Software Toolbox Technical Blog

DCOM Hardening & Your Alternatives to Eliminate Security Risk & Stress

10 min read

By Kevin Rutherford on Jun 16, 2022 2:00:00 PM

If you’re reading this post, you’ve almost certainly at least heard of DCOM. And, possibly, you’re one of many who have struggled over the years with the trials of configuring remote OPC Classic connections between machines where DCOM inevitably increased your time and difficulty for what should be a relatively painless task.

DCOM Hardening is Permanent in 6d 1h 34m 0s

DCOM hardening with no option to disable it is coming up fast - March 14, 2023. If you haven't already made a plan to either migrate away from DCOM communications entirely or address how to keep your process systems that will still rely on remote OPC Classic over DCOM working reliably, time is running out. Downtime is costly and a system that is using OPC Classic and hasn't been evaluated to determine the effects of DCOM hardening could be vulnerable to communication breaks.

This blog post discusses 6 types of options to relieve DCOM hardening pain. These include alternatives to DCOM that cover a range of use cases depending on what software you already have installed and your existing system architecture. We also have a comprehensive guide that you'll be able to request that addresses what DCOM changes will be needed if you're not in a position to migrate currently.  Our technical support team are also willing to discuss your specific requirements with you, so you're not on your own out there! 

Software Toolbox Products DCOM Readiness and Action FAQs

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5 Key Considerations For Choosing Tunneling Solutions for Remote OPC

7 min read

By Win Worrall on Jul 16, 2020 2:00:00 PM

OPC continues to be the standard of choice for interoperability between software and hardware in the multi-vendor real world, with wide adoption of OPC DA Classic still in the majority compared to OPC UA. Accessing remote OPC Classic data sources (i.e. OPC clients and servers are on separate machines and, sometimes, even networks) can be challenging due to a reliance on Microsoft DCOM technology for security and authentication on remote OPC connections.

Anyone who has ever heard of or dealt with configuring DCOM security for remote OPC connections knows it has its challenges.  The good news is that there is an alternative to DCOM for remote OPC Classic connectivity - a solution referred to as OPC tunneling.  In the blog post, we'll discuss five of the key considerations to remember as you're evaluating the best OPC tunneling solution for your projects.

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OPC Connectivity & Security Concerns in IT/OT Convergence

6 min read

By John Weber on Dec 20, 2016 2:00:00 PM

Complications of Domains, Workgroups, & Mixed Windows Versions & Solutions

In the Operations Technology or OT world that most of our users live in, it’s normal to have multiple versions of Windows and systems that may not always be setup consistently but we have to make it all work anyway.   Connecting OPC clients and servers when the Windows computers are not on the same version, not in an Active Directory or, using older terminology, a domain, and having everything work well takes skill, and keeping it secure involves a lot of details.

In this blog post, our team asked me to explore with you the details involved to assist you with better understanding Windows Security and to converse more productively with your IT Team.  I’ll also share how you can learn more about how to make things easier on yourself through the use of OPC UA or with Tunneling.

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How Redundancy Can Define Success or Failure in a Control System

3 min read

By Win Worrall on Jul 12, 2016 2:01:29 PM

This is Part 9 of our “25 Things to Consider when Choosing an OPC Tunnel” series.  Will a tunneler support redundant tunnel paths?

Redundancy is typically a more complex topic than it might sound especially if your automation control architecture is extensive and has multiple layers.  Redundancy has different meanings to different people for different applications.

This blog post will outline reasons why it's important for an OPC tunneling solution to support redundant paths for applications where it is essential minimize the risks of failure when transferring your control data and what questions to ask.

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Reasons a Configurable TCP Port is Important for OPC Tunneling

2 min read

By Win Worrall on Jun 21, 2016 11:30:00 AM

This is Part 8 of our “25 Things to Consider when Choosing an OPC Tunnel” series.  What flexibility is there in how ports are configured?

Depending on your level of knowledge regarding OPC tunneling solutions, you may or may not be aware of how a tunneler uses TCP ports for transferring data between machines.  Your IT department likely gives you plenty of trouble whenever you mention needing to open a TCP port.  And with good reason - cyber attacks frequently exploit commonly used TCP ports.

This blog post will outline three top reasons why it's important for an OPC tunneling solution to support fully configurable TCP ports for transferring your data.

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Reasons why DCOM across Windows versions is a nightmare

2 min read

By Win Worrall on Jun 7, 2016 4:19:49 PM

This is Part 7 of our “25 Things to Consider when Choosing an OPC Tunnel” series.  How does the OPC tunneling solution work in a mixed Windows OS environment.

If you have ever used DCOM between two different varieties of Windows operating system (Windows 7 and Windows XP, for instance) you already know how painful it can be to configure DCOM.  DCOM configuration is never a walk in the park but the frustration multiplies when the operating system isn't the same on both machines.

This blog post will outline one of the easiest methods to avoid the problems of configuring DCOM when the operating systems do not match.

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Configuring a tunneler should be quick and easy

3 min read

By Win Worrall on May 24, 2016 2:00:00 PM

This is Part 6 of our “25 Things to Consider when Choosing an OPC Tunnel” series - Configuring a tunneler should be quick and easy.

How easy does the tunneler vendor make it to get started with their solution?  It's important to consider what resources the vendor has made available to you to assist with setup and configuration.  Resources such as videos, FAQs and technical support could mean the difference between your setup taking only minutes to that same setup taking hours or even days.

This blog post will outline some of the expectations you should have from a good tunnel vendor with respect to the resources they can provide to make your experience as user-friendly as possible, both now and in the future.

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Can your tunneler do more than just tunnel?

2 min read

By Win Worrall on May 10, 2016 1:52:44 PM

This is Part 5 of our “25 Things to Consider when Choosing an OPC Tunnel” series. Can your tunneler do more than just tunnel?

Many OPC tunnels out there are just that—an OPC tunnel and nothing more. What if you need to perform another operation with the data besides tunneling it?  In most cases, you'd be stuck introducing an additional piece of software to handle any other operations.

This blog post will outline some of the additional functions you might need from a tunneler and why having a single application is the best architecture.

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