Microsoft Surface Pro-ready for manufacturing, business and industry

The Microsoft Surface Pro has proven to be versatile in the workplace.  Mr. Arnold our Industrial Maintenance instructor uses the Microsoft Surface Pro to connect to nearly a hundred PLCs, motors, robots and other industrial components.

So why is this tablet perfect for business and industries?

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External DVD Attached through USB port

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USB EasyLINK to transfer files from one computer to another

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The Windows below shows the USB EasyLINK software (loaded on the USB device)

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Many industrial components require a floppy disk drive – (Above and Below)

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What if you need to expand your USB with a USB hub or two?

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IT personnel can attach a Wireless Spectrum Analyzer or multiple wireless cards for site surveys or other wireless needs.

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Four Wi-Fi Nic cards shown above

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Multitasking (above)

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Joining a domain (above)

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Connect an external drive, card reader or multiple USB drives at the same time.

Use all of your Windows based software…now why was the Surface a bad idea?  It’s not…

Installing Linux Lite – A mini review

Home users that ONLY check email and use very few other programs may consider replacing their OS.   Linux has made an exceptional gain over the past several years with a Programs (Add/Remove) component and with hardware drivers.

To see just how Linux Lite stacked up other OSs, I decided to load it in Oracle’s VirtualBox.  The little over 600+mb download is comparable in size to Windows XP.  The ISO can be burned with an image burner to make a bootable CD/DVD.  Before you decide to switch, remember there are limitations to Windows software even with Wine.  Wine is a software application that allows you to run Windows programs.  Hunting around the internet you’ll find hundreds of Linux programs comparable to Windows programs.  You don’t have to look far considering the Linux repository has hundreds of programs.

After loading Oracle’s VirtualBox, simply walk through the New OS wizard, select Linux, allocate 2 GB of RAM and 8 GB of HDD space if you can.  Once you have completed this step, click on Settings and select bridge on the Network Card and load the ISO under storage.

Once you complete that step, start the OS and follow the on screen prompts.

1

(Above) – initial load screen.

2

Loading the OS into RAM

3

Load time of around two minutes for the initial screen to appear.

4

Select your language.

5

The above screen is checks to insure hardware and internet connectivity is ok.

6

Erase the hard drive.

7

Below – set your location for the time.

8

Select the keyboard layout.

9

Setup an initial user and password.

10

Copying files

11

After the installation, Restart your computer (VirtualBox)

12

Booting up from the hard disk drive.

13

Login and options.

14

The initial desktop is clean.  Don’t let this fool you.  The amount of programs and options for an internet user is excellent.

15

 

17 updates

 

Checking for updates is easy.  Simply click on the menu and select update.  Provide your login password and Linux Lite does the rest.

Printer setup

If you have a printer that supports IPP Protocol, login to the printer’s web address and Enable IPP.   The printer in our home is the Samsung SCX-3400 wireless.  An inexpensive laser printer that provides for thousands of pages with Samsung’s toner cartridge.  The printer provides hundreds of options for Windows, Apple, Linus or mobile devices.

printer

 

What programs come with Linux Lite?  Hundreds of items.  Here’s the main categories.

  • Office
  • Games  (Such as steam and others)
  • Graphics  (Gimp and more)
  • Accessories
  • Internet (email and browsers)
  • Multimedia
  • System (dozens of tools)
  • Settings

accessories Games Graphics Internet Multimedia Office settings Sharing System

 

If you ONLY use the internet and want to look into an alternate operating system.  Linux Lite may be for you.  It is easy to use, install and offers hundreds of programs.

AlphiMAX PTP Estimator provides an excellent way to align your wireless antennas

Need an excellent program to estimate your wireless bridges from building to building?  AlphiMAX provides an excellent online program to estimate your wireless links.

Sign up is easy and fast.  The PTP Estimator requires that you have the Latitude and Longitude of both buildings.  You can get an estimated Lat. and Long. from Google maps.  Find your location on Google maps (you should use a GPS) and right click on the location you want then select “What’s here?” .    This will provide the numbers you need.  Remember, it is best to use a GPS on each site where you intend to erect an antenna.

PTP Estimator

You can also search for a location by name by clicking the area in the center of the online application.  icon

Once you have the Lat. and Long., enter the numbers at the top of the online application.  Click Estimate.

Entering LatandLong

The interface will show you the terrain, Antenna height, compass information, Fresnel Zone Clearance, approximate altitude,  along with product information they provide.

Aligned

 

The estimator also offers a 3D view of your project if you have an active subscription.

AlphiMAX Company Overview
AlphiMAX provides products to help you with your wireless needs.

Defending your network with Snort for Windows

SNortlogo
When you hear about Snort, the De facto of Intrusion Detection Systems, you think of Linux.  Snort offers a Windows setup and signatures that can be used with any operating system.

Snort should be a dedicated computer in your network.  This computer’s logs should be reviewed often to see malicious activities on your network.

Steps to install Snort on Windows :
1. Download Snort from the Snort.org website. (http://www.snort.org/snort-downloads)
2. Download Rules from here. You must register to get the rules. (You should download these often)
3. Double click on the .exe to install snort.  This will install snort in the “C:\Snort” folder.
It is important to have WinPcap installed
4. Extract the Rules file. You will need WinRAR for the .gz file.
5. Copy all files from the “rules” folder of the extracted folder.  Now paste the rules into “C:\Snort\rules” folder.
6. Copy “snort.conf” file from the “etc” folder of the extracted folder.  You must paste it into “C:\Snort\etc” folder. Overwrite any      existing file.  Remember if you modify your snort.conf file and download a new file, you must modify it for Snort to work.
7. Open a command prompt (cmd.exe) and navigate to folder “C:\Snort\bin” folder. ( at the Prompt, type cd\snort\bin)
8. To start (execute) snort in sniffer mode use following command:
snort -dev -i 3
-i indicates the interface number.  You must pick the correct interface number.  In my case, it is 3.
 -dev is used to run snort to capture packets on your network.

To check the interface list,  use following command:
 snort   -W
Finding an interface

You can tell which interface to use by looking at the Index number and finding Microsoft.  As you can see in the above example, the other interfaces are for VMWare.  My interface is 3.

9. To run snort in IDS mode, you will need to configure the file “snort.conf” according to your network environment.
10. To specify the network address that you want to protect in snort.conf file, look for the following line.
var HOME_NET 192.168.1.0/24  (You will normally see any here)
11. You may also want to set the addresses of DNS_SERVERS, if you have some on your network.

Example:

example snort
12. Change the RULE_PATH variable to the path of rules folder.
 var RULE_PATH c:\snort\rules

path to rules
13. Change the path of all library files with the name and path on your system. and you must change the path    of snort_dynamicpreprocessorvariable.
C:\Snort\lib\snort_dynamiccpreprocessor
You need to do this to all library files in the “C:\Snort\lib” folder. The old path might be: “/usr/local/lib/…”. you will need to    replace that path with your system path.  Using C:\Snort\lib
14. Change the path of the “dynamicengine” variable value in the “snort.conf” file..
Example:
 dynamicengine C:\Snort\lib\snort_dynamicengine\sf_engine.dll

libraries

 

15 Add the paths for “include classification.config” and “include reference.config” files.
  include c:\snort\etc\classification.config
include c:\snort\etc\reference.config
16. Remove the comment (#) on the line to allow ICMP rules, if it is  commented with a #.
 include $RULE_PATH/icmp.rules
17. You can also remove the comment of ICMP-info rules comment, if it is commented.
 include $RULE_PATH/icmp-info.rules
18. To add log files to store alerts generated by snort,  search for the “output log” test in snort.conf and add the following line:
output alert_fast: snort-alerts.ids
19.  Comment (add a #) the  whitelist $WHITE_LIST_PATH/white_list.rules and the blacklist

Change the nested_ip inner , \  to nested_ip inner #, \
20. Comment out (#) following lines:
#preprocessor normalize_ip4
#preprocessor normalize_tcp: ips ecn stream
#preprocessor normalize_icmp4
#preprocessor normalize_ip6
#preprocessor normalize_icmp6

21. Save the “snort.conf” file.
22. To start snort in IDS mode, run the following command:

snort -c c:\snort\etc\snort.conf -l c:\snort\log -i 3
(Note: 3 is used for my interface card)

If a log is created, select the appropriate program to open it.  You can use WordPard or NotePad++ to read the file.

To generate Log files in ASCII mode, you can use following command while running snort in IDS mode:
snort -A console -i3 -c c:\Snort\etc\snort.conf -l c:\Snort\log -K ascii

23. Scan the computer that is  running snort from another computer by using PING or NMap (ZenMap).

After scanning or during the scan you can check the snort-alerts.ids file in the log folder to insure it is logging properly.  You will see IP address folders appear.

Snort monitoring traffic -

traffic

Snort’s detailed report when scanning has stopped -

termination

 

Log files -

logs

 

 

Note:  Read the setup and configuration of Snort from Snort.org.  While this is a demo, Snort can be configured thousands of ways to detect and alert you in the event you have malicious activity on your network.  Downloading signatures often is extremely important

How to guard your wireless network and see intruders

100% credit goes to Bill Mullins for sharing this information. (BillMullins.wordpress.com).

Softperfect has some of the best freeware for Windows.   With Netscan you can see devices on your network and find information about the  devices.  Now with their software “WiFi  Guard”, you can use a device on your network and find the devices that are attached to it.

While you should take precautions to secure your wireless network, is someone accessing your network without your knowledge?

Installation is fast and easy.  Simply follow the wizard and make sure you run the software at startup.

Scan

Once you install the software, select the adapter and scan your network.  Next double click on known devices and select “I know this device.”  Let the software run and periodically scan your network.   If you find a device connecting to it,   locate the device and remove it from the network or take action to prevent unknown devices from connecting.

I Know

The software is designed to run on Apple, Windows or Linux.

Note: The above pic is from a lab environment and the addresses and macs do not represent real machines or a production environment.

Protecting your network by pen testing it

This post is for educational purposes and any use of these tools against a network without explicit permission could be illegal.   Metasploit is designed to identify weaknesses in networks and hardware/software on a network.  Do NOT use metasploit for other reasons.

Want to protect your network and the computers in your network?  You can get updates for your operating systems (Linux, Mac, iOS, Android, Windows or whatever) along with updates for third party programs yet you can still be unsecure.    When updating these products, you also have to remember firmware and updates for wireless devices, access points, bridges, firewalls, routers, switches, SCADA devices, robots, mobile devices, printers and any device on your network.

Metasploit

http://www.metasploit.com/download/

Metasploit Community is free and allows for a free scan of your network or server. Although limited (Try Pro for details and Brute Force), Metasploit Community is a first step in finding open services and ports on your operating system, hardware devices such as routers and other devices.   The trick to installing Metasploit is to disable your antivirus or make exceptions to what your antivirus finds.   You should truly install the software inside of a VM (Virtual Machine) so that your computer remains protected.

You can use Metasploit to protect your network by ‘seeing’ what a hacker or malicious person would see.  Truly for network professionals and auditors, this software can help you identify services, ports and weaknesses in your network.

There are several versions of Metasploit – Community, Pro, Express and Framework (Compare Editions)

Metasploit     Metasploit Two

Metasploit Scan Complete     metasploit Hosts

Metasploit Services After Scan

The above scan was in a controlled lab.  Malicious scanning of networks may be illegal.  Read  Penetration Basics on Metasploit’s website.

Tutorials (Videos)

Check a process – Can you trust it? Use CrowdInspect

CrowdInspect by CrowdStrike uses resources such as WOT,  VirusTotal  and Team Cymru’s Malware to check a running process.   This allows you to see if the process may be malicious or not.   The DNS information about any connections is also listed to let you determine if a process that is running should be looked into.

Crowd Inspect

What should you do with an old computer? Create a home router/firewall!

ITX-motherboards can often be found in older computers from garage sales or thrift stores.  What is the practical use for these motherboards or older computers?

Here’s a small project that involves protecting your home.

After finding an ITX motherboard and gathering extra parts from broken laptops and computers, this project will put the software SMOOTHWALL Express onto the computer to make a mini firewall.  Total cost?

  • $22 250watt power supply
  • $5 Gearhead mini keyboard

0306141659a

Base processor
Athlon 64 X2 (B) 5400+ 2.8 GHz (65W)
800 MHz front side bus
Socket AM2

Chipset
GeForce 9100

Motherboard

  • Manufacturer: Pegatron
  • Motherboard Name: APX78-BN
  • HP/Compaq motherboard name: Nutmeg-GL6E

Power supply
250W

Memory
240 Pin DDR2 PC2-6400 MB/sec
4GB
Hard drive
120 GB SATA 6G (6.0 Gb/sec)
7200 rpm

Video Graphics

Integrated on motherboard (NVidia 9100)

Sound/Audio
High Definition 6-channel audio
ALC 888S chipset

Network (LAN)
Integrated 10/100 Base-T networking interface
Added Broadcom wireless to create a wireless router

External I/O ports connections – 6  USB

Expansion slots

PCI Express mini card socket – added Broadcom Wireless
PCI Express x16
PCI Express x1

Additions-

  • 2″ Fan for Chipset

In the video below, HAK5 shows just how to make a motherboard like this into a nice home router/Firewall.

Thrift stores -an Internet and computer goldmine

Thrift stores and yard/garage sales can become a goldmine for computer geeks.  You have to know your technology and how to upgrade the device – and you have to truly know the value of a device/computer you stumble on.  Here’s an example -

The D-Link Dir-601 is a home router that lacks many features of other Wireless N routers.   This $60 router lacks MIMO antennas and has a throughput of about 65 -150 mbps.  However, the router can be upgraded to DD-WRT and dozens of features are added to this little router including power settings, virtual wireless, IPv6, QoS and more.

Dir-601

Amanda picked one up for the class for $1.99.   A real bargain for anyone.  So what can you get for $20 ?

D-Link, Belkin, Hawking, Linksys (WRT-54g), Cisco 150  - Most of which can take alternate firmware.

2310 Belkin Hawking wrt54g WRT120N

How about a cool project with a Pegatron motherboard so you can make a hardware firewall (Picked up for $0) -it included a quad core AMD processor and fan and 2 Gb of Ram.  Add a laptop hard drive, a 220 watt power supply and Smoothwall firewall to create a tiny firewall that protect you from malicious activity.   Total investment – $22.  I have a hard drive from Amanda’s old computer and ordered the power supply from Amazon.

Motherboard

Speaking of Firewalls – How about a Netgear FVS328 VPN firewall for the home.  Although it has reached EOL, $1.99 and uploading the latest firmware will still add extra protection to your home.

prosafe

OPSWAT Security Scope

What is OPSWAT?  OPSWAT is a San Francisco based software company that provides solutions to secure and manage IT infrastructure.  More info

OPSWAT has an excellent program you can download to check the overall score of your computer’s security rating.

Installation

 

Installation is easy and doesn’t require any special configuration.

 

Opswat

Once the program is started, it will take several minutes to analyze your computer.

Score

 

Your security score rates your computer’s security with a colorful graph and clickable links.  While mine showed a 75, I backup offsite.  This little program is accurate and gives any end-user a look at their security standing.  The program is very useful and should be ran by any home or small business owner.

Resizing your HDD partition to improve performance

Gamers and IT professionals along with home users that are power users can significantly improve HDD performance by shrinking the partitions on their HDDs.

By using the Disk Management utility in Windows you can shrink large HDDs as needed to increase performance.

How does this work?

For optimal system performance on an IIS server, you should install Windows and IIS on one drive and data on another drive.  When you install Windows, you can partition the entire drive with the full amount and use disk management to shrink the drive later OR you can give yourself enough space +30% for temp files (etc.).  By shrinking the drive, this optimizes the drive by not only placing files where they should go but allows the drive to become efficient by having only a certain amount to index and read.

The same should be done for the data drive.  You can extend the partition as data grows and space is needed.

Hopefully my math is right on the percentages…

Windows IIS Partition (Before and After)

Western Digital Black Edition WDC2002FAEX 2TB

HD Tune 5.0 (read test)      FULL 2 TB partition        Shrank to 1 TB     Increase or Decrease
Average transfer rate

80.1 MBps

119.9 MBps

34.2%

Minimum transfer rate

42.2 MBps

50.0 MBps

16.00%

Maximum transfer rate

123.4 MBps

143.1 MBps

14.8%

Burst rate

184.6 MBps

197.3 MBps

6.50%

Access time*

13.2 ms

10.1 ms

24.00%

Data Drive (Before and After)

HD Tune 5.0 (read test)      FULL 2 TB partition        Shrank to 1 TB     Increase or Decrease
Average transfer rate

94.1 MBps

113.9 MBps

17.4%

Minimum transfer rate

48.7 MBps

69.3 MBps

29.8%

Maximum transfer rate

131.4 MBps

143.3 MBps

8.3%

Burst rate

189.8 MBps

190.7 MBps

.50%

Access time*

11.2 ms

9.6 ms

14.3%

IIS using HD Tune 2.55

IIS

Data Drive using HD Tune 2.55

Data

Test your HDD Software (Freeware)

Notes:

Partitioning SSD drives will show a gain, but because of the economics behind SSDs at this time, it may not be economically feasible.  SSD drives can be optimized in other ways.

Linux and Apple drives can be optimized by partitioning.

Golden Rule – Do not use the unallocated amount.  Save it for growth or files that are not accessed often.

How to Shrink or Extend a partition

150 Best Windows Software

As we move into our seventh year, we have found Rick over at What’s On My PC and the articles he finds on the web to be some of the most useful resources.   Rick once again has found an excellent article on AddictiveTips giving 150 of the Best Windows Software of the Year 2013.

For one of the best resources on the web (770 sites), visit Rick’s other site Bookmarks4Techs.

Thanks Rick!