Using a Task Sequence Secret Value when changing a local password

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At one time it became routine to manage Windows local account passwords with a Group Policy Preference.  However, some time ago the process was was discovered to have a significant venerability and Microsoft released security bulletin MS14-025 to address the issue.  But Microsoft didn’t fix the vulnerability.  Instead they removed the ability for GPP to save user names and passwords in Local Users and Groups, Drive Maps, Scheduled Tasks, Services, and Data Sources.

There are many options to handle managing local account passwords including:

  • MS14-025 includes a lengthy PowerShell script which will reach-out to remote computers to change the password and log the change in a central text file
  • Microsoft Local Administrator Password Solution (LAPS) is a great free solution which should be seriously considered
  • ConfigMgr (SCCM / Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager) deployment
  • a dozen other options not listed here

While discussing the ConfigMgr options with a few colleagues we came up with the following:

  • Application or Package deployment with a script which has an embedded password or uses a password formula / calculation
  • A Compliance Setting and Baseline with a script a script which has an embedded password or uses a password formula / calculation
  • A Task Sequence deployment with a script which has an embedded password

I’ve created a Compliance Setting and Baseline for a customer in a situation where they had ConfigMgr clients on workgroups and joined to domains which they could not manage.  This worked really well for them.  The embedded script used a simple Base64 conversion to obfuscate the password and the password was not exposed on the command line, but there was no actual encryption.

Turning to the Task Sequence discussion option, a suggestion was made to call NET USER from a Run Command action.  This sounded easy.  Too easy.  Besides, wouldn’t the command including the password be exposed in SMSTS.log?  Not if a “Secret Value” Task Sequence Variable is used!

Follow these steps in configuring a Task Sequence:

Set a Task Sequence Variable named “ADMPW” or similar, enter the clear text value, then enable the “Secret value” check box.

Select OK to save/close the variable properties, then look at it again and notice that the value is quite different than what you’ve typed.  It’s encrypted!

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Now, call the NET USER command line with the variable

NET USER administrator %ADMPW%

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Reviewing the SMSTS.log helps validate that the password is not exposed.

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The log only shows “Action command line: smsswd.exe /run: net user administrator %ADMPW%”

The ConfigMgr Task Sequence using a “Secret Value” Variable can be an effective method of changing local account password.

June 21, 2016

Posted In: ConfigMgr 2012

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ConfigMgr fails to distribute a package… failed to create instance of IRdcLibrary

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Awhile back I had an issue distributing a new Package in ConfigMgr (SCCM).  There didn’t seem to be anything unique about the package, it just didn’t want to process.  Digging into the SMS Distribution Manager log (distmgr.log), I noticed a number of errors about the file not being found, couldn’t be added, can’t create a snapshot,etc.  The IRdcLibrary keyword is the real clue.

After reinstalling the Windows feature Remote Differential Compression, Distribution Manager started working again.

Start adding package P010017D...
The Package Action is 2, the Update Mask is 268435456 and UpdateMaskEx is 0.
CDistributionSrcSQL::UpdateAvailableVersion PackageID=P010017D, Version=1, Status=2300
Taking package snapshot for package P010017D from source \\CM01\PackageSource\updates\2016\\CM01\PackageSource\updates\2016
failed to create instance of IRdcLibrary    SMS_DISTRIBUTION_MANAGER
CreateRdcSignature failed; 0x80040154   SMS_DISTRIBUTION_MANAGER
CreateSignature failed    SMS_DISTRIBUTION_MANAGER
CreateRdcFileSignatureW failed; 0x80040154        SMS_DISTRIBUTION_MANAGER
CFileLibrary::AddFile failed; 0x80040154  SMS_DISTRIBUTION_MANAGER
CFileLibrary::AddFile failed; 0x80040154  SMS_DISTRIBUTION_MANAGER
CContentDefinition::AddFile failed; 0x80040154   SMS_DISTRIBUTION_MANAGER
Failed to add the file. Please check if this file exists. Error 0x80040154               SMS_DISTRIBUTION_MANAGER
SnapshotPackage() failed. Error = 0x80040154      SMS_DISTRIBUTION_MANAGER
STATMSG: ID=2361 SEV=E LEV=M SOURCE="SMS Server" COMP="SMS_DISTRIBUTION_MANAGER" SYS=CM01.ad.contoso.com SITE=P01 PID=6244 TID=4488 GMTDATE=Fri Apr 15 14:06:24.604 2016 ISTR0="\\CM01\PackageSource\updates\2016" ISTR1="Test" ISTR2="P010017D" ISTR3="30" ISTR4="22" ISTR5="" ISTR6="" ISTR7="" ISTR8="" ISTR9="" NUMATTRS=1 AID0=400 AVAL0="P010017D"         SMS_DISTRIBUTION_MANAGER  4/15/2016 9:06:24 AM    4488 (0x1188)
Failed to take snapshot of package P010017D
       SMS_DISTRIBUTION_MANAGER
CDistributionSrcSQL::UpdateAvailableVersion PackageID=P010017D, Version=1, Status=2302
STATMSG: ID=2302 SEV=E LEV=M SOURCE="SMS Server" COMP="SMS_DISTRIBUTION_MANAGER" SYS=CM01.ad.contoso.com SITE=P01 PID=6244 TID=4488 GMTDATE=Fri Apr 15 14:06:24.616 2016 ISTR0="Test" ISTR1="P010017D" ISTR2="" ISTR3="" ISTR4="" ISTR5="" ISTR6="" ISTR7="" ISTR8="" ISTR9="" NUMATTRS=1 AID0=400 AVAL0="P010017D"         SMS_DISTRIBUTION_MANAGER  4/15/2016 9:06:24 AM    4488 (0x1188)
Failed to process package P010017D after 3 retries, will retry 22 more times
Exiting package processing thread.            SMS_DISTRIBUTION_MANAGER

June 20, 2016

Posted In: ConfigMgr 2012

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SSRS Error 401.3 Access is denied

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So, you’ve been denied!  It’s OK.  It happens to the best of us.

If you are lucky enough be gifted with this message take a look at the NTFS rights of the SQL Server Reporting Services instance which will likely be a folder like C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSRS10_50.MSSQLSERVER\Reporting Services.  Granting the appropriate AD group read & execute rights may solve the problem.

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Server Error in ‘/Reports’ Application.

Access is denied.

Description: An error occurred while accessing the resources required to serve this request.  You might not have permission to view the requested resources.

Error message 401.3: You do not have permission to view this directory or page using the credentials you supplied (access denied due to Access Control Lists).  Ask the Web server’s administrator to give you access.

Thanks to Mike and Jerry for pointing me in the right direction.  After carefully reading the error, it is quite obvious isn’t it.

http://stackoverflow.com/questions/17685452/ssrs-401-3-error-access-denied-due-to-access-control-lists

https://social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/sqlserver/en-US/747f9846-dd9a-4fb4-914a-283871d6cedf/client-failing-to-access-the-ssrs-2008-sp1-report-manager-url-with-access-denied-error-4013?forum=sqlreportingservices

https://social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/sqlserver/en-US/fd41a86b-976f-4851-8dae-5561ebc6d719/browse-reportserver-return-4013-error-after-joined-domain?forum=sqlreportingservices

June 20, 2016

Posted In: SQL Reporting

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