ColdFusion Muse

Henry II on Vacation - Why Teams Matter

Mark Kruger March 15, 2018 12:23 PM Business Of Development Comments (2)

"Just add more resources..." is a comment I hear quite frequently in our corner of the tech world. It is often thought of as an easy "solution" to IT challenges. Unfortunately, adding additional developers can often result in further bottlenecks. The following is a real life example (the names have been changed to protect the innocent)!

Let's talk about Lead developer Henry II and his role within ACME Company. In spite of being obsessed over ownership of the Aquitaine and looking vaguely like Peter O'toole, he's a terrific programmer, smart, aggressive and a problem solver of the first order. He tackles tasks with a great deal of energy and seems to be able to see the whole picture. Were he the only programmer (a team of one) these qualities would serve him well to get the most out of what he has to offer. As it is, these qualities combine with ACME's development model to serve as a constraint to efficiencies of the team.

Henry, due to his sense of ownership and responsibility, does what needs to be done. He wraps his arms around tasks that demand attention, sometimes without differentiating between effective and ineffective use of his valuable time. He spends too much time working "within" the projects and and not enough time working "on" them – meaning the strategy and direction and planning and mentoring (the stuff a lead usually does) – where his domain knowledge is the most valuable. A quick illustration might be helpful.

ACME has a process that synchronizes files from a watched directory on an internal share out to the servers at the NOC. The process allows customer service to get new content onto the server by simply dropping a file in a local directory. Periodically one of the several dozen directories has a problem. A file to be synched "hangs" and is not copied over. No one knows why, but it is always a file in the same directory. The fix is to log into the synchronization software and reset it. This kick starts the synch and the file is then copied.

While Henry was touring one of his estates in the low countries this problem re-occurred. A ticket was written and a developer (doubling as Sys-Admin) looked at it but could not readily ascertain what was happening or find a way to fix it. The result was a note back to customer service that this task would have to wait till Henry the Armada returned from Denmark.

This event is not an isolated sort of event – Henry getting called in to save the day because he knows all of the who, what, when and how. So let's note a few things at work here in the aftermath.

Wrong Resource? The first question is probably, "why is a software programmer troubleshooting file synchronization?" There is a case where that is necessary – usually when a team is too tiny to have a lead at all. That's not the case here so, is this the best use of a key resource?

Documented Process? Is there a place where developers can go and search for troubleshooting tips on the synch process? This was not a new problem, it occurs periodically. The fix should be routine and documented so that anyone tasked with support, even a developer, could resolve the issue. By the second time someone had to fix this he or she should have opened a wiki page for "server content file synchronization" and added a header called "troubleshooting" along with mitigation steps.

Troubleshooting Ownership? If this had been one of my team members who bailed until "Henry comes back from hunting grouse" I would have questions – and not just "what in the ham sandwich is a grouse?" This is not the sort of problem that has the potential to bring down the server or cause other problems down the road – i.e. it's a manageable, solvable problem with the knowledge at hand, even if you know nothing about the synching process. For example, a developer or sys-admin could copy the file directly to the server.

This brings to mind a third related question. Why are the developers tasked with support bailing on such a simple issue? There are probably two reasons.

  • Empowerment – They did not feel empowered to resolve the issue. Perhaps they feared being locked in the Tower of London if their solution was not the one Henry endorsed. If this is the case then some mentoring is in order and some rethinking about roles.
  • Passivity and intransigence – in large applications developers "get away" with punting. Software is a black box to most end users and developers can narrow their focus down to just the tasks they most enjoy or that they are the most comfortable with. In those situations and given a superstar resource (Henry) who knows and does everything that needs to be done through his own high level sense of responsibility, developers do not reflect the same urgency of end users on bugs and service issues – knowing it will be resolved without holding them to account. Note – this matters if you are going to have your developers supporting end users. They have to adopt urgency and take ownership of an issue.

Also note that Henry's role (and personality) serve as an enabler for this to occur. As long as he's the repository of knowledge and the chief fixer we can't resolve this problem. Fixes, routines, process idiosyncrasies and procedures belong to institutional knowledge, not individual knowledge. His role actually makes him a bottleneck for work and support rather than shortening the time to fix and deploy things. His developers are less productive than they could be because he is so good at his job.

I call this team model the "superstar programmer". One guy is head and shoulders above everyone else, knows more, does more and everyone orbits around him. He does everything with excellence and alacrity but has so much on his plate that his speed and knowledge are self-defeating.

Teams matter. To get the most out of them they have to be organized around both talent and personal growth. Henry is doing too many things and especially too many trivial operational things that could be done by anyone. Those operational things need to be documented.

Let's discuss team productivity. Many people are surprised at the math of team development. If I can gain 150 hours of development, per month, from a single developer I should, theoretically, be able to get 300 hours per month out of 2 developers, 450 hours out of 4 etc. Reality doesn't work that way. A team is a network of individuals who work toward goals together. They must interact so as not to overlap. They have to meet and plan. You may not be able to divide the work up into discreet 150-hour chunks. With each new team member this problem is exacerbated as new connections, meetings, planning and divisions are made. So, a team of 5 developers may be 60 or 75 percent as effective as a team of 1 or 2. At some point economies of scale kick in and the productivity curve levels off. But the pattern resembles this chart.

Note that this inefficiency is a healthy curve. If you have done well at building your team you can expect this reduced level of productivity as the best possible outcome.

But what happens when have a rock star model? At 3 developers your rock star is managing the tasks and responsibility of his own work plus 2. At 4 developers the problem is at a breaking point. The curve dips down. There is not enough supporting work to divide up among the secondary developers. The rock star takes on more and more of the mission critical work himself. Support tasks and management tasks build up and your major talent becomes a fireman. His whole world is putting out fires all day long and he is behind the curve on each project and task trying to juggle assignments while he's still doing what he's always done.

The Fix

This is why teams and institutional organization really matter. Evolution is fine for birds but software developers tend to propagate mutations that are less rather than more beneficial. Make sure knowledge is systemetized and institutional. Don't be seduced by the superstar. To get the most out of her or him you will need to build a well supported system - otherwise she will fly off the rails as you allow her to take ownserhip of everything. Finally, prioritize between the urgent and the important. If you do have a superstar, chances are your best use of his talents will be at a higher level than troubleshooting operational issues - unless he's a sys-admin at heart (in which case hang on to him like grim death).

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ColdFusion SFTP and FTPS Secure Connection Failure

Wil Genovese February 15, 2018 3:03 PM ColdFusion, Coldfusion Security Comments (5)

I have seen a lot more people asking questions about making SFTP or FTPS secure connections from ColdFusion using the <CFFTP> tag. They are trying to figure out why they cannot make a connection. Often the error is "Algorithm negotiation fail" or "Connection Error". People are posting their questions on many support forums including Adobes forums and their new ColdFusion Community Portal. This is a problem people are experiencing in ColdFusion 10 and ColdFusion 11.

In the last few years we've seen a huge shift in SSL/TLS security including the removal of older less secure protocols and forcing secure connections to use the newer stronger protocols with stronger TLS certificates and stronger encryption cyphers. As such older systems need to be upgraded to handle the newer security protocols. More recently plain old unsecure FTP portals have been the focus of change to SFTP or FTPS.

At CF Webtools we've run into this same problem several times with multiple clients. It was so much of a problem that I needed to spend some dedicated time to see how we could resolve this issue.

The first thing I discovered is that this issue is a known "bug" that has been reported to Adobe. It's been a long known issue and somehow the fix which is in ColdFusion 2016 has not been included in an update for earlier ColdFusion versions. However, Adobe has affirmed to me that this fix is scheduled for an upcoming update.

Because it was fixed in ColdFusion 2016 I was able to inspect the included jar files to see if the one that handles CFFTP or secure communications was newer than the one(s) in ColdFusion 11. What I found is that jsch-0.1.44m.jar had been replaced by jsch-0.1.52m.jar. The JSCH jar library is the library that handles Java Secure Channel communications. "JSch allows you to connect to an sshd server and use port forwarding, X11 forwarding, file transfer, etc., and you can integrate its functionality into your own Java programs."

After seeing this was upgraded I had an ah-ha moment and figured it was worth a try to copy this newer version into my ColdFusion 11 test server and see what happened. The new version is in ./ColdFusion2016/cfusion/lib folder. You can download the free ColdFusion 2016 Developer Edition and install it anywhere so you can get access to the updated jar file. Once you have the new jar file copy it into ColdFusion 11. The proper way to do this is to remove or rename the old jar file version in your ColdFusion11/cfusion (or instance name)/lib folder then copy the new jar file version into the same folder. Then start or restart ColdFusion 11. That's it. You're done. The bug is fixed and you're good to go with SFTP or FTPS using <CFFTP> in ColdFusion 11.

This is not an approved fix from Adobe. I do not know if there is some unknown issue that could be created by doing this. However, I do know that everyone I've talked to that has tried this has had their secure FTP issues resolved. Additionally I have not tried this 'fix' in ColdFusion 10. However, if you are running into this issue with ColdFusion 10 it's worth the minimal effort to give it a try.

If you need someone to make this change on your ColdFusion server then contact us, we can help. CF Webtools is here to fill your needs and solve your problems. If you have a perplexing issue with ColdFusion servers, code, connections, or if you need help upgrading your VM or patching your server (or anything else) our operations group is standing by 24/7 - give us a call at 402-408-3733, or send a note to operations @ cfwebtools.com.

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Connect ColdFusion JDBC to Sybase SQL Anywhere 16

Wil Genovese February 13, 2018 4:34 PM ColdFusion Comments (0)

This is something that might not come up often, but every once in a while we have to connect to a Sybase database. This is a built in feature in the Enterprise version of ColdFusion. However, if you have the Standard version of ColdFusion you have to manually add the JDBC jar file and build the connection string by hand. This is easy to do once you have the correct information and correct format of the connection string. Finding that correct information was nearly impossible and required a lot of trial and error.

Here's the case we had to resolve at CF Webtools. One of our clients has been using ColdFusion and Sybase for ages. For the record this is Sybase SQL Anywhere 16. For those that are not aware SAP owns Sybase thus the official name is SAP SQL Anywhere 16. For the longest time they were using ODBC connectors and older versions of ColdFusion on older Windows servers. More recently they have upgraded to ColdFusion 11 on newer Windows servers and were still trying to make the connections to Sybase via ODBC. This is a large multi-tenant operation in which there are hundreds of databases on the Sybase servers. Yes, plural servers. There are two servers that are replicated and handle failover. This means the ColdFusion Datasource connection also needs to handle failover. With ODBC failover is handled by Microsoft ODBC settings. With JDBC we had to setup failover in the JDBC connection string.

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How to handle TLS1.2 for ColdFusion 9 and Older

Wil Genovese January 31, 2018 6:26 AM ColdFusion, Security Comments (6)

The upcoming Authorize.NET switch to using TLS 1.2 only has a lot of people scrambling to get their servers updated. This has been a long planned transition at Authorize.NET and at many/most/all other payment processing companies. The inevitable facts are that TLS 1.0 and TLS 1.1 are outdated and they are going away. CF Webtools we have been preparing for this inevitable day for the past few years.

ColdFusion 9.0.n is not tested to work on Java 1.8 and I have had cases were certain features of ColdFusion 9 did not work with Java 1.8. I have not tried any older versions of ColdFusion on Java 1.8 and I'm not going to. Adobe has not certified any versions of ColdFusion older than version 10 Update 14 (or ColdFusion 11 Update 2 and older). All of that being said, there is a workaround that uses a 3rd party commercial solution to make TLS 1.2 connections from ColdFusion 9. It works well, but I do not recommend that as a long term solution. The preferred long term solution is upgrading the server(s) and ColdFusion version to currently supported versions. This way there will be security updates to help protect against new threats. The commercial third-party CFX tag will require recoding the CFHTTP calls for the new CFX tag. The tag is CFX_HTTP5 and it is available here.

Follow the installation instructions that comes with the download and then you will have to recode your CFHTTP calls similar to the examples below. The code examples are for the older Authorize.NET Advanced Integration Method (AIM) API calls that you are most likely using in your older ColdFusion CFHTTP calls.

<cfset authURL = "https://test.authorize.net/gateway/transact.dll" />
<cfif AuthNetMode eq "live">
<cfset authURL = "https://secure.authorize.net/gateway/transact.dll" />
</cfif>

<!--- CFHTTP Call - Your code might look something like this --->
<cfhttp url="#authURL#" method="post" result="cfhttp">
<cfhttpparam type="FORMFIELD" name="x_Login" value="#AuthLogin#">
<cfhttpparam type="FORMFIELD" name="x_Password" value="#AuthPassword#">
<cfhttpparam type="FORMFIELD" name="x_merchant_email" value="#AuthEmail#">
<cfhttpparam type="FORMFIELD" name="x_delim_data" value="true">
<cfhttpparam type="FORMFIELD" name="x_test_request" value="#x_test_request#">

<!--- we're using AUTH_ONLY so the card isn't charged until the order is processed --->
<cfhttpparam type="FORMFIELD" name="x_type" value="AUTH_ONLY">
<cfhttpparam type="FORMFIELD" name="x_method" value="cc">

<cfhttpparam type="FORMFIELD" name="x_amount" value="#orderTotal#">
<cfhttpparam type="FORMFIELD" name="x_card_num" value="#cardNumber#">
<cfhttpparam type="FORMFIELD" name="x_exp_date" value="#cardExpiration#">
<cfif isDefined("cardSecurityCode") and cardSecurityCode eq "">
<cfhttpparam type="FORMFIELD" name="x_card_code" value="#cardSecurityCode#">
</cfif>

<!--- If you want an email to go to the customer via authorize.net change this to true. Make sure authorize.net is configured properly. --->
<cfhttpparam type="FORMFIELD" name="x_email_customer" value="#x_email_customer#">

<cfhttpparam type="FORMFIELD" name="x_first_name" value="#billingFirstName#">
<cfhttpparam type="FORMFIELD" name="x_last_name" value="#billingLastName#">
<cfhttpparam type="FORMFIELD" name="x_company" value="#billingCompany#">
<cfhttpparam type="FORMFIELD" name="x_address" value="#billingAddress#">
<cfhttpparam type="FORMFIELD" name="x_city" value="#billingCity#">
<cfhttpparam type="FORMFIELD" name="x_state" value="#billingState#">
<cfhttpparam type="FORMFIELD" name="x_zip" value="#billingZip#">
<cfhttpparam type="FORMFIELD" name="x_country" value="#billingCountry#">

<cfhttpparam type="FORMFIELD" name="x_customer_ip" value="#cgi.remote_address#">
<cfhttpparam type="FORMFIELD" name="x_Email" value="#billingEmail#">
<cfhttpparam type="FORMFIELD" name="x_Phone" value="#billingPhone#">

<cfhttpparam type="FORMFIELD" name="x_ship_to_first_name" value="#shippingFirstName#">
<cfhttpparam type="FORMFIELD" name="x_ship_to_last_name" value="#shippingLastName#">
<cfhttpparam type="FORMFIELD" name="x_ship_to_company" value="#shippingCompany#">
<cfhttpparam type="FORMFIELD" name="x_ship_to_address" value="#shippingAddress#">
<cfhttpparam type="FORMFIELD" name="x_ship_to_city" value="#shippingCity#">
<cfhttpparam type="FORMFIELD" name="x_ship_to_state" value="#shippingState#">
<cfhttpparam type="FORMFIELD" name="x_ship_to_zip" value="#shippingZip#">
<cfhttpparam type="FORMFIELD" name="x_ship_to_country" value="#shippingCountry#">
<cfhttpparam type="FORMFIELD" name="x_Description" value="#description#">
<cfhttpparam type="FORMFIELD" name="x_invoice_num" value="#invoicenum#">
</cfhttp>

<cfset response = cfhttp.fileContent>

To refactor your code you will want to do something like this.

<cfset authURL = "https://test.authorize.net/gateway/transact.dll" />
<cfif AuthNetMode eq "live">
<cfset authURL = "https://secure.authorize.net/gateway/transact.dll" />
</cfif>
<!--- CFX_HTTP5 Call - You'll want to refactor your code in this fashion --->

<cfset httpBody = "x_Login=#AuthLogin#&
x_Password=#AuthPassword#&
x_merchant_email=#AuthEmail#&
x_delim_data=true&
x_test_request=#x_test_request#&
x_type=AUTH_ONLY&
x_method=cc&
x_amount=#orderTotal#&
x_card_num=#cardNumber#&
x_exp_date=#cardExpiration#&
x_first_name=#billingFirstName#&
x_last_name=#billingLastName#&
x_company=#billingCompany#&
x_address=#billingAddress#&
x_city=#billingCity#&
x_state=#billingState#&
x_zip=#billingZip#&
x_country=#billingCountry#&
x_customer_ip=#cgi.remote_address#&
x_Email=#billingEmail#&
x_Phone=#billingPhone#&
x_ship_to_first_name=#shippingFirstName#&
x_ship_to_last_name=#shippingLastName#&
x_ship_to_company=#shippingCompany#&
x_ship_to_address=#shippingAddress#&
x_ship_to_city=#shippingCity#&
x_ship_to_state=#shippingState#&
x_ship_to_zip=#shippingZip#&
x_ship_to_country=#shippingCountry#&
x_Description=#description#&
x_invoice_num=#invoicenum#"
>


<!--- If you want an email to go to the customer via authorize.net change this to true. Make sure authorize.net is configured properly. --->
<cfset httpBody = httpBody & "&x_email_customer=#x_email_customer#">

<cfif isDefined("cardSecurityCode") and cardSecurityCode eq "">
<cfset httpBody = httpBody & "&x_card_code=#cardSecurityCode#">
</cfif>

<cfset cfxhttp = {}>
<cfset headers = "Content-Type: application/x-www-form-urlencoded">
<cfx_http5 url="#authURL#" method="post" out="cfxhttp.body" outqhead="cfxhttp.QHEAD" outhead="cfxhttp.RHEAD" ssl="5" body="#httpBody#" header="#headers#">
</cfx_http5>

<cfset response = cfxhttp.body>

The code is a minor change and relatively easy to do. I've tested this method in a production environment and it works fine. I do not recommend this as a long term solution. The preferred long term solution is upgrading the server(s) and ColdFusion version to currently supported versions. This way there will be security updates to help protect against new threats. If you are on ColdFusion 10 or 11 then the best option is to install the ColdFusion patches and upgrade the Java version to 1.8 then you will be good to go. If you need an experience ColdFusion developer to make these changes then please do contact us, we will be happy to assist.

The CFX_HTTP5 tag uses WinHTTP which is a built into Windows PROXY server. Here is where part of the problem exists. Microsoft didn't update WinHTTP on Windows 2008 Standard SP2. They've only updated it for Windows 2008 R2 and up. See this update (https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/3140245/update-to-enable-tls-1-1-and-tls-1-2-as-a-default-secure-protocols-in). This leaves us not being able to use CFX_HTTP5 on Windows 2008 Standard and older.

This is one more friendly reminder to make sure your ColdFusion servers are patched! Either patch them yourself, have your hosting provider patch them. If you need help upgrading your VM or patching your server (or anything else) our operations group is standing by 24/7 - give us a call at 402-408-3733, or send a note to operations at cfwebtools.com.

CAVEATS:

  • This fix will not work for Windows 2003 Server, for any version of ColdFusion, as there is no support from Microsoft for TLS 1.1 or 1.2 in this server version.
  • This fix will not work for Windows 2008 Standard Server (not R2), for ColdFusion 9.0.n and older, as there is no support from Microsoft for TLS 1.1 or 1.2 for WinHTTP in this server version.

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Authorize.NET Temporarily Ending TLS 1.1 and TLS 1.0 Support

Wil Genovese January 26, 2018 11:24 AM ColdFusion, Hosting and Networking Comments (0)

At CF Webtools we have been preparing for this inevitable day for the past few years. We've been upgrading our clients servers and services to handle TLS 1.2 calls to Authorize.Net and other third party processors for a while now. Recently Authorize.Net announced a "Temporary Disablement of TLS 1.0/1.1" for "a few hours on January 30, 2018 and then again on February 8, 2018." This is in preparation for the final disablement of TLS1.0/1.1 on February 28, 2018.

As you may be aware, new PCI DSS requirements state that all payment systems must disable earlier versions of TLS protocols. These older protocols, TLS 1.0 and TLS 1.1, are highly vulnerable to security breaches and will be disabled by Authorize.Net on February 28, 2018.

To help you identify if you're using one of the older TLS protocols, Authorize.Net will temporarily disable those connections for a few hours on January 30, 2018 and then again on February 8, 2018.

Based on the API connection you are using, on either one of these two days you will not be able to process transactions for a short period of time. If you don't know which API you're using, your solution provider or development partner might be a good resource to help identify it. This disablement will occur on one of the following dates and time:

  • Akamai-enabled API connections will occur on January 30, 2018 between 9:00 AM and 1:00 PM Pacific time.
  • All other API connections will occur on February 8, 2018 between 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM Pacific time.

Merchants using TLS 1.2 by these dates will not be affected by the temporary disablement. We strongly recommend that connections still using TLS 1.0 or TLS 1.1 be updated as soon as possible to the stronger TLS 1.2 protocol.

This means that if you are using older methods to make calls to Authorize.Net that are not capable of making TLS 1.2 connections then you will NOT be able to process credit card transactions.

This affects ALL ColdFusion versions 9.0.2 and older! This also affects ColdFusion 10 Update 17 and older. If your server is running any of these older versions of ColdFusion and your server is processing credit cards with Authorize.Net then this advisory applies to your server.

CF Webtools has been successfully mitigating this issue for clients servers for the past couple years and we are very experienced in resolving these security related issues. In a previous blog post I tested which SSL/TLS levels were supported by various ColdFusion versions on various Java versions and produced an easy to read chart.

If your ColdFusion server is affected by this or if you do not know if your ColdFusion server is affected by this then please contact us (much) sooner than later. Our operations group is standing by 24/7 - give us a call at 402-408-3733, or send a note to operations at cfwebtools.com.

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ColdFusion MailSpoolService Performance

Wil Genovese November 27, 2017 2:00 PM ColdFusion Comments (9)

In my last article about the Adobe ColdFusion MailSpoolService I mentioned that I was going to try to get specifics on expected performance in the Standard Edition vs Enterprise edition of the MailSpoolService. Adobe has not respond to my requests with actual data. While attending the ColdFusion Summit 2017 I tried to get a clear answer from any of the Adobe ColdFusion engineering team members that were at the conference. They didn't know the answer. Because I didn't get the response I wanted from Adobe I decided to start testing.

My first test was to setup a Windows VM with ColdFusion 11 installed with a standard license. I also created a simple CFML page that uses CFMAIL to send an email with a CFLOOP to send that same email a lot of times. To make this a more realistic test I made up a new disposable email address on our mail server at CF Webtools and sent the emails from my email server on AWS. This means that the ColdFusion MailSpoolService has to actually communicate with a mail server. SMTP connections can at times take time. The emails I generated have several paragraphs of Lorem Ipsum text to simulate actual email sizes. My first test was to verify one email did indeed get sent. It did. The next test was to send 1000 emails while timing with my iPhone's stop watch. We also have ColdFusion 11 Enterprise which meant I was able to test the performance against the Enterprise Edition. Lastly, I was asked to test on the Developer Edition because it is often stated that the Developer Edition is essentially Enterprise Edition with a two connection limit. I ran this test a couple times each from ColdFusion 11 Standard, ColdFusion 11 Developer, and ColdFusion 11 Enterprise servers.

Standard Edition
It took approximately 23 minutes to process 1000 emails in the mail spool. This comes down to about 44/45 emails per minute. Which works out to about 11/12 emails per 15 second pooling interval or 2600 email an hour. Which is a little more that 60,000 emails per day processing 24 hours straight without any connection issues. That's not too shabby for being the single threaded version of the MailSpoolService.

Developer Edition
After running the same tests a couple times in Developer Edition I got the exact same results as I did for Standard Edition.

Enterprise Edition
This is where you can say "You get what you pay for!". Before I go into the numbers let me also remind everyone that the Enterprise Edition of the MailSpoolService is multi-threaded and you can specify the number of threads. I think the default is 10 threads. This setting is in the Mail section of the ColdFusion Administrator Enterprise Edition ONLY in the sub section "Mail Spool Settings". There is nothing that indicates that there is a maximum number of threads. My tests are with 10 threads.

I had to run this test several more times just to make sure I saw what I saw. All 1000 emails were sent in a single polling of the mailSpoolService. That's 1000 emails sent in under 15 seconds. I ramped it up a bit and sent 5000 emails. This time it took two polling intervals and sent 5000 emails in about 30 seconds. To get absurd I increased the test to 10,000 emails and the Enterprise Edition cleared those out in less than 60 seconds. This means it took 4 polling intervals to process 10,000 emails which comes out to 2,500 every 15 seconds with 10 MailSpoolThreads. I wanted to verify this exactly so I decreased the polling interval from 15 seconds to 30 seconds. I wanted to fill the mail spool completely beforehand and see how many emails were processed on each polling interval. What I saw is that I'm not nearly at the limit of what the Enterprise Edition MailSpoolService can handle. By slowing down the polling interval my CFML script was able to put all 10,000 emails into the mail spool folder before the MailSpoolService started processing. Then it happened, all 10,000 emails were process in one single polling interval of less than 15 seconds time. I'm not sure were the limit is, but it's fairly clear that the Enterprise edition can send more emails than most of us will ever need. Even if you're running a bulk mail service.

Summary
My results are not scientific. However, I do believe they are closer to what real people will see on real servers based on my experience with hundreds of servers. It would be really nice if Adobe would respond with some real numbers so we could help clients decide if this feature is worth buying Enterprise Edition instead of Standard Edition. However, based on my testing, if sending emails is your high priority and the amount of emails is going to be over 50,000 emails per day then you might want to weigh the cost of an Enterprise license.

Note:
The reason I was testing on ColdFusion 11 is this is the version that several different clients have that are having issues with the MailSpoolService. I think I know that for one client they really are trying to send near or over 50,000 emails per day and this is why they thought there was an issue with the MailSpoolService.

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Cryptocurrency Miners Hacking Servers

Wil Genovese September 29, 2017 4:54 PM ColdFusion, Coldfusion Security, Security Comments (0)

Are your free CPU cycles making others rich? There's a chance they are and it's at your expense. A recent article at Vice.com states that "At Least 1.65 Million Computers Are Mining Cryptocurrency for Hackers So Far This Year". If this is to be believed then it's possible a server you are running has been compromised and is actually mining cyrptocurrency for the hackers.

Cyrptocurrency is an anonymous, digital currency that is supposed to be untraceable. It's used on the internet to purchase more and more products and services. One of the most common forms of cryptocurrency is Bitcoin. This is from the Wikipedia entry on Bitcoin.

Bitcoin is a worldwide cryptocurrency and digital payment system called the first decentralized digital currency, since the system works without a central repository or single administrator. It was invented by an unknown programmer, or a group of programmers, under the name Satoshi Nakamoto and released as open-source software in 2009. The system is peer-to-peer, and transactions take place between users directly, without an intermediary. These transactions are verified by network nodes and recorded in a public distributed ledger called a blockchain. Besides being created as a reward for mining, bitcoin can be exchanged for other currencies, products, and services. As of February 2015, over 100,000 merchants and vendors accepted bitcoin as payment. Bitcoin can also be held as an investment. According to research produced by Cambridge University in 2017, there are 2.9 to 5.8 million unique users using a cryptocurrency wallet, most of them using bitcoin. ...

Bitcoin Mining is a record-keeping service that runs on peoples computers, servers, or specialized Mining Devices, that are setup by individuals to help process Bitcoin transactions. As a reward for doing this you are given newly created bitcoins and transaction fees. ie. You can make money by mining for Bitcoin.

This reward is enough that hackers have taken it to the next level and started hacking servers around the world so they can install mining software and use YOUR computers and servers to make money for themselves. Just this week it was discovered that some of Showtime's web servers were mining cryptocurrency. This isn't a new thing either. Back in 2014 Iowa State University servers were also hacked for the purpose on mining Bitcoins. These are not isolated occurrences. They are happening regularly. This practice is free to the hackers an costly to the owners of the servers. Here's why.

Case Study

CF Webtools has seen this type of hack in the real world. We recently had a company come to us seeking our services for both Server Administration and ColdFusion programming. Part of taking this new company on as a client we performed a security review on all of their servers. They also had existing issues that we needed to look at in particular. One of their web servers was rebooting multiple times per day at what seemed like "random" intervals.

Upon review we found the web server was always running at 100% CPU usage with no services claiming to be using that much CPU power. Certainly not ColdFusion or IIS. After completing additional research we decided to install a malware removal tool and scanned for malware. It didn't take long to find that indeed there was malware running on the server. What we found surprised us only because we had not seen this in action before. It was a cryptocurrency miner and it was so intensive that it would crash the server. All attempts to remove the malware failed. It would end up back on the server in a short period of time. The fact is this server was compromised. To resolve the issue we sent one of our decommissioned, but powerful servers, preinstalled with a clean OS to their data center. Then our Operations Manager went on the road to install the new server as well as a physical firewall. We essentially rearchitected their entire server setup. Meanwhile the malware removal tool did it's best to keep the malware at bay while I recreated their web server on the new server. It was a busy week (or more), but we were able to clean the code on the clients server and put that on the new server. We also had to research and rebuild all the dependancies from scratch. When it was all said and done we replaced the compromised server with the new one and put all their servers behind a Cisco ASA.

This case of Hacking for Bitcoins proved costly in the end to the company who's systems were compromised all while providing a free profit to the hacker(s).

This is one more friendly reminder to make sure your ColdFusion servers are patched! Either patch them yourself, have your hosting provider patch them. If you need help upgrading your VM or patching your server (or anything else) our operations group is standing by 24/7 - give us a call at 402-408-3733, or send a note to operations at cfwebtools.com.

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ColdFusion Security Patches ColdFusion 11 Update 13 and ColdFusion 2016 Update 5

Wil Genovese September 19, 2017 4:00 PM ColdFusion, Coldfusion Security, Coldfusion Upgrading Comments (0)

Adobe just released security updates for ColdFusion 11 and ColdFusion 2016. This is a critical security update and you should be updating your ColdFusion servers. The information below is from the CF Webtools operations group. If you need help upgrading your VM or patching your server (or anything else) our operations group is standing by 24/7 - give us a call at 402-408-3733, or send a note to operations at cfwebtools.com. Meanwhile, this info below will help IT staff and DIY types get started.

With ColdFusion 11 Update 13 and ColdFusion 2016 Update 5 there are additional manual updates that are required to complete the security patch. The additional requirements are the same for both ColdFusion 11 and ColdFusion 2016 and the remaining information pertains to both versions. Both updates require that ColdFusion be running on Java version 1.8.0_121 or higher. For reference, ColdFusion 11 comes with Java version 1.8.0_25 and ColdFusion 2016 comes with Java version 1.8.0_72. The Java that needs to be installed is different from the "Windows User" Java client that may already be installed. The installer is available from Oracle. Once the new Java version installed, the jvm.config file for each ColdFusion instance needs to be updated to point to the new Java version installation path. If you're running the Enterprise version of ColdFusion, there's a likely chance there is more than one ColdFusion instance running.

Part of the instructions from Adobe says that if your ColdFusion server is installed as J2EE server then there is an addiction manual configuration that you ned to do. However, every installation of ColdFusion since the release of ColdFusion 10 is a J2EE or JEE installation. What Adobe really meant was that if you are using a third party JEE server and not the built-in Tomcat JEE server.

If your ColdFusion server is running on a third party JEE server such as WebLogic, Wildly, custom Apache Tomcat, etc (Not the built in Tomcat that comes with ColdFusion), then the following step needs to be completed.

Set the following JVM flag, "-Djdk.serialFilter=!org.mozilla.** ", in the respective startup file depending on the type of Application Server being used.

For example,

  • On Apache Tomcat Application Server, edit JAVA_OPTS in the 'Catalina.bat/sh' file
  • On WebLogic Application Server, edit JAVA_OPTIONS in the 'startWeblogic.cmd' file
  • On a WildFly/EAP Application Server, edit JAVA_OPTS in the 'standalone.conf' file

This is one more friendly reminder to make sure your ColdFusion servers are patched! Either patch them yourself, have your hosting provider patch them or if they are not familiar or knowledgeable with ColdFusion contact us at CF Webtools to patch your servers.

As always, if you need help migrating to the next version, scanning your ColdFusion server for security vectors or installing this patch and new Java version, contact your project or account manager directly, or send an email to support@cfwebtools.com. You can also simply respond to this email (or call 403-408-3733).

*Note: ColdFusion11 when it was first released came with a version of Java 1.7.0_nn. Adobe later re-released ColdFusion 11 with Java 1.8.0_25. If you have ColdFusion 11 still running on Java 1.7 I highly recommend that Java be upgraded to Java 1.8. Oracle is no longer supporting Java 1.7 and 1.7 is long past it's end of life. Even though the Adobe instructions for this current security update states that you can run Java 1.7.0_131, I highly recommend upgrading to Java 1.8.

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