Archive for the ‘Technical’ Category

How to rename MSSQL database MDF and LDF files

Friday, July 5th, 2013

This is a step by step tutorial on how to change the MS SQL databse file names (file.mdf and file.ldf) or their location. The items in red need to be replaced with the names used in your database. This has been tested on SQL 2005/2008/2012.

The method will work for renaming the whole DB, its files and logical units  or you can use Steps 3-6 only to change the location of the .mdf and .ldf files:

1) Rename the actual database MYDB ==> MYDBold in the SSMS (SQL Studio Manager) (This is only necessary if you want to rename the actual DB as well)

2) Open Query window for the MYDBold and Change the logical names in the DB. These names can be found from right clicking on the DB -> Properties -> Files tab:

3) Alter files for DB, changing to the new .mdf and .ldf file location:




4) Take the DB offline in SSMS (Right click on the DB -> Tasks -> Take Offline). (If DB takes very long to go offline, you can try to Detach with Drop/Update checked). This will allow the DB to go offline.

5) Change the actual physical file names on the hard drive

6) Bring the DB back online, and whola! Your DB is now attached to the new storage device

Critical Internet Explorer Vulnerability

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

Microsoft has issued an advisory advising of a 0-Day Exploit in Internet Explorer 6, 7 and 8 which could allow a remote attacker to install a trojan virus on a user system without their knowledge.

Microsoft is working on a solution, but has not  released one as of the time of writing this post. Due to the fact an already exploitable code is available on the web with no path in sight, it is highly recommended not to visited untrusted sites or to use a different browser than Internet Explorer until a patch is released.

More information can be found at:

Possible workaround released by Microsoft (Enabling DEP):

This is a very serious security threat. From the reports available, Anti-Virus softwares are not sufficient protection against this weakness.

UPDATE: Microsoft has released a patch for the the above vulnerability, however, a new exploit has been found with the same severity. Therefore, we highly recommend not to use Internet Explorer for the time being. The new advisory:

Secure Windows Servers using IPSec Firewall

Sunday, January 3rd, 2010

IPSec (Internet Protocol Security) is a cross-platform protocol for securing IP communications through authentication and encryption. IPSec operated on Layer 3 (Network Layer). Thus makes it a powerful tool for managing how traffic flows over a network.

The IPSec firewall rules are available for download Clicking Here.

IPSec was first introduced within Microsoft products in Windows 2000 and have been improved since. The main purpose for IPSec in Windows Servers 2000/2003/2008 is to secure traffic between clients and domains, domains and domains. However, another great benefit arises for IPSec is the flexibility to act as a software firewall on the Windows platform. Windows 2003 firewall is very weak and inflexible that most of the times it end up being disabled on servers. This is very dangerous for Windows web hosting servers, and more specifically for anyone running DC over the internet with no proper firewall in place.

One of the major falls of the Windows Firewall is its inability to filter out the same port more than once. Thus, if we need to block traffic to port 1433 (MSSQL Port), but allow only two specific IP addresses in two different networks to access the 1433 port, that is not possible within the 2003 version of Windows Firewall.

The second major fall is the inability to differentiate inbound/outbound traffic. For example, we’re unable to filter out connections to a specific external network address on all ports. We experience the same problem when attempting to allow incoming connections on all ports for a specific IP. This is not to mention the numerous times when the firewall caused network traffic issues especially with earlier version of Windows 2003 SP2.

Windows 2008 / 2008 R2 improves on Windows Firewall by adding Inbound and Outbound rules. Also, it now allows to allow specific subnets or IPs full access to all ports. The 2008 version of the Firewall acts almost like an IPSec based firewall. Yet, when we have a mixed environment of 2003/2008 servers, we’ll want to have firewall services running on both servers. Making IPSec becomes the only reliable option.

In this article we’ll describe how to access IPSec as well as provide sample IPSec firewall rules. IPSec can be managed through a GUI (Local Security Policies) or a cmdlet (netsh). For our purpose, the steps are identical for Windows 2000/2003/2008. The 2008 IPSec version has one little difference. You can now copy/paste the IP address into the IP field, while the 2000/2003 requires manually typing the IP address. IPSec firewall can also be setup on Windows XP Professional.

The IPSec Snap-in is available from:
Start -> (Settings) Control Panel -> Administrative Tools -> Local Security Policy

Alternative way to open Local Security Policy is through:
Start -> Run -> type: secpol.msc

This will launch the Local Security Settings/Policies Snap-in. The IPSec rules are available under the section “IP Security Policies” on the left side.

NOTE: On a Domain Controller, you want to utilize IPSec under the Domain Controller Group Policy if you wish to secure your DCs.

IPSec Console Mediumcube

You’ll notice on the right side, IPSec lists the current policies available on a system. You can only have one policy active. If you Right-Click on any of the rules at the right, you’ll notice the option to select “Assign”. Assigning a policy makes it active.

Now, we need to import our sample firewall settings. Note, we can export/import policies by Right-Clicking on the “IP Security Policies” -> All Tasks on the left side of the screen. Importing new policies with different names do not affect our current setup policies. Furthermore, anytime we experience issues with policies, you can restore the IPSec back to the default system policies.

Once we’ve downloaded the firewall rules, unzip them and place them somewhere on our computer. Then head back to the IPSec snap-in,  right click on “IP Security Policies” on the left side -> All Tasks -> Import Policies  and point to the location of the IPSec rules we’ve just unzipped.

The firewall rules are disabled by default, so we need not be concerned being locked out when they are imported. Our IPSec snap-in should look like this:

Mediumcube Hosting

We’ll notice a new rule has been added to our list named “Network Firewall”. If we click on “Network Firewall”, we’ll notice that the policy is not assigned (There are On/Off switches at top for toggling Assigned status)

Double click on the “Network Firewall” rule will bring up the Properties screen:

IPSec Firewal Properties

Notice at the top is “IP Filter List”, click on that tab to sort rules by name. The firewall logic is very simple. It begins by denying all icnoming/outgoing traffic on all ports to any connection. Then we use rules to allow specific Ports and Exemption lists access as desired. The following are brief description of how these rules function:

1-DENY UDP ALL: Denies ALL Inbound and Outbound UDP Connections

2-DENY TCP ALL: Denies ALL Inbound and Outbound TCP Connections

3-DENY BAD IP: Explicitely denies access to IPs/Subnets even to already opened ports (Overwrites the allowed ports rules)

4-EXEMPTIONS: We specify here all IPs/Subnets that we wish to give explicit access to ALL Ports regardless of which ports are blocked. (Overwrites the Deny TCP/UDP Rules)

The rest of the rules are indicative of which ports to open. If there is a check mark next to a rule, it means the rule is active and the port is enabled to everyone except those IPs in the 3-DENY BAD IP list.

If there is no check mark next to a rule, it means the port is blocked to everyone except the 4-EXEMPTIONS list.

We’ll notice some of the rules indicate Server/Client access. This is necessary since we’ve blocked both incoming/outgoing ports. Thus, if we need to connect to SSH server from our Windows machine, we need to enable SSH Client. However, if we need external clients to connect to our Windows server using SSH, we need to enable SSH Server. Basically, Client means allow Outgoing connection while Server means allow incoming connection.

We’ve by default enabled the most popular ports: HTTP/HTTPS, SMTP, POP3, MSSQL, RDP. Please review the firewall lists before deciding to enable the Network Firewall policy.

When we’re ready to activate the Network Firewall. From the IPSec snap-in, right click on the “Network Firewall” rule, and select “Assign”:

Assign Network Firewall IPSec

This will enable the firewall on the current system. If for any reason we wish to disable the firewall, right-click on the “Network Firewall” rule again, and click on “Un-Assign”.

NOTE: The Network Firewall rules are very aggressive and may not be suitable for all situation. By default, the firewall will block all incoming/outgoing traffic except to those explicitely allowed ports/IPs. This may cause some issues with FTP access and connecting to outside networks on special Ports. If we require connecting to certain outgoing ports, we must add a rule within the Network Firewall to allow such connection.

We do not provide any warranties or guarantees for the use of these firewall rules. Use at your own risk. However, we’ve been using them on our network for many years without any issues.

If you have any questions or feedback, feel free to post your comments.

Service interruption issues with Montana Windows Server

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009


We’re currently experiencing service interruption issues with the montana shared hosting Windows 2008 server. The problem started after Microsoft security updates were applied which prevented the system from launching into the normal mode.

We have recent backup of your mail, database and site data, however, we’re working with Microsoft specialist team to try and revive the server ASAP.

Update:10:30 AM EST (GMT-4) :  We’re working with Microsoft on resolving this problem at the moment. Further update will follow whether this becomes successfull or not.

Update: 11:50 AM EST (GMT-4): The problem has been resolved and all services restored back in operation. No data were lost or missed. We’re discussing with Microsoft the nature of this problem and hope to update you with further details soon.

Secure Your Password and avoid being hacked

Sunday, March 29th, 2009

We’ve been noticing over the past few months that some of our clients had their sites compromised and were later used to send out spam or distribute malicious content to sites visitors through password leaks.

There appears to be no pattern connecting the compromise to each others, except all of them indicate the hacker had gained accessed to the sites through FTP access. The hackers used the account holder username/password to login to the site and manually or through an automated script upload/replace site files.

Our investigation have revealed that these hacks are not limited to a certain OS, Control Panel or Server. They would occur to some of our direct clients and at some instances to clients of our orresellers.

Further investigation confirmed there were no server-wide compromise. There is no indication of root compromise, file integrities are intact and no rouge users or scripts were found on the physical servers.

After carefully analyzing the logs for few weeks, and running traces on the hackers, we’re confident that these attacks were only successful through a user/password compromise of the hacked site.

It appears the hackers are using a KeyLogger malware to sniff user/pass information on clients local stations. Then use these information to login to the victim site through FTP to upload their malicious content.  Once the password of the account is changed on our end, the hack stops.

We would highly recommend to all of our clients to check if their workstations are compromised even if they’re running an Anti-Virus software. We also ask that you ensure your password is not shared over the public Internet such as Messengers, Emails. Additionally, please verify your password meets the complexity rules stated in section (8) of this email.

The hackers can upload keyloggers and data sniffers to your local workstations through many methods including a security weakness in a software you run on your system such as Internet Explorer, FireFox, Windows Media Player, QuickTime Player, Outlook, Office, Password guessing or Password dictionary attack. To help you protect yourself from such attacks, we’ve prepared few recommendations to keep your computer system secure:

1) Never share your password with any parties, and always create different passwords for different sites

2) Be extremely careful when working on a remote system or a system that is shared with others. We don’t recommend that you use a shared system to login to sensitive websites. There is a chance that a shared system may contains a password hijacker program, or be on a rogue network.

3) If you share your password with 3rd parties, please ask them to follow these steps as well.

4) Before changing your passwords, please ensure your system is clean of viruses. There is no point of changing passwords if the system you’re working on is already compromised. These are few suggestion on how to scan your system for viruses on the Microsoft Platform:

a) Download, Install and run Malwarebytes from

b) Download, Install and run Microsoft Security Essentials from

c) If malicious content is found using the above two systems, we recommend that you do more vigorous checking for hidden malwares using Dr. Web CureIt:

d) You can also do further checking using Prevx

e) For Advanced users, you can also try Microsoft Rootkit Revealer to show any hidden content at: (Please note, Rootkit Revealer may generate false positives)

f) Lock down your Windows using EMET (Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit) from:

If you’re not currently using an Anti-Virus and Anti-Spyware, we would urge you to purchase one soon. In the mean time, you can try these free real-time scanning alternatives: or

We also strongly encourage you to check and install the latest Windows Security Updates from Microsoft: Additionally, you can use the following tools to check for any out-of-date applications installed on your system:

– MBSA from Microsoft:

– Secunia Scanner:

5) If your virus scanner finds any malicious content that is rated Medium-High, please advise us immediately. We’ll change your password from our end.

6) Even if you run an up-to-date virus scanner, we do urge you to run multiple scans using the instructions above. Sometime real-time scanning is unable to catch viruses spread through a web browser, or its signature database may not be up to date.

7) Once you’ve confirmed your local machine is safe, check for other machines within your local network to ensure no infection spreads from one machine to another using USB keys, network file sharing.

8 ) Ensure your password is complex enough. The ideal password will be at least 8 characters long, contains both Upper and Lower case characters, a number and a special character.

You can use Microsoft online password checker to verify your password strength. A level of Strong or above would be ideal:

If you’re using the default password which was sent to you when your hosting account was created, please change it immediately. The Control Panel interface offers a handy password generation utility.

9) It is always preferred that you use secure connections when transmitting password information online. This includes not logging to any systems or sites that do not support encryption. Our servers will allow you to connect securely for FTP, cPanel, SMTP, POP3 access, as follow:

– We support Auth TLS FTP connections
– You can login securely to your cPanel interface through , you may be presented with a security certificate warning, please accept it to continue.
– You can access secure SMTP on the same port as your regular SMTP connection (Port 25 or 26)
– You can access secure POP3 on Port 995 which is set by default in Outlook when checking “This server require secure connection (SSL)”

Please note, using SSL connections will result in slower speed and may cause timeouts. Using SSL will also display a warning advising you to accept the server certificate. This is an inherent limitation of shared SSL certificates.

We hope  these information will be of great value and help you maintain a safe and secure online presence.

Building Secure Software – 25 Tips from SANS

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

The SANS institute in collaboration with different software vendors, academics, security analysts and NSA had compiled a list of the Top 25 most dangerous software mistakes.

The list contains information on the steps that allow a hacker to compromise a piece of code. This ranges from the most obvious and well kwn no Injection Attacks to the more trivial but widely ignored data encryption and hard-coded passwords.

Any Software developer will find these information very valuable. Insecure software is becoming quickly a huge obstacle in the way of advancing online communications. The list is available at:

Here is a mirror copy:

This page contains reviews of security auditing software:


Important Microsoft Internet Explorer Patch

Thursday, December 18th, 2008

Microsoft has recently released a critical patch for Internet Explorer known as KB960714. The update affects all versions of Internet Explorer on all Windows Operating Systems including Windows Vista and Server 2008.

The importance of the patch is based on currently available exploits that target Internet Explorer. Malicious code can be injected into Internet Explorer browser without a user’s permission allowing the attacker to gain system wide access to the Operating System.

By the time Microsoft had released this security update, there had been already many thousands infected websites compromising users systems. The malicious code only affects Internet Explorer, however, due to the fact that any website which contains the malicious code will be able to infect a user system, it is crucial that users apply the path immediately or temporarily shift to alternative browsers such as FireFox, Chrome or Opera.

To apply the patch, please visit or follow the instructions to download the patch from 

Note to our clients, we had already applied the patch to all of our Windows servers once it was released by Microsoft. We’re take pride in proactively protecting our customers data around the clock.

Technical difficulties with the Ferrari Windows server

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

At approximately 1:05 AM EST on the morning of Wednesday December 10th, the Ferrari Windows server where your website is hosted had experienced erratic data integrity issues with the RAID data drives. At times, the server would often reboot or freeze for a period of 10 minutes between 1 AM – 2 AM. Immediately, our system administrators began working on isolating the cause of the problem. The findings appear to suggest that the RAID-1 array supporting the data drives had experienced a data corruption.
 We’d attempted several steps to remedy the problem by repairing the RAID array or attempting to extract data from it directly, however, none of our actions came to fruition. Therefore, at approximately 4:30 AM EST we’d decided to restore the drives data from our latest backups. Due to other technical problems that arose with the network component of the Ferrari server, the restoration process did not begin until 5:55 AM EST.
 The backup restoration was completed at 7:45 AM EST.
 Due to the data corruption, the only backup we could restore back to was the morning of Tuesday December 9th. Therefore, any changes you’ve made to your website files, emails that were saved on the server, or database changes that were made between Tuesday Dec 9th and morning of Wednesday Dec 10th were not recovered.
 If you notice that your SQL or Access database is older than the morning of Tuesday December 9th, please notify us and we’ll check the backups for any later version.
 We do apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. We have had an excellent performance and reliability track record prior to this incident, and we’ll continue to work double as hard to provide you with an optimal reliability in the future. We’re planning to upgrade the Ferrari server within the next month to prevent such problems from re-occurring in the future. 

We do apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. Your account manager will be in touch with you through e-mail to provide further details on the outage and how to obtain a credit back.

If you experience any problems, please contact our support at

Google Vulnerability Check

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

Soon, you may receive an email from Google reminding you to upgrade an application on your website. This free service is being pilot tested by the Engineering at Google search engine.

Google already crawls most websites on the Internet, gathering many information from these sites. Now, they’re trying to expand on that by offering some help to webmasters who long forgotten about their out-of date web application. These old application may pose serious harm to the website and other visitors due to several vulnerabilities that may exist in its code.

Currently, Google is doing a small scale test, targeting WordPress applications that run on version 2.1.1. If these tests are successful, we may see an expansion of this program. Hopefully, this will make the web safer for everyone. This is a snippet of Google announcement:

CAPTCHA fight against spammers

Monday, July 21st, 2008

CAPTCHA stands for “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart”. It was debut widely on the internet about 2 years ago to fight the problem of increased spam registration. CAPTCHA was essentially helpful for e-mail services, chat rooms, forums and blogs that needed to screen out spam registration.

Spammers in the early days used automated software to register accounts at forums and blogs sites, then use these accounts to spread their links and spam. However, the introduction of CAPTCHA severly limited their abilities to automate registration. CAPTCHA displays an image with letters or numbers and request from the visitor to identify the phrase in that box. At first, this had represented a challenge to spammers as their software was not designed to read images. Nevertheless, few years after the wide spread of CAPTCHA at popular services such as GMail and HotMail, spammers have finally found a very successful method to break CAPTCHA.

This is an interesting article that discuss why CAPTCHA is no longer as relevant as it was few years ago. CAPTCHA though is still a great way to reduce spam on your own Blog/Forum, however, if an attacker is obsessed with compromising your system, there is technically nothing stopping them:

Cracking CAPTCHA