Archive for the ‘Technology’ category

SQL 2016 Servcies packs May 2018

May 31st, 2018

SQL Server 2016 Service Pack 2 came out last month, but Microsoft also just released Service Pack 1 Cumulative Update 9, which has fixes that aren’t in Service Pack 2:
•PFS page round robin algorithm improvement
•Fixed PAGELATCH_EX and PAGELATCH_SH waits in TempDB
•Change tracking is inconsistent during an update on a table with a clustered index
•TDE database goes offline during a log flush

However, they also just released 2016 SP2 CU1! https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4135048/cumulative-update-1-for-sql-server-2016-sp2

Windows 10 April update

May 28th, 2018

The Windows 10 April Update is causing stress for users, with many claiming their PCs were wiped clean after they hit OK on the update prompt.
Windows message boards were bombarded with complaints after users found that the “restart and install” prompt for the Windows 10 update led to a blank screen with a message saying:

C:\WINDOWS\system32\config\systemprofile\Desktop is unavailable. If the location is on this PC, make sure the device or drive is connected or the disc is inserted, and then try again. If the location is on a network, make sure you’re connected to the network or internet, and then try again. If the location still can’t be found, it might have been moved or deleted.

The screen has no icons and a few users were only able to remedy the problem with the help of another PC. The blank desktop issue has reached users across the world but does not appear to have affected a large number of users. If you have already installed the Windows 10 update and had no problems, then you don’t have to worry.

The problem seems to be linked to Avast Antivirus and a specific line of code. Avast released a statement denying any involvement in the issue.
“We have tested this and couldn’t identify any problems affecting Avast Antivirus consumer users specifically. …”We cannot rule out that a small number of Avast users may be having difficulties updating, too, but we don’t see any indications that this is caused by Avast.”

This month, Microsoft Surface users said they had issues with the device following the Windows 10 update. The all-in-one desktop Surface Studio and 2017 Surface Pro models repeatedly froze and disconnected from keyboards and mouses after the update.

•If you have Avast Antivirus, it may be prudent to delete it before installing the new Windows 10 update, as many users have reported losing access to all of their files after the installation.
•If you have been affected by the issue, computer repair shops have released lists of steps you can take to restore your desktop and get your files back.

Optimisation Advisor – boost your Dynamics 365 Finance and Operartions Enterprise performance

May 13th, 2018

The Optimization advisor workspace is a tool that assists power users, business analysts, functional consultants, and IT support functions to identify issues in Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations Enterprise that are related to module configuration and business data. The Optimization advisor suggests best practices for module configuration and identifies business data that is obsolete or incorrect.

If master data isn’t correct (for example, or if you have unit of measure conversions for units that haven’t been defined, or if you have unit of measure conversions that have a division by 0 [zero]), then an optimization opportunity is generated to suggest that you correct the data.

If you have too many batch job history entries, or obsolete items, or closed on-hand entries for warehouse enabled items, and so on, or if those entries and items are too old, then optimization opportunities are generated to suggest that you clean up the data to help improve overall system performance.

The Optimisation advisor works by periodically running a set of best practice rules, using telemetry to analyse business processes, and finding optimisation opportunities. Optimisation opportunities can be company-specific or cross-company, and new rules can be coded to apply per legal entity or to the whole system.

Yet another great feature with Dynamics 365 for more information contact your Dubai partner, Synergy Software Systems 00971 4 3365589

Microsoft Build 2018 – AI, IoT and Edge are changing the world

May 9th, 2018

Microsoft’s annual developer conference, Build, is happening in Seattle.

Expect the products and services that emerge from the conference to have a major impact on all businesses not just those that use Microsoft products.. Azure and Microsoft 365, the announcements made at Build 2018 seem to point to key themes that will impact the enterprise.

By 2020, the average person will generate 1.5GB of data a day, a smart home 50GB and a smart city, a whopping 250 petabytes of data per day. This data presents an enormous opportunity for developers — while also giving them tremendous responsibility. That’s why this morning at Build, we don’t take our jobs lightly in helping to equip these developers with the tools and guidance to change the world. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella described this new world view, and AI that can power better health care, relieve challenges around basic human needs and create a society that’s more inclusive and accessible.

In the next 10 years, billions of everyday devices will be connected — smart devices that can see, listen, reason, predict and more, without a 24/7 dependence on the cloud. This is the intelligent “Edge”, the interface between the computer and the real world. The Edge combines AI and cloud together to collect and make sense of new information, whether they be on the factory floor or in the operating room or areas to dangerous for humans.

What to expect:

1. AI – all pervasive
Google and facebook are not the only tech firms leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, Microsoft’s declared its mission to “help every developer be an AI developer.” CEO Satya Nadella called it the “era of the intelligent cloud and intelligent edge.” Microsoft announced a new architecture for neural networks, new AI SDKs, new cognitive services, and even AI-powered software development.

The firm also unveiled Windows Machine Learning, which it described in a press release as “a new platform that enables developers to easily develop machine learning models in the intelligent cloud and then deploy them offline and in high performance to the PC platform.”

2.Over the Edge
Microsoft has expanded outside of the office. Building on its efforts in AI, Microsoft launched a host of new edge computing capabilities and Internet of Things (IoT) products for developers to build solutions to support new, automated business processes.

At Build, Microsoft:
- open sourced the Azure IoT Edge Runtime for easier debugging,
- enabled its Custom Vision cognitive service to run on the Azure IoT platform,
- worked with DJI to build a drone SDK for Windows 10 PCs,
- highlighted mixed reality, with two new apps for irst workers to interface with customers and triage problems: Microsoft Remote Assist and Microsoft Layout. Microsoft Remote Assist enables remote collaboration via hands-free video calling, letting firstline workers share what they see with any expert on Microsoft Teams, while staying hands on to solve problems and complete tasks together.
In a similar vein, Microsoft Layout lets workers design spaces in context with mixed reality, using 3D models for creating room layouts with holograms.
- With Qualcomm Technologies Inc., announced a joint effort to create a vision AI dev kit running Azure IoT Edge, for camera-based IoT solutions.
Other advancements include a preview of Project Brainwave, an architecture for deep neural net processing, available on Azure and on the edge. Project Brainwave makes Azure the fastest cloud to run real-time AI today.
. Microsoft is integrating Visual Studio App Center with GitHub for iOS and Android developers to support DevOps process automation,
- Microsoft is also embracing blockchain with the Microsoft Azure Blockchain Workbench, to streamline the process for building blockchain applications.
- Project Kinect for Azure — a package of sensors from Microsoft that contains unmatched time-of-flight depth camera, with onboard compute, in a small, power-efficient form factor — designed for AI on the edge. Project Kinect for Azure brings together this leading hardware technology with Azure AI

3. Microsoft 365 is here to stay

Microsoft 365, the company’s enterprise bundle offering of Office 365, Windows 10, and enterprise mobility and security, was also a focus of Build,
“Microsoft 365 is where the world gets its best work done,” said Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president of Microsoft,. “With 135 million commercial monthly active users of Office 365 and nearly 700 million Windows 10 connected devices, Microsoft 365 helps developers reach people how and where they work.”

The Microsoft 365 offering, is boosted by:
- new support for Power BI Visualizations in Excel,
- Microsoft Teams APIs in the Microsoft Graph,
- Fluent Design System updates, .
- NET Core 3.0, and Azure Machine Learning and JavaScript custom functions for Excel.

TSB upgrade – what lessons are there to learn?.

May 5th, 2018

By now most of us have heard about the catastrophic attempt by the Spanish-owned TSB to introduce a new IT platform for their UK customers.
As my first mortgage was with the TSB many years ago, and I was also in the U.K. when the story broke I took a little more interest.

TSB, (Trustee Savings Bank), merged with and was spun out of Lloyds Bank after the EU ruled that it was a monopoly, because of the state aid it had received at the time of the banking crisis. TSB used Lloyds IT at a cost of about £220 million a year, but later moved to the Proteo platform, also used by its new owners, Sabadell. The Proteo system design goes back to 2000 and was specifically for mergers, and was used for successful integration of the four Spanish banks.

Proteo is based on Accenture’s Cobol-based Alnova system, and is customized, installed and managed by TSBs staff and runs on Amazon Cloud.

At the launch of Proteo4UK, Paul Pester, CEO of TSB, boasted that they had “created a more digital, agile and flexible TSB”. Carlos Abarca, the CIO, agreed, “It’s the technology journey that we are on together with our customers!” Similar ‘digital transformation’ good news messages from cloud providers are all too familiar.

This was to be “customer-centric by design” platform to “enable the open banking revolution”.

Well there was a revolution alright – from the locking nearly two million banking customers out of their accounts for up to ten days.

This was over a month-end, when businesses rely more heavily on access to their accounts.

TSB turned to IBM, to help get the system under control and “to help identify and resolve performance issues in the platform”. This included customers : experiencing zero balances, incorrect currencies, massively inflated mortgage amounts, and e-mails saying that there are no records of recent direct debits. IBank customers puzzled over on-screen messages, such as: ‘BeanCreationNotAllowedException exception: Error creating bean with name ‘contextManagerPostController’: Singleton bean creation not allowed while the singletons of this factory are in destruction (Do not request a bean from a BeanFactory in a destroy method implementation!)’

Customers who tried to make transfers got errors like: ‘ArrayIndexOutofBounds’ and java.lang.NullPointer and some Branches reported the systems spewing out error messages in Spanish. When I travelled back form U.K. early May, problems with internet banking wee still being reported by customers.

Instead of saving TSB over £100 million a year, this has greatly reduced public confidence in the bank but also in other banks and other financial services on the cloud generally. TSB are likely to be fined by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), which is the last thing they need to get things sorted – the loss in reputation alone is huge.

Supporters of Peter Pester believe he is being scapegoated for tech disaster:
• Allies said he has been ‘betrayed’ by a ‘bunch of Spanish numpties’
• Software that caused the problems was installed by Sabadell’s technology offshoot, Sabis
• Regulators could put TSB under a Section 166 probe – a formal investigation by an independent expert

What are the lessons?
Well, the first is not to claim success until the job is done. ( A damning report on the Guardian website suggests there were plenty of warning signs, up to a year before this all happened. Quoting an anonymous insider, the report explains how a mixture of poor technical and business decisions led to the eventual crises TSB finds itself in today.)

Which leads to the second lesson- bearers of bad news may have appoint to consider and is a hint at least the challenge needs more attention.

It seems Sabadell, the company that bought TSB, was warned about the high risk of its migration plans, which were seen by some as having too short a deadline and not big enough a budget. But Sabadell was not to be discouraged, and it pressed ahead with its plans, confident that it could successfully transfer TSB customers to its own Proteo software, as it had done with other customers in the past.

If you are doing some thing big and complicated consider the worst case and what that means for: insurance, contingency plans, contractual and legal protection, (so far none of the original contractors on the TSB redesign and upgrade have acknowledged any culpability) and PR mitigation:

PR week called it the flop of the month …….. and recipe for reputational disaster. Pester is well respected in the industry, but took too long to accept responsibility, was too quick to assume the problem was over, and too slow to appease customers. Easy to say from an armchair in Dubai but why do corporate leaders fail to heed the lessons of the past and to recognise the potential for disaster and that that when disaster arrives the only way to avoid reputational damage is to offer maximum compensation and care and to call in reinforcements asap.
Sabis is understood to have given TSB a written assurance that the parts of the system for which they were responsible had been comprehensively tested- maybe TSB needed to be more involved in those tests.

Total meltdown – patch now and revisit patches mnay are bugged

April 27th, 2018

A person known as XPN, whose blog lists identifies as a hacker and infosec researcher, posted details of a working exploit that takes advantage of Total Meltdown on Monday. The source code for Total Meltdown, a vulnerability created when Microsoft tried to patch the initial Meltdown flaw, is available on GitHub.

XPN describes Total Meltdown as a “pretty awesome” vulnerability in that it allows “any process to access and modify page table entries.”

XPN also noted that the goal was to create an exploit that could “elevate privileges during an assessment,” but it was only to help other people understand the exploitation technique, not to create a read-to-use attack.

Total Meltdown was originally created from a botched patch Microsoft issued for the original Meltdown flaw–of the Spectre/Meltdown vulnerabilities reported earlier.

Whereas the original Meltdown flaw was read-only, Total Meltdown also provides write access. This only affects 64-bit versions of Win7 and Server 2008 R2.

See the Woody on Windows column in Computerworld, https://www.computerworld.com/article/3269003/microsoft-windows/heads-up-total-meltdown-exploit-code-now-available-on-github.
There have been a series of flawed patches and its not pretty reading so take tiem to check out the article in full.

To tell if you’re protected from Total Meltdown, you’ll have to check your patch history. If you have no patches from 2018, you should be good, according to Woody on Windows. If you do have patches, KB 4100480, 4093108, or 4093118 installed, you should also be protected. Without those, Woody on Windows noted, you’ll need to rollback your machine, manually install KB 4093108, or use “Windows Update to install all of the checked April Windows patches.”

However there is lot more cautionary advice to read.

Drupal CMS critical bug

April 2nd, 2018

The team behind the popular open-source CMS Drupal is urging admins to update their sites to ward off a nasty bug that could leave their sites “highly compromised” to attackers, according to the organization.

The effected versions (Drupal i 6, 7 and 8) of the CMS power over one million websites on the internet.

Drupal has marked the security risk as “highly critical” and warns that any visitor to the site could theoretically hack it through remote code execution due to a missing input validation.

“This potentially allows attackers to exploit multiple attack vectors on a Drupal site, which could result in the site being completely compromised,”

Microsoft public preview of Azure SQL Database Managed Instances – running SQL Server workloads in the cloud

March 10th, 2018

Microsoft released the public preview of Azure SQL Database Managed Instances – a new option for running SQL Server workloads in the cloud.

Managed Instances (or Azure SQL Database Managed Instances, are a new PaaS database offer that joins the Azure SQL Database and Elastic Pool services. Within this PaaS family, Managed Instances take care of operational aspects like ensuring: high availability, backups, and applying patches, making these simpler and less time-consuming to administer.

While many organizations have benefited from using Azure SQL Database for new applications, it has been a significant challenge to migrate existing workloads because of key functionality gaps versus on-premises SQL Server.

Managed Instances address that problem, by providing vastly improved compatibility. Organizations can therefore more easily migrate existing on-premises SQL Server workloads to the cloud while retaining many of the manageability benefits of a PaaS offering.

Managed Instances require less operational oversight compared to traditional on-premises SQL Server,. Use of the service however, doesn’t free you from the responsibility for checking availability or ensuring that security is configured appropriately. It also remains the DBA’s responsibility to optimize performance, and to handle other operational concerns like making sure jobs complete successfully, or general troubleshooting – its platform as a service. High availability, automated backups, point-in-time restore, automatic plan correction, threat detection, vulnerability assessment, and other intelligent features are built-in into service without any additional charge. OS patching and database upgrades are handled automatically and do not require any action.

In addition to built-in monitoring and maintenance features, you can use any 3rd-party tool to monitor and manage your instance, because most of the system views are exposed.

Connectivity

Azure SQL Managed Instance is not a service on public endpoint. Azure SQL Managed Instance is placed on private IP address in your VNET. It is just hosted and managed by Azure cloud.

Currently, Azure SQL Database PaaS has two main offers for the customers who use SQL Server database and want to migrate to PaaS:
1.Managed Database – isolated and self-contained database service that has database scoped functionalities.
2.Elastic pool – a group of Azure SQL databases that share the same resource.

However, current Azure SQL Database offers don’t provide entire SQL Server “Instance as a Service” as PaaS model. As a result, some of the instance-level features in Azure SQL Database PaaS such as SQL Agent or linked servers are not supported because they are not applicable on the database level.

Currently, the only way to get the full SQL Server instance in Azure is to use Azure SQL VM that handles underlying infrastructure (e.g. disks), but still not have some SQL PaaS features as Azure SQL Database.

Managed Instance is a SQL Server Instance in Azure cloud that shares the same code with the latest version of SQL Server Database Engine and has the latest features, performance improvements, and security patches. It has most of the SQL Server 2017 features (excluding some on-premise Windows features such as Windows logins or potentially harmful features such as extended stored procedures) and enables you to put almost any database that you have in on-premises SQL Server instance. Every instance is fully isolated from the other customer instance and placed in your dedicated subnet with assigned private ip addresses.

Security/Isolation. Managed Instance is a resource in your network hosted by Azure cloud. You have to create Azure VNET and a dedicated subnet where the instance should be deployed. There are networking constraints for the VNET/subnet that you should review before you create a managed instance.

There is no public IP address dedicated to the Managed Instance. Only applications in customer network can access Managed Instance. Network administrators have the full control and can configure access to Managed Instance using standard methods such as Network security Groups and firewalls.

Choose how many CPU cores to use and how much storage you need. You can create a Managed Instance with 16 cores and 500GB storage, and then increase or decrease these numbers depending on your needs. Changing CPU or storage in instance can be done via Azure portal using simple slider.

Managed Instance has split compute and storage components. There are compute nodes with 8, 16, or 24 cores, that work with database files stored on Azure Premium disk storage. Every database file is placed on separate Azure premium disk, that guarantees that database files cannot be lost. Although Managed Instance relies on Azure Premium disks, it also has separate backup mechanism that ensures that even if something would happen with the files, platform would still be able to restore files from backups.

SQL Server 2017 Cumulative Update 4

March 4th, 2018

Last month Microsoft released SQL Server 2017 Cumulative Update 4, which is Build 14.0.3022.28.

There are 55 hotfixes in the public fix list. Run the special T-SQL script in the release notes if you are using Query Store and previously ever had SQL Server 2017 CU2 installed (and you were using Query Store on any of your databases at that time). The script will look for any plans that were forced while you were running SQL Server 2017 CU2, and if it finds any, it will unforce those and then clear those from Query Store.

There are several updates both for Columnstore indexes and for Availability Groups.

There will not be any Service Packs for SQL Server 2017, so test and deploy SQL Server 2017 Cumulative Updates as they become available.

SQL Server 2017 and later versions will no longer receive SPs
The Modern Servicing Model (MSM)

Starting from SQL Server 2017:
• SPs will no longer be available. Only Cumulative Updates (CUs) and critical updates (GDRs) will be provided.
• CUs will contain localized content if it’s necessary as what SPs have done.
• CUs will be delivered more frequently at first and then less frequently: every month for the first 12 months, and then every quarter for the final four years of the five-year mainstream lifecycle.

Note The MSM only applies to SQL Server 2017 and later versions.

Earlier versions of SQL Server are not affected by this SP policy change. Service Packs (SPs) will continue to be provided for the reminder of mainstream support for SQL Server 2014 and SQL Server 2016.

February 24th, 2018

Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations Enterprise is Microsoft’s flagship cloud-based ERP system, Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations is optimized to deliver improved global visibility, scalability and digital intelligence.

Overview

Financial dimensions

Workflows

Journals

EAM, field service, IOT and Holo lens -ask Synergy Software Systems, Dubai

February 17th, 2018

The digital world is already here and what seemed science fiction few years back we now accept as everyday. Voice activated commands on our smear phone now also query our databases and update our dashboards, remote medical checks are done at an atm, artificial intelligence and big data influence our live every time we log onto google, amazon, facebook or ring a callcentre.

We have been investigating IoT for over a year, particularly with regard to condition monitoring for asset management and several of our team were involved in recent training that included a hands on session for Microsoft Field Services. This is built on the Dynamics 365 platform as an extension of CRM and offer comprehensive features for field service: help desk, engineer scheduling and mobile operations. Field service is aimed at service companies with a large field force of service engineers and is typically integrated with erp systems and thus the overall project can be quite complex. To reduce the risk and implementation time we offer a proven accelerator.

We also offer a Enterprise Asset Management suite which is successfully deployed in several leading UAE companies for a number of years particularly for asset tracking.

In Dynamics 365/2012 for Ax EAM also needs to consider that both engineers and equipment may be sued is production or on projects. Thus engineering and maintenance scheduling also has to consider in house planned and breakdown maintenance and servicing and more complex overhauls and asset structures, the impact of equipment downtime on production schedules and much more. We offer a Microsoft certified isv integrated suite of EAM modules built on the Ax 2012/D365 platform that covers both field service and mobile as well as in in house maintenance.

Predictive maintenance and SCADA integration and extensive condition monitoring., embedded and Power BI analytics are no longer rocket science.

At a recent client 4 day workshop we demonstrated HOLO lens assisted reality to support engineers. This can for example be used to provide step by step guidance or for collaboration from the field with an OEM a remote manufacturer, or your chief engineer.

“Meltdown” and “Spectre and azure.”

February 10th, 2018

Last month as reported on this blog, Intel revealed two critical vulnerabilities they found in Intel chips. These vulnerabilities allow cyber-attackers to steal data from the memory of running apps. This data can include passwords, emails, photos, or documents. Intel dubbed these as: “Meltdown” and “Spectre.”

Microsoft released a patch for Azure the very next day. Just as well because Microsoft Azure is a shared-computing environment by default. One server hosts applications and development of applications, and various Virtual Machines tap into the server to allow employees to and others to access these applications. As such, the Meltdown vulnerability allows an attacker to compromise the host and read all the data from every operating system tapping into it. Around 3-10 million physical servers host Azure, and these servers in turn host tens of millions of Virtual Machines. So impressively Microsoft developed deployed a patch for these vulnerabilities in less than a week’s time. Azure is a cloud-based application and so Microsoft could focus their security team to work on the cloud servers and only the cloud servers. This way, these millions of servers and users had a patch and all applications hosted on the Azure cloud-platform were immediately protected.

A good business case example for business to move to Azure cloud services.

Malware developers are still out there. German antivirus testing firm AV-Test reported 139 samples of malware trying to attack the Meltdown vulnerability in January to exploit those who have not patched.

Microsoft patched their cloud servers, but non-Azure users (as well as all Windows users, period) still need to apply their operating system patches to ensure complete protection. This is one vulnerability you definitely don’t want cyber-attackers to exploit, whether it’s your personal computer or your business’s server.

Microsoft Office 2019 coming soon but only on Windos 10

February 3rd, 2018

Microsoft launched Windows 10 in June 2015, two and a half years ago.

According to data gathered in January 2018, Windows 10 reached 42.78% in terms of worldwide internet usage, compared to 41.86% for Windows 7, 8.72% for Windows 8.1, and 3.36% for Windows XP.

Windows 7 – end of extended support nearing —January 2020
Office365 might be the jewel in the crown for Microsoft, but a new version of standalone Office has been announced for Windows 10. Office 2019’s desktop applications will only run on Windows 10 – and has shortened support.

In an update published on February 1st, the company revealed that the beta apps for the perpetual version of Office 2019 – as opposed to the subscription Office 365 – will appear in 2018’s second quarter and a final release will ship in the second half of the year.

When the software lands, it will only run on Windows 10 or the next Long-Term Servicing version of Windows Server. For Windows 10 users, only the Semi-Annual or Long-Term Servicing Channel editions of the OS will run Office’s apps.

In the past, perpetual versions of Office were released under the Microsoft Fixed Lifecycle Policy, with a term of 5 years of standard support and 5 years of extended support.Office 2019 will get the usual period of standard support, but just two years of extended support. That will mean the suite’s planned death day is October 10th, 2025. (Which is the same day on which Microsoft will end extended support for Office 2016.)

Microsoft said this is because “As the pace of change accelerates, it has become imperative to move our software to a more modern cadence.” Which is a bit inconsistent with news that Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC 2018 will land “in the fall of 2018” and get five years of extended support.

Another change Microsoft’s is to make Office 365 ProPlus, the business-oriented version of the service, available only on Windows 10’s semi-annual channel. As of January 14, 2020, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2016 or older and Windows 10 LTSC releases won’t run ProPlus. Nor will unsupported Windows 10 semi-annual releases.

This will keep Windows 10 and ProPlus in synch for security reasons. Those companies that deliver ProPlus to virtual desktops or over remote access will have a chllenge. Later this year, “new Remote Desktop and desktop virtualization capabilities within the SAC release cadence of Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows Server.” Windows Server Insiders will see those changes before other users.

Office 2019 will add new user and IT capabilities for customers who aren’t yet ready for the cloud. For example:
New and improved inking features—like pressure sensitivity, tilt effects, and ink replay—will allow you to work more naturally.
New formulas and charts will make data analysis for Excel more powerful.
Visual animation features—like Morph and Zoom—will add polish to PowerPoint presentations.
Server enhancements will include updates to IT manageability, usability, voice, and security.’

Cyber attacks doubled in 2017 – expect 2018 to be worse.

January 27th, 2018

Cyber attacks on businesses nearly doubled in the past year. A new report, the Cyber Incident & Breach Trends Report, released by the Online Trust Alliance (OTA) found 156,700 cyber incidents last year, compared to 82,000 in 2016. The OTA is a Internet Society initiative designed to improve online trust.

The organization believes that since a majority of cybersecurity attacks are never reported, the number of cyber incidents last year could actually be closer to 350,000. “Surprising no one, 2017 marked another ‘worst year ever’ in data breaches and cyber incidents around the world,” said Jeff Wilbur, director of the OTA initiative at the Internet Society. “This year’s big increase in cyberattacks can be attributed to the skyrocketing instances of ransomware and the bold new methods of criminals using this attack.”

The OTA claimed that most of the incidents could have been prevented easily – 93 percent of breaches could have been avoided by regularly updating software, blocking fake emails, and training people to recognize phishing attacks.

52 % of security incidents were the result of an actual attack.
15 % resulted from a lack of security software,
11 % were caused by credit card skimming,
11% resulted from companies not having controls to prevent employees’ negligent or malicious actions,
8 % were the result of phishing scams.

Electron is a node.js, V8, and Chromium framework created for the development of cross-platform desktop apps with JavaScript, HTML, and CSS, The Electron framework is popular and widely used by a range of desktop app services. Skype, Signal, Slack, Shopify, and Surf are among the users, A critical vulnerability affecting Electron desktop apps has recently been disclosed.

Regular patching has always been a best practice and neglecting it is a known cause of many breaches.

In 2017 the Equifax breach brought home that message

In 2018 a patching strategy needs to be integral to your processes because of the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities reported (see our earlier posts) when it was highlighted that nearly every computer chip manufactured in the last 20 years was found to contain fundamental security flaws.

Dynamics 365 v 9 Ask Dubai Dynamics partner Synergy Software Systems

January 22nd, 2018

Announced in July 2017 Dynamics 365 v9 was released for some new customers in November while existing D365 users will be able to upgrade from early 2018. This update is available for Dynamics 2016 (8.0), Dynamics 2016 UPD1 (8.1) and Dynamics 365 (8.2).

Version 9 is a mandatory update for customers using v8.0 or v8.1. This is in line with Microsoft’s update policy, which requires customers to be on the current version, or the immediate version prior to this release. With v9 being the current release, v8.2 is the previous update so system admins can choose not to take version 9.0 but remaining v8.0 and v8.1 users will be required to update.

v9 sees a fundamental change with a separation of code between the platform and apps. As well as delivering on Microsoft’s promise of an app-centric structure, this introduces a new unified user interface to provide a consistent D365 user experience across different browsers, devices and screen sizes. Dynamics 365 – Version 9.0 features a refreshed web interface, multi-select option sets, new virtual entity capability and introduces a new unified client interface.

This will be increasingly evident with the v9 release which sees Dynamics 365 break into modular apps that shift away from one platform with multiple modules hardwired in such as sales, marketing and service. With apps frequently changing and able to upgrade independently of each other, several insiders have predicted that Dynamics 365 users will see a continuous flow of improvements in a similar way that apps on a tablet or mobile device are updated.

By redefining the platform layer and breaking modules into role-based solutions for sales, finance & operations, customer service, talent, field service, to name just a few, this change will remove the need to test all at once and to upgrade everything in one big bang project. This will quicken release cycles and enable more rapid changes by allowing these apps to work independently of each other, and crucially these are all connected with a common data service.

Several legacy Dynamics CRM features will be deprecated with this release. In addition to the Outlook client, further deprecations included dialogs, contracts, mail merge and standard SLA’s. Some of those like dialogues will impact many clients

The deprecation of the Outlook client will also impact Excel dynamics worksheets.

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics365/get-started/whats-new/customer-engagement/important-changes-coming

Unlike the other mobile apps, the App for Outlook isn’t something that a normal end user can (typically) download and configure for themselves. A system administrator must take care of the deployment steps, such as switching over to server-side synchronization, approving user mailboxes (with O365 Global Admin rights) and pushing the app to either selected or all eligible users under the menu Settings – Dynamics 365 App for Outlook.

The Dynamics 365 App for Outlook in V9 is still in Preview mode, so a sysadmin needs to enable it from the System Settings – Previews tab. This is because the earlier app has been replaced with a completely new app in this release, built on UCI (Unified Client Infrastructure) that is used in the new Unified Interface. This will actually turn the previously feature limited Outlook sidebar app into a full Dynamic 365 Customer Engagement app that has similar capabilities as the mobile app mentioned above.

Microsoft has confirmed it has begun the scheduling process for upgrading instances of Microsoft Dynamics 365 to Version 9.0. v9 was rolled out in the closing months of 2017 for new instances of Dynamics 365 and will invite system administrators to run their Version 9 upgrade from February 2018.

Administrators should see a notification in the Office 365 Message Centre advising that their D365 update scheduling window is now open. Starting January 15, existing Dynamics 365 customers will be able to schedule updates to occur from February 20th through August 20th. https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/crm/2018/01/12/scheduling-your-dynamics-365-organization-for-microsoft-dynamics-365-online-version-9-0-update/

Microsoft intends to complete scheduled Version 9.0 upgrades by August 2018. v9.0 updates can be scheduled for any day, including weekends, but each date is limited to available bookings so admins are strongly recommended to schedule their update as soon as possible. Microsoft will allocate update slots on a first come, first serve basis.

Administrators will be able to schedule updates to sandbox instances before their production instance. View Sandbox and Production update schedules in a single view within the Dynamics 365 Admin Center.

If you have any questions about scheduling or preparing for this update then please get in touch with us.
At this stage, we do not have any timescale for when Microsoft will release v9.0 for its on-premise edition of Dynamics 365.