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A Monthly Newsletter – March 2006

We held this issue back a week to be able to bring you a fresh blast of spring release news on software in development. The forums produce a great application of the expanded tabs capability
in SecureCRT® 5.1. A link to a review of some basic security concepts follows. And to balance that, some classic silly user stories.


1. It's Official! SecureFX® 3.1 and SecureCRT 5.1, That Is
2. Are You Being Served? VShell® 2.6: Ready To Serve You
3. Heard On The Forums: Opening Multiple Connections
4. Are You Smart Yet? Identity vs. Authentication
5. Computers And Comedy: Sysadmin Chuckle Time
6. New and Current Releases

Online Resources

1. Three Fresh Beta Releases: Fun With Tabs and FIPS 140-2

Was it only last month that we told you about the availability of new versions of SecureCRT and SecureFX? How time flies; now, there are official releases on the VanDyke Software web site. If you were busy in the last eight weeks, and didn't download a beta release, it's time to look at the freshest software yet.

Last month we focused on the new FIPS 140-2 compliant cryptography in SecureCRT 5.1 and SecureFX 3.1. Of course, we can't neglect X.509 certificate forwarding via CAPI, either, or easier reauthentication with X.509 using public-key agent. Network administrators may get more excited about X.509 and FIPS, but most everyday users look for user productivity benefits. For you, we zero in on improvements to the Activator and tab controls.

If you are forever opening and closing sessions, you will like Activator support for Secure Shell agent functionality (Activator is a system tray interface included with SecureCRT and SecureFX that manages sessions and launches new ones). If the Activator is running, SecureCRT or SecureFX can be closed and you don't have to reauthenticate to reopen a session. If you haven't been an Activator user, give it a look -- the time you save may be your own.

Tabs are proof that you can never get enough of a good thing. SecureCRT 5.1 has a global option to show tabs only when there are multiple tabs open. That's on top of the ability to open multiple tabbed sessions from the Connect dialog or by right-clicking on a session folder. SecureFX also supports multi-session launch, opening the sessions in separate windows. See the tip in the Heard on the Forums section below for one way to use opening multiple sessions from the Connect dialog.

Lastly, SecureCRT's chat window gets history support in this release, which allows you to view, edit, and send previous commands.

For more information on the SecureCRT 5.1, SecureFX 3.1, and CRT® 5.1 releases, please visit the VanDyke Software web site product section.

2. Are You Being Served? VShell 2.6: Ready To Serve You

VShell server 2.6 responds to the ever-changing realities of network security with a FIPS 140-2 compliant cryptographic library, expanded authentication mechanisms, and refinements to defense against external attacks.

The latest official release of VShell for Windows uses a FIPS 140-2 validated cryptographic library for use under U.S. Government IT regulations. Installing in "FIPS Mode" sets up the system to use only FIPS-approved algorithms.

A new authentication choice supports RADIUS servers using SecurID or other methods, employing the Secure Shell keyboard-interactive authentication mechanism.

A Deny Host file has been added to help thwart dictionary attacks. VShell for Windows can track failed authentications by IP address, adding these addresses to a Deny Host file after reaching a specified threshold of connection attempts. Once an IP address has been added to the Deny Host file, VShell disallows connections from that address.

Try the latest VShell 2.6 server release today.

3. Heard On The Forums: Opening Multiple Connections

Forums member techtips's question "How do I automate telneting into numerous routers?" has a timely answer: the brand-new SecureCRT 5.1 feature "Connect in Tabs".

techtips writes, "I have a session folder created with 11 routers each automating each individual's telnet session, but how do I automate the group connecting with one click?"

toloughlin answers, "In SecureCRT 5.1, you can 'right-click' on a folder and 'connect in tabs'. This will open each session in the folder in a different tab".

To join the VanDyke Software Forums or explore other topics, visit the Forums home page.

4. Are You Smart Yet? Identity vs. Authentication

One working-class dad was known to regularly ask his college student son, "Well, are you smart yet?" These days trying to be smart doesn't end with a college diploma, especially in network security. We recently came across an article on the difference between identity and authentication. If fuzz has grown around concepts you once knew, read this Microsoft TechNet article by Steve Riley on "Why Identity and Authentication Must Remain Distinct". As a bonus, especially for horror movie buffs, there's a grisly example of why a biometric system always needs to have a secret authentication method.

Seriously, if you've ever been tempted to set a password to be the same as your user ID (of course not, but maybe you "have a friend" who did this once), this article explains why you always want to have a different user ID ("identity") than your password ("authentication"). And why high-tech-wizard authentication methods like fingerprint and iris scanning still need a separate/secret component to be secure.

To read the complete article, please visit Microsoft TechNet.

5. Computers And Comedy: Sysadmin Chuckle Time

Just in time for the season when you really need a good laugh, we bring you a piece from Network World Online. In "They've Heard 'Em All", by Jennifer Mears and Denise Dubie, system administrators give up their best silly user stories, replete with frozen computers, fresh cookies, and restarting the internet. If you have heard all these you are a real warhorse – better go eat some clover.

Actually, I bet you have better tales than these. If you do, send them to us at – we need laugh too, and if they're good we might pass them on.

To read the Network World article, click on this link.

6. New and Current Releases

Official releases of SecureCRT 5.1, SecureFX 3.1, and CRT 5.1 were made March 28, with new tab launching capability and FIPS 140-2 compliant cryptographic library. The official release of the VShell server version 2.6 was made March 30 with a FIPS library option and other changes to improve authentication and configuration. Please see above or visit the VanDyke web site for more information.

Here is a list of the latest official product releases:

  SecureCRT 5.1
  SecureFX 3.1
  CRT 5.1
  AbsoluteFTP® 2.2.10
  VShell 2.6 Server for Windows
  VShell 2.6 Server for UNIX
    Red Hat Linux 7.x
    Red Hat Linux 8.x
    Red Hat Linux 9.x
    Red Hat Enterprise v2.1/v3
    Solaris 8
    FreeBSD 4.8/5.3/5.4
    HP-UX 11
    Mac OS X 10.2
    AIX 4.3/5.2/5.3

All VanDyke Software products may be downloaded and evaluated free for 30 days. Licenses include one year of free upgrades and technical support.

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VanDyke Software, AbsoluteFTP, CRT, SecureCRT, SecureFX, and VShell are trademarks or registered trademarks of VanDyke Software, Inc.

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