Unsupported software systems: Microsoft shuts down support for Windows 8.1, upgrade to Windows 10 ends today.

Unsupported software systems: Microsoft shuts down support for Windows 8.1, upgrade to Windows 10 ends today.

New York, NY – Microsoft’s Windows 8.1 is essentially a dead operating system. Microsoft ended mainstream support on January 9th. There will be no new features, or bug fixes. There is a last-ditch upgrade to Windows 10 via the Microsoft assistive technology loophole, but it ends today January 16, 2018.

All software has a lifecycle. It gets developed, released, updated, and eventually completely over written for a newer version. There is nothing to stop you from using unsupported software, but the dangers are huge.

Basically the unsupported software has no further updates, no bug fixes, no technical support, then there are the security weaknesses, and security bugs that can be exploited by hackers. We have seen ransomware attacks that are designed to target unsupported software systems. Ransomware systems like Wanncry and Petya have been very active in this field.

Unsupported Software Risks

Bottom line

If your version of any software system is no longer supported, you are putting your business at risk.

Devices connected to your network are more integral to your business then you think. Which means that a virus on any device could cause a major business disruption.

Although you can believe you can accept the risk of running unsupported software, you should treat it as a temporary strategy.

Unsupported software systems will expose your corporate network to cyberattacks. The cost and resources required to replace unsupported software will be much greater then making sure your software is supported. The perceived cost and impact of an adverse event caused by the unsupported software is huge, and can possibly put your organization out of business.

If your organization has decided to allow the use of unsupported software, senior management should fully understand the risks, and they should establish a policy for preventing unsupported software on its network. Such a policy must be part of the business risk management plan. It should specifically identify resources and earmark funding to implement the policy.

What can you do?

1) Inform senior management about the risks of running unsupported software.
2) Establish a corporate wide policy for preventing unsupported software use on your networks.
3) Ensure the corporate wide policy aligns with your corporation’s risk management plan.
4) Identify resources and earmark corporate funding to implement the policy.
5) Contact Adept Technologies: www.adepttech.com.

We at Adept Technologies have replaced numerous unsupported software systems in our industry.

Contact us today to see how Adept Enterprise can help your organization.

Call us toll free 1-888-392-9623

North Korea Escalating Cyber-Attacks

North Korea Escalating Cyber-Attacks With Little Fear of Retaliation (http://www.eweek.com)

Technology

Online attackers from North Korea reportedly stole confidential military documents, including war contingency plans drawn up by U.S. and South Korean forces. Without any downside, such attacks will continue, security experts say.

The data, part of a massive haul of 235 gigabytes taken during an intrusion spanning the months of August and September 2016, was only recently identified as the South Korean government pieced together what was taken.

Lee Cheol-hee, a South Korean lawmaker and member of the parliamentary defense committee, said that attackers had infiltrated the Defense Integrated Data Center, according to The Washington Post. The stolen data includes war plans and a scheme to assassinate North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un in the event of war, according to the South Korean lawmaker. The attack happened last year, but only 20 percent of the documents have so far been identified.

…….Continue reading at www.eweek.com

My Two Cents: I read that the documentation stolen was located in a network not connected to the internet. That a so called maintenance port was accessed with a laptop that acted as a go between the North Koreans and the South Korean systems. I am shocked that such a high classified network did not alert the South Koreans that a unknown device had attached itself to their system and was accessing data. But of course spies have access if they are already in the inside and are authorized access. I would review all the authorized user access records and locate the spies within the organization…. but then again don’t believe what you read…

Amazon explains big AWS outage

Amazon explains big AWS outage (http://www.geekwire.com)

Technology

Amazon explains big AWS outage, says employee error took servers offline, promises changes.

Amazon has released an explanation of the events that caused the big outage of its Simple Storage Service Tuesday, also known as S3, crippling significant portions of the web for several hours.

RELATED: AWS cloud storage back online after outage knocks out popular sites

Amazon said the S3 team was working on an issue that was slowing down its billing system. Here’s what happened, according to Amazon, at 9:37 a.m. Pacific, starting the outage: “an authorized S3 team member using an established playbook executed a command which was intended to remove a small number of servers for one of the S3 subsystems that is used by the S3 billing process. Unfortunately, one of the inputs to the command was entered incorrectly and a larger set of servers was removed than intended.”

Those servers affected other S3 “subsystems,” one of which was responsible for all metadata and location information in the Northern Virginia data centers. Amazon had to restart these systems and complete safety checks, a process that took several hours. In the interim, it became impossible to complete network requests with these servers. Other AWS services that relied on S3 for storage were also affected.

About three hours after the issues began, parts of S3 started to function again. By about 1:50 p.m. Pacific, all S3 systems were back to normal. Amazon said it has not had to fully reboot these S3 systems for several years, and the program has grown extensively since then, causing the restart to take longer than expected.

Amazon said it is making changes as a result of this event, promising to speed up recovery time of S3 systems. The company also created new safeguards to ensure that teams don’t take too much server capacity offline when working on maintenance issues like the S3 billing system slowdown.

Amazon is also making changes to its service health dashboard, which is designed to track AWS issues. The outage knocked out the service health dashboard for several hours, and AWS had to distribute updates via its Twitter account and by programming in text at the top of the page. In the message, Amazon said it made a change to spread that site over multiple AWS regions.

Continue reading at http://www.geekwire.com

My Two Cents:
We were working with the ESRI ArcGIS Web Services API when it went down. I was not aware that ESRI leveraged the Amazon S3 Cloud systems. If you are going to run API Services, make sure you have redundancy. I was surprised. The old saying “do not put all your eggs in one basket” is obviously alive and well with some Tech corporations.

German nuclear plant suffers cyber attack designed to give hackers remote access

German nuclear plant suffers cyber attack designed to give hackers remote access (http://www.telegraph.co.uk)

Technology – Security

German nuclear plant suffers cyber attack designed to give hackers remote access

A nuclear power plant in Germany has been found to be infected with computer viruses, but they appear not to have posed a threat to the facility’s operations because it is isolated from the Internet, the station’s operator said on Tuesday.

The Gundremmingen plant, located about 120 km (75 miles) northwest of Munich, is run by the German utility RWE.

The viruses, which include “W32.Ramnit” and “Conficker”, were discovered at Gundremmingen’s B unit in a computer system retrofitted in 2008 with data visualisation software associated with equipment for moving nuclear fuel rods, RWE said.

Malware was also found on 18 removable data drives, mainly USB sticks, in office computers maintained separately from the plant’s operating systems. RWE said it had increased cyber-security measures as a result.

W32.Ramnit is designed to steal files from infected computers and targets Microsoft Windows software, according to the security firm Symantec.

First discovered in 2010, it is distributed through data sticks, among other methods, and is intended to give an attacker remote control over a system when it is connected to the Internet.

Conficker has infected millions of Windows computers worldwide since it first came to light in 2008. It is able to spread through networks and by copying itself onto removable data drives, Symantec said.

RWE has informed Germany’s Federal Office for Information Security (BSI), which is working with IT specialists at the group to look into the incident.

The BSI was not immediately available for comment.

My Two Cents:
Again…The DOE, and FERC need to address cyber security problems as a national security clear and present danger issue (TLP) RED level. I personally feel that the DOE and FERC are NOT the type of government agencies that mission statements are for this type of national security challenge (Protecting the USA Power Grid(s)). The DHS, US-CERT and FBI need to take control and get some move on in this power industry…

USA Power Grid and hydroelectric plants Black Start

USA Power Grid and hydroelectric plants Black Start (https://en.wikipedia.org)

Technology – Security

A black start is the process of restoring an electric power station or a part of an electric grid to operation without relying on the external transmission network.[1]

Normally, the electric power used within the plant is provided from the station’s own generators. If all of the plant’s main generators are shut down, station service power is provided by drawing power from the grid through the plant’s transmission line. However, during a wide-area outage, off-site power supply from the grid will not be available. In the absence of grid power, a so-called black start needs to be performed to bootstrap the power grid into operation.

To provide a black start, some power stations have small diesel generators, normally called the black start diesel generator (BSDG), which can be used to start larger generators (of several megawatts capacity), which in turn can be used to start the main power station generators. Generating plants using steam turbines require station service power of up to 10% of their capacity for boiler feedwater pumps, boiler forced-draft combustion air blowers, and for fuel preparation. It is uneconomical to provide such a large standby capacity at each station, so black-start power must be provided over designated tie lines from another station. Often hydroelectric power plants are designated as the black-start sources to restore network interconnections. A hydroelectric station needs very little initial power to start (just enough to open the intake gates and provide excitation current to the generator field coils), and can put a large block of power on line very quickly to allow start-up of fossil-fueled or nuclear stations. Certain types of combustion turbine can be configured for black start, providing another option in places without suitable hydroelectric plants.

My Two Cents:
I have been working with hydroelectric Power plants since 2005 with regard to their Software Technology. I was amazed to find out that FERC (ISO/RTO/Electric Power Markets), have made it economic unprofitable for most hydroelectric plants to remain a Black Start system for our power grid(s). Over the years I have been inside many hydroelectric power plants and pump storage power plants, and to my amazement 90 % of them have had the black start systems removed, 8 % were still there but deemed unoperational, and only 1 was still good to go….Seriously…. So over the years based on deregulation and the way our capital system is setup, AND how these power firms have been bought and sold, the fact that it is so expensive and the regulations required by FERC (ISO/RTO/Electric Power Markets), it is cheaper to remove the black start features from these plants. Even the Insurance companies that insure these firms somehow where either kept in the dark or allowed this to happen. I feel that every hydroelectric power plant in the USA should be black start operational, especially Hydro facilities that have an ongoing source of water for generation like rivers. I believe it should not be an economic policy with regard to national security. I am just dumbfounded on the logic behind this…