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Troubleshooting Windows Server 2012 R2 Crashes. Analysis of Dump Files & Options. Forcing System Server Crash (Physical/Virtual)

Posted in Windows 2012 Server

Troubleshooting Windows Server 2012 R2 Crashes. Analysis of Dump Files & Options. Forcing System Server Crash (Physical/Virtual) - 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 vote

windows-2012-troubleshooing-server-crashes-memory-dumps-debug-001aThere are umpteen reasons why your Windows Server 2012 R2 decides to present you with a Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) or the stop screen. As virtual machines become more prominent in enterprise environments, the same problems that plagued physical servers earlier are now increasingly being observed for crashes of virtual machines as well.

Microsoft designs and configures Windows systems to capture information about the state of the operating systems if a total system failure occurs, unlike a failure of an individual application. You can see and analyze the captured information in the dump files, the settings of which you can configure using the System Tool in the Control Panel. By default, BSOD provides minimal information about the possible cause of the system crash and this may suffice in most circumstances to help in identifying the cause of the crash.

However, some crashes may require a deeper level of information than what the stop screen provides – for example, when your server simply hangs and becomes unresponsive. In that case, you may still be able to see the desktop, but moving the mouse or pressing keys on the keyboard produces no response. To resolve the issue, you need a memory dump. This is basically a binary file that contains a portion of the server's memory just before it crashed. Windows Server 2012 R2 provides five options for configuring memory dumps.

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Types of Memory Dump Files Possible

1. Automatic Memory Dump

Automatic memory dump is the default memory dump that Windows Server 2012 R2 starts off with. This is really not a new memory dump type, but is a Kernel memory dump that allows the SMSS process to reduce the page file to be smaller than the size of existing RAM. Therefore, this System Managed page file now reduces the size of page file on disk.

2. Complete Memory Dump

A complete memory dump is a record of the complete contents of the physical memory or RAM in the computer at the time of crash. Therefore, this needs a page file that is at least as large as the size of the RAM present plus 1MB. The complete memory dump will usually contain data from the processes that were running when the dump was collected. A subsequent crash will overwrite the previous contents of the dump.

3. Kernel Memory Dump

The kernel memory dump records only the read/write pages associated with the kernel-mode in physical memory at the time of crash. The non-paged memory saved in the kernel memory dump contains a list of running processes, state of the current thread and the list of loaded drivers. The amount of kernel-mode memory allocated by Windows and the drivers present on the system define the size of the kernel memory dump.

4. Small Memory Dump

A small memory dump or a MiniDump is a record of the stop code, parameters, list of loaded device drivers, information about the current process and thread, and includes the kernel stack for the thread that caused the crash.

5. No Memory Dump

Sometimes you may not want a memory dump when the server crashes.

 

Configuring Dump File Settings

Installation and Configuration of Fine-Grained Password Policy for Windows Server 2012

Posted in Windows 2012 Server

Installation and Configuration of Fine-Grained Password Policy for Windows Server 2012 - 3.0 out of 5 based on 2 votes

windows-2012-install-setup-fine-grained-password-policy-01aMicrosoft introduced Fine-Grained Password Policy for the first time in Windows Server 2008 and the policy has been part of every Windows Server since then. Fine-Grained Password Policy allows overcoming the limitations of only one password policy for a single domain. A brief example is that we apply different password and account lockout policies to different users in a domain with the help of Fine-Grained Password Policies.
 
This article discusses the Fine-Grained Password Policy as applicable to Windows Server 2012, and the different ways of configuring this policy. Windows Server 2012 allows two methods of configuring the Fine-Grained Password Policy:

1. Using the Windows PowerShell

2. Using the Active Directory Administrative Center or ADAC

In earlier Windows Server editions, it was possible to configure Fine-Grained Password Policy only through the command line interface (CLI). However with Windows Server 2012 a graphical user interface has been added, allowing the configuration of the Fine-Grained Password Policy via the Active Directory Administrative Center. We will discuss both the methods.

Before you begin to implement the Fine-Grained Password Policy, you must make sure the domain functional level must be Windows Server 2008 or higher. Refer to relevant Windows 2012 articles on our website Firewall.cx.

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Configuring Fine-Grained Password Policy using the Windows PowerShell

Use your administrative credentials to login to your Windows Server 2012 domain controller. Invoke the PowerShell console by Right clicking on the third icon from the left in the taskbar on the Windows Server desktop and then clicking on Run as Administrator.

windows-2012-install-setup-fine-grained-password-policy-01

Figure 1. Executing Windows PowerShell as Administrator

 

Clicking on Yes to the UAC confirmation will open up an Administrator: Windows PowerShell console.

Within the PowerShell console, type the following command in order to begin the creation of a new fine grained password policy and press Enter:

C:\Windows\system32> New-ADFineGrainedPasswordPolicy

windows-2012-install-setup-fine-grained-password-policy-02

Figure 2. Creating a new Fine Grained Password Policy via PowerShell

 

Type a name for the new policy at the Name: prompt and press Enter. In our example, we named our policy FGPP:

windows-2012-install-setup-fine-grained-password-policy-03

Figure 3. Naming our Fine Grained Password Policy

 

Type a precedence index number at the Precedence: prompt and press Enter. Note that policies that have a lower precedence number have a higher priority over those with higher precedence numbers. We’ve set our new policy with a precedence of 15: windows-2012-install-setup-fine-grained-password-policy-04

Figure 4. Setting the Precedence index number of our Fine Grained Password Policy

 

Now the policy is configured, but has all default values. If there is need to add specific parameters to the policy, you can do that by typing the following at the Windows PowerShell command prompt and press Enter:

C:\Windows\system32> New-ADFineGrainedPasswordPolicy -Name FGPP -DisplayName FGPP -Precedence 15 -ComplexityEnabled $true -ReversibleEncryptionEnabled $false -PasswordHistoryCount 20 -MinPasswordLength 10 -MinPasswordAge 3.00:30:00 -MaxPasswordAge 30.00:30:00 -LockoutThreshold 4 -LockoutObservationWindow 0.00:30:00 -LockoutDuration 0.00:45:00


In the above command, replace the name FGPP with the name of your password policy, which in our example is FGPP.

The parameters used in the above are mandatory and pretty much self-explanatory:

Attributes for Password Settings above include:

  • Enforce password history
  • Maximum password age
  • Minimum password age
  • Minimum password length
  • Passwords must meet complexity requirements
  • Store passwords using reversible encryption

Attributes involving account lockout settings include:

  • Account lockout duration
  • Account lockout threshold
  • Reset account lockout after


To apply the policy to a user/group or users/groups, use the following command at the PowerShell command prompt:

C:\Windows\system32> Add-ADFineGrainedPasswordPolicySubject -Identity FGPP -Subjects “Chris_Partsenidis”

For confirming whether the policy has indeed been applied to the groups/users correctly, type the following command at the PowerShell command prompt and press Enter:

Web Application Security Interview on Security Weekly – Importance of Automated Web Application Security

Posted in Security Articles

Web Application Security Interview on Security Weekly – Importance of Automated Web Application Security - 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 vote

netsparker-importance-of-automated-web-application-scannerA few weeks back Security Weekly interviewed Ferruh Mavituna, Netsparker’s CEO and Product Architect. Security Weekly is a popular podcast that provides free content within the subject matter of IT security news, vulnerabilities, hacking, and research and frequently interviews industry leaders such as John Mcafee, Jack Daniel and Bruce Schneier.

During the 30 minutes interview, Security Weekly’s host Paul Asadoorian and Ferruh Mavituna highlight how important it is to use an automated web application security scanner to find vulnerabilities in websites and web applications. They also briefly discuss web application firewalls and their effectiveness, and how Netsparker is helping organizations improve their post scan process of fixing vulnerabilities with their online web application security scanner Netsparker Cloud.

Paul and Ferruh covered several other aspects of web application security during this interview, so if you are a seasoned security professional, a developer or a newbie it is a recommended watch.  

To view the interview, click on the image below:

netsparker-ceo-interview-importance-of-automated-web-application-scanner
Figure 1. Netsparker CEO explains the importance of automated web application security scanners

How to Install/Enable Telnet Client for Windows Server 2012 via GUI, Command Prompt and PowerShell

Posted in Windows 2012 Server

How to Install/Enable Telnet Client for Windows Server 2012 via GUI, Command Prompt and PowerShell - 4.5 out of 5 based on 2 votes

windows-2012-install-telnet-client-via-gui-cmd-prompt-powershell-00IT professionals frequently need connectivity and management tools. The Telnet Client is one of the most basic tools for such activities. Using this tool, you can connect to a remote Telnet server and run applications on it. This is also a very useful tool for testing the connectivity to remote servers, such as those running SMTP services, web services and so on. In this article we will discuss how to install or enable Telnet client for Windows Server 2012, using the GUI interface or command prompt.

Microsoft operating systems since Windows NT have included the Telnet client as a feature. However, later Operating Systems beginning with the Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista prefer not to enable it by default. Although you can always use a third-party tool for assisting you in remote connections and for troubleshooting connectivity, you can enable the Telnet client on your Windows Server 2012 any time needed.

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Primarily, there are three ways you can install or enable the Telnet client for Windows Server 2012. You can install the Telnet client from the Graphical User Interface, Windows command prompt or from PowerShell. We will discuss all the methods in this article.


Installing Telnet Client from the GUI

Invoke the Server Manager by clicking on the second icon on the bottom taskbar on the desktop of the Windows Server 2012 R2:

windows-2012-install-telnet-client-via-gui-cmd-prompt-powershell-01

Figure 1. Launching Windows Server Dashboard

 

On the Dashboard, click on Add Roles and Features, which opens the Add roles and features wizard:

windows-2012-install-telnet-client-via-gui-cmd-prompt-powershell-02 
Figure 2. Selecting Add roles and features on Windows Server 2012

 

Click on Installation Type and select Role Based or Feature Based Installation. Click on Next to proceed:

 windows-2012-install-telnet-client-via-gui-cmd-prompt-powershell-03

Figure 3. Selecting Installation Type – Role-based or feature-based installation

 

On the next screen, you can Select a server from the server pool. We select the server FW-DC1.firewall.local:

How to Enable & Configure Shadow Copy for Shared Folders on Windows Server 2012 R2

Posted in Windows 2012 Server

How to Enable & Configure Shadow Copy for Shared Folders on Windows Server 2012 R2 - 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 vote

When you shadow copy a disk volume, you are actually generating a snapshot of the changes made to the folders and files within the disk volume at a certain point in time. Windows 2012 R2 shadow copy feature allows taking snapshots at set intervals, so that users can revert and restore their folders and files to a previous version.

The shadow copy feature for backups is a much faster solution compared to the traditional backup solution. We should keep in mind that shadow copy is not meant as a replacement for the traditional backup process. The shadow copy process never copies all the files and folders, but only keeps track of the changes made to them. This is the reason shadow copy cannot replace the traditional backup process. Typically, shadow copies are useful in scenarios where one needs to restore an earlier version of files or folders.

To configure shadow copy of a shared folder in Windows Server 2012, at first, you have to enable the shadow copy feature on the disk volume containing the shared folder. The shadow copy process works only at volume level and not on individual files or directories. Additionally, it works only on NTFS volumes and not on FAT volumes. After generating a snapshot of the data, the server keeps track of changes occurring to the data.

Typically, the server stores the changes on the same volume as the original, but you can change the destination. Additionally, you can define the disk space allocated to shadow copies. As the allocated disk space fills up, the server deletes the oldest shadow copy snapshot, thereby making room for newer shadow copies. Once the server has deleted a shadow copy snapshot, you cannot retrieve it. Windows Server 2012 R2 can keep a maximum of 64 shadow copies per volume.

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Install File and Storage Services

The shadow copy feature requires prior installation of all the File and Storage Services. For installing or verifying the installation of all the File and Storage Services, logon to the server as a local administrator, go to the Server Manager Dashboard and click on Add Roles and Features.

windows-2012-shadow-copy-setup-generate-file-folder-01

Figure 1. Server Manager Dashboard

 

This opens the Add Roles and Features Wizard, wherein go to Server Selection to select the server on which you want to install the File and Storage Services:

windows-2012-shadow-copy-setup-generate-file-folder-02

Figure 2. Selecting our Windows 2012 R2 Server from the server pool

 

Click on Next and select Server Roles. Expand the File and Storage Services and the File and iSCSI Services. Check that tick marks are visible against all the services. Click on those missing the tick marks:

windows-2012-shadow-copy-setup-generate-file-folder-03

Figure 3. Selecting File & Storage Services, plus iSCSI Services for installation

 

Click Next four times until you arrive at Confirmation:

windows-2012-shadow-copy-setup-generate-file-folder-04

Figure 4. Add roles and Features – Final confirmation Window

Click on Install to enable all the File and Storage Services. Once the server has completed the installation, click on Close.

 

Enabling the Shadow Copy Feature

After having confirmed that the server has enabled all File and Storage Services, go to the server desktop and open the File Explorer. You can do this by pressing the WINDOWS+E keys together on your keyboard or by clicking on the fourth icon from left on the bottom toolbar on the Windows Server 2012 R2 desktop:

windows-2012-shadow-copy-setup-generate-file-folder-05 

Figure 5. Opening Windows File Explorer

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