Toolbox: New Products for IT Professionals
The tools this month help you with remote administration, password and data packet analysis, and consolidating Windows desktop- and server-management tools.
Companies have increasing numbers of remote workers, so remote management is becoming more critical. There are a number of remote-management solutions, including the Microsoft Remote Assistance feature, which is integrated with Windows XP and later. If you need to handle both Macs and PCs, check out LogMeIn Pro.
LogMeIn Pro gives you secure remote access to both Macs and PCs over the Web with HD-quality video from other computers and mobile iOS and Android devices. To get started, install the LogMeIn client on the host machine. Then go to the logmein.com Web site, log in with your account, select the computer you wish to manage, enter your remote credentials, and you’ll be able to manage that computer from your browser. From within the LogMeIn client, you can also create and e-mail invitations for other users to connect to your machine in a desktop-sharing session. LogMeIn Pro throughput and streaming capabilities let you stream videos and sound securely in HD.
Besides remote control and desktop sharing, you can also transfer files between devices or secure share files via auto-generated links. Both the desktop- and file-sharing invitations have configurable time limits and download limits for files. If you need to print from the remote host, LogMeIn lets you print to your local or nearest printer. LogMeIn Pro can also connect to remote machines from your mobile Android and iOS devices.
Security is paramount when you enable remote access to your systems. Besides using SSL, you can define IP filter profiles for each host, add a local “personal password” to your host machines and even define user-specific permissions. With user-specific permissions, you can let your first-level support team have view-only rights, and give your second-level team full control. LogMeIn also has built-in Denial of Service (DoS) and authentication attack blocking that will automatically block IP addresses that seem to be trying to take out or take control of your machines.
LogMeIn Pro runs $69.95 for the first computer per year, with discounts for each machine’s price as you increase volume. For example, 25 computers would work out to $39.96 per computer. There are also monthly subscriptions and you can download a free trial of LogMeIn Pro. The iOS LogMeIn app is free, but if you want to use an Android device with LogMeIn, you’ll have to pay $29.99 for the app.
If you aren’t happy with your current remote-management tool, if you need something to manage both Macs and PCs, or if you’re looking for remote administration via your mobile iOS or Android device, check out LogMeIn Pro.
Are you curious about how much unencrypted sensitive information is passing through your network? Or perhaps you’ve lost the password for an old utility you used to use for sending or receiving mail, files, or Web data. One easy-to-use tool for sniffing out POP3, IMAP4, SMTP, FTP and HTTP passwords crossing a network segment is the free utility called SniffPass.
SniffPass uses raw sockets (with various caveats depending on which version of Windows you’re running), the WinPcap Packet Capture driver or the Microsoft Network Monitor driver to “listen” for passwords moving unencrypted across the network interfaces of the machine upon which the application is installed. You can choose to have the Packet Capture driver grab those packets intended for the target machine, or have the driver capture all traffic that crosses the interface.
Once you choose your packet-capture method, listening for passwords with SniffPass is as simple as hitting the play button. As SniffPass “hears” passwords, it will list them in the main grid view. The grid shows you the protocol, local and remote IP addresses, local and remote ports, time of capture, and, of course, the username and password. You can use the program options to select the columns you wish to view.
You can save captured data to a CSV file or a simple HTML report. You can also have SniffPass beep every time it encounters a new password. That way, you can minimize the application to your taskbar and have it run in the background as you work. If you’re looking for a simple tool to help quickly demonstrate how easy it is to capture clear-text passwords for unencrypted mail, data-transfer and Web activities, or if you need a simple tool to recover lost passwords, take a look at SniffPass.
As your network grows, having numerous management tools in one place can be a real time-saver. One utility that aims to centralize Windows system management tasks is Hyena from SystemTools Software Inc. You can use Hyena from any Windows client to administer other Windows machines, from Windows NT right up through Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012.
Hyena has a classic Windows Explorer-like interface with tree navigation and detail views. You can jump to its various features much like you would with the Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-in view via the tree. Each selection has context menus that drive you to other tools and management functions. You can manage the various flavors and versions of Windows from within this one tool.
No business-class Windows management utility would be complete without Active Directory integration. Hyena lets you manage Windows 2000 through Windows 2012 domain objects. You can also create Active Directory queries to let you see the attributes that interest you. You can easily add and view custom Active Directory attributes, set password policies and perform other common Active Directory tasks. Hyena logs each Active Directory modification and object access, so you can go back and see what happened when.
For basic server and system management, Hyena gives you quick access to drive and share information, local users and groups, devices, services, events, disk space, performance metrics, and access to the registry, to name a few. These categories cover much of your day-to-day management tasks from within one console. For example, you can stop, start or even install a service; view and disconnect share connections; back up or clear the event log; see who’s using the system; or manage a printer’s queue.
Hyena lets you use the remote machine’s task scheduler (for both Windows Task Scheduler 1.0 and 2.0) so you can set up and administer simple jobs. You can also run commands remotely and save those commands as menu options within Hyena for later reuse. If there’s a view into the data or machines you’d like to capture, you can also export that to Access, Excel, a text file or the Windows clipboard.
Hyena is licensed per user. It’s priced at $199 for the Standard Edition and $269 for the Enterprise Edition. There are multiuser license packs available with notable discounts as you go up in volume. The Enterprise Edition gives you all the basic features, plus Terminal Server user and session administration, Exchange Server mailbox integration and properties management, and extended Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) querying and execution. A free full-featured 30-day trial is available for download. If you’re tired of hopping from tool to tool to administer your Windows desktops and servers, check out Hyena from SystemTools Software.
Greg Steen* is a technology professional, entrepreneur and enthusiast. He’s always on the hunt for new tools to help make operations, QA and development easier for the IT professional.*