A Very Busy 2017 and Resulting Priorities

Wow…it has been a long time since I last posted…and it has been a year, let me tell you. In fact, 2017 was the busiest year I have ever had…just way too much happening, both at work and at home. And something had to give…so I cut back on my French horn playing (that hurt), and I stopped blogging (which I did miss, but not as much at my horn). And yes, things have slowed down a bit, at least so far, in 2018. I’m rejoining the local orchestra and here is a blog. Sorry for the long absence…but sometimes you have to rearrange priorities and make some hard decisions.

So…what made 2017 so busy? Mainly work…I had two huge projects that I was managing…one was the opening of a new district office (lots of people, cabling, network equipment, and dealing with carriers). The other was the disconnect of all remaining MPLS circuits, and moving to new DIA (Direct Internet Access) circuits.  (I’ll talk more about this in a later blog.) And add to all of this is the normal, everyday fires that take up lots of time and energy. Ugh!

Both of the projects are now done…the new office is opened and running very smoothly. In fact, it’s not often that users will compliment me on how fast the network is, but they did here. And all of my old, legacy MPLS circuits are gone…now THAT was a huge project. I’m running mainly static VTI tunnels for now, but I’m in the middle of converting my entire WAN to DMVPN running IKEv2, with a dual-hub, dual-cloud setup. This REALLY has my geek juices flowing!! I’ve been pushing for some sort of network redundancy for years, and I finally got the green light! I’ll let you know how all of this works out later this year.

The other project that kept me busy was the first floor remodel at my house. My wife and I did almost all of the work (painting, refinishing cabinets, and new floors)…the only thing we hired out was the new granite countertops. It looks great, and we got it all done just 2 weeks before Christmas, when most of our kids were able to make it home for a visit!! It was a GREAT Christmas having family home!!

I hope things are going well with you…and you’ll be seeing more blogs now…(fingers crossed).

CiscoLive 2017 Las Vegas Day 1 – Opening Keynote & More

It was a great opening day of CiscoLive 2017 in Las Vegas! First session of the day had to do with using Cisco Umbrella (OpenDNS) to track down cyber activity within your network…

An excellent introduction to Cisco Umbrella

Next up was the opening keynote by Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins…

Opening keynote by Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins

His keynote was actually interesting and well done, with little of the humorous hi-jinks of years past…it was professional. His main point concerned how things are changing in the network industry, and in big ways. I may not be involved with all of the new networking technologies that are on the horizon, but one thing was very apparent…I need to adapt to the new world. If I stick to the traditional routing and switching of years past, I might find myself on the outside looking in. And that is not a good thing!! An indication of this is the evolution of Cisco certifications…

Next generation of Cisco certifications

Keep your skill set up to date…or be left behind.

Next up, Chuck had a special guest come up to the platform to discuss the partnership between Cisco and Apple. Yep…the guest was Apple CEO Tim Cook…

Guest CEO Tim Cook from Apple

As for the afternoon, I spent most of it in the vendor expo “World of Solutions”….there was LOTS to see and do, AND learn!! I spent most of my time learning about SD-WAN technologies, updated security solutions, and logging/SIEM solutions. Plus, my wife attended with me!! Yes, I’m a lucky man…my wife is part geek too, and she loves attending CiscoLive with me. I purchased a “Social” pass for my wife which allows her to attend each days keynote address, World of Solutions, and the Cisco Customer Appreciation Event on Wednesday evening. She had a wonderful time today, as did I.

At the end of the day, we took the monorail down the Las Vegas strip and watched the Bellagio Fountains light show…make sure you don’t pass this up, it was well worth the time!!

Bellagio Fountains at nightime

Time to get some rest…it’s going to be another long day tomorrow…

Peerlyst – A Great Resource for Security Professionals

While researching some security stuff, I stumbled across the Peerlyst website…and wow!! This is a great resource for security professionals…lots of helpful information and discussions. Make sure you check out their list of security cheat sheets…this is a treasure trove of information all in one place!!

Memorial Day 2017 – Uncle Fred

I have been blessed with an incredible family…great parents and lots of wonderful Aunts and Uncles, all who were caring, funny, and supportive as far back as I can remember. One such person was my Uncle Fred. He always had time for me…for my questions and my inquisitive nature. As for the impact of a man upon my life, Uncle Fred was second only to my Dad.

I remember growing up as a kid and would spend time with Uncle Fred and Aunt Maude…they lived up in South Carolina, so it was a bit of a drive to get there from Georgia. He would show me and my brother around his property, and would especially linger in and around his shop. And what a shop it was! You see, Uncle Fred was a machinist (and maybe a Mechanical Engineer…not sure how accurate my memory is). And he NEVER threw anything away…never!

I remember one time when Uncle Fred was trying to explain to me how a differential worked. He made hand gestures and drawings on paper..but I still wasn’t getting it. He disappeared to his shop for a bit, and came back carrying a real differential…in his hands!! He then showed me how the gearing worked and the light bulb finally turned on!!

Uncle Fred was part of The Greatest Generation. He served in the Marines as part of the Seabees in World War II. The Seabees were USMC-trained soldiers who were also trained engineers and construction tradesmen. Talk about a one-two punch!! They could both fight and build…all in the same day if needed.

Another example Uncle Fred gave me was in marriage…he and my Aunt Maude were inseparable. They always held hands and joked with each other. They lived life to the fullest, trusted God, and were ready to help anyone in need.

Uncle Fred was 95 years old when he passed away a few weeks ago (on May 17th)…had he lived just one more week, he would have celebrated his 73 anniversary.

Thank you Uncle Fred for living a life that can be an example to us all. You will be missed always…

WannaCry Ransomware – That Got Our Attention, Didn’t It?

If you see this screen, then you will wanna cry!!

If you have not heard about the WannaCry ransomware that is (and perhaps was) running rampant over the past weekend, then you must have been in a cave or on your honeymoon! This one is a doozie, let me tell you!! Some quick facts…

  • This ransomware is based on the EternalBlue exploit (developed by the NSA, and then stolen and leaked on the Internet)
  • Microsoft released a patch for this (MS17-010) in March
  • Some quick thinking good guys were able to slow down the spread of WannaCry by activating a killswitch within the ransomware code
  • MANY people and organizations, throughout the world, have been hit by this

An excellent analysis of WannaCry can be found here…

WannaCry no more: ransomware worm IOC’s, Tor C2 and technical analysis + SIEM rules

Stay informed…AND patch your systems!!

Cisco IOS Feature/License Options

I need to add a feature (or license) to a number of my Cisco routers. This can get a bit confusing though, as Cisco made changes to their licensing model when they introduced the ISR G2 series of routers (IE: 1900, 2900 & 3900 series).

These routers use a “universal” image, and you simply license the features you want…in my case the routers are licensed for IPBase and UC, and I need to add the SEC (Security) license to the router. The license tree is pretty simple…

License options for newer Cisco routers

For my older routers, I’m currently running SP Services and I need to add Security/VPN, which means I need to upgrade to Advanced IP Services.

Feature set (IOS) options for older routers

Either way, Cisco is going to get a lot more money from me!!

SHA1 Got Shattered (Major Geek Stuff!!)

https://shattered.io Website Logo

This blog is for us true geeks!! (All others will be bored.)

It was announced today that the cryptographic hash function SHA-1 is susceptible to collisions. Although this has been theorized for a number of years, there has been no proof of a collision. Well…until today, that is. Teams from CWI Amsterdam and Google have been working together for the last couple of years, and have demonstrated an actual collision.

What is a cryptographic collision? It’s when two different files have the same hash signature. In other words, if you run a hash function against a file, the resulting hash is a “signature” for that file. Change anything in that file, and the hash result will be very different. However, these teams were able to manipulate two different files and get the same hash signature.  NOT good at all. The security implications for this is HUGE!

SHA-1 has already been deprecated, and is on it’s way out…today’s announcement adds urgency to it. You should move to SHA-256 or SHA-3.

For some really good reading on this, check out the following links…


At death’s door for years, widely used SHA1 function is now dead


SPARC and Solaris UNIX – A Sad Day Indeed

Sun microsystems logo

For those of you that have been involved in the IT industry for a long time, then you know the impact that Sun SPARC systems (and the Solaris operating system) has had on the industry and the Internet. It used to be that if you had an application that was critical or important, then it ran on UNIX and custom RISC processors, and that usually meant Sun hardware and software.

Early in my career, I managed several Sun systems that handled email, firewall (remember the early days of Checkpoint??), and critical databases….it was a lot of work, but the Sun platforms just rocked!! I remember hearing horror stories from other Admin’s about how buggy or poor performing their systems were (especially Windows NT Admin’s), and I just smiled…my SPARC systems and the Solaris OS never let me down!!

Back in 2010, Oracle bought Sun and tried to keep it going, but it’s not going to happen. I just saw this NetworkWorld article today…

Game Over for Solaris and SPARC?

One other memory…way back in my early days in this industry, I was working on the Smart Valley project (in the San Francisco Bay area)…this would have been in the mid-1990’s. I was handling the installation of Internet circuits and related equipment for the many schools in the Silicon Valley area, getting them hooked up to the “Internet”. I was green, and still had a lot to learn, but Sun assigned a number of their Network Engineers to the project and I remember how sharp and helpful they were. They showed a lot of patience to me, and I learned a lot…I am forever in their debt.

IoT (Internet-of-Things) and Port 23


Yes, I know…it has been a long time since my last post. Sorry…I’ve been busy.

This afternoon, I was doing some configuration work on one of my Internet facing routers, and I noticed a large amount of scanning, looking for an open Telnet port (scanning for ports 23 and 2323)…take a look…

A lot of "knocking" on ports 23 and 2323

A lot of “knocking” on ports 23 and 2323

I was wondering if it was just this router, so I checked several other routers on my network and they are all seeing exactly the same thing, and it all started at roughly the same time. VERY interesting! (Note…you may notice that there are two different ACL’s involved…that’s because I have two Internet facing ports…a primary circuit and a backup circuit, each with their own custom ACL.)

This activity might be related to the recent Mirai malware attacks on the “Internet of Things” (IoT), and the use of port 23 for C&C (Command & Control) traffic.  Hard to say really…maybe it’s just ET trying to phone home…

Have a great day!!

CVD’s – Cisco Validated Design Guides

If you ever need some help in designing a network, wondering what’s the best practices for security or wireless, then Cisco has some very helpful information for you! Over the years, Cisco has put together a bunch of official network designs that you can review and use to assist with your own network design challenges. Cisco calls them CVD’s…or, Cisco Validated Designs. When they first started out, the designs were very technical and written in a bit of a bland manner (written by CCIE’s no doubt). Now, however, they are very colorful, lots of visuals and slick copy art, but…they are still technical and very helpful!!  (I would imagine they are still written by a bunch of CCIE’s, but then filtered through a design/publishing group of some sort.)

Take a look at this link:  Cisco Validated Designs

I’m in the process of reviewing and upgrading my core VTI/DMVPN infrastructure, and I’m reading through the CVD “Intelligent WAN Technology Design Guide”….

Cover pae for the CVD iWAN guide

Cover page for the CVD iWAN guide

This design guide is NOT light reading…it’s 287 pages of very technical information and sample configurations…VERY cool. It’s going to take me several days to digest this thing…but already it has answered several questions that I’ve been wondering about.

When you’re viewing the CVD webpage, scroll down near the bottom to the “Design guides by category”…as you can see, there are a ton of options which should cover just about anything you are interested in.