Defcon 25 is here!
It's been a while since we've last spoke. Since we have last spoke I have changed jobs, added a new member to the family, and graduated with a degree in Securing Information Systems. Needless to say, I have been busy. Upcoming in the next month, I have been granted the privilege of presenting at MacAD.UK 2017 in London. I will be presenting on a topic I have written about previously PF Firewall on OS X. My blog has a few post about for those would like to become familiar with the material. I am looking forward to spending time with people I don't know, people I know, and exploring another country. Here is the conference and all the great learns that will come.
On Thursday was the last day of the JNUC 2015. There were quite a few talks lined up along with a couple of panels. The talks that grabbed my attention were:
- Integrating & Automating Your Help Desk Ticketing
- Security Matters: Making Infosec Your Friend
- Simplifying Complex Management Infrastructures
- Security Panel/VPP & DEP Panel
There were a multitude of other talks that grabbed my attention but alas I can only be in one place at a time. Integrating & Automating Your Help Desk Ticketing was an interesting talk. The takeaways from this talk were:
- Develop Automation
- Automation is proactive when done right
- Use APIs from Casper and your Ticketing system
I had a few conversations with people about this talk and some have done this an automated even further. They assign the ticket to an technician with all the appropriate information, so there is no need to decide who will complete each newly created task.
The infosec talk caused many users to think differently about how you deal with your infosec team. At times Macadamias only think of things in terms of what we need to do in order to patch or repair a machine. If you talk or create a relationship with your infosec team you will learn about their worries or concerns on OS X.
- Spotlight EULA, which sends results to Microsoft BING
- Bluetooth Vulnerabilities
- Setting EFI Password to protect machines
- Using FileVault
- Adobe FLASH
- Web Browsers, keeping them up to date
- Network Layer Attacks
By having open conversations with your infosec team you can collaborate, reduce frustrations, and provide a more secure environment for your users and employer.
Simplifying Complex Management Infrastructure provided great examples of how you can take your environment no matter the size and manage it using the Casper Suite. That is management of OS X servers and knowing all the information about what is installed, Software Updates, or updating software. OS X admins have servers located in many locations and sometimes basic updates from OS X server are not enough. The Casper Suite can provide inventory information and can automate server management tasks.
I hoped between both panels but they provided great information about each particular topic. People were able to submit questions via JAMFNation, Twitter, or in person via a JAMFer. The twitter hash tags are:
Lastly, the conference ended with a wrap up session where people talked shop, said their goodbyes, and finished their conference questions for speakers. It was a great time in Minneapolis for the JNUC. Can't wait for next 2016.
I am writing today from JNUC 2015, in Minneapolis, MN. JNUC stands for Jamf Nation User Conference. It's a 3-day conference centered around everything Casper Suite. JAMF Software model is "Helping the enterprise succeed with the Apple platform." This motto greatly aligns with my personal vision for helping an IT organization. Over 1,500 people have come from all over the world to share the experiences with Casper Suite, Casper Focus, and Composer. I am excited to be afforded the opportunity to share, explore, and learn about new ways to utilize the software. Today there were talks on System Integrity Protection, by Rich Trouton, JAMF Software Security, and Vulnerability Assessments, by Daniel Mayer, and Novel Solutions with JAMF IT, by Byron Terrell of JAMF Software. The agenda had plenty of other talks, but those were the three that caught my eye and attention. For a complete listing of talks navigate to the JNUC 2015 Sessions schedule.
One final note, I attended a talked "Culture Matters: Casper Suite for People Who Fear Going Corporate." This was an interesting talk because it centered around the idea of managing a people who aren't used to be being managed. It is an interesting idea of how to get everyone "on board" while ensuring IT is ensuring a safe environment. Four statements stood out from the talk:
- Things they'll be able to do
- Things we'll be able to do
- Things we won't be able to do
- What will they say at lunch?
These are all value points to consider when dealing with any users/staff/engineers etc...When managing or providing services to client devices ensure you explain the top three items and think about what people are saying about your service during lunch because it may not be the right thing.
Lastly, Macbrained threw an awesome, or what I think was awesome, event at Day Block Brewery. Well Over 140 people showed up to have beers, food, and great conversation centered around tech and life. As a disclaimer I do help organize the Macbrained events. Overall it was a great day and I look forward to all the sessions and conversations on day 2.
Penn State MacAdmins conference was last week. Over 600+ MacAdmins traveled from all over the world to discuss and share knowledge regarding OS X. This was my first year at PSU MacAdmins so I did not know what to expect. With that said I found this conference to very informative and collaborative.
The first day there were five workshop's for attendees to choose from:
- Apple Workshop
- Fundamentals of Wi-Fi(or, Arguing with Physics)
- Packaging Workshop
- All Things Security
- Introduction to Cocoa Development and Reverse Engineering on OS X
All great workshops but I choose the Packaging Workshop. This was of particular interest to me because I did not know how an installer should actually look and behave. This workshop explained did a great job of explaining how packages should look and behave. In addition to this information there were helpful tips with hands on packaging experience in the GUI and on the command line. The workshop had some of the following topics and suggested a few applications:
- Examine Packages
- Building Packages
- Signing packages
- Preflight & Postflight scripts
- Flat Packaging
- Bundle Packaging
- GUI Packaging Apps
- Command line tools to Package/Exam Apps
There was also scripting and Stupid packaging tricks recommendations. This was by far one of the most helpful sessions for me all conference. I did not have a strong background with this particular topic but after this workshop I feel more than confident in my ability to exam and build proper applications packages for deployment.
There were a plethora of amazing sessions all week long. Check out the schedule http://psumac2015.sched.org. Some of my favorites were:
- Integrating AutoPKG and the Casper Suite with the JSSImporter
- To 12,00 Macs and beyond....
- Administering Office 2016 for Mac
- It's Dangerous to Go Alone, Take This!
- Automated Testing with VMware Fusion
- The 12 Unix Commands Everyone Should Know
- OS X Operating System Security at Scale
- Using AutoPKG for Windows Software
- Open (and/or Free) vs Closed Source - Steel Cage Death Match
- Using Google's Open Source Tools to Manage Macs
The list is too long to list all the other sessions that I enjoyed because I could not attend them all. But something interesting occurred during this conference, crowd sourcing notes with Google Docs. I have always wondered why more people are not using crowd sourcing note taking. It could allow you to be in multiple places at once or the ability to review the notes at the end of the day. Slack was the primary driver when organizing notes for most of the sessions and EVERYONE seemed to be on board with the idea. Many times before a session would be begin someone would place a link to the notes in #PSUMAC slack channel to allow note collaboration.
Slides and video's will be released at a later on PSU Mac Admins website and on youtube but for those who people want to immediately review this was the perfect medium. Slack brought people who weren't even at the conference into the conversation adding input regarding topics or peering into the notes, causing further interest about all of the talks and topics. Here is a Google Docs Collection links from the notes taken by everyone at PSU Mac Admins 2015:
One particular theme that I heard constantly whether in the packaging workshop, sessions or during general conversations at Legends, automation is key. There are plenty of tools that can help you automate very simple and complex task during your day. If you have not heard of autopkg, please go and read the github page.. It interfaces with many of the tools you use everyday, and will take the mundane task of patching & deploying applications out of your hands. Automate your VMs with vfuse by Joseph Chilcote or with Rich Trouton's session on virtualization testing. The theme was your time is precious as a Mac admin, therefore save time where you can which will free your mind to accomplish more challenging tasks.
I do want to give a thank you to Penn State Mac Admins Conference, Penn Stater, and for all the individuals who attended or interacted with community during the conference. I can't wait for PSU Mac Admins 2016! See you then and thank you again for the best week of Summer Camp.
The last half of the year for me is conference season. Normally, I have four conferences that I attend:
DefCon - Hacking Conference in Las Vegas
JNUC - Jamf Nation User Conference in Minneapolis
Penn State Mac Admins - Mac Conference in Philadelphia
Mactech - Mac Conference in Los Angeles
They are all quite interesting and amazing in their own way. I am constantly asked, "Is it really worth your time?" I always tell people that it depends on what you are trying to accomplish by going to a conference. When I attend the conference I intend to:
Discover new topics
Learn new methods to solve current and new problems
Obtain a mental refresh
During conferences I am able to do accomplish a lot of things including meeting some of the brightest people in the industry, meeting people who encounter the same issues as me and learning about new software or hardware. Attending these conferences also allows me to recharge my batteries and gain different insight. People can develop lifelong friendships and career opportunities while attending a conference.
If you are unable to attend any of these conferences the hosts usually posts videos via Youtube. You can spend a day or two watching the videos and obtain a lot of the same information.
However, not all conferences allow their content to be posted. Mactech and Defcon do not post their sessions on YouTube but, you can order the sessions from MacTech and torrent the Defcon sessions and presentations. Another great resource tech's can utilize are other technicians blogs. Many times there will be a few wrap up posts on tech's blogs that will detail the conference experience. Which conferences did you attend? Did you find them worthwhile?
Here are some images from some of the conferences I attended this year.