Using PowerGUI® to manage security

One part of my job that I find particularly enjoyable is working closely with other members of the PowerShell Community.  It doesn’t take any time at all when working with these people to feel the passion and excitement that they have for Windows PowerShell and PowerGUI.  One such person I have been working with a fair amount recently is Vadims Podans.  Vadims is a PowerShell MVP from Latvia and you may have seen some of his work in the past on his blog or in the Enterprise PKI Management PowerPack that he entered in our PowerPack Challenge contest last year.  From my experience working with him I’ve come to learn that he knows a heck of a lot about PKI and security in general, not to mention PowerShell.  Vadims’ expertise in these areas has resulted in quite a few new security-related releases in the past several weeks, as follows:

AD-PKI Cmdlets Tech Brief

Quest Software recently published an AD-PKI Cmdlets tech brief that was written by Vadims.  This tech brief reviews the security concepts surrounding digital certificate management and provides details and many examples showing how the AD-PKI cmdlets can be used with Active Directory to simplify PKI management.

Download the AD-PKI Cmdlet Tech Brief here.

Enterprise PKI Management PowerPack

Vadims recently released version 1.5 of his Enterprise PKI Management PowerPack.  This update includes support for the AD-PKI cmdlets that were introduced as part of the 1.4 release of the Quest AD cmdlets.  Notable features listed on the PowerPack page include:

  • A lot of code now uses native Quest AD Cmdlets (version 1.4.2) so the PowerPack demonstrates new PKI cmdlets in action!
  • Added additional error handling.
  • In Certification Authorities node added properties that contains helpful information about CA CRL status. In addition there was revisited View CRL action and renamed to View CRL Info
  • Added Active Directory PKI node that contains the most common AD PKI-related containers. You will be able to review container contents and publish/unpublish certificates/CRLs by using new actions.
  • Changed Enterprise OCSP location behavior. Now the PowerPack realizes the same behavior as it is implemented in pkiview.msc MMC snap-in. Now the PowerPack correctly retrieves all available Enterprise OCSP Responders even if they are not running CA service
  • For Certificates node added two subcontainers (subnodes, as shown in the last screenshot) — Certificates and CRLs. This allows you to browse both — certificates and CRLs in the local certificate store. For CRLs added new basic actions.
  • Revisited certificate export and import actions. In addition to Quest AD cmdlet usage, the interface is provided in GUI form. So now you will be able to use standard dialogs to select a file to save/open.

Learn more and download the Enterprise PKI Management PowerPack here.

Script Signing Add-on

Very shortly after I released the first version of the Script Signing Add-on for the PowerGUI Script Editor, Vadims provided me with some great feedback that I was finally able to incorporate into an update.  Yesterday I released version 1.1 of this Add-on, which includes the following changes:

  • Replaced “Test Certificate” functionality with View Signature, allowing users to view script signing certificates used to sign files in the native Windows Certificate properties dialog.
  • Added View Certificate support to the Script Signing Options dialog.
  • Changed the default signing method to include all certificates in the certificate chain.
  • Optimized the script signing certificate search algorithm so that it only searches for script signing certificates in the My containers.

Learn more and download the latest version of the Script Signing Add-on here.

And if that’s not enough for you, you can also keep your scripts secure by using the integrated source control functionality in the Script Editor in PowerGUI Pro so that you can track any and all changes that are made to your scripts whether they are signed or not!

Please let us know what you think of these and other releases, as well as what you would like to see us add in the future, either here or on the PowerGUI Forums.  The feedback system really works!

Kirk out.

Share this post:

VMware Infrastructure Management PowerPack – now with Visio 2010 support!

Tonight I have published a new version of the VMware Infrastructure Management PowerPack.  This release (version 2.4.0) is the first release that provides near 100% feature parity between both PowerGUI and the Virtualization EcoShell.  I say near 100% feature parity because PowerGUI supports displaying progress dialogs during calls to Write-Progress but the Virtualization EcoShell does not, so PowerGUI users have a minor leg up over the Virtualization EcoShell experience.  Depending on what environment you are coming from, you will notice some of the following improvements to this PowerPack:

  • Visio 2010 support for vDiagram functionality
  • Charts for virtual machines, datastores, and resource configuration data
  • Progress bars during the rendering of diagrams created with the vDiagram functionality
  • Improved layout in the nodes in the tree
  • Simplified connection logic, making it easier for you to reuse scripts generated by the PowerPack
  • Additional minor bug fixes

Note that version 4.1 of the VMware PowerCLI is not supported with this release at this time, due to a number of issues.  For now the only supported version of the VMware PowerCLI is version 4.0 U1.

If you are an existing user of this PowerPack, you will automatically get notified about the new version.  If you haven’t looked at this PowerPack yet and you manage VMware vSphere, Virtual Center, ESX, or ESXi hosts, I strongly encourage you to give this PowerPack a try.  You can download it here.  It provides an excellent management experience over those VMware hosts, and it’s free!

As usual, many of the enhancements we add in these releases are based on customer feedback on the PowerGUI Forums.  If you’d like to see more improvements to this PowerPack, please speak up and let us know on the forums.  We’re always listening!

Kirk out.

Share this post:

Discover dormant AD accounts with the Windows Security PowerPack

Last week I had the pleasure of participating in a webinar with Randy Franklin Smith of Ultimate Windows Security fame where we demonstrated and discussed the Windows Security PowerPack that was recently published in the PowerPack Library.  Randy’s a great guy to present with and this webinar was a lot of fun.  Judging by the amount of questions and positive feedback we’ve received, it seemed to generate a lot of interest  as well.

A recording of the webinar is now available, so if you missed catching it live you can go here and watch it at your leisure.  You won’t be able to ask questions during the presentation of course, but that’s what the comments on this blog and the PowerGUI Forums are for. 🙂

Enjoy!

Kirk out.

Share this post:

PowerGUI Quick Tip: Create a PowerPack from start to finish in 10 minutes

This Sunday at midnight PST marks the closing of our second annual PowerPack Challenge contest.  The rules of this contest are very simple: create a new PowerPack or modify one of your existing PowerPacks and submit it to the contest folder in the PowerPack Library for a chance to win some cool prizes.  Now you might be thinking: "Sunday, but that’s  just three days away…I don’t have time to put together an entry between now and Sunday. Besides, I want my weekend to myself!"  Well, you’re in luck my friend because you don’t need three days…you only need 10 minutes (well, 10 minutes after you watch a screencast showing what you can do with PowerShell, the PowerGUI Admin Console, and 10 minutes of your time).  That’s not even going to take up your whole lunch hour on Friday, and if you plan to go out for lunch you could make your PowerPack during your afternoon break instead!

Here’s all you need to do:

1.  Bookmark the PowerPack section of the wiki.  I published a big update to our wiki earlier this week and it should be able to answer a lot of questions you might have.  Don’t read the whole thing right now though, that might take too long and what you really want to do right now is explained in the next step.

2.  Watch this screencast (also shown below on YouTube) that shows how I created a cool Windows Server Roles and Features PowerPack from scratch earlier today and published it to the PowerPack Library in only 10 minutes.  The PowerPack even has dynamic nodes generated from 4 script nodes, which used to be quite a lot of work but thanks to the AdminConsole module they are much, much easier now.  In fact, if you pay close attention to the screencast, you’ll see that all of the functionality in the PowerPack itself is done with only 7 lines of PowerShell script plus one basic node and two basic actions — that’s pretty amazing.  The entire screencast is longer than 10 minutes because I needed to explain a few things before and after the demonstration, but the creation and publishing of the PowerPack itself is done in only 10 minutes during the screencast.

Now that I’ve armed you with the wiki documentation and the screencast demo, I’ll be looking forward to seeing your PowerPacks in the PowerPack Library after your lunch or afternoon break! 😉

Good luck with your PowerPacks!

Kirk out.

Share this post:

Recover deleted Active Directory objects with the AD Recycle Bin PowerPack

Last week Microsoft made the announcement that Windows Server 2008 R2 reached RTM.  Among the many cool new features provided with that release (Hello?  PowerShell v2?  Need I say more?), Microsoft has now added a recycle bin feature to Active Directory.  The management interface provided by Microsoft for this feature is the command line, or more specifically, PowerShell.  That’s great if you’re like me and you love to manage your infrastructure using PowerShell, but what if you prefer a GUI?  Fortunately there is a solution for you too.

As Jackson Shaw suggested on his blog about a week ago, PowerGUI provides an admin console that allows you to create your own management UI that is layered on top of PowerShell.  This admin console can be extended with PowerPacks, which are essentially add-ins that provide additional user interface elements in PowerGUI that invoke PowerShell script when clicked.  All you need to do is add the user interface elements you want and then provide the scripts to power those elements, managing the Active Directory Recycle Bin objects or anything else you need to manage.  Or alternatively you can check to see if someone on the PowerGUI Community like myself has already created a PowerPack with the functionality you are looking for.

In the case of the Active Directory Recycle Bin, you’re in luck.  I just finished creating the first release of a new PowerPack that is designed to allow you to manage any objects in your recycle bin.  You can find the Active Directory Recycle Bin PowerPack by following the hyperlink here or by going directly to http://www.powergui.org and browsing into the Active Directory subcategory in the PowerPack Library.  This PowerPack includes the following features:

  • View the contents of the recycle bin, including hierarchies
  • Restore individual items in the recycle bin (recursively or not) to their original location
  • Restore individual items in the recycle bin (recursively or not) to a specified location
  • Permanently delete objects in the recycle bin (recursively or not)
  • Empty the contents of the recycle bin
  • Modify the number of days that the recycle bin is configured to retain objects and the number of days that objects are to be kept in a tombstone state before permanent deletion

If you would like to see a demo of the Active Directory Recycle Bin PowerPack, watch this screencast:

If you prefer watching a high resolution version of the screencast, you can watch it in flash format here or on YouTube directly in HD format here.

This is the initial release of this PowerPack and it contains a good amount of new functionality.  If you are experimenting with the Active Directory Recycle Bin feature, please take a look at this PowerPack and provide any feedback you have so that we can continue to provide improvements that are valuable to you and others in future releases.

Thanks for listening!

Kirk out.

Share this post:

Create your own org chart from AD with PowerGUI!

Another week has gone by and I have another brand new PowerPack ready for download.  This time around it’s the Org Chart PowerPack.  This is a PowerPack that I put together based on a Get-OrgChart function I wrote to analyze org chart data at work.  It lets you do some really cool things such as:

  1. Dynamically create an org chart from users in Active Directory using title, department, office, address, and other properties.
  2. Generate a Visio Org Chart from PowerGUI for the any branch of an organization.
  3. Create statistical reports for the employees in your organization to see breakdowns of employees by office, department, management, etc.
  4. Dynamically generate Office Directory reports in HTML when using it in conjunction with the Advanced Reporting PowerPack.

Note: The Org Chart PowerPack uses the Quest AD cmdlets to retrieve information from AD so you will need to install those first before you can use the PowerPack.

If you would like to see how this PowerPack can be of benefit to you, check out this screencast:

This screencast was recorded in HD format so you can click on the HD button once you start watching it to enable high definition video.  Alternatively, if you would prefer to watch a high resolution flash version with a table of contents you can watch the screencast here.  I decided to try widescreen format this time since that is my format preference…let me know if this is a problem for you.

This is the first release of this PowerPack and I’m anxious to hear what you think so please give it a look and share your feedback so that I can improve it with another update in the future.

Thanks for listening!

Kirk out.

Share this post:

Just Released: Advanced Reporting PowerPack

I just published a brand new PowerPack to the PowerPack Library called the Advanced Reporting PowerPack.  If you’ve been keeping your eyes on the Virtualization EcoShell project as well as PowerGUI, you may have already come across this PowerPack because I released it there first.

The Advanced Reporting PowerPack allows you to generate HTML reports with collapsible nested groups for any set of data in PowerGUI.  Think VMs, Snapshots, AD Users or Groups…you name it.  If you can get the data into a grid in PowerGUI, you can generate a nice HTML report using this PowerPack.  The only UI element this PowerPack adds to PowerGUI is a common action called “Create report…”.  This action does all of the heavy lifting to generate a cool HTML report for the items you have selected.

Want to see what how to get started using this PowerPack?  Watch this screencast:

If you would prefer to watch a higher resolution version, you can watch the screencast in flash format here.

This is only the first release of advanced reporting functionality in PowerGUI and already it’s really powerful.  Still, there is room for improvement so if you have any feedback, please share it with me in my comments or on the PowerGUI Forums so that I can consider it for the next release!

Thanks and enjoy!

Kirk out.

Share this post: