Category: Hardware

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Microsoft Modern Keyboard

Mini Review of the Microsoft Modern Keyboard with Fingerprint ID

As you may know I am a big fan of the Microsoft peripherals like the Microsoft Arc Mouse, Surface Pen, Surface Precision Mouse, Surface Dial and the Surface Keyboard. The last one I have just upgraded to the Microsoft Modern Keyboard. The Microsoft Modern Keyboard almost looks the same when you compare it to the Surface Keyboard, except for some minor changes, like the on/off button, the USB charging port or the integrated Fingerprint reader.

As like the Surface Keyboard, the Microsoft Modern Keyboard feels extremely comfortable to type on, and in my opinion also looks perfect on your desk. It is thin and light and matches the style of the other Surface products. Microsoft Modern Keyboard with Fingerprint ID’s aluminum frame makes it not only of the highest quality, but heavy and virtually indestructible. The keyboard not only supports Bluetooth Low Energy  4.0 / 4.1 / 4.2, it also supports USB as a wired connection, which allows it to be a great choice even at work.

Microsoft Modern Keyboard Fingerprint Reader

One of the main new advantages of the Microsoft Modern Keyboard is the new integrated Fingerprint reader. This allows you to use it together with Windows Hello, to easily login to your computer, without the need of a password.

Microsoft Modern Keyboard On Off Button

You also get a on off switch for they keyboard, which is really handy, especially when you are traveling and storing the keyboard in your bag.

Microsoft Modern Keyboard USB Charger

The Surface Keyboard came with batteries which you needed to replaces after a while. The Microsoft Modern Keyboard brings a rechargeable battery, which can be easily recharged using the included USB cable, which also lets you connect the keyboard not only using Bluetooth, but also using the wired USB connection. Microsoft promises up to 4 months battery life on full charge.

After using the Surface Keyboard and before the Microsoft Designer Bluetooth Desktop since 2015, the Microsoft Modern Keyboard with Fingerprint ID is a great successor.



Microsoft Edge Windows Defender Application Guard

Enable Windows Defender Application Guard on Windows 10 using PowerShell

A couple of days back I saw a tweet form Stefan Stranger (Consultant at Microsoft) which reminded me of a feature called Windows Defender Application Guard, which is included in Windows 10 Enterprise since the Fall Creators Update (1709). If you have never heard of Application Guard, you might want to check out this blog post: Introducing Windows Defender Application Guard for Microsoft Edge

Basically Windows Defender Application Guard starts Microsoft Edge in a Hyper-V Container and uses Hyper-V isolation. So if a user browses on a malicious site, the site is separate from the host operating system.

Application Guard Hardware Isolation

What is Windows Defender Application Guard and how does it work?
Designed for Windows 10 and Microsoft Edge, Application Guard helps to isolate enterprise-defined untrusted sites, protecting your company while your employees browse the Internet. As an enterprise administrator, you define what is among trusted web sites, cloud resources, and internal networks. Everything not on your list is considered untrusted.

If an employee goes to an untrusted site through either Microsoft Edge or Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge opens the site in an isolated Hyper-V-enabled container, which is separate from the host operating system. This container isolation means that if the untrusted site turns out to be malicious, the host PC is protected, and the attacker can’t get to your enterprise data. For example, this approach makes the isolated container anonymous, so an attacker can’t get to your employee’s enterprise credentials.

Source: Windows Defender Application Guard overview

Usually Windows Defender Application Guard is configured using a Enterprise devices management tool like System Center Configuration Manager, Microsoft Intune or another third-party tool. But if you want to use this on your standalone Windows 10 PC you can also do this using PowerShell.

The only thing you need to run this is:

  • Windows 10 Enterprise 1709 (Fall Creators Update) or higher
  • A computer which supports Hyper-V
    • A 64-bit computer with minimum 4 cores is required for hypervisor and virtualization-based security (VBS)
    • Extended page tables, also called Second Level Address Translation (SLAT)
    • One of the following virtualization extensions for VBS:
      • Intel VT-x
      • AMD-V
    • Microsoft recommends 8GB RAM for optimal performance
    • 5 GB free space, solid state disk (SSD) recommended
    • Input/Output Memory Management Unit (IOMMU) support is strongly recommended
  •  Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer

Enable Windows Defender Application Guard using PowerShell

You can simply install Application Guard using the following command:

New Application Guard Windows in Microsoft Edge

This will reboot your computer and after this you will be able to open a new Microsoft Edge windows in Application Guard.

Microsoft Edge Windows Defender Application Guard

This does added some extra security, however it does not really protect against like the Meltdown and Spectre attacks.

Application Guard Virtual Machine Worker Process

If you have a look at the processes running on your computer you can now see that there is a new Virtual Machine Worker Process which is used by the Application Guard.

This is a great example how the Hyper-V isolation can not only be used for Hyper-V Virtual Machines but also other features like Hyper-V Containers or for example on the Xbox One.



Windows SpeculationControl PowerShell

Microsoft Guidance to protect against speculative execution side-channel vulnerabilities on Windows, Windows Server and Azure (Meltdown & Spectre)

Microsoft very quickly responded to the speculative execution side-channel vulnerabilities also called Meltdown and Spectre which affect many modern processors and operating systems, including chipsets from Intel, AMD, and ARM. Microsoft released some guidance how you should protect your devices against these vulnerabilities. The Microsoft Security Defense Team also published an article with guidance and more details on this: ADV180002 | Guidance to mitigate speculative execution side-channel vulnerabilities

In this blog post I tried to quickly summarize the information and link it to the right websites.

Summary

Microsoft is aware of detailed information that has been published about a new class of vulnerabilities referred to as speculative execution side-channel attacks. This industry-wide attack method takes advantage of out-of-order execution on many modern microprocessors and is not restricted to a single chip, hardware manufacturer, or software vendor. To be fully protected, updates are required at many layers of the computing stack and include software and hardware/firmware updates. Microsoft has collaborated closely with industry partners to develop and test mitigations to help provide protections for our customers. At the time of publication, Microsoft had not received any information to indicate that these vulnerabilities have been used to attack our customers.

Note This issue also affects other operating systems, such as Android, Chrome, iOS, and MacOS.

Warning

Microsoft addressed protect against speculative execution side-channel vulnerabilities in the latest Windows Updates. However, customers who only install the Windows January 2018 security updates will not receive the benefit of all known protections against the vulnerabilities. In addition to installing the January security updates, a processor microcode, or firmware, update is required. This should be available through your device manufacturer. Surface customers will receive a microcode update via Windows update.

Guidance for Windows Client

Customers should take the following actions to help protect against the vulnerabilities:

  1. Verify that you are running a supported antivirus application before you install OS or firmware updates. Contact the antivirus software vendor for compatibility information.
  2. Apply all available Windows operating system updates, including the January 2018 Windows security updates.
  3. Apply the applicable firmware update that is provided by the device manufacturer

Windows-based machines (physical or virtual) should install the Microsoft security updates that were released on January 3, 2018. See Microsoft Security Advisory ADV180002 for updates for the following versions of Windows.

Read full guidance for Windows Client here: Windows Client Guidance for IT Pros to protect against speculative execution side-channel vulnerabilities

Guidance for Windows Server

Customers should take the following actions to help protect against the vulnerabilities:

  1. Apply the Windows operating system update. For details on how to enable this update, see Microsoft Knowledge Base Article 4072699.
  2. Make necessary configuration changes to enable protection.
  3. Apply an applicable firmware update from the OEM device manufacturer.

Windows Servers-based machines (physical or virtual) should get the Windows security updates that were released on January 3, 2018, and are available from Windows Update.

  • Windows Server, version 1709 (Server Core Installation) KB4056892
  • Windows Server 2016 KB4056890
  • Windows Server 2012 R2 KB4056898
  • Windows Server 2012 Not available yet
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 KB4056897

Your server is at increased risk if it is in one of the following categories:

  • Hyper-V hosts
  • Remote Desktop Services Hosts (RDSH)
  • For physical hosts or virtual machines that are running untrusted code such as containers or untrusted extensions for database, untrusted web content or workloads that run code that is provided from external sources.

There for Microsoft posted some additional registry keys to mitigations on servers. Microsoft also added some extra registry keys if you are running older versions of Hyper-V.

Read the full guidance for Windows Server and the registry keys here: Windows Server guidance to protect against speculative execution side-channel vulnerabilities

Guidance for Virtual Machines running on Hyper-V

In addition to this guidance, the following steps are required to ensure that your virtual machines are protected from CVE-2017-5715 (branch target injection):

  1. Ensure guest virtual machines have access to the updated firmware. By default, virtual machines with a VM version below 8.0 will not have access to updated firmware capabilities required to mitigate CVE-2017-5715. Because VM version 8.0 is only available starting with Windows Server 2016, users of Windows Server 2012 R2 or earlier must modify a specific registry value on all machines in their cluster.
  2. Perform a cold boot of guest virtual machines.Virtual machines will not see the updated firmware capabilities until they go through a cold boot. This means the running VMs must completely power off before starting again. Rebooting from inside the guest operating system is not sufficient.
  3. Update the guest operating system as required. See guidance for Windows Server.

Read the full guidance for Guest Virtual Machines here: Protecting guest virtual machines from CVE-2017-5715 (branch target injection)

Guidance for Surface Devices

Microsoft will provide UEFI updates for the following devices:

  • Surface Pro 3
  • Surface Pro 4
  • Surface Book
  • Surface Studio
  • Surface Pro Model 1796
  • Surface Laptop
  • Surface Pro with LTE Advanced
  • Surface Book 2

The updates will be available for the above devices running Windows 10 Creators Update (OS version 15063) and Windows 10 Fall Creators Update (OS version 16299). You will be able to receive these updates through Windows Update or by visiting the Microsoft Download Center.

Read full guidance for Surface Devices here: Surface Guidance for Customers and Partners: Protect your devices against the recent chip-related security vulnerability

Guidance for Azure

Microsoft has already deployed mitigations across the majority of our cloud services and is accelerating efforts to complete the remainder.

However, I always recommend that you also patch your operating systems and applications to be protected against other vulnerabilities.

Impact to Enterprise Cloud Services

Microsoft is not aware of any attacks on the Microsoft Cloud customers which leverage these types of vulnerabilities. Microsoft employs a variety of detection capabilities to quickly respond to any malicious activity in our enterprise cloud services.

Most of the Azure infrastructure has already received mitigations against this class of vulnerability. An accelerated reboot is occurring for any remaining hosts. Customers can check the Azure Portal for additional details.

All other enterprise cloud services such as Office 365, Dynamics 365, and Enterprise Mobility + Security have mitigations against these types of vulnerabilities. Microsoft engineering is continuing to perform analysis across the environments to confirm further protection.

Read full guidance for Microsoft Azure here: Microsoft Cloud Protections Against Speculative Execution Side-Channel Vulnerabilities

Guidance for Azure Stack

Azure Stack customers should take the following actions to help protect the Azure Stack infrastructure against the vulnerabilities:

  1. Apply Azure Stack 1712 update. See the Azure Stack 1712 update release notes for instructions about how to apply this update to your Azure Stack integrated system.
  2. Install firmware updates from your Azure Stack OEM vendor after the Azure Stack 1712 update installation is completed. Refer to your OEM vendor website to download and apply the updates.
  3. Some variations of these vulnerabilities apply also to the virtual machines (VMs) that are running in the tenant space. Customers should continue to apply security best practices for their VM images, and apply all available operating system updates to the VM images that are running on Azure Stack. Contact the vendor of your operating systems for updates and instructions, as necessary. For Windows VM customers, guidance has now been published and is available in this Security Update Guide.

Read full guidance for Microsoft Azure Stack here: Azure Stack guidance to protect against the speculative execution side-channel vulnerabilities

Guidance for SQL Server

The following versions of Microsoft SQL Server are impacted by this issue when running on x86 and x64 processor systems:

  • SQL Server 2008
  • SQL Server 2008 R2
  • SQL Server 2012
  • SQL Server 2014
  • SQL Server 2016
  • SQL Server 2017

IA64-based versions of SQL Server 2008 are not believed to be affected.

Microsoft made a list of different SQL Server scenarios depending on the environment that SQL Server is running in and what functionality is being used. Microsoft recommends that you deploy fixes by using normal procedures to validate new binaries before deploying them to production environments.

You can finde the list for scenarios and recommendations here: SQL Server guidance to protect against speculative execution side-channel vulnerabilities

There is also a list of updates for SQL Server available:

 

  • 4057122 Description of the security update for SQL Server 2017 GDR: January 3, 2018
  • 4058562 Description of the security update for SQL Server 2017 CU3 RTM: January 3, 2018
  • 4058561 Description of the security update for SQL Server 2016 CU7 SP1: January 3, 2018
  • 4057118 Description of the security update for SQL Server 2016 GDR SP1: January 3, 2018
  • 4058559 Description of the security update for SQL Server 2016 CU: January 6, 2018
  • 4058560 Description of the security update for SQL Server 2016 GDR: January 6, 2018
  • 4057114 Description of the security update for SQL Server 2008 SP4 GDR: January 6, 2018
  • 4057113 Description of the security update for SQL Server 2008 SP3 R2 GDR: January 6, 2018

Read the full guidance for SQL Server here: SQL Server guidance to protect against speculative execution side-channel vulnerabilities

Verifying protections again speculative execution side-channel vulnerabilities

The Microsoft Security Response Center released a PowerShell Module on the PowerShell Gallery called SpeculationControl, which verifies if your system is protected or not.

You can find more here: Use PowerShell to verifying protections again peculative execution side-channel vulnerabilities CVE-2017-5754 (Meltdown) and CVE-2017-5715 (Spectre)

 

More information on how to mitigate speculative execution side-channel vulnerabilities can be found here: ADV180002 | Guidance to mitigate speculative execution side-channel vulnerabilities



Windows SpeculationControl PowerShell

Use PowerShell to verifying protections again speculative execution side-channel vulnerabilities CVE-2017-5754 (Meltdown) and CVE-2017-5715 (Spectre)

As you might have seen in the last couple of days, there are huge news about some security bugs in CPUs from different vendors (not just intel). The Microsoft Security Response Center released a PowerShell Module on the PowerShell Gallery called SpeculationControl, which verifies if your system is protected or not.

Microsoft is aware of a new publicly disclosed class of vulnerabilities that are referred to as “speculative execution side-channel attacks” that affect many modern processors and operating systems, including chipsets from Intel, AMD, and ARM.

Note This issue also affects other systems, such as Android, Chrome, iOS, and MacOS, so we advise customers to seek guidance from those vendors.

Microsoft has released several updates to help mitigate these vulnerabilities. We have also taken action to secure our cloud services. See the following sections for more information.

Microsoft has not yet received any information to indicate that these vulnerabilities have been used to attack customers. Microsoft continues working closely with industry partners including chip makers, hardware OEMs, and app vendors to protect customers. To get all available protections, hardware/firmware and software updates are required. This includes microcode from device OEMs and, in some cases, updates to antivirus software as well.

Enabled protections will show in the output as “True” like in this screenshot here

Windows SpeculationControl PowerShell

So make sure you patch your systems, for Windows and Windows Server are already patches available and the Surface Familiy already got some firmware updates.

Also check out Mike F Robbins (Microsoft MVP) how he explains how to use the SpeculationControl PowerShell module on remote machines.



Surface Precisiaon Mouse Box

Microsoft Surface Precision Mouse Review

Last week I got the Microsoft Surface Precision Mouse delivered. The Surface Precision Mouse will become the replacement mouse for my Microsoft Sculpt Mouse, which I used for the last couple of years. Now I want to give you some impressions about the Surface Precision Mouse, since I am very happy and very surprised about the feature set.

Surface Precision Mouse

First of all the Microsoft Surface Precision Mouse feels awesome, very high quality and it is very comfortable in your hand. It feels very precise and you get very quickly used to it.

Now let me write about some extra features you might didn’t know about. You first get a button to configure the scroll wheel in two different speeds, one feels very light and fast and the other one is slower and is more resistant, so you can choose what you like more and switch between them, depending on your task.

Microsoft Surface Percision Mouse Settings

Of course you get some extra buttons which you can customize with different shortcuts, for example to open the Windows 10 Tasks View or other applications. You can also customize the buttons depending on the application you are working with.

Surface Precision Mouse Bottom

By already having the perfect mouse, in terms of feeling, comfort, precision and customizability, you get a really cool extra feature. The Surface Precision Mouse gives you more multi-tasking power by allowing you to work seamlessly across up to three computers, supports both Bluetooth and wired USB connections. You can pair your Surface Precision Mouse with three different devices and you can manually switch between them with the button on the bottom of the mouse, or you can use something called Smart Switch.

Microsoft Surface Percision Mouse Smart Switch

Smart Switch on the Surface Precision Mouse can be enabled by using the Microsoft Mouse and Keyboard Center. It allows you to setup the workplace layout in the app and now you can move the cursor to the border of the screen and the mouse will seamlessly switch to the other device. So if you are working on your desktop and you have your notebook right next to it, you can easily move the mouse from one device to the other.

Overall I am super happy with the new device!

 

Tech Specs

The mouse also works with Windows 7, Windows 10, Windows 8.1 and macOS devices as long as they support Bluetooth 4.0 or higher.

 
Interface USB 2.1, Bluetooth® Low Energy 4.0/4.1/4.2 Dimensions 4.8 x 3.05 x 1.7 (122.6 mm x 77.6 mm x 43.3 mm)
Wireless Frequency 2.4GHz frequency range Weight 4.76 ounces (135 grams) including rechargeable batteries
Buttons 6 buttons, including right and left click and scroll wheel button Battery Rechargeable lithium ion battery (included)
Design Ergonomic design with side grips Battery Life Up to 3 months
Scrolling Smooth or magnetic detent customizable horizontal and vertical scrolling1 Color Gray


Azure Stack

Speaking at the CLOUD 2017 Infrastruktur & Security Congress Switzerland about Azure Stack

I am happy to announce that I will be speaking aht the CLOUD 2017 Infrastruktur & Security Congress Switzerland on October 26 in Zürich. In the session “The Swiss Azure Stack Cloud – bringing Microsoft Azure to Switzerland” I will talk about a project I have worked on in the past year, very closly with our partners Microsoft, HPE and HIAG Data, to bring Microsoft Azure services to Switzerland using Microsoft Azure Stack.

The Swiss Azure Stack Cloud – bringing Microsoft Azure to Switzerland

The Swiss Azure Stack Cloud – bringing Microsoft Azure to Switzerland

 



Azure vs Azure Stack

Speaking at the InfoNet Day 2017 about Azure Stack

I am proud to announce that I will be speaking at the annual InfoNet Day event in Olten, Switzerland on October 31 2017. The event is focused on a technical audience and covers Microsoft topics across the board – cloud, datacenter and workplace. In my session I will speak together with Uwe Luethy from Microsoft Switzerland. The session is called “Microsoft Azure Stack – Hybrid Cloud. The Modern System Architecture”.

Microsoft Azure Stack – Hybrid Cloud. The Modern System Architecture

Microsoft Azure Stack – Hybrid Cloud. The Modern System Architecture

And by the way, Marcel Zehner (MVP) will talk about “Cloud Trends – Microsoft IT Professional Edition” in one of the keynotes. So hopefully see you there.