Archive for the ‘Security and Compliance’ category

SQL Cumulative updates for September 2016 –

September 24th, 2016

Cumulative update 14 release for SQL Server 2012 SP2 is now available for download at the Microsoft Downloads site. Please note that registration is no longer required to download Cumulative updates.
CU#14 KB Article: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3180914
Microsoft® SQL Server® 2012 SP2 Latest Cumulative Update: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=50731
Cumulative update 5 release for SQL Server 2012 SP3 is now available for download at the Microsoft Downloads site. Please note that registration is no longer required to download Cumulative updates.
To learn more about the release or servicing model, please visit:
• CU#5 KB Article: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3180915
• Microsoft® SQL Server® 2012 SP3 Latest Cumulative Update: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=50733
• Update Center for Microsoft SQL Server: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-US/sqlserver/ff803383.aspx
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Microsoft also just announced that Cumulative Update 2 for SQL Server 2016 is now available for download here. There are a number of fixes including one regarding the Query Store. See here – you should seriously consider if you are running QSL Server 2016.

Stephen Jones
Director
Synergy Software Systems
009714 3365589
Visit our active blog site for news and the latest product information
www.synergy-software.com/blog
Microsoft Award – Highest Customer Satisfaction 2014
Microsoft President’s Club 2015

Gartner shows Microsoft Azure as a cloud leader for the third succesive year

September 23rd, 2016

Gartner has recently identified Microsoft Azure as a leader in the analyst firm’s Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), for the third year in a row, both based on both completeness of vision and the ability to execute.

Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform enables the creation of virtual networks, servers and machines, and supports multitenant storage, object storage and a robust content delivery network for both Microsoft and other vendor solutions. Azure also provides advanced services such as machine learning and Internet of things.

The Azure infrastructure has security integrated from the ground up, and all data, whether at rest or in transit, is strongly encrypted. All of offerings are supported by a leading-edge Cyber Defense Operations Centre that monitors customer infrastructure around the clock.

Gartner’s announcement comes at a time when the Gulf region is taking strident steps towards cloud infrastructure adoption. Saudi Arabia plans to invest $2 trillion in IT projects in the coming years, with a significant portion to be invested in cloud. Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates will see a gradual growth in IT spend from now until 2020, according to a report from BMI Research. A compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.4 per cent is expected.

An accompanying decline in hardware sales together with BMI’s prediction that SaaS will take an increasing share of software sales, and strongly indicates a decisive shift to cloud for the GCC.

When Microsoft announced the G series of virtual machines, back in Q1 of 2015, it represented the most memory, highest processing power and the largest local SSD capacity of any VMs then available in the public cloud. The G series, allowed Azure to lead the market with continued innovation also supporting SAP HANA workloads up to 32 TB. Azure has industry-wide recognition too for its support of Linux and other open-source technologies having nearly one third of all Azure VMs on Linux boxes.

Gartner’s report singled out Microsoft’s “rapid rollout” of these new features and many others, signaling that the company’s brand and history, both with its customers and with its delivery of enterprise-class solutions and services, combine to allow the company to ‘rapidly attain the status of strategic cloud IaaS provider’.
“Microsoft Azure encompasses integrated IaaS and PaaS components that operate and feel like a unified whole,” Gartner analysts wrote.

Microsoft has been rapidly rolling out new features and services, including differentiated capabilities. It has a vision of infrastructure and platform services that are not only leading standalone offerings, but also seamlessly extend and interoperate with on-premises Microsoft infrastructure (rooted in Hyper-V, Windows Server, Active Directory and System Center), development tools (including Visual Studio and Team Foundation Server [TFS]), middleware and applications, as well as Microsoft’s SaaS offerings.”

Gartner’s analysts also cited Microsoft’s “deep investments” in engineering and “innovative roadmap” as crucial factors in the company’s current IaaS market standing. The report further recommends Microsoft Azure for General business applications and development environments that use Microsoft technologies; migration of virtualized workloads for Microsoft-centric organizations; cloud-native applications (including Internet of Things applications); and batch computing.

Microsoft is the leading platform and productivity company for the mobile-first, cloud-first world, and its mission is to empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more.

Microsoft Gulf opened its Dubai-based headquarters in 1991 the same year as Synergy Software Systems.

For cloud hosting, or to back up to the cloud, or for applications like Dynamics 365 or Ax RTW (7) or Synergy MMS, or our xRM HIS, or Imaging storage, and Document management, or for cloud based monitoring of your clouds and on premise networks, find out how we can help with your move to the cloud.

Cloud – IaaS,PaaS,SaaS – what does this mean for Microsoft Dynamics?

September 20th, 2016

•<IaaS – Infrastructure as a service shares a huge gird of raw computing power and storage, including databases, rules engines, processing power and other infrastructure capabilities. A cloud provider makes this power accessible on an “as needed” basis. Its usually charged as a utility – you pay for what you use. for many comanies this is a way to outsource much of their day to day IT server management and strategy. The cloud provider takes care of hardware and database and operating systems upgrades, patches. log management, database tuning and expansion, and support, together with the associated overhead cost of energy, staff, server room – (no fit out, space to rent,n or A/c needed no separate maintenance contracts, no need for back up and anti virus software, etc)
PaaS - Platform as a service. This allows developers to access tools to create their own applications. The building blocks are made available by the software vendors to provide a jump start on development. PaaS is what your supply chain IT support or third party consultants can use to create customized workflows or tools specific to your needs. This may also for example be a temporary environment for testing
•SaaS – Software as a service. The business process application (“solution” in vendor-speak) layer in the cloud. Users can ‘rent’ or subscribe to applications on a per use basis to tackle specific business issues. SaaS is what you log on to use without any customization. Some vendors may also offer a rent to buy option.

Dynamics CRM is available on the cloud as part of the Office 365 suite ,and also on premise.

Ax can be run on premise, or the on premise licenses can be hosted on a cloud such as Azure i.e. IaaS charges are based on the server and database option selcted, the amount of storage space , the number of environments and a per month cost based on usage.
Both CRM and Ax are also available on a SPLA i.e rental licence basis/per user role either premise or on a hosted platform.
Third party hosting providers may offer a fixed priced SPLA and IaaS offering, for example Synergy Software Systems provides this option via our partner SaaS Plaza.

The current version of AX, released under the codename “AX 7″, or sometimes as Ax RTW provides both infrastructure and platform as a service, and you could also say software as a service for many businesses. It is currently only available as a cloud offering with a minimum of 20 Enterprise users or equivalent (this minimum number was reduced to 20 this month)

Note Historically AX has been a favored development platform and is often bought with the purpose of customizing the logic to match the exact needs of the business, instead of a company attempting to adjust their business processes.

The next step will be Dynamics 365 which will launch in the USA in November this year and we expect to see in the U.A.E. mid 2017. This will be an integrated solution with a common database, common data layer (out of the box master data integration), office productivity (Word Excel …) and communication tools (Skye Business,) collaboration tools )SharePoint, Yammer..) CRM, A Business logic layer which until recently was called ‘madeira’ this will extend to include sales, purchases finance … and will be an excellent solution of the SMB sector and medium size businesses. For the Enterprise customer Dynamics Ax 7 will also be an option finally set of tools will work across this solution stack Power Apps (think Xamarin, AsxStudio) Power BI, Microsoft Flow etc. And that’s not all there will also be an apps store and it will be easy for developers to push new apps into the store.

we will be covering lot more in this topic in coming months.

So the cloud is coming and offers more options than ever. Many companies will have a mix of on premise and cloud based solutions for the foreseebale future.Azure technology stack is due mid next year and will enable on premise Ax 7 as will as other hybrid cloud options There are many other azure solutions, e.g. for cloud based back up, or Cortana Analytics for Bi or the Azure IoT stack.

All the major IT vendors are now focused on the cloud. As the world becomes more mobile, and business models more disruptive expect its adoption to accelerate -we already mass use cloud systems One note, drop box, Facebook Linked-in Google apps, Hotmail, You tube, Vimeo,…. and many mobile apps already in our personal lives and the new ‘generation z’ employees now entering the job market expect the same power, agility and simplicity f se in their work tools.
So if the cloud, social and mobile are not part of your IT strategy then you have already ‘missed the bus’.

Windows Server 2016 – Synergy Software Systems, preview.

September 19th, 2016

Microsoft will launch Windows Server 2016 at the upcoming Ignite event on September 26-30. (The event is sold out, but sessions will be available online).
Security is the main focus areas for this release. Windows Server 2016 includes layers of security that help prevent attacks and detect suspicious activity with new features to control privileged access, protect virtual machines and harden the platform against emerging threats.

- Better detect threats using Microsoft Operations Management Suite and new Windows Server 2016 security events
- Use Microsoft Operations Management Suite with the new Windows Server 2016 security events
- Protect credentials from ‘Pass the Hash’ attacks using Credential Guard and Remote Credential Guard:
- Deploy Shielded Virtual Machines
- Device Guard, helps to control what runs on your server so that you can lock down highly sensitive servers and make sure your environment is running authorized code
- Manage privileged identity using ‘Just Enough’ administration.

Why the ‘cloud’? What is a hybrid cloud? Ask Synergy Software Systems, Dubai

September 19th, 2016

Buy or rent?. On premise or SaaS.? The answer to the questions, for enterprise computing, goes in cycles. When mainframe computing was at its peak, many organizations did not own such expensive machines outright and many companies rented processing time on these machines when needed, an arrangement known as time-sharing.
Moore’s law changed that. The era of mini — and then micro — computing made processing power so cheap that many organizations chose to own. As enterprise computing infrastructures became more complex, and the cost and difficulty of finding expert IT staff increases, so renting or subscription as it now called, has come back into vogue once more, in the form of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and cloud computing

The terms “cloud” and “data center” may sound like interchangeable technical jargon or trendy buzz words. A data centre is ideal for those companies that need a customized, dedicated system that gives them full control over their data and equipment. Typically those with many integrations, and uncertain internet connections, and an internal IT team will consider this route. Since only the one company will be using the infrastructure’s power, a data centre is suitable for organizations that run many different types of applications and complex workloads.

A data centre, however, has limited capacity — once you build a data centre, you will not be able to instantly change the amount of storage, or processing power to accommodate for example significant changes in workload and data processing. On the other hand, a cloud system is scalable to your business needs. It has potentially unlimited capacity, based on your vendor’s offerings and service plans. When you are looking at big data processing for predictive analytics, of have high day end or seasonal workloads, then the ability to ramp up and down is important to avoid oversizing. For project based companies both the number of user licences required, and the processing power may vary from year to year. For a rapidly expanding company hardware and server room expansion and management is a challenge on premise.

In a recent IDC (International Data Corporation) Multi-Client Study, CloudView 2016) respondents to the survey said that they expect to increase their cloud spending by approximately 44% over the next two years, and 70% of heavy cloud users are thinking in terms of a “hybrid” cloud strategy.

The idea of a hybrid cloud is to get the best of on-premise deployment by leveraging cloud services. Some work is done on premise, some on the cloud e.g. BI or payment gateway. A combination of both public and private platforms, a hybrid cloud is meant to provide organizations with greater IT and infrastructure flexibility, as well as visibility and control over their cloud usage. The result should be that a, hybrid cloud enables business agility, including streamlined operations and improved cost management.

Sounds good but what does it all mean and what are the challenges? First let’s review some of the basics concepts.

Public Cloud
A public cloud is one in which the services and infrastructure are provided off-site, over the Internet. Data centre hardware is not owned by clients and so you face no capital expenses. Instead, providers sell hosting as a ‘utility’ or rental service. Providers offer maintenance, disaster recovery and backup, however basic this may be. This is typically a multi-tenant software solution. Individual company data sits in separate blocks in a common clustered hardware. Data for individual organisations is kept separate and protected with robust security. Breaches of data with a reliable provider are rare. However, some security standards are not suitable for very sensitive data, rigorous audit trails or industry-specific compliance.

A Public cloud is y used to host web servers or develop applications. It is attractive to small and mid-sized enterprises (SMEs) when they are happy to use out-of-the-box menu specifications. Virtual machines are configured quickly – often within hours. Some SaaS (Software as a Service) services are placed within a public cloud when they have high levels of built-in security.

Private Cloud
A private cloud is one in which the services and infrastructure are maintained on a private network. It operates on an isolated network and is extremely secure. It keeps data behind a firewall and is built either on-premise or in a ring-fenced section of a data centre. A Private cloud is a single tenant solution, with the hardware accessed by one, or multiple businesses. It’s an ideal solution for enterprise organisations or specialist firms with high levels of security and compliance. Clients generally maintain their own cloud system and own their hardware.

Security and compliance on private cloud is configured to meet compliance standards. Private cloud systems cost much more than public cloud and re-configuring is more complex and lengthy.

Hybrid Cloud
Hybrid cloud uses public and private cloud for different elements of computing. Only some elements will require high security and customisation but others will not. Hybrid cloud offers private cloud for sensitive data but keeps non-sensitive, generic data (e.g. customer literature) in a cheaper public cloud environment. Hybrid cloud is usually hosted by different cloud providers – one for public and one for private. Hybrid cloud benefits companies who experience seasonal spikes so extra computing power is deployed quickly and cheaply in public cloud while keeping sensitive information in its private cloud.

A Hybrid cloud is the biggest growth area in cloud computing for enterprise businesses. As servers become ‘smarter’, hybrid cloud is estimated to represent 75% of future enterprise cloud computing.

A Hybrid cloud does not mean failover to onsite, for which a failover solution or a clustered install is needed and the failover can be to any other site whether local, remote or on cloud. Nor does hybrid mean offline working on premise option.

IBM’s Institute for Business Value (IBV) polled more than 1,000 C-level executives to reveal that 78% of respondents deploy a cloud initiative that is fully integrated or coordinated — an increase from 34% in 2012. Enterprises may be embracing the cloud, but they are not yet fully invested in a cloud-only strategy. Across 18 industries, 45% of workloads are expected to remain on-premise in the near future.

A hybrid cloud deployment is a collaboration of public cloud, private cloud and traditional IT platforms that allow enterprises to customize a cloud solution that meets the particular needs of their company. The top motivating factors for adopting hybrid cloud solutions, according to the IBM study, include lowering the total cost of ownership, facilitating innovation, improving efficiency and meeting customer expectations.

Among the companies that embrace cloud computing, 76% responded that they were able to expand into new industries, 71% created new revenue sources and 69% supported new business models.

Security remains a concern, however, and has become a hurdle for companies and a deterrent from fully investing in the cloud. Nearly half of respondents expressed that security and compliance risks are a challenge in IBM’s study, while 41% of respondents expressed that the cost of the cloud was a deterrent and 38% feared a disruption to company operations by introducing a new cloud solution.

When survey respondents are segmented by performance, IBM concludes that twice as many high performers have fully integrated their cloud initiatives compared to low performers.

Nati Shalom, recently discussed in his post Achieving Hybrid Cloud Without Compromising On The Least Common Denominator, a survey that demonstrates that enterprises these days are often leveraging as many as six clouds simultaneously, and the list just keeps on growing with new technologies sprouting up by the minute. IT markets are not just moving to the cloud — they are moving to ‘clouds’,” said Ed Anderson, research vice president and Sid Nag, research director at Gartner in their report: “Market Trends: Cloud Adoption Trends Favor Public Cloud With a Hybrid Twist,” published August 4, 2016. “Evidence is mounting that as organizations mature in their usage of cloud services they are opting to use multiple cloud services, bound together through hybrid implementations.”

That’s why solutions like the Azure Stack, that are also geared towards multi-cloud scenerios in the context of app migration to the cloud from traditional data centers, especially while taking all of the enterprise-grade considerations involved in such a transition into account, are critical.

Many solutions don’t provide the extensibility and interoperability that enterprises need for future-proofing, application deployment portability among other popular use cases across clouds. Hybrid cloud itself has also has proven that it isn’t immune to future proofing with disruptive technologies arising every day

Azure users now have a set of building blocks for managing the entire application stack and its lifecycle, across clouds, stacks and technologies. And with Microsoft now having the most open source developers on GitHub, yup – ahead of Facebook, Angular, and even Docker – Azure is uniquely positioned to achieve this level of openness and interoperability.
This will also ultimately provide a higher degree of flexibility that allows users to define their own level of abstraction per use case or application. In this manner, cloud portability is achievable without the need to change the underlying code, enabling true hybrid cloud.

Fifty-five percent of CIOs surveyed by Gartner indicated that by 2020 they will structure more than half of their applications as SaaS or manage them in a public cloud infrastructure. To manage and govern public, private and hybrid cloud services requires a focus on cloud management. This, in turn, requires new roles, processes and technologies.

Key Employee roles for the Hybrid cloud
Database professionals to filter out business critical data from the data overload we have today. A Big Data Foundationprofessional will be familiar with – Hadoop and MongoDB.
Software developers no longer just push code, they are pivotal to the user experience and thus the user adoption of cloud solutions.
Information security managers must appreciate the risks involved with business data and discuss this across the organization (at all levels) to align key stakeholders in positions to invest in and implement security measures.
Enterprise architects. Today solution architects, need the skills to adapt to cloud computing and hybrid cloud environments. Companies want to avoid working with ad hoc systems implementations, and architects who understand cloud computing and all its service models are in high demand. to design a scalable and sustainable cloud infrastructure which optimizes the use of private and public cloud.
Business managers working in the cloud need to understand how the technical infrastructure supports the business strategy get the benefits of cloud computing to drive their objectives.

Microsoft’s Hybrid cloud blog: https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/hybridcloudbp/2016/09/

If you are considering how the cloud can benefit your business then contact us to explore the many options.

Find out out about the new integrated Dynamics 365 offerings. e.g.
Ask about specific vertical solutions like Synergy MMS for hotel facility management, or 7 Medical HIS and imaging solutions
Host your applications in a secure managed cloud – with both fixed price or based on use billing.
Monitor your on site global networks with cloud based monitoring systems.
Use Cortana Analytics and Power BI to turn data into information.
Back up to the cloud.
Skype Business
and much, much more.

Malware attacks on leading hotel pos machines in U.A.E. – for a secure solution ask us about TCPOS

August 16th, 2016

“We believe the malware could have affected payment card data – including name, payment card account number, card expiration date and verification code – of customers who used a payment card at point-of-sale terminals at the affected properties,” the hotel group said.

The reality is that there many systems in the market with an obsolete credit card management system that although it is PCI/DSS compliant it is not safe at all and can be attacked by professional hackers.

For TCPOS this is not a risk because it does not read/save/process/analyse or see any credit card, and leaves this task to third party providers who are specialized in this field.

TCPOS is a modern dot net based solution for both Retail and F@B outlets. It is deployed globally with many leading retail and F@B outlets and has specialist offerings for example for Quick Service restaurants, or Drive-though kiosks, Multi currency and multi language as you would expect and works on almost any platform.

For more information contact us on 009714336589
We will feature TCPOS more articles in the near future, and will review the changing nature of retail and F@B and how that is addressed by new technologies.

Dynamics 365 and Linked in – How does this affect Dubai and the U.A.E.?

August 10th, 2016

The code word Madeira has now transformed into Microsoft Dynamics 365

This is Microsoft’s new approach to end-to-end intelligent business applications in the cloud. Dynamics 365 unifies ERP and CRM into one cloud service with new, purpose-built apps to manage all your core business functions: Sales, Customer Service, Finance, Field Service, Operations, Marketing and Project Service Automation. At the Enterprise level Dynamics Ax will also be an option.

Dynamics 365 is a cloud-only solution built on the Microsoft Azure stack. What excited the partners at the recent WPC conference that Synergy Software Systems’ directors attended in July, was the announcement of an underlying common data model, with deep integrations, coupled with the equally new Microsoft Flow solution and the emergence of Xamarin as Power Apps. So we will see Office 365 seamlessly connect business apps with collaboration and productivity tools like email, spreadsheets and word processing documents, Skype Business. Power BI and a flexible, extensible platform,

Dynamics 365 looks to be a game changer that will enables companies to stay nimble, adapt and innovate in real time. It will launch in the USA probably in November this year with just the Finance functional piece. Other elements will release through next year, but realistically we do not foresee it reaching the UAE as a fully featured solution much before 2018.

The life of the on-premise Dynamics Ax 2012 R3 versions is to be extended by at least another 3 years meanwhile.

Microsoft has steadily been increasing tis presence in social media, with several acquisitions embedded in Dynamics CRM. There was positive endorsement for Microsoft’s cloud and social strategy by the announcement that Facebook has adopted Office 365 ( which ahs now reached 75 million user seats).

The other recent big news of course was their acquisition of Linked-in. There are a number of ways that Microsoft plans to take advantage of its $26.2 billion LinkedIn acquisition, ranging from data-gathering to getting a foothold in social to plans for re-imagining the recruitment and talent management businesses and more.

A more straightforward integration opportunities between the two companies is LinkedIn’s integration with Microsoft Office. Microsoft explained how it could use LinkedIn’s data in familiar programs, like Outlook, Skype, or Office applications like Word, Excel and PowerPoint, for example. Microsoft says that today, there’s not a single source for data on individual professionals — it’s scattered around, and is often out-of-date. (And I might add often widely inaccurate or hyped)
By integrating professional profile data into Office 365, email and other communication apps, users may be more inclined to keep that information up-to-date. The data will maybe more visible to friends, colleagues and employers. This of course may be a double edged sword if that that data more easily accessible to anyone who wanted to know more about a professional’s background or experience.

LinkedIn has a sizable network of over 433 million users, yet Office’s footprint is much bigger. Microsoft says there are more than 1.2 billion Office users today. LinkedIn becoming a part of Office would massively increase its data’s visibility.
LinkedIn itself in 2012, bought the Gmail plugin Rapportive for $15 million, which allowed Gmail users to access a sidebar that would show the profile and other social networking updates. Maybe unfortunately, the it took out functionality that made the service popular in the first place, including its integrations with other social networks.Installing an extension into your web browser that changes what your Gmail inbox looks like and what information it displays when loaded in a tab. didn’t address the fact that many users today get their email by way of mobile phones, not just desktop web interfaces.

It makes absolute sense for Microsoft to invest in the messaging capability within LinkedIn, to create an integrated experience between Outlook, Skype and LinkedIn. Traditional email is starting to die off. Instead, communication is shorter and the frequency go3w up, leaning more towards an instant messaging type mechanicism e.g. What’s App, Snap Chat, Twitter.

So, what changes LinkedIn becoming a part of Microsoft,. Well that profile data can become natively integrated into Microsoft’s Office products and other communications apps which could then share their data back with LinkedIn. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella explained in an email to employees, that by integrating LinkedIn’s network in Office 365 and Dynamics, the company will be able to enable new experiences like “a LinkedIn newsfeed that serves up articles based on the project you are working on and Office suggesting an expert to connect with via LinkedIn to help with a task you’re trying to complete.”

In other words, LinkedIn’s newsfeed, can become highly personalized and might e.g. know what you’re currently working on, what meetings you have planned and what projects are underway. And as you head into those meetings, Microsoft’s digital assistant Cortana will then be able to quickly give you background on who you’re about to sit down with, and have have their LinkedIn resumes on file. This, Nadella says, will increase user engagement, the company’s subscription business, and opens the door for targeted advertising.

It sounds both clever and creepy to think about your work projects and meetings being the subject of for ad targeting in the future. We can hope for an opt-out mechanisms that respect user and data privacy.

Knowing how employees spend their time and who they work with, could also help to inform LinkedIn’s recruiting products.

Microsoft says that LinkedIn Learning (based on LinkedIn’s acquisition of Lynda.com last year for $1.5 billion), will also be integrated into Office so users canlearn how to perform advanced tasks and sign up for courses without having to leave Office.

The Dynamics family has never really figured big at Microsoft -Bng for example added $5bn to the bottom line last year. Azure is the new engine of growth. Linked in may prove to be the strategic acquisition that brings Dynamics to the fore.

How much will Lined in’s profiling of a customer’s management team assist a sale in Dynamics CRM? LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator has the capability to create quality leads and present updated and accurate information to sales reps. With the acquisition, it is probable that Sales Navigator will directly integrate with Dynamics CRM and may eventually be built on Dynamics CRM. What if the records of contacts, accounts and leads in your Dynamics CRM are updated as the related profiles of those people and companies are changed? Think of all the time sales reps and administrators would save inputting and updating records or the wasted hours saved by not using wrong contact data. When a client got a new phone number, – it’s already reflected in the Dynamics CRM contact record. What if you could see the contact’s, or lead’s, recent activity on LinkedIn. What posts has he liked or shared? Has he published any LinkedIn pulse articles lately?

HR professionals may find a bigger role on the Dynamics 365 platform as the powerful recruiting tool of LinkedIn is integrated into the ERP solution. Both, human resources professionals and the projects and field service industries may benefit from LinkedIn’s to help them source and to manage temporary workers.

A recent report by Cisco said that by 2019, video will account for 80 percent of global internet traffic and this is where Microsoft’s 2011 acquisition of Skype may come to the fore. Experts predic that video is the future of recruitment, and with Whatsapp currently thought to be testing video messaging, video communication will become commonplace, even in the workplace. Hands on in the product interviews with WebEx, Go to Meeting, Team viewer etc and use webcams, or with videoconferencing are already well established, Will video meanl the end of face-to-face interviews>. Should you send a video message as your cover letter? It might differentiate you today, but if you’re not doing that in 24 months, then you’ may be left out.

Given the tie ups between Infor, Salesforce and SAGE on AWS – maybe Microsoft realises it needs to compete with the full suite of business apps to drive forward its cloud future.

Rather than pay the 35% corporate tax rate to repatriate offshore capital for the purchase, which would have amounted to approximately $9 billion, Microsoft fund4e the purchase using debt. In addition to the tax savings, Microsoft’s AAA credit rating no doubt facilitatee a low-interest loan %, which can be written off to further reduce the cost of funds. The LinkedIn acquisition is a marked departure from the strategy of ex-CEO Steve Ballmer, which deployed a series of Windows-only products in an attempt to build a moat around the f Windows franchise.

The LinkedIn purchase signals Microsoft’s intention to seize opportunities in areas with high growth potential. The deal is likely to drive significant benefits and an increasing revenue stream to the Azure cloud platform, which saw a decline in sales in Q1 2016.

The immediate significant benefit opportunity for Microsoft’s cloud initiatives is to migrate of LinkedIn’s operations, which are hosted as a private cloud across several leased data centers, to the Azure cloud service. LinkedIn need to expand its data center utilization, and Azure’s excess capacity provides a solution at a lower overall cost.

Integrating each company’s unique social graphing metrics of how users use the systems will benefit Azure , because the graphs have very little overlap. Microsoft graphs are generally Office-centric, including: calendar usage, email, contacts and documents. LinkedIn’s graphs, on the other hand, track communications, professional relationships, learning and recruiting. The combination of graphs provides the opportunity for Microsoft to present customized cloud-based productivity solutions based on a holistic view of users’ data.

In a world where the millenials are rapidly being chased by ‘generation z’ – social and media are the norm – maybe Microsoft really is ‘cool again. ‘ In this region with a high percentage of the population aged under 25, and one of the highest uses of mobile phones, a ‘Smart government’ focus, with apps for everything we are lily to see the results of such speculation very soon.

Microsoft wins Data privacy battle

July 23rd, 2016

Tech giant Microsoft scored a major legal victory yesterday with a unanimous decision by an appeals court that ruled warrants issued by U.S. authorities do not extend to data stored in other countries. The ruling by the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was applauded by the vast majority of the tech industry, which had strongly supported Microsoft’s case against the government.

“The decision is important for three reasons: it ensures that people’s privacy rights are protected by the laws of their own countries; it helps ensure that the legal protections of the physical world apply in the digital domain; and it paves the way for better solutions to address both privacy and law enforcement needs,”
Microsoft president and chief legal officer Brad Smith said in a statement about the decision.

Territorial Limitations

The case centered around a previous decision by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, which had ruled against Microsoft’s efforts to quash a warrant issued under the Stored Communications Act (SCA). The SCA is part of the broader Electronic Communications Privacy Act passed in 1986 designed to protect the privacy of users interacting with an electronic communications service provider.

The warrant directed Microsoft to seize and produce the contents of an email account that it maintained for a customer who used the company’s electronic communications services. The government stated that it believed the emails contained information about narcotics trafficking.

But the information the government requested was stored on servers in Ireland, and Microsoft refused to transfer the data to the U.S. In explaining its decision in favor of the company, the appeals court explained that “warrants traditionally carry territorial limitations: United States law enforcement officers may be directed by a court-issued warrant to seize items at locations in the United States and in United States-controlled areas . . . but their authority generally does not extend further.”

A Ruling for Privacy

The decision was hailed by technology companies, business groups, and privacy advocates. “This ruling is a major affirmation that the rights we enjoy in the physical world continue to apply in the digital world,” said Greg Nojeim, director of the Freedom, Security and Technology Project for the Center for Democracy and Technology. “By declaring that a U.S. warrant cannot reach communications content stored abroad, the court ruled strongly in favor of privacy and national rule of law.”

Amicus briefs supporting the company had been signed by the Chamber of Commerce, AT&T, Verizon, Apple, Cisco, and the National Association of Manufacturers. The Republic of Ireland also supported Microsoft’s case, arguing that the warrant represented an assault on the nation’s sovereignty.

While the decision is certainly a win for Microsoft, the government may yet appeal. The case could eventually end up before the U.S. Supreme Court. The U.S. is also likely to push for new laws requiring companies to store customer data within the U.S. if it decides it can’t legally compel organizations to surrender data stored overseas.

Ransomware on the increase

July 21st, 2016

We have helped several companies recover from ransomware attacks this year.

The business segment is becoming an increasingly attractive target for cipher-malware developers, Kaspersky Lab says in a new study. According to the report based on Kaspersky Security Network (KSN) data, the number of attacks against the corporate sector 2015-2016, compared with 2014-2015 has grown six fold (from 27,000 to 158,000). Thus, ransomware tried to encrypt the data of every tenth B2B user.

Cyber-criminals using ransomware now attack businesses frequently, particularly small and medium-sized companies. This trend is confirmed by the IT Security Risks 2016 study from Kaspersky Lab and B2B International, during which 42% of respondents from small and medium-sized businesses agreed that cryptomalware was one of the most serious threats they faced last year.

For s companies, any data unavailability – however brief – can lead to significant losses, or bring their entire operations to a halt. If a company has not been taking due measures to ensure the safety of its important information, purchasing the decryption key from cyber-criminals can be the only way to recover data.

However, this does not guarantee complete data recovery. The best way to protect your company from malware is to prevent the attack in the first place.

Kaspersky Lab experts recommend several simple safety rules:
-Make regular backup copies of all important files. Companies should have two backups: one in the cloud (for example Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.), and another on an additional server or on removable media if the data volume is not too big.

Synergy’s guide is the 3-2-1 rule
– 3 copies
- on at least 2 media
- 1 of which is held remotely i.e. offsite

1. Compromised servers selling for $6 in IT underground market
2. Kaspersky: 35% of people in UAE are likely to accidentally share confidential data
3. USB charging creates mobile security risk, says Kaspersky

Trust well-known and respectful service providers who invest into security. Usually you can find security recommendations on their web-sites, they publish 3rd part security audits on cloud infrastructure. Don’t assume cloud provider can’t have security, availability or data leakage problems. Raise a question what do you do if security provider losses your data. There should be transparent data backup and restore processes together with data protection and access control.

Avoid using only free security and anti-malware software: small businesses expect the basic security tools offered within free solutions to be sufficient. Free tools do provide basic protection, but they fail to provide multi-layered security support. Instead, take a look at dedicated solutions: they do not require a large financial outlay, but deliver a higher level of protection. Some ‘free tools’ may be provided by the hackers.

Regularly update your OS, browser, antivirus, and other applications. Criminals use vulnerabilities in most popular software to infect user’s devices.

Prevent IT emergencies – configure security solution for your company. Small businesses usually don’t have an IT department or full-time dedicated administrator, they simply rely on the techiest person in the office to take care of the computers, in addition to his regular duties. Don’t wait until something breaks, use IT support from an IT service provider to review your software and security configuration in advance.

Crypto-malware is becoming more and more serious threat, not only an organization losses money for ransoms but business can be paralyzed during files recovery. There is wide attack vector including web, mail, software exploits, USB devices, and others. To avoid infection, you personnel should explain where attacks come from and that employees should not open email attachments, visit untrusted web resources or plug USB devices into unprotected computers. Anti-malware solution is an essential measure to avoid majority security incidents”, noted Konstantin Voronkov, Head of Endpoint Product Management Kaspersky Lab.

Qatar to implement data privacy law -watch out for the fines

July 20th, 2016

Qatar’s Advisory (Shura) Council unanimously approved the draft of a landmark new data privacy law, requiring companies to increase their level of data security and protection against cyber threats. The law was originally drafted in 2011, but has recently gained importance in the wake of the alleged cyber attack on Qatar National Bank. During the attack, hackers gained access to the bank’s customer records and leaked them online in a massive 1.4 GB file. The file contained sensitive information on more than 1,200 individuals, including Al Jazeera journalists and members of Qatar’s ruling Al Thani family.

Creating a regulatory framework for cyber security has become an urgent priority to prevent similar attacks from occurring in the future. In the near future, these laws will place the burden and responsibility of protecting sensitive information on the leadership of every organisation in the country. Organisations that fail to comply with the new laws will face heavy fines of up to 1.37 million USD.

Qatar is not the first country in the GCC to implement such laws. Oman, for example, has been one of the most proactive countries in the GCC in terms of adopting legislation to help promote cyber security and protect the country’s virtual borders. Under the new law, companies are obliged to protect sensitive information from being leaked or hacked. Failure to do so could result in hefty fines (5 million QAR).

According to the Qatari Ministry for Transport and Communication, the new law seeks to create “established standards of data protection as determined by the state”. The third chapter of the law outlines basic data protection responsibilities will become mandatory for all organisations in the country. These responsibilities include properly training data handlers to detect and to mitigate cyber security threats, by using “the necessary precautions to prevent personal data against loss, damage or disclosure”.

Organisations will be required to ensure that their networks and systems are adequately protected. They will be expected to rely on effective, up-to-date cyber security measures, and test these measures on a regular basis. In Qatar CEOs may need to urgently look into authorising budgets for cyber security – to pay for technology rather than to pay fines.

Security ramblings

July 18th, 2016

I ran across a piece last week that noted 10mm Android phones have malware that has rooted their operating system. For the most part this malware is designed to show ads and install apps. Mobile devices are becoming ubiquitous, for everyone. It’s not just technical people that now have access to internal systems from mobile systems as everyone from low level marketing people to high level executives is becoming comfortable with accessing information regularly, from anywhere, at any time. This means that our security is inherently weaker because we allow access and with BYOD spreading this problem looks to get worse before it gets better..

One of the constant challenges with the spread of data breaches is establishing what is indeed data hacked out of an organisation versus data from another source. Many recent cases where representations of a data breach were made turned out subsequently to be wrong. For example, the recent case where it was claimed that 272 million accounts had been stolen from Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail and Mail.ru. The mail providers subsequently confirmed that this was not the case. Same again for recent claims that there were 32 million Twitter accounts on the loose. Twitter quickly debunked this and speculation that they were obtained via malware has never been substantiated.

The basics of security are still woefully weak. Many sites only allow you to create limited length passwords or to enter weak passwords such as pwrod123, or ******, etc. This implies they’re trying to fit the password into that varchar(10) column in the database thus implying no cryptographic storage, and it fundamentally weakens the choice of passwords available to the user. E.g. see the Etihad site, or KLM flying blue. Other airlines are equally lackadaisical and there many other security flaws easy to find. PayPal will also truncate long passwords but without telling you – so you might find yourself locked out because your entered password is too long

A recent data back up mantra I heard that is worth repeating is the 3-2-1 approach:
3 copies of data
on at least two media
one copy held remotely
.

Microsoft warns of new self propagating ransomware – Ransom:Win32/ZCryptor.A

May 31st, 2016

The new ransomware, which Microsoft has dubbed Ransom:Win32/ZCryptor.A, is distributed through spam emails. It can also infect a machine running Windows through a malware installer or fake installers like a Flash player setup file.
The ransomware would run at boot and drop :
• a file autorun.inf in removable drives,
• a zycrypt.lnk in the start-up folder,
• and a copy of itself as {Drive}:\system.exe and %APPDATA%\zcrypt.exe.
It will then change the file attributes to hide itself from the user in file explorer.
The Microsoft advisory said a file headlined “All your personal files are encrypted” would be displayed to the user and the ransomware would encrypt numerous files, changing their extensions to .zcrypt in the process. A total of 88 file-types would be encrypted and Microsoft said it was important to enable file history, or system protection so that restoring personal files from a backup was possible in some cases. However, it appears that Microsoft was also not fully aware of the actions of the ransomware because it offered the following advice: “Some ransomware will also encrypt or delete the backup versions and will not allow you to do the actions described before. If this is the case, you need to rely on backups in external drives (not affected by the ransomware) or OneDrive.”

Windows users take care.

Dynamics AX 2012 R3, CU11 coming soon to Dubai ask Synergy Software Systems

May 23rd, 2016

The latest update to Dynamics AX 2012 R3, CU11, will be available in July 2016.

The CU11 update will include will include more than 50 new features and design changes covering 4 major areas: Retail, Supply Chain Management, Warehouse Management, and Regulatory updates.

Specifically, these include,
• Retail- Design changes and new features including updates to POS and MPOS.
• Supply Chain Management- Enhancements to master planning.
• Warehouse Management- Enhancements that cover the warehouse mobile device portal and more efficient picking and shipment operations.
• Regulatory updates – To provide compliance with local and regional legislation.

SQL Server 2014 RTM cu13 released

April 23rd, 2016

The 13th cumulative update release for SQL Server 2014 RTM is now available for download at the Microsoft Support site.

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3144517

Extended support for SQL Server 2005 ended on April 12, 2016

April 21st, 2016

Extended support for SQL Server 2005 ended on April 12, 2016
customers still running SQL Server 2005 after April 12, 2016, will no longer receive security updates and technical support. We recommend upgrading to SQL Server 2014 and Azure SQL Database to achieve breakthrough performance, maintain security and compliance, and optimize your data platform infrastructure.