Microsoft finally fixes their Windows 10 Update process!

While browsing ZDNet.com, I was pleased to read how Microsoft is going to make some long overdue changes as to how Windows 10 gets updated/upgraded.  The most notable of these features is that starting with version 1903, they are finally separating security updates from feature updates as shown in the screenshot below…

I cannot begin to tell you the countless times my customers have clicked on the “Check for Updates” button and are flabbergasted that they have a brand new version of Windows 10 installed!  Microsoft should have NEVER, EVER allowed for something like this in the first place but as the old saying goes, better late than never!  Click here for the full article.

It’s back…Windows 7 users, get ready to be harassed!

I have to admit, give Microsoft credit for doing their best to craft a message that users would be inclined to understand and accept.  Compare this to the early days of Windows 10 being available in the marketplace and I think we could all agree that if you’re going to nag your users, this is one of the better ways to do it.

And in case you forgot, you wouldn’t dare yearn for the days these type of messages hit your desktop…

Ok, obviously that isn’t exactly what popped up on your screen but it sure did feel like it, right?!?!

Real notices used by Microsoft include:

Rufus 3.5 Beta

So it appears that Rufus, the program which makes creating bootable USB hard drives and flash drives with ease, will now have the added capability of downloading all versions of Windows 10 and 8.1 as shown in the screenshots below…

If this feature works as advertised, it would be a great step forward and would perhaps lead to having access to other operating systems in the future.  Click here to download the beta and give it a try…I know I will!

Google Chrome Zero Day Exploit (Update)

So it looks like Google has released specific details regarding their initial call to action for all users to patch their Chrome web browser / OS as soon as possible.  Come to find out this would have only affected those users running 32-bit versions of Windows 7 which is another reason why you should upgrade to Windows 10 sooner rather than later!

See a part of the statement released by Clement Lecigne of the Google Threat Analysis Group:

On Wednesday, February 27th, we reported two 0-day vulnerabilities — previously publicly-unknown vulnerabilities — one affecting Google Chrome and another in Microsoft Windows that were being exploited together.

To remediate the Chrome vulnerability (CVE-2019-5786), Google released an update for all Chrome platforms on March 1; this update was pushed through Chrome auto-update. We encourage users to verify that Chrome auto-update has already updated Chrome to 72.0.3626.121 or later.

The second vulnerability was in Microsoft Windows. It is a local privilege escalation in the Windows win32k.sys kernel driver that can be used as a security sandbox escape. The vulnerability is a NULL pointer dereference in win32k!MNGetpItemFromIndexwhen NtUserMNDragOver() system call is called under specific circumstances.

We strongly believe this vulnerability may only be exploitable on Windows 7 due to recent exploit mitigations added in newer versions of Windows. To date, we have only observed active exploitation against Windows 7 32-bit systems.

Pursuant to Google’s vulnerability disclosure policy, when we discovered the vulnerability we reported it to Microsoft. Today, also in compliance with our policy, we are publicly disclosing its existence, because it is a serious vulnerability in Windows that we know was being actively exploited in targeted attacks. The unpatched Windows vulnerability can still be used to elevate privileges or combined with another browser vulnerability to evade security sandboxes. Microsoft have told us they are working on a fix.

As mitigation advice for this vulnerability users should consider upgrading to Windows 10 if they are still running an older version of Windows, and to apply Windows patches from Microsoft when they become available. We will update this post when they are available.

Once again, translation: upgrade now! 🙂

 

How to Generate a Group Policy Report

Depending on the size of your organization, you could have a few Group Policy Objects (GPO) or you could have many.  Sometimes it is very hard to find out why a workstation or server is acting the way it is.  I would say that GPOs are the heart of security in a Windows domain environment.

A nice way to view which policies are being applied to the target Workstation/Server is by generating an .html file that shows all GPOs applied.  The GPRESULT command displays the Resultant Set of Policy (RSoP) information for a remote user and computer.

Open a Command Prompt and type the following:

cd Desktop
GPRESULT /H GPReport.html /f

Now open the file GPReport.html that is present on the desktop.  It should look similar to the image below.

I used to only run this command minus creating the report but realized quickly that it was hard to read and find the relevant info I was looking for.  Ever since finding this a few years back, I can’t imagine going back to the old way!

Windows 10 v1809 Disk Cleanup Replacement

One of the downsides in moving to the latest version of Windows 10 is that Disk Cleanup has been deprecated which means that although it still technically exists and can be used, it will no longer receive any new feature updates.  This is a definite sign that Microsoft will look to remove it completely in the near future, perhaps with the next feature update expected this Spring.  Although it was far from perfect, at minimum it would serve as a guide to help figure out what’s taking up space on your local disk drive.  According to an article by Martin Brinkmann, there’s a program named Cleanmgr+ currently in beta testing that’s designed to be a full fledged replacement whenever Microsoft decides to pull the plug on Disk Cleanup.  I’ve also included a short video produced by MajorGeeks which reviews the program…let me know what you think…

 

Migrating to Windows 10

As you may know, Windows 7 is reaching “end of life” status on January 14, 2020 (only 13 months away believe it or not!) which means that Microsoft will no longer provide security patches to protect your PC despite the fact that it still has about the same percentage of market share as Windows 10 does.

Whether we like it or not, those using Windows 7 must act sooner rather than later and plan for migrating to Windows 10 (or another supported platform such as Apple’s macOS).  That being said, I recently came across a great migration guide (click here) by Jonathan Hassell of Computerworld detailing what to be aware of when moving off of Windows 7 and onto Windows 10.

An excerpt from the article says it all…

A caveat before I begin: While this is not a review of Windows 10, I think it is important to let you know what to expect. Windows 10 is, to me, a frustrating mix of tremendous security improvements and OS enhancements, along with several significant steps back in stability, usability, and overall quality. I have not run Windows 10 without it crashing, hard, at least every 48 hours on any system. My experience indicates that in general you will find that your client machines have more trouble than they did running Windows 7, and you may well have the trouble ticket count to match.

For the many who have already migrated to Windows 10, feel free to leave any tips, pointers, etc. to help make the process as seamless as possible…