVSS scores of 10.0 which is the highest you can get.  This should be added to your priority list for this month.

Overshadowing everything this month is the OpenSSL vulnerability Heartbleed, which has quickly become a household name.  MPR, radio commercials, notifications to home users regarding services they use, pretty much everyone has now heard of Heartbleed.  Many vendors are still investigating their product portfolios to see how far reaching this vulnerability affects them.  As I posted last week on the Shavlik Blog, Protect customers, our products and services are covered, so you have nothing to worry about.  Evaluate all products running in your environments.  Check with your vendors as they are posting details around products and versions affected.  VMware, Oracle, and many others are still investigating some product lines, but most are identified as being vulnerable or not.  For VMware, the only version of the Hypervisor affected is ESXi 5.5.  Protect customers can upgrade to Protect 9.1 later next week when we make it available via an Early Access release, which will support updates on ESXi 5.5.  ESXi versions 5.1 and earlier, supported by Protect 9.0, are not affected.

 

Think patching with WSUS is enough? Think again…

…Guest blogger and Shavlik Product Evangelist John Rush shares his insights on the age old question in Patch Management – “Is patching with WSUS enough to keep my systems up-to-date and secure?”…

John Rush:

“Why is important to use something other than WSUS for Patch Management? Three words – third-party software.

WSUS does not have the metadata for anything other than Microsoft updates. This means that organizations using WSUS are having to create custom update content and scripts to patch third-party applications or having to let the auto-updater manage the updates and re-boots.

Our customers tell us it takes 4-6 hours to research, package, script, and deploy a custom Adobe patch, and the updates come out so often they never have a chance to fully catch up.

Third-party applications are the “other than Microsoft” applications used in the enterprise. These include the big three of Adobe, Java, and Mozilla. There are more updates for these applications than there are for the Microsoft Operating System. In fact according to the National Vulnerability Database, 86% of reported vulnerabilities come from third-party applications; however, most organizations are allowing the auto-updaters for these applications to run and auto-patch.

Why is this bad? Two big reasons come to mind.

‘What’s it gonna break?’ Every update has the potential to be an application breaker. It happened recently; a certain database application stopped working when a Java update was applied.

‘Does everyone have the necessary “rights” to install the updates?’ If not, it is going to generate a help ticket, and someone is going to have to ‘touch’ that machine to get it updated.

So how can you solve this problem?

Download the free trial of Shavlik Protect and see how you can easily assess, deploy, and report missing patches on your machines for both Microsoft and third-party applications. Here is a list of the supported third party applications.”

How does Heartbleed affect me?!?!

By now you have likely heard of a vulnerability with OpenSSL that has been dubbed Heartbleed.  This vulnerability can allow an attacker to remotely gain access to sensitive information on services that use vulnerable versions of OpenSSL.  We did a self assessment here at Shavlik and we can confirm for our customers that Shavlik Products and Webservices are NOT vulnerable to this issue.  Yay!

Now, that being said, what does this mean for you on a personal level?  How does this affect your bank\brokerage sites, the social media sites you use, pretty much any web site or service you login to?  Check out this list which covers a lot of the big names you will be concerned about.  Good news is the major banks and brokerages are covered (collective sigh of relief).  Facebook and Gmail were exposed, but have since plugged the vulnerability.  You should change your Facebook password to be safe, but Google is standing firm and confident in their speed to plug to gap and suggest that their users should not have to.  Use your discretion there.

Also remember your kids.  Got some snapchatters in the family?  DON’T CLICK THE SMOOTHIE NO MATTER HOW GOOD IT LOOKS!!! If you did, or if your friends are getting smoothie related pictures from you, change your password.  Snapchat has reportedly made some changes to secure accounts, but better to be safe than sorry.

If you are not sure of sites or services you use and they are not on the list above the best methods to find out if they are exposed it to Google the product\service + heartbleed (pretty much everybody is talking about this) or use one of these sites to test the site or service you are concerned about.

https://lastpass.com/heartbleed/

http://filippo.io/Heartbleed/

For those of you running a known vulnerable version of OpenSSL there is guidance on a workaround and a patch available.  Check out the Heartbleed.com page for full details about the bug, affected versions, workarounds, and more.

 

April Patch Tuesday Advanced Notification

Microsoft has announced this month’s Patch Tuesday release.  There are 4 total patches expected to be released on Tuesday, April 8th. With this Patch Tuesday we also say farewell to Windows XP and Office 2003 support.  Microsoft has reached the End of Life for these two products.  All in all a seemingly light April for Microsoft Patching, but I think the first two bulletins will be concerning enough. Likely bulletin 1 will be resolving a known vulnerability in Office that is currently being exploited in the wild (Security Advisory 2953095).  You will want to pay special attention to the 3rd Party updates that released in between March and April.  March’s Pwn2Own conference was held on March 12-13th and a number of browser and high profile product exploits were displayed at the conference netting a $850k in bounties. Products such as Adobe Flash and Reader, IE, Firefox, and Safari were all successfully exploited during the event.   We may see a few more on Patch Tuesday yet as well.  Back to Patch Tuesday, here is the breakdown for this month:

Security Bulletins:

  • Two bulletins are rated as Critical.
  • Two bulletins are rated as Important.

Vulnerability Impact:

  • Four bulletins address vulnerabilities that could allow Remote Code Execution.

Affected Products:

  • All supported Windows operating systems
  • All supported Internet Explorer versions
  • All supported versions of Office

Join us as we review the Microsoft and third-party releases for April Patch Tuesday in our next monthly Patch Tuesday webcast, which is scheduled for Wednesday, April 9th at 11 a.m. CST.  We will also discuss other product and patch releases since the February Patch Tuesday.

You can register for the Patch Tuesday webinar here.

Virtualization and Security: Beginners Guide Part 2

This is a follow up to a post I made a while back where we took a look at some of the security risks identified by Gartner and some of the Features of Shavlik Protect that can help you reduce these risks.  Today we will talk about a couple more of the items.

DepTempSnapshot

3 Utilize snapshots for rollback.

Vendors have gotten much better about turning out a stable patch, but it is always good to have an insurance policy.  Shavlik Protect supports rollback for patches that the vendor supports rollback.  In cases where the vendor does not support rollback the ability to snapshot a virtual machine before executing patches introduces a better and easier way to support rollback.  Protect has the ability to snapshot vSphere VMs before and\or after patch deployments.  This snapshot can be reverted to very quickly and rolls back to the state before execution.  Most customers I speak to are concerned that they can revert if needed, but most don’t have to do this often. This is configurable in the Deployment Template under the Hosted VMs/Templates tab.

4 Updating VMware Tools.

One of the most important components to ensure is being updated in your vSphere environment is the VMware Tools.  This is the interface between the VM and the infrastructure for many VMware and 3rd party products.  Many vSphere admins think their tools are up to date because the summary for that machine shows it is up to date.  In fact that is only valid if you applied the latest VM Tools updates to your hypervisor.  Then there is a delay and often a reboot required until the status for that VM updates to show it is now out of date.  Now you need to update to the latest tools by having them run on VM startup which requires user intervention or by python script through some other means.  Throw in a cluster of hypervisors all on different versions and different versions of the tools and it gets to be a real mess.  The good news is there is a better way.  VMware has made their tools all backward compatible.  You can push the latest version of the 5.5 tools to your VMs regardless of what version each host is running on.  Shavlik Protect will detect an install of VMware Tools and update to the latest 5.5 tools.  This way you can ensure that as long as you have the one set of tools at the latest version and no new vulnerabilities have been discovered you have a secure version on every VM.  This was released as a security patch towards the middle of 2013 and most customers would likely already be updating in this way unless they utilize patch groups to approve what gets deployed. You can read more in our FAQ on updating VMware Tools.

These are some of the basics that can help you ensure you are delivering the same level of security to the virtual infrastructure as you are in your physical infrastructure.  It is important to make sure the teams involved are all in agreement and utilizing the tools available, and that policies are up to date and describe the coverage to both the physical and virtual infrastructures.  Also evaluate other tools you utilize to ensure they also cover your virtual infrastructure effectively.

Technically Speaking – The Shavlik Technical Sales Team

We recently caught up with the Shavlik technical sales team to learn more about its role in helping customers make better connections with the Shavlik products and services they are considering or are already using every day. The team, which includes John Rush, Clifton Slater, Ryan Worlten, and Guido Adriaansens, has the customer covered no matter where they are in the world. As you will see, this is a unique gathering of talent. The team even includes a former customer that believed so strongly in Shavlik that they came on board!

Q: Can you tell us more about how you help customers learn about Shavlik?

A: Sure, through our sales team we help customers connect with any learning they might need to help them make a decision about purchasing a product or even brushing up on things they may need to know to help them get the most out of Shavlik products.

Q: Do customers call you or are they put in touch with you?

A: We generally support the sales team. The sales team has a pretty good pulse on our customers. Our sales representatives talk to the customer and find out more about their pain points and what they need to learn. From that initial information we consult both sales team and the customer to recommend the best learning tools to address the issue.

Q: What types of tools do you have at your disposal?

A: The learning opportunities we help build for the client include just about anything the customer could need to help inform them in the sales decision. We walk customers through demonstrations, provide on-site demos, lunch and learn sessions, meet and greets, webinars and online product demos.

Q: What have you learned from your vantage point?

A: We have learned that patch is still puzzling for customers and this is really not a surprise. They are reading about security catastrophes every day and their organizations are working hard to put the right processes in place. They are being asked to do more with less and they face a multitude of moving parts like people leaving, changes within their organizations and a growing list of things to manage.

Q: Are there any common themes you are seeing?

A: We often see customers’ eyes opened to the seriousness of 3rd party patching threats and we are seeing a real growth in questions surrounding the patching of virtual machines.

Q: Any advice for customers?

A: Become a student of security. Don’t just leave it as a task to check off. Shavlik makes things easy so that you can keep up on the latest things you need to learn.

Q: Tell us a little about yourselves:

Meet Guido Adriaansens:

Guido Adriaansens, Systems Engineer

Guido Adriaansens, Systems Engineer

Guido is a Systems Engineer for Shavlik products covering EMEA and located in Amsterdam, The Netherlands but can regularly be found in our UK based office. Apart from his (obvious) interest in IT, Guido enjoys sailing, playing squash, and coaching his daughter’s field hockey team.

 

 

 

Meet Clifton Slater:

Clifton Slater

Clifton Slater, Sales Engineer

Clifton is a Sales Engineer for Shavlik, specializing in the Shavlik suite of products, located in central New Jersey. Clifton is an avid reader of Sci-Fi and Fantasy and a die-hard Pittsburgh Steelers fan, (originally hailing from Pittsburgh).

 

 

 

Meet Ryan Worlton:

Ryan Worlton, Sales Engineer

Ryan Worlton, Sales Engineer

Ryan is a Sales Engineer for the Shavlik products, serving the Western region of the US. In his personal time, Ryan loves to be in the outdoors, this spring and summer he plans on spending about 30 days (and nights) in the Utah back country.

 

 

 

Meet John Rush:

John Rush, Systems Engineer

John Rush, Systems Engineer

John is a Systems Engineer at Shavlik located in St. Paul, Minnesota. John participated in a webinar covering SCCM, see it here.

Security of Point-of-sale devices

POSDeviceAlong with the rise in successful attacks on retailers, there has also been a rise in concern about the vulnerability of point-of-sale (POS) devices. Target, Subway, Nieman Marcus are all good examples of why a hacker would choose the POS device as their target. The rewards are both far reaching and highly lucrative.

Particularly with POS devices, it’s impossible to emphasize enough the difference between compliance and security. These cannot be equated and sometimes are not even in the same ballpark. Taking the Subway breach as an example, you can be PCI and PA-DSS compliant and still be exploited if you leave other security measures untended.

Ensuring you are following the guidance in NACS/PCATS 8-point plan is a good way to stay on top of those other security measures that can improve not only compliance, but also security. It provides guidance to a layered security approach to protect the POS devices beyond the local device. One of the most important elements is keeping the PA-DSS compliant software up to date and compliant, but also keeping any other applications residing on these systems patched and updated is imperative. Segmenting the POS devices, and eliminating internet access directly from the POS device further protects them. CERT’s Alert (TA14-002A), released in January 2014, emphasizes many of the same points for protection of the POS devices.

As we approach the Windows XP End of Life (EOL) in April, concerns have been raised regarding the broad reliance of ATMs on Windows XP Embedded. While XP Embedded is still supported until 2016, many of the systems supporting the ATMs will remain dependent on Windows XP and will go unpatched after April. This raises the concerns around letting platforms that will increase the risk of exploitation come in contact with POS devices.

Many banks have already been in negotiations with Microsoft to extend support for the support of these dependent XP systems. Extending the support for these systems will allow banks to deploy private-release critical security patches to them, but this may require additional effort on the part of the IT teams to package the private patches for delivery to the EOL systems. For companies choosing to extend XP support beyond the April EOL date, you should contact your vendor regarding custom patch support. Shavlik has done this in the past with the EOL of Windows NT and 2000 systems. We are already discussing this type of service for customers who know they will have a prolonged dependency on Windows XP.

Many of the banks will be moving to Windows 7 Embedded, but are holding off for a few years to wait for the chip and pin rollouts before performing the migration to Windows 7 Embedded. That will occur over the next few years. By the time most have made the switch, it will be time to start looking at the next migration, as they will have about three years until Windows 7 Embedded reaches its own EOL and the problem repeats.

Last week our content team released support for Windows 8.1 Embedded. For the Shavlik customers who have already been requesting support for this platform, it is available for you now. For those customers upgrading to Windows 7 Embedded, that is already supported as well.  For more information, please visit http://www.shavlik.com/solutions/patch-management/ 

 

Protecting my Mom – New Generation of Attacks Threaten us All

Most days I sit comfortably at my desk behind multiple layers of defenses keeping myself and my machine from harm. I sip my coffee and don’t even think about defending threats from myself, instead most of my energy is focused on how do we push forward in our industry against those armies of darkness that seek to compromise our privacy, security and exploit information for their own cause. This week, was different. In three different cases, I found myself at the center of the attack. It was humbling, and at the same time reminded me of how much work we have to get done.

What scares me the most is the unsuspecting prey that countless hackers stalk?  I’m knowledgeable about what and how hackers try to exploit victims. But I worry about my friends and family members that don’t have that same savvy knowledge. I think about my Mom, using the internet for her banking and the occasional check of Facebook… little does she know she’s in the epicenter of the attacks.

So this Blog is the first of a series of three chronicling my last week. I want to share with you three attacks that happened to me in the hopes that it gives you a flavor for where attacks are coming from nowadays. No longer is it the rogue link to install software or the email bomb that just annoys you.  It’s a whole new world where callers, innocent internet checks, and group emails all lead towards exposure.

MONDAY:  Attack 1 – “Windows Service Center”

Last Thursday, I ended up getting home a bit early from a week of travel.  It was about 4:00 p.m. in the afternoon and the house phone rang. It was just me and my kids at home. My kids range in age from seven to eleven and in most cases, it would have been them to answer the phone, but I happened to be there. I grabbed the phone, looked at the number and saw it was a originating from New York. With family on the East coast, I didn’t think twice about grabbing the phone. After five seconds with no one speaking, I should have just hung up, but I stuck this one out. Then it happened… the attempted hack started.

Access DeniedThe caller identified himself and began, “Hello this is XXXXXX from the Windows Service Center.”  Intrigued, I decided to let him continue. “We have detected you have a computer virus on your machine and we’re here to help fix it.” At this point, my hack-o-meter instantly was pegged and I knew this was a scam, but for fun, I decided to let this play out. I asked, “how do you know I have a virus?”  He responded, “because we have systems that detect these sort of things.”  I asked, “how do you know it is my machine?” He retorted, “because we in America spy on our citizens.”  I had to laugh at this one, to use that approach was fascinating, and more curiously, based on background noise, I firmly believe this call was not originating in the United States. Again, I pushed a little bit harder, “I have two machines in my house, which one is it?”  He then responded, “I’m sure it is all of them, so we’ll fix them both.

If memory serves me right, I was cutting some tops off of strawberry’s at this point in the kitchen and he asked me to go over to my computer. I told him I was in front of my computer at this point even though I was still cutting up strawberry’s. He started off by asking me to go to my control panel in Windows and told me that my Windows Firewall wasn’t active. WOW! I thought to myself, this is an impressive scam!  Sure enough he successfully told me what to click (if I actually was in front of the computer) to navigate to my windows firewall and then told me the instruction to disable it because “bad software had taken it over.” Pretending I did, we continued. I asked him, “Are we done now?”  To which he responded that he’d need access to my machine to make sure. I told him that I didn’t know how to do that and he asked me to go to some website by an IP address. Of course, at this point he began to see through my ruse. I told him I couldn’t get there but asked him what was there and he told me it was something “like a WebEx or online meeting” where he could control my machine.

He pushed really hard to get me there, but after a few more questions from me he started to get VERY mad. Not to mention I had moved onto rinsing some peppers and the water running was likely giving me away too. He told me, “You could be arrested if you don’t eradicate this virus” and even played off the emotional heart-strings, “you are exposing your family to harm.”  Then he crossed a line that I’ve never seen before, “I’m not asking you to go here, I’m telling you that you must” as his voice took on a threatening tone.

At this point, I told him that I needed to speak with a supervisor to validate this was the right thing to do. A man got on the line, didn’t identify himself and when I asked where they were and what company they worked for, you could tell I now was the one trying to go after them.  After I told them how shallow it was to attack innocent people like this, he blurted out a few expletives and mumbled some other inappropriate comments before hanging up.

If I had played his game, I have no doubt that the website I would have gone to likely would have been a way for them to remote control into my computer and more than likely it would have been used to download some Malware onto my machine. Things like key-loggers to capture my every password, my access, and even troll around my machine for some good documents that I might have. No doubt, my machine would have gone from a well-protected one to one that was riddled with Malware with a firewall turned off. All scary realizations for me.

…But could this have turned out differently?

What’s more scary though is I still play this story out with the “what-if” scenarios. What if my son had answered the phone? What if my wife had answered the call? Would they have played along or have gotten off the phone before damage was done? If they had played along, would the call have ended so innocently that they’d not have shared what happened with me? Could they have used my home machines (which don’t have valuable data) as a conduit to my work one, which definitely is more sensitive? The caller had the skills to make themselves sound believable, and the pressure-cooker capabilities of a time-share salesperson. They were well skilled to have seen this be a success.

On the heels of this event, I did everything I could to trace this attack back. It turns out the NY phone number was masked and it was originating from an exchange in India. The IP address website I was asked to access was from China. The call-back information was obviously invalid and I didn’t take the charade far enough to get more data to track them Typing on computerdown. Hindsight being 20/20, I wish I had spun up one of my Malware Virtual Machines to access their website and see what else they did or at least trace the traffic from that event back to a more authoritative location so I could snoop back at them. More than likely they were using the computer of their previous victim, so that likely would have led nowhere, but nonetheless, I came up short on sleuthing this one.

Beyond the attack on me, I went online and began to search for the keywords from this conversation, “Windows Service Center” and a few others. It turns out there were more than a few dozen of these attacks reported, each recounted a story like mine, and in many cases, the victims acknowledged they were successfully exploited as part of this attack.

The Moral of Part One

What’s the moral of this story?  There is no safe phone call and there is no innocent phone call. Unfortunately, it won’t take you long to go online and search and find other scams like this. Just this week we heard of the IRS phone scam defrauding millions from people impersonating the IRS. Some tips for all of us (and my mom) on this one:

  1. If someone calls, unfortunately, don’t trust them and make sure you validate their identity.
  2. Watch for key signs that the call is illegitimate. Ask yourself, does the caller ID number make sense? If it is “Unknown” really question it. If it is from outside of your home country, question it as well.
  3. If they are legitimate, they should be fine with you calling them back. Ask for their number and extension and ring them to validate you have a good number for them. At the same time however, if they give you an out of country number, DON’T CALL IT. This is a different type of scam…
  4. Never put yourself at risk doing something you know is wrong. Your firewall is there for a reason. We write patch-management software for a reason, never let someone ask you to take it down.
  5. If someone asks you to do something suspicious like go to an unverified website… don’t do it.
  6. Never… EVER… let them pressure you with commands or threats to do something you don’t want to.
  7. Call the authorities and email us. This activity is illegal and is a cybercrime. By you reporting it, people like me find out about it and then we go after these criminals.
  8. When in doubt, call/email me before you do anything… and I’m not just talking about emails from my mom… I’ll take emails from anyone on subjects like this.

I wish there was a switch on the wall that I could flip for us all to turn off the darkness.  Unfortunately, there isn’t. In the interim though, we’re here to make it safe for us all as best as we can. Be safe everyone.

Replace Dell Patch Authority Ultimate with Shavlik Protect

Dell offered Patch Authority Ultimate to its customers looking for a complete patch solution but not wanting the unwanted burden of a full client life cycle solution. Dell announced the end of life of the product last year and will discontinue support for the product on May 31, 2014.

RIP PAU

Having a good patch solution and process in place is critical to managing all the software updates in an organization, including both the OS and third party applications.  Dell Patch Authority did a good job keeping your systems up-to-date, but with the end-of-life announcement, you are now you are faced with a choice of either patching manually (unacceptable), using multiple tools to patch your enterprise, or choosing a more full featured systems management product which tends to be much more expensive.

Now that you’ve heard the bad news, let’s hear the good news. Shavlik Protect offers many of the same features of Dell’s Patch Authority and can even use the same patching database you have already built for your enterprise with Patch Authority.  For customers who are currently using Patch Authority, now is a good time to take a closer look at Shavlik Protect.

Stay tuned for my next blog where I go into details around product strategy for a large organization such as Dell.