[tomorrow we will interview Samantha the SBS workstation, but today we sit down one on one with Sam the SBS box to ask him how his year was]
Q. So Sam, overall, how was 2004 for you?
A. Pretty good, all in all. I’ve added a lot more relatives to the SBS family and community this year, a lot of brand new faces, blogs, it’s been really fun to see a lot of new family members in SBSland.
Q. Give us some highlights of the year, if you will?
A. Sure thing, we started out the year on a solid footing with the release of Harry Brelsford’s SBS 2003 best practices book and we’ve been building momentum ever since. It’s been really cool to see the increase in people in the 2003 newsgroups, in the yahoogroups – both the technical ones, the business ones and our new general small business one.
Q. Any event in particular stand out in your mind?
A. Oh yeah, couple of things that I was proud to be a part of. First off we had the second year of the SMBnation conference in September and this time we had it in the place I was born, so that was a real treat for me. Next Microsoft started a new community surrounding the small business space and that really took off with a bang which was really cool to see. The Mssmallbiz web site, listserve and now blog really took off great. I was proud to be associated in some small way with that effort.
Q. That’s really cool! Now we have to ask the tough questions, okay? One of the big issues we have today in technology is in Security. Let’s be honest, here. Weren’t you in the news recently about some security issues you had?
A. You read that USA Today article too, huh?
Q. Well, yeah. Want to comment on that?
A. Absolutely! I’d love to tell my side of the story more often. Honestly, that was a really dumb test they did. What they should have tested was Windows 2003 server, instead they tested me. And I kept yelling at them that I wanted a strong password or passphrase, that I did not want to be sitting on the internet exposed without a firewall but they refused it listen to me every step of the way. I mean talk about frustrating for me, when I was trying to get them to listen to the right way to set things up and they didn’t!
Q. You mean they purposely set you up insecurely?
A. Yes they did. They wanted to prove the point that being on the web you need a firewall. Geeze, I kept telling them that all along the way, but they refused to listen. They did say that once they picked a secure password that I did stay on the web and didn’t get hurt. Given that I was set up without my normal protection in place, I’d say I did pretty good given that no one should be out playing on the Internet without the right protection. But it really does showcase the one place where my owners and end users need to help me out. Choosing proper passwords. In fact, this year I can honestly say that I “could” have not gotten any security patches throughout the year and I’d still be able to be in very fine shape at the end of the year. What really was my soft spot this year was what spammers were trying to do to me.
Q. Spammers? What do you mean? Can you elaborate?
A. Oh sure! First off they tried to guess my passwords so they could authenticate on my mail system. This is called an SMTP auth attack in my biz. If one of my owners or end users uses a dumb password, it makes me susceptible to password guessing. This is one reason why it’s important for my owners and admins to review my audit log files. This is one major advantage that I have over my older SBS 2000 relative, I natively do auditing, whereas my relative, you have to turn it on in his system, he doesn’t do it automatically like I do.
Q. That’s a good feature to have turned on.
A. Yes it is, I’d really recommend it to anyone still running SBS 2000 to enable it on their systems.
Q. What other issues did you face?
A. My other big issue regarding email is something called NDR attacks. This is where a spammer tries to trick me into sending spam mail. Javier, and Les, two really cool SBS MVPs that I know typed up some instructions to help people deal with these two issues.
Q. Wow, that’s kinda scary. What other issues did you face?
A. Well obviously, I wasn’t hurt like Samantha [that's my SBS client workstation] was surfing the web because I have two things going for me.
Q. What’s that?
A. Well for one, I have a special protection on my Internet Explorer to block active X scripting. You see some really smart guys looked at me while I was being built and tried to imagine all the bad things that people would try to do to me and the last thing they thought of was that my owner and admin would be really stupid and want to surf the Internet from me. Then I have a smart owner that doesn’t use me as a workstation and treats me like a server, so that really helps out.
Q. Why would an owner do that?
A. Sometimes they don’t realize that my main job is to do work for them and not be used as a workstation. Fortunately there’s this IE lockdown that is in place that protects me a lot.
Q. That’s good to know.
A. Yup, pretty much as long as you let me do what I am supposed to do, I really was not hurt by Malware like Samantha was this year.
Q. Yup, I’ll be talking with Samantha about her year tomorrow, I hear she got beat up a bit.
A. Yeah, we’ve been talking about some ways that she and I can work closer together and do something called group policy to help her. All in all, I had a very good year from a security standpoint, and now we’re going to see if we can do more to strengthen her as well. She did, though get a big boost from XP sp2 and the firewall she’s running now inside the network and there are some anti spyware tools that our birth place just bought to help out.
Q. Sounds pretty promising. Well we’re just about out of time Sam, any more thoughts before we end this interview?
A. Well I’d like to point out a few last things, first off, don’t forget about the “Oh, Canada!“ event that kicks the year off in grand style up in Toronto on January 11th. Also, everyone should look forward to the SBS 2003 Advanced book coming out soon from Harry Brelsford. I’m also hoping that this year we really put more emphasis on Sharepoint, taking that to the next level. Look also for a new service pack in the new year.
Q. A new service pack?
A. Yeah, I’ll be retiring ISA 2000 and adding a new member to the SBS family, called ISA 2004 and rolling up some other fixes and what not. In fact, let me remind our listeners that there will be an week long ISA 2004 webcast series to get people ready.
Q. That’s really cool. Thanks for taking time out of your server duties, Sam, to talk to us about your year.
A. My pleasure. Back to work!
[okay so maybe a little too much Egg Nog and Mountain Dew for Susan today]