WindowsNetworking.com Monthly Newsletter of January 2012 Sponsored by: ManageEngine
Welcome to the WindowsNetworking.com newsletter by Debra Littlejohn 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
Normally when I compose these editorial words of wisdom, I’m sitting in my office overlooking Lake Ray Hubbard in north central Texas. This month, however, I’m coming at you live from Las Vegas, where I’m attending the 2012 CES. The show is about consumer electronics, so that has nothing to do with you IT pros and the company networks you manage – or does it?
I’ve written here before about how the “trickle down” effect of consumerization is impacting IT departments all over the globe. That has to do mainly with workers bringing their own computers, tablets and phones into the workplace. But as I walked through the exhibits here, I realized that there are other ways in which these hot new devices – designed primarily with home users in mind – are going to bring new issues and challenges to the business IT world.
Here’s the thing: We are truly entering the age of (almost) ubiquitous computing and it’s gone way beyond smartphones. One of the big trends I saw at CES was “smart TVs,” which actually means “Internet-connected TVs.” With the advent of new, fast wireless technologies such as LTE, cars are getting connected, too; some of the in-vehicle high tech is very impressive. Appliances that go online – that’s an idea that’s been tried before and never caught on, but the day is getting closer when our refrigerators and ovens and washing machines will routinely be controlled over the Internet. That doesn’t seem nearly as outrageous to the average person as it did ten or even five years ago. Many already have their home security systems and lighting systems integrated into their home networks.
What does that mean to you, professionally? It means that those same laptops and smartphones that your workers connect to your network during the business day may have been connecting to these much bigger and much more complicated home networks at night and on the weekends. It means those home networks will have an ever-increasing exposure to viruses, worms and malware through all these new devices. If your car’s entertainment system connects to the Internet over a 4G or WiMax network, you don’t know how secure that connection is. Then let’s say you connect your smartphone to that car system to transfer some music files – and now it’s possible that the car system can infect the phone. What happens when you take that phone to work and connect it to the company network?
Sure, there are some important mitigating factors. If the car, phone and computers on your network don’t run a common operating system, malware may not be able to spread between them. But as more and more computers and devices running different operating systems connect and interoperate more seamlessly together, this will become more of a problem. While smooth interoperability is a great convenience, it’s not as great for security. As always, convenience and security are on opposite ends of the continuum and you might have to sacrifice one to get the other.
Does that mean you should just throw up your hands in despair and give up on security completely? Not at all. It just means you need to adapt to the changing face of computing. The dinosaurs disappeared because they weren’t able to adapt to a changing environment, and you certainly don’t want to meet the same fate. If you’re smart, you’ve already scoped out a plan for setting up a system that will allow you to manage the mobile devices that connect to your network and ensure that you maintain control over the access they’re granted and the impact they can have, even if they aren’t owned by the company. And you’ll take into consideration all the places they might have been and the other devices and networks they might have been connected to along the way. Never assume that any personally owned device is trustworthy, no matter how trustworthy you might consider the owner of that device to be.
Protecting your network begins with policies, but policies aren’t enough. You have to have the means to enforce those policies, and that means technological enforcement measures – not just administrative consequences for violations. There are a number of companies out there that already offer comprehensive mobile device management software for the enterprise, and I predict a boom in this type of software, to fill the growing need. In the months ahead, we’ll be watching that market and reporting back on some of the products that have the most potential.
See you next month! –Deb.
By Debra Littlejohn Shinder, MVP
Quote of the Month - Our inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from serious things. They are but improved means to an unimproved end. – Henry David Thoreau
3. WindowsNetworking.com Articles of Interest
Increase the Taskbar Thumbnail Size
When you have the Aero theme enabled in Windows 7, you see thumbnail previews of the opened windows when hovering over the icons in the taskbar. If you find the thumbnails are too small, you can increase their size by adding the following
Maybe start with 350 pixels. You must restart for the change to take effect
For more administrator tips, go to WindowsNetworking.com/WindowsTips
Implementing WPA2-Enterprise security with 802.1X authentication currently provides the best possible security for Wi-Fi connections. However, in addition to running an authentication server, you must be concerned about the relatively complex client configuration. There are solutions to help distribute and configure the wireless settings of clients. Some of those include:
For information on each of these options, check out the article Distributing Wi-Fi and 802.1X Client Settings.
Quick question. I have about 30 servers in my datacenter and things are working well, so you don’t need to answer any questions related to how to fix what I broke. What I’m actually interested in is some information on how to make the workloads in my datacenter run faster and more efficiently. Do you know where I can find some authoritative guidance in this area? Thanks! – Leslie.
Good to hear that your servers are humming along and not giving you any big problems. And you’re right that the best time to start your optimization process is when things are working well. But performance tuning is a tricky game and you do need some good guidance to help lead you in the right direction. The good news is that I have a great resource for you! Microsoft has published a paper called Performance Tuning Guidelines for Windows Server 2008 R2 which you can find here. There’s a wealth of information on tuning web servers, file server, virtualization server, Active Directory servers, and a lot more. This should keep you busy for a while. Let me know how much improvement you see after you finish your initial tuning efforts.