Setting up a brand new MECM ADR pain

In %dayjob% I’m now starting to use Microsoft Endpoint Configuration Manager (nee System Centre [Center] Configuration Manager, nee System Management Server) a lot more.

My area I’ve been looking at is Windows Updates. It’s not a sexy area (I’ll leave that to Leon and Ben) but it pays the mortgage. I’m cleaning things up as I go, getting rid of old Software Update Groups and moving to Automatic Deployment Rules. This has led me to blasting away old downloaded updates and starting again.

However, if you’ve had an install that has been upgraded many times you might find that some of that old content won’t download again and you disappear down a rabbit hole.

A couple of hours later I have the answer to why my ADR would never complete, come with me on a journey!

First thing. My ADR is having EVERY update that has not been superseded for Windows Server 2012R2 and Server 2016, this is because as new customers come on board we don’t know the state of their OS patching, as such we want every update to be evaluated and pushed out to their servers.

Creating my ADR (and apologies, I have had to fabricate some of these screenshots as I didn’t have them while making the initial ADR). Selected Updates for Server 2012R2 and 2016


Selected the classification of updates

 

 Sit back and wait for things to download

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Wavy lines of time.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Come back to ADR and…. Hum…..

 Okay, lets dig into the patchdownloader.log file to see what happened.


Strange, looks like a certificate thing…..

Humm, okay, let’s try downloading the update from All Software Updates and putting into the Deployment Package manually


I got back to the logs and find the list of files that fail to download, then I go and download them manually.

  • kb3172989
  • kb3207296
  • kb3198389
  • kb3173423
  • kb3172729
  • kb3209498

Try downloading the files manually and all download fine:

 


Okay, how about I import it manually, different error but same problem in that it didn’t import.


Okay…. Let’s go and interrogate the files and see what’s the same between them all….. hummm, all are for Server 2016 Tech Preview.

kb3172989

Security Update for Adobe Flash Player for Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 5 (for x64-based Systems) (KB3209498)

kb3207296

Cumulative Update for Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 5 for x64-based Systems (KB3207296)

kb3198389

Security Update for Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 5 (KB3198389)

kb3173423

Update for Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 5 (KB3173423)

kb3172729

Security Update for Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 5 (KB3172729)

kb3209498

Security Update for Adobe Flash Player for Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 5 (for x64-based Systems) (KB3209498)

 Lets go look at the files…..


 

Ohhh, so SHA256 cert on all has expired. And since August SHA1 updates are no longer allowed:
https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4472027/2019-sha-2-code-signing-support-requirement-for-windows-and-wsus

My thoughts are if I had done this work in July then the updates would have downloaded fine!

So….. how to get around it. I simply excluded these updates from the ADR





And now my ADR is fully up to date!

 


Why is my Ribbon SBA showing as unpatched in vulnerability reports?


Survivable Branch Appliances are a pretty common device in multi-site companies that need local breakout for calls or need to have the ability to make calls when the connection to the Front End pool of Skype for Business servers is unavailable (WAN outage, etc).

In patching of these this question comes up at least every 3 months:
“I’ve applied all the Windows Updates that Sonus say my SBA needs however it’s still showing as needing updates in WSUS”
Or
“We’ve had a vulnerability scan and loads of updates are missing from all of our SBAs”

So what gives?

This comes down to past decisions from Microsoft and Sonus…..
In the dim and distant Microsoft used to release multiple updates every Patch Tuesday. You could choose if you wanted to install update X for GDI+ but not update Y for TrueType fonts. That meant that other software companies could say:
“Yea – we found an issue with Contoso Magic Application and KB938464 so if you want to use our software to do your business critical function don’t install that update…..
……honest – we’ll release an update to fix this in our application at some point”
And you as an administrator would be told from the business that you can’t install that update as they need Contoso Magic Application to just work.

So how does this relate to SBA’s

Each month Sonus looked at the updates available and then at the profile of the SBA with the Sonus hardened config on there and said:
“okay, so update X and Y we need, but update Z is for part of Windows that is not exposed to the network with our hardening so therefore no need to install it”
Thus inside the PKG file you download from Sonus you have a list of updates that are allowed and only those would get installed.

Then things changed

Microsoft got bored of having to support a Swiss Cheese deployment of Windows so they started in October 2016 to release single monthly updates for OS. I believe that this is in part to do with this statistic I picked up from Henk van Roest who stated “30% of support calls to Microsoft are fixed by applying updates that are already available”. You could no longer pick and choose which updates to install, you either installed this months updates or you didn’t.

However Sonus still release an update each month that contains this update. However they have not gone back and subsequently authorised the updates that came out prior to October 2016.

Where does this leave you as an Administrator?

The reason for applying updates from the Sonus PKG file is to ensure that the SBA stays in Appliance Mode. Appliance Mode means that the SBA call paths are supported by Sonus. However – you will not be able to install all Windows Updates that a offered from WSUS and thus may fall down on an audit. So, you have a choice:
  • Stay in Appliance Mode - only apply PKG files from Sonus
  • Apply all updates - keep off those audit reports
The choice is yours!