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NEBytes Launch Event

2010/01/21

Last night (2010-01-20) I had the pleasure of attending the launch event for NEBytes.

North East Bytes (NEBytes) is a User Group covering the North East and Cumbrian regions of the United Kingdom.  We have technical meetings covering Development and IT Pro topics every month. About

SharePoint 2010

The launch event was done in conjuction with the Sharepoint User Group UK (SUGUK), so was no surprise when the first topic of the night covered Sharepoint 2010, delivered very enthusiastically by Steve Smith. I’ve got no experience with Sharepoint so can’t comment too much on the material, but from the architectural changes I got the impression that it 2010 may be more secure that previous versions as the back-end is becoming more segmented, with different parts of the whole have discrete, dedicated databases. While it might not limit the threat of a vulnerability, it should be able to reduce the exposure in the event of a single breach.

Steve also highlight that there is some very granular accountability logging, in that every part of the application and every piece of data recieves a unique ‘Correlation ID’. The scenarios highlighted suggested that this allows for indepth debugging to determine the exact nature of a crash or system failure, by the same system this should allow for some good forensic pointers when investigating a potential compromise or breach.

Again viewing the material from a security stand point I was concerned that the defaults that appeared as part of Steve’s walkthrough defaulted to less secure options, NTLM authentication not Kerberos and non encrypted communication over SSL. One of Steve’s recommendations did concern me, to participate in the Customer Experience Improvement Program. While I’ve got no evidence to support it, I’m always nervous about passing debugging and troubleshooting information to a third party, never know what information might get leaked with it.

Silverlight

Second session of the night was Silverlight, covered by Mike Taulty (and should be worth pointing out that this session came after a decent quantity of freely provided pizza and sandwiches). As with Sharepoint I had no prior experience of Silverlight other than hearing various people complain about it via twitter, so found the talk really informative. For those that don’t know, Silverlight is designed to be a cross-browser and cross-platform ‘unified framework’ (providing your browser/platform supports Silverlight…)

From a developer and designer perspective Silverlight must be great, the built in functionality provide access to capabilities that I could only dream about when I was looking at becoming a dev in a past life. The intergration between Visual Studio for coding and Blend for design was equally impressive.

Again I viewed the talk’s content from a security perspective. Mike pressed on the fact that Silverlight runs within a tightly controlled sandbox to limit functionality and provide added security. For example the code can make HTTP[S] connections out from the browsing machine, but is limited to the same origin as the code or cross domain code providing the target allows cross domain from the same origin.

However, Silverlight applications can be installed locally in ‘Trusted’ mode, which reduces the restrictions in place by the sandbox. Before installing the app, the sandbox will inform the user that the app is to be ‘trusted’ and warn of the implications. This is great, as we all know users read these things before clicking next when wanting to get to the promised videos of cute kitties… I did query this point with Mike after the presentation and he, rightly, pointed out that any application installed locally would have the ability access all the resources that aren’t protected when in trusted mode. I agree with Mike, but I’m concerned that average Joe User will think ‘OK, it’s only a browser plugin’ (not that this is the case anyway) where they might be more cautious if a website asked them to install a full blown application. Users have been conditioned to install plugins to provide the web experience they expect (flash etc.)

Hyper-V

The final talk was actually the one I was most interested in at the start of the night, and was presented by James O’Neil. In the end I was disappointed, unlike the other topics I didn’t get too much that was new to me from the session, I’m guessing because virtualisation solutions are something I encounter on a regular basis. Only real take-away from the talk was the James gets my Urgh! award for using the phrase ‘private cloud infrastructure’ without cracking a smile at the same time.

Summary

The night was great, so a big thanks to the guys that setup and ran the event (with costs coming out of their own pockets too). The event was free, the topics and speakers were high quality and to top it off there were some fairly impressive give aways as well, from the usual stickers and pens to boxed Win7 Ultimate packs.

If you’re a dev or IT professional, I’d definitely recommend getting down to the next event.

— Andrew Waite

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Categories: Event
  1. 2010/01/21 at 17:48

    Hi Andrew,

    Thanks for coming along & thanks for the write-up.

    One thing I’d say around the Silverlight security is that for managed environments you can use group policy to stop a user installing any trusted out-of-browser Silverlight applications so ( for those environments ) that removes the risk that you mention.

    Thanks,

    Mike.

    • 2010/01/21 at 18:50

      Hi Mike,

      thanks for the group policy tip. Must admit I need to investigate group policy settings in more detail, think I’m missing out on a lot of control to prevent users doing things that may be ‘unwise’. Always more to learn….

  1. 2010/02/17 at 21:29
  2. 2010/12/31 at 14:03
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