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Liam Cleary [SharePoint MVP]

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July 01
Annual Collaboration Security Survey
A year ago the guys over at Cipherpoint conducted a survey of collaboration systems. This included SharePoint, file servers, Office 365, and SharePoint Online. The purpose of this was to explore security and compliance issues related to the use of these platforms​. If you have not seen this then head over to the link below:

http://www.cipherpoint.com/company/sharepoint-help/cipherpoint-2013-state-of-collaboration-security-report/

The great news is that they are doing this again this year and need YOU to go and complete the survey. Use the link below to complete it.

http://cipherpoint.actonsoftware.com/acton/form/5891/0015:d-0001/0/index.htm

I encourage you to do this, so that we can then look back as an industry at what are the security holes and issues that we all face with collaboration platforms.
June 02
SharePoint 2013 Search Crawl Weirdness

Today I found a little weird thing. A client SharePoint 2013 environment would not crawl at all. It caused the following standard error that I am sure you have all seen a million times.

"Item not crawled due to one of the following reasons: Preventive crawl rule; Specified content source hops/depth exceeded; URL has query string parameter; Required protocol handler not found; Preventive robots directive. (This item was deleted because it was excluded by a crawl rule)"

I tried everything I could think of, deleting and re-creating result sources, crawling one page, crawling not as SharePoint, removing the "robots.txt" files to name a few things. I then resorted to trawling through the "web.config" and found the following entries:

<customHeaders>   

<add name="X-Content-Type-Options" value="nosniff" />

 <add name="X-MS-InvokeApp" value="1; RequireReadOnly" />

</customHeaders>


HTTP Header <add name="X-Content-Type-Options" value="nosniff" />

Each type of file delivered from the web server has an associated MIME type (also called a "content-type and not a SharePoint Content Type either") that describes the nature of the content (e.g. image, text, application, etc.). For compatibility reasons, Internet Explorer has a MIME-sniffing feature that will attempt to determine the content-type for each downloaded resource. In some cases, Internet Explorer reports a MIME type different than the type specified by the web server. For instance, if Internet Explorer finds HTML content in a file delivered with the HTTP response header Content-Type: text/plain, IE determines that the content should be rendered as HTML. Because of the number of legacy servers on the web (e.g. those that serve all files as text/plain) MIME-sniffing is an important compatibility feature.

Unfortunately, MIME-sniffing also can lead to security problems for servers hosting untrusted content. Consider, for instance, the case of a picture-sharing web service which hosts pictures uploaded by anonymous users. An attacker could upload a specially crafted JPEG file that contained script content, and then send a link to the file to unsuspecting victims. When the victims visited the server, the malicious file would be downloaded, the script would be detected, and it would run in the context of the picture-sharing site. This script could then steal the victim's cookies, generate a phony page, etc.


HTTP Header <add name="X-MS-InvokeApp" value="1; RequireReadOnly" />

The "DirectInvoke" feature in Internet Explorer enables applications to register their MIME Types for direct invocation from a URL. When Internet Explorer encounters a file type that it doesn't handle natively, it can use a handler application, rather than downloading the file. Using "DirectInvoke", handler applications have control over how their files are downloaded and enables smart techniques specific to the application's requirements. Microsoft Office maintains a local cache of documents on a user's machine. When a user attempts to download an Office document in Windows Internet Explorer, "DirectInvoke" calls Office using the target URL, rather than downloading the file. Office checks its cache and only downloads the file if it isn't already in the cache. This behavior can provide significant bandwidth savings, especially when handling large, media-rich documents.

When the "web.config" is set to "1;RequireReadOnly", then the server is requesting that a "DirectInvoke" configured application be used and requires that the file opens in read-only mode.


For this environment I removed the two lines and the crawl worked. I need to do some further investigation but right now this worked perfectly. The security and functionality impact for the "default" zone crawl in my mind are negligible, for the external side I would not remove these at all. I will post updates once I have more detail but for now, this has done the trick. More to come :-)

 

May 10
European SharePoint Conference 2014

Well what a great place to have a SharePoint Conference, Barcelona!! It has been a few years since I have visited now that I live in the US. After flights to the UK, then onto Spain, I arrived very tired but ready to go for it. The Hotel is fantastic, Hotel Rey Juan Carlos, set within great grounds and across the street from the conference center.

The conference has been great so far, fantastic keynotes and sessions covering all types of content. I did my "Hacking" SharePoint session, the one I thought I would present a few times and then never update or be asked to do it again. However as you may have seen in the news, Security and Hacking is becoming more important in every facet of our life that I keep updating the presentation!! Having presented it lots and lots, I look back and realize it has been different every time. I was excited to present that here. I want to thanks those that came and filled my room for the session, and just let you all know that the guy on the webcam woke up J

NOTE: Blurred on Purpose, it is not your eyes!! You needed to be in the session to see it properly J

 

 

For those that were not in the session, this is how I started the session, explaining that we still don't secure things the way it should be done. Simple things like someone's (no idea who's it is) webcam at home. Accessing this one was as simple as first finding it, then looking up the default username and password for the specific manufacturer and model. IN this example it was a FOXCOM FI8910W, which a quick search in Google points me to the credentials I needed.

 

This for me is the problem, why was the password not added, or username changed. This is really the premise of the session. I often use the analogy of buying "flat-pack" furniture, something you would buy from Ikea for example. We all know that it contains instructions, but we all seem to inherently know how it is supposed to go together though we may have never done it before. So we put the furniture together and find something is not quite right. We seem to do the same with SharePoint installations. It is so easy to set it up incorrectly, but we do it without following guidance just as with building the furniture. The documentation is better now than it has ever been, we need to follow this so that we make our environment as "least privilege" as possible and published securely.

We also need to now think like a potential hacker, testing our platforms whether internal or external. We need to also keep up to speed on cyber-attacks and specifically what Microsoft is doing around this. Simply visit http://www.microsoft.com/security/cybersecurity/#!Overview to see the cybersecurity whitepapers and approaches. Of course you can also visit https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/security/bulletin to see the latest security bulletins.

 

 

 

All in all hopefully the message that you are getting is to check your SharePoint environment, make sure it is setup, configured and secured correctly. Penetration test your environment to see what you can find. Below are some links to current blog posts, and there is a series I am still working on that will show you how to penetration test your environment as an example of what can be done.

SharePoint URL Endpoints (Use in Google)

http://blog.helloitsliam.com/Presentations/Urls.txt

 

Is Your SharePoint Secure – Part 1

http://blog.helloitsliam.com/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?ID=100

 

Is Your SharePoint Secure – Part 2

http://blog.helloitsliam.com/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?ID=101

 

Is Your SharePoint Secure – Part 3

http://blog.helloitsliam.com/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?ID=103

 

Is Your SharePoint Secure – Part 4

http://blog.helloitsliam.com/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?ID=105

 

Hacking versus Misconfiguration

http://blog.helloitsliam.com/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?ID=115

 

Is Your SharePoint Vulnerable?

http://blog.helloitsliam.com/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?ID=116

 

Last but not least I demonstrated quickly the use of a tool called Maltego that allows for gathering of information from multiple sources, to build a picture of people, devices or content.

 

NOTE: Blurred on Purpose, it is not your eyes!! You needed to be in the session to see it properly J

 

This is a great tool, requires a bunch of learning, but is very useful for gathering information about details you may find from trawling through SharePoint sites.

As per my last final thoughts in the slides following these steps:

  1. Pen test your SharePoint Site – plenty of tools out there for this
    1. Internal - Choice
    2. External – No Choice
  2. Ensure Latest Patches
    1. My personal rule be two CU's behind, unless you need the CU for bug
  3. Users will find a way of getting into content, just as they did with file shares
  4. Hackers will always try to circumvent security
  5. Learn how to hack!! Just Kidding 
    1. At least how to protect against the hack
  6. Make Security Top Priority
  7. Learn how to publish SharePoint correctly and securely

 

The pen testing series will continue soon, look for a new post soon J

April 15
I'm speaking at the European SharePoint Conference 2014

The European SharePoint Conference is less than three weeks away and I'm delighted to be part of such an exceptional line up. The conference will take place in Barcelona, Spain from the 5-8th May 2014 and is Europe's largest SharePoint event bringing you great sessions and the latest innovations from Vegas.

Browse through the superb conference programme including 110 sessions, keynotes, and tutorials, including topics covering the latest news from SPC14 including what's new with SharePoint 2013 SP1 - Office Graph/Oslo - new Office 365 REST APIs - Access Apps - Cloud Business Apps.

I will be conducting a session on "Think You Can Hack SharePoint?" aimed at IT Professionals.

"Think You Can Hack SharePoint?"

"What is a hacker? In the dictionary a hacker is defined as a computer user who attempts to gain unauthorized access to proprietary computer systems. We all know that in reality a hacker is someone who tries to gain access to anything that they do not have access too, file shares, websites, wifi or even your blog site. SharePoint is such a large platform that has many entry points that we need to minimize the attack surface. In this session we will look at what it would take to "hack" SharePoint, but more importantly how to protect and secure the content and the site entry points to stop those pesky hackers getting in."

The European SharePoint Conference will be run over four days and with over 1000 SharePoint attendee's already signed up don't miss this fantastic opportunity to mingle with the European SharePoint Community.

If you want to deepen your SharePoint expertise, to understand the trend of the SharePoint market, and to learn how to leverage Microsoft Office 365 for your business, including the revolutionary Enterprise Social wave, the European SharePoint Conference is the best place to be in 2014!

Prices start from €1150! There is also special group discounts for bookings of 3 or more people.

Book Now and I'll see you in Barcelona in May

April 01
The Year 2014

Well what a great year so far. I took 2 months out of travelling during January and February, a promise I made to made my wife. It was great, just normal work and just being at home with family, made a great difference than sipping around on flights all the time.

Now things are back to normal, SharePoint Conference under my belt where I presented two sessions, one on Data Security and Compliance in SharePoint (http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/SharePoint-Conference/2014/SPC344) and then a Multi-Factor Authentication for SharePoint Online and On-Premise (http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/SharePoint-Conference/2014/SPC384). It was a great conference, and really enjoyed presenting again. I hope that those that attended enjoyed the sessions too.

Exciting times today to find I have been renewed as a SharePoint MVP for the 8th year running which is an amazing feeling to be recognized by you as the community and of course by Microsoft. I wish to say congratulations to all those who got renewed and to those new MVP's who have joined the club today, you deserve it.

So what is next, well conference season is well and truly underway and you can find me at the following over the next few months (only want to worry about that far for now).

 

SharePoint Saturday Twin Cities, Minneapolis, April 5th, 2014

SPS Gulf, Online, Aprtil 12th, 2014

SP24, Online, April 17th, 2014

SPTechCon San Francisco, April 22 – 25th, 2014

European SharePoint Conference, Barcelona, May 5 – 8th, 2014

Secure 360, Minneapolis, May 12 – 14th, 2014

SharePoint Conference.ORG, Reston, May 18 – 20th, 2014

SharePoint Fest New York City, June 2 – 4th, 2014

 

There are others throughout the year, but if I try to focus on all of them it becomes a little bit overwhelming J

 

So would be great to meet you all at a conference or SharePoint Saturday somewhere, so if you are there come and say hello. I know the topics I tend to cover are not the most exciting topics. Things like Hacking, Security, and Pen testing, Authentication and Authorization are not everyone's favorite thing to talk about, but hey come and join me and hopefully it will be more exciting than you think.

 

On a personal note my parents are coming to America for the first time ever so this is going to be fantastic, some other members of my family are visiting too (not all of them, do have 7 brothers and 5 sisters after all), and then I am excited about taking the kids to Disney World, Orlando at the end of the year. This year is going to be great.

 

Hope your year is working out like mine is so far J

March 05
SharePoint 2013 + Service Pack 1

So I updated my clean Development Virtual Machine yesterday evening to Service Pack 1 and what happened you wonder?

Well firstly it took ages!! What did you expect? It updated fine and upon checking the upgrade status it was clean, checking the database upgrade status tells me that I have to upgrade:

 

I won't bore you with how long it took to complete but it did either way. So after launching Central Administration what did I see?

A nice little message saying that I can now get "Yammer" and "OneDrive for Business" from Office 365. Really? No shocker there but what does this mean?

Well upon clicking the "Yammer" link I am taking to the following screen.

I wonder what will happen when I click "Activate Yammer?"

And then the screen before is changed to this.

So there we have I have now activate "Yammer", but have no idea what it just did. So if I go back and click the "OneDrive" link I get taken to the following page.

Interesting, so we will come back to this as it needs configuration.

Back to the "Yammer" thing. I launch my normal Site Collection and start to look for "Yammer" integration. What do I find? A link at the top of my site collection that looks like this.

When I click this link it takes me to the "My Site Host", and launches a new page "_layouts/15/Yammer.aspx". And presents me with the following screen.

Clicking the link "Take me to Yammer" takes me to the cloud, where I can login to my Yammer network at which point it remembers the network that I went to and the next time I click the "Yammer" link it takes me back to that place. You can at any point disable that feature again by going back to "Central Administration" and looking under the "Office 365" category. Interesting bug, when you click on the using the highlighted links bellow they go nowhere J

It returns the following.

The URL does not exist. It does exist in the template for "Central Administration" but does not load.

So REMEMBER to run the full upgrade through, and update the databases by running the "PSCONFIG" commands. Do not skip any step otherwise it won't work. When it does it just goes to this page.

Such a big page for so few options. The configuration is really that, you don't get anything else. Even though it is limited it is at least a start.

Deactivating the feature removes the top navigation link and puts SharePoint 2013 back to normal.

So really the enhancements made for "Yammer" are minimal, even reflecting the SharePoint DLL's and searching for "Yammer" reveals nothing new.

Outside of the "Yammer" thing and "Office 365" profiles, the big one for me is the ability to run SharePoint Server 2013 on Windows Server 2012 R2 now. Of course the note here is that you need use the "Slipstreamed" ISO image that contains the base application, updated and Service Pack 1.

Be warned, if you are trying to create your own "slipstreamed" SP1 media it may not work, download the newly created media.

Read this notice and warning: http://blogs.technet.com/b/stefan_gossner/archive/2014/02/28/sharepoint-2013-with-sp1-quot-slipstream-quot-is-now-available-for-download.aspx

February 03
Raspberry PI with Tor, Tread Mill Desk, a Fitbit Challenge and #SPC14

So this month has been a busy one, not so much community efforts this month, more work as I made a promise to my family that I would not travel in January and February. Yes it has been hard, almost suffered from withdrawal symptoms of not seeing the SharePoint regulars, I think that is just to do with me not seeing Christina Buckley for a couple of months!! Not sure if that is good or bad yet J

Anyway this past month has seen me focus my energy on the most amazing piece of kit ever, my Raspberry PI. I have been running it for a while as Kali Linux hacker box, but wanted something I could take with me on the road and use for general internet use. Those that know me will know that I am always paranoid about anything and am a great advocate for using VPN's and Proxies to mask my traffic. I don't have anything to hide, however I also believe in me being able to do whatever I wish (nothing illegal) without it being censored to the point I cannot do anything, I go to work for that J

So this past week or so I finally built my Raspberry PI Tor box. This runs Raspbian, is configured for the following:

  1. Secure Linux Box
  2. Ethernet Wired
  3. Wireless Access Point Enabled
  4. DHCP Enabled
  5. Tor Enabled

This means that while traveling I plug it directly into the hotels Ethernet which becomes its public IP Address, connect to the wireless access point that is enabled on it, and then surf the internet through the Tor Proxy network. This allows to either surf anonymously with whatever IP Address is gets for me, or I can set it to a specific country and it will connect to the Tor nodes there, so watching UK TV became a little easier all of a sudden. Of course it is not super-fast but it works really well, I have been using it from my iPad, iPhone and Surface for the past week or so and it has been great. To make my paranoia more real I am using a 643 character WPA key to get onto it J

I also have second one that is still running as my Kali Linux Hacker box which works great when connected to the other Tor Proxy I have. These are great pieces of kit, highly recommend getting one. A blog post to come later on, about the parts and configuration I used for my Tor Proxy.

 

While playing with the Raspberry PI, I also felt that this year I needed to step it up a notch on my fitness programs. Last year I completed Insanity and T25, as well as my regular running. This year I wanted to me slightly healthier by finding more ways to be active at work. So after some research I decided to see if I could actually work (when at home) while walking on the treadmill. To begin with it was a bit awkward, made tons of spelling mistakes while typing (writing this while walking on it), at least spell check works really well in Word 2013 J

After my successful test of using an old shelf laid across the arms of the treadmill I built my own desk that simply slots over the arms and stays there whether I walk or run.

 

 

 

This has meant that while working at home I literally walk or run all day while working. This has meant that I have been hitting between 12 – 15 miles a day while working, versus the nothing I was getting when sitting at my desk at work or my office at home. Highly recommend it you as an easier way to stay in shape.

Shortly after getting this sorted out and really setting my goals, such as 10K training etc. a challenge appeared on the horizon, which came out of the back of that magical device the Fitbit which a lot of the SharePoint community use. A friend and sore loser, Virgil Carroll, setup a challenge from the 1st February to the end with us all donating money to the winner's charity. This has been great far with over 50 people from all over the world have joined in, some racking up a few steps, miles and active minutes while others steaming ahead and destroying everyone, did I mention I have been winning (for now), however think Marcy Kellar is going to kill me soon, and Virgil is the current master of the Active Minutes:

 

Either way this is a fantastic way of being motivated by your peers and also having some good old fashion smack talk to inspire everyone.

Now my month would not be complete without the stress of putting together two sessions for SPC14. I am presenting on Data Security and Compliance and then Multi-factor Authentication for SharePoint On-Premise and SharePoint Online. These will be fun sessions talking about the subject that really no-one talks about, however with the latest hacks that have took place, now we are willing and able to chat about them. Should be some fun sessions, hopefully you come and see me present J

All in all this year, 2014 has been great, outside of all of this, being at home for over a month has been great. Spending time with my kids and wife come first over the SharePoint pieces of my life, sorry to the SharePoint world, but in the pecking order you lose out. However come March onwards I will be at the following conferences, as well as couple of SharePoint Saturdays where I can fit them in.

  1. SharePoint Conference 2014, March
  2. SPTechCon San Francisco, April
  3. European SharePoint Conference, Barcelona, May
  4. TechEd North America, Houston, May
  5. Secure 360, Minneapolis, May
  6. SharePoint Conference.ORG, Reston, May
  7. SharePoint Fest New York City, June

There are a few more after that, but I can only focus on a few at one time J

Anyway hope to see you around the community in the next month.

 

 

December 19
NOTE TO SELF: SharePoint 2013 Access Services

This is just a note to remind me that when installing SharePoint 2013 Access Services using some kind of PowerShell like the fantastic AutoSPInstaller script, if you do not allow "Mixed Mode" SQL Authentication you will get the following error:

 

If you are doing the installation and want more control over how it should be done then read this most excellent blog post: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/kaevans/archive/2013/07/14/access-services-2013-setup-for-an-on-premises-installation.aspx

December 12
Looking for a local User Group Meeting?

Living here in Northern Virginia, we are quite lucky that within a relatively short distance there are multiple SharePoint User Groups such as there, I know I have missed some, so apologies. Comment below to be added.

  • Reston User Group - Reston, Virginia
  • SUG DC - Washington, DC
  • Richmond SharePoint Users Group - Richmond, Virginia
  • Federal SharePoint User Group - Washington, DC
  • Hampton Roads SQL Server and SharePoint User Group - Virginia Beach, Virginia
  • Women in SharePoint - Washington, DC
  • Tri-State SharePoint User Group - Malvern, PA
  • Philadelphia Area SharePoint User Group - Blue Bell, PA
  • Baltimore SharePoint User Group - Baltimore, MD

 

Though there are great, they cover roughly about a 3 hour window from here in sunny Winchester, Virginia. Some are closer but the really the closest is still almost an hour away. While speaking at the Reston User Group and SharePoint Saturday Reston last week a couple of people asked if there was anything closer to here in Winchester. So I posted a twitter message seeing if people are interested, if so then reply to that are comment on this post and we can look at setting up a user group for the Winchester Virginia and surrounding areas, I was thinking this area?

 

 

 

This would cover an area of about 30-40 minutes or less and would predominantly cover Virginia and into West Virginia.

 

Let me know by commenting below if you would be interested in attending a User Group meeting each month out here in Sunny Winchester Virginia J

 

December 06
SharePoint 2013 Apps – Missing Styling

So by now you should have played with Apps in SharePoint 2013. Whether you created your own or used a free/paid one from the store either way you should have by now. A couple of little things that can be a pain are to do with styling of apps within a SharePoint site.

I have seen this issue in many environments:

 

This issue is caused when someone sets the master page using the default option and sets it to push down to all sites.

 

This only happens when you set the system master page this way, setting the publishing page one does not affect it. To resolve this you can access the master page changer page using the following URL:

"/_layouts/15/ChangeSiteMasterPage.aspx"

You can also run PowerShell that will set the "CustomMasterUrl" back to what it should be.

 

The next issue I have seen is when everything looks to be setup correctly but when the app is deployed and you render the app is seems to be missing CSS, JavaScript and even Master Page layout.

 

 

This issue seems to be caused by using different application pool accounts. In the environment I am using right now I have the following:

Web Application

Application Pool

Account

Portal

Portal_AppPool

SPS\SP_SiteAppPool

My Sites

MySite_AppPool

SPS\SP_ProfileAppPool

Apps

Apps_AppPool

SPS\SP_AppPool

 

As you can see I am using different accounts for each application pool. In this configuration my accounts are running least privilege and causing the problem with the user interface. I change the application pools to be the following:

Web Application

Application Pool

Account

Portal

Portal_AppPool

SPS\SP_SiteAppPool

My Sites

MySite_AppPool

SPS\SP_ProfileAppPool

Apps

Apps_AppPool

SPS\SP_SiteAppPool

 

This resolves my problem and the apps now load as expected. Now of course you would probably want to keep everything isolated potentially by application pool and account so this may not be the ideal solution. The other approach is to grant permission to the Web Application for the App Web specifically to the application pool account you are using the "User Policy" option in Central Administration.

 

As a note I found that simply adding the user account, refreshing it and then removing it from the user policy meant it worked perfectly fine.

 

Hope this helps.

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