Online safety tips from Google

Here is a very good walk though of basic online safety steps that just about everybody should read. From start to finish!

Google on Online Security

It covers just about everything I and other security professionals have been saying for years. Strong passwords, up to date Operating Systems and Browsers, updated Antivirus and applications. NOT clicking on links in emails but instead using the ‘front door’ of sites etc.

It is still worth spending a few minutes of time to read and follow the advice. To not do so is simply foolish.

Phishing attacks getting more efficient for the bad guys

Folks, please, please, please be very careful of what you click on and what financial information you provide. Especially in response to an ‘alerting’ email!
There are a great number of ‘phishing’ attacks occurring again and they are getting even more sophisticated. Many almost look and sound legitimate. I have written previously on some of this here.

But as a reminder, if you get an email or text telling you you must login to a financial (or any other for that matter) site via a link in an email DO NOT CLICK ON ANY LINK AND MOST IMPORTANTLY DON’T ENTER ANY INFORMATION IF YOU DO!!
If you must visit a bank, credit card or online vendors site for ‘verification’ or what ever do so through the ‘Front Door’. By that I mean open a brand new Web Browser window and log in to ‘their site’ and proceed from there. i.e. etc.

If you click on many of these links a few things are likely to happen. 1st you will probably be silently infected by a Trojan/backdoor application and 2nd you will probably be brought to a ‘bogus’ site that looks very much like the legitimate site. You will be prompted to enter in financial and/or information such as account/card numbers passwords and other verification. The MOMENT you do you can be assured that your account will be compromised! Sometimes in as little as a few minutes your account can be emptied!

Here is an example of one of the hundreds of emails that have been hitting my email server this weekend. You can see that it almost looks legitimate; the wording is sufficiently scary and authoritative and there is a ‘real logo’. But the link in the email is to a phishing site. AND the email address on the ‘from’ is not correct.


This looks very ‘scary’ and it is – but for the reason that you WILL be screwed, not that you are yet.

Please use some caution in the digital world. You would not give a perfect stranger your bank card and pin but some will do just that in cyberspace.

Be safe folks!

Computer Virus Infects U.S. Drone Fleet!

This should just serve as another warning – PEOPLE KEEP YOUR AV AND ANTI-SPYWARE SOFTWARE UP TO DATE!!

Use multiple types of protection, keep your systems OS files and applications updated.

A computer virus has infected the cockpits of America’s Predator and Reaper drones, logging pilots’ every keystroke as they remotely fly missions over Afghanistan and other warzones. Read about that HERE

While you, as a civilian home user, don’t have the large ‘target’ on you that the government and large financial institutions do, you still need to be safe.

This will undoubtedly come down to poor security measures taken from the beginning of the OS install/configuration and on to user management policies – letting users run with administrative or elevated privileges that should not have it.

Come on folks think security first or you WILL be taken advantage of

Exchange 2003 P2V and drive expansion fix

It’s been a long few weeks.

I Had an Exchange 2003 server whose physical hardware was failing – drive and drive controller errors and the physical disk was running out of space on the system drive. Which happened to be the ONLY drive in the server. Yes I know that the system, log and dbase files should all be on separate drives, but I did not build this machine. And it has been the only Exchange server in the organization for almost six years! So I can’t just shut it down.

I did a P2V (physical to Virtual) conversion using and Acronis Image (VMware kicks as at this by the way) and moved it to my ESX Cluster on my SAN, with the hope of being able to at least add some more space to the existing drive and then add additional hard drives (virtual of course) to split up the log and dbase files onto drives other than the %system’% drive.

The P2V went OK with some minor issues with ‘hidden network’ cards and such causing problems. But I got past that. Following ‘Method 1’ here (note that you must not close the command line window after step 2 or you will not see the devices!!).

I also had to re-run the Exchange adprep/domainprep on the Domain controller to fix some messed up AD containers/connectors. I also found that after the adprep that was a reference to on old SBS2000 Exchange server that was no longer on the network (fax service too) and I manually removed those via the ADSIedit.msc. So finally it was at least working again! We, as do most organizations that have been around for a while, have a huge spam/malicious email flood that is continually taxing the server. But that is for another post.

So on to the next MAJOR issue. When I moved the machine to a VM I expanded the one and only drive – C: from 32GB to 40GB before starting and connecting it. This sounds all well and good but that extra 8GB of space just shows up as ‘unallocated’ space in the Windows 2003 Server Disk Manager.
I also did create two other volumes on the datastore that houses that machine for the future moving of the logs and dbase files and attached them to the Server.

So now my Exchange 2003 server has three disks (drives) listed in Disk Manager a C: drive still running out of space (but showing 8GB of ‘unallocated space) and two additional large (30GB) drives (F & G); which I will eventually move my log and dbase files to.

So how to expand the system drive to it’s full available size?! I need to have enough room just to be able to move the dbase and log files.

There are LOADS of articles out there ranging from using DiskPart, using Acronis DiskDirector, using gparted and many others. But all seem extremely complex and with poor success rates according to the very long responses on the posts.

I finally found a SUPER blog post By JJ Clements here that looked VERY promising!

So I gave it a try. My first issue was that (as noted in some of the comments) that I had to run the Dell EXTPART utility in safemode. Kind of a bitch to get into in VMware – you have to be VERY quick with the F8 key!

But I was able to expand the drive to the full 40GB. All would be good and well if this wasn’t an Exchange server.


The solution – run a repair on the information stores (as per MS’s article here). I could not however run the offline defrag (step 3 in the MS article) to the local system – I’m still out of space! But I will run that to another drive later. I then restart all services.

BAM!! THE F$*ker works!

Well that’s all in a 15hour day I’m done.