Microsoft Analyzers Tools - Free help that's worth trying

I was thinking about what to write about today and I gave some thought to some tools that are readily available and yet seem to be overlooked. Why? Mostly because they are tools downloaded directly from Microsoft. These tools are meant to assess vulnerabilities and provide both reporting and links to correct known issues. I'm talking about the Analyzer tools. Currently Microsoft provides three excellent Analyzer tools that no Enterprise should be without, they are the Microsoft Security Baseline Analyzer (MSBA), Exchange Best Practices Analyzer (ExBPA) and the SQL Server Best Practices Analyzer (SQLBPA). These three tools are free downloads directly from Microsoft's site as I said, and I believe that most administrators give them little or no attention. Understandably, in a perfect world there should be no software vulnerabilities. Especially when we are purchasing a product that can be pricey like Exchange 2007 Server and SQL Server 2008. I'm not going to get into a debate as to why products are targeted. Some say they are more vulnerable, some argue they are attacked more because they own more market share. Others claim Steve Job's is running a full-out assault on Redmond from the massive MAC server farm in his basement (just kidding folks!). Don't want to get the iPod fans mad at me, maybe. Whatever the reason I believe that although there are some great commercial packages to help you test and fix vulnerabilities. The best thing one can do is go to the source. In this case, Microsoft is saying “We know our systems will have issues, here is what we have found to be the problem. This is how you fix it.” The beauty of these tools is each one starts by first establishing a baseline of your current configuration. Next, they run that configuration against Microsoft Best Practices and finally they give you information as well as an easy click-and-fix solution. Some fixes may require you to download a patch, service pack or to manually fix the issue. In the case of the latter, a link to the knowledge base documentation is provided. Now my Vista users may feel like they have seen this before. The Analyzers are a bit like the Problem Reports and Solutions feature found in Vista. Although I think that is a crude comparison, as I believe they provide more control and granularity. Nevertheless, here are three great tools for keeping you more secure and running better at the fantastic price of…free! If you've used them, try them again and run it regularly. If you haven't tried them, add them to the list of tools to make your world… A Better Windows World.

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