'Tis the Season

You can add a few items to the list of things in life that are certain. Death and taxes still rank right up there at the top, but I'd venture that most of you wouldn't hesitate to add patches, viruses and spam. Every month brings another Patch Tuesday, and practically every week brings a new virus alert. And now there's a new potential glitch -- the change in daylight savings time. Whose bright idea was that?

LANDesk Software tried to help its users avert what could have been a mini-Y2K fiasco (even though Y2K received so much panicked press and preparation that it was never a fiasco). LANDesk called Mar. 6, 2007 Free Patch Day. Any LANDesk customer, regardless of whether or not they had licensed LANDesk's patch technology, could get their hands on the Microsoft patch (already tested and posted in Microsoft's normal patch process) to update Windows XP.

This should've helped adjust systems to the new time change, which was Mar. 11 -- the official day we all had to "spring ahead." You can find out more about this patch at LANDesk's Web site.

Moving the date we switch to daylight savings is Congress's effort to help the country conserve power, which is indeed a laudable goal. LANDesk is working on other ways to do that by introducing new power-management policies which could reduce your technology power consumption by up to 90 percent.

Virtual Ace
The virtual world will soon be getting more capable and complete. VMware Inc. just sent its VMware ACE 2 Enterprise Edition out for public beta. VMware's ACE lets you virtualize and distribute an entire system environment -- the operating system, applications, data and any relevant IT policies. You can package all that onto a virtual machine and deploy it from there.

This beta release also includes a new desktop mobility feature called Pocket ACE. This lets you roll out a fully featured virtual machine to a portable device, such as a USB flash drive, portable hard drive or even an iPod.

You can download the beta of VMware ACE 2 Enterprise Edition at the VMware Web site. It should be generally available sometime near the end of this year's second quarter, with VMware determining pricing for the product at that time.

Pick Your Platform
Centrify Corp. has been busy updating its cross-platform management tools. Centrify DirectControl can now integrate and manage more than 60 flavors of Unix and Linux through Active Directory. It also integrates with Macintosh computers through AD, and includes group policies configured for the Mac.

At the RSA show in early February, Centrify announced support for AD-based smart cards that will also work with Macs. Still not done, in late March the company was expected to deliver more than 100 additional Mac GPOs, providing controls to lock down desktops and control access to specific applications and removable media such as CDR, DVDR, external hard disks, iPods and USB flash drives.

Centrify is also working on a new product called DirectAudit. This will help with your company's compliance efforts with detailed auditing and user activity logging on Unix and Linux systems. DirectAudit also integrates with AD and stores data in a SQL Server database. There's also a new release of DirectControl coming out sometime around June. One of the major enhancements to this new version will be a Web Console.

Vista's Risks
Everyone is talking about Vista. Is it more secure? Is it full of holes? What will it break? What will run smoothly? You might want to take a look at a series of whitepapers that Symantec Corp.'s Security Response Advanced Threat Research group just released.

These papers cover the various new security technologies introduced in Windows Vista. The research covers three primary areas:

  • Security technologies in which Microsoft has successfully improved the overall security of the operating system.
  • Instances where Vista's new technology falls short of expectations and the resulting exposure.
  • The direction in which attackers are moving next, given the current state of Windows XP and Vista's security technologies.

You can download the reports at Symantec's Web site. Sounds like information you'll need to know, even though it might be a little scary.

About the Author

Lafe Low is the editorial liaison for ECG Events.

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