Archive for the ‘Microsoft’ category

Azure Misconfiguration Exposes 250 Million Microsoft Customer Accounts

January 24th, 2020

Microsoft warned its users this week that their customer support case information might have been exposed at the end of 2019 due to security misconfigurations in an Azure-hosted database. According to Microsoft’s investigation, customer data was left unprotected from Dec. 5, 2019 through Dec. 31, 2019.

Most of the personally identifiable information in these customer support records was “redacted” or obscured by “automated tools.”

However, some customer information, if it was slightly off-format, may then have been exposed. Microsoft’s example of such exposed data is a URL that contained extra spaces. The records contained logs of conversations between Microsoft support agents and customers from all over the world, spanning a 14-year period from 2005 to December 2019. All of the data was left accessible to anyone with a web browser, with no password or other authentication needed.

Microsoft took swift action to secure it. ‘I immediately reported this to Microsoft and within 24 hours all servers were secured,” said Bob Diachenko who led the Comparitech security research team that discovered the issue. “< em>I applaud the MS support team for responsiveness and quick turnaround on this despite New Year’s Eve.”

Comparitech also gave this good advice:
the dangers of this exposure should not be underestimated. The data could be valuable to tech support scammers, in particular.

Tech support scams entail a scammer contacting users and pretending to be a Microsoft support representative. These types of scams are quite prevalent, and even when scammers don’t have any personal information about their targets, they often impersonate Microsoft staff. Microsoft Windows is, after all, the most popular operating system in the world.

With detailed logs and case information in hand, scammers stand a better chance of succeeding against their targets. If scammers obtained the data before it was secured, they could exploit it by impersonating a real Microsoft employee and referring to a real case number. From there, they could phish for sensitive information or hijack user devices.

Microsoft customers and Windows users should be on the lookout for such scams via phone and email. Remember that Microsoft never proactively reaches out to users to solve their tech problems—users must approach Microsoft for help first. Microsoft employees will not ask for your password or request that you install remote desktop applications like TeamViewer. These are common tactics among tech scammers.

This follows many high profile beaches e.g.:
•267 million Facebook user IDs and phone numbers exposed online
•2.7 billion exposed email addresses from mostly Chinese domains, 1 million of which included passwords
•Detailed personal records of 188 million people found exposed on the web
•7 million student records exposed by K12.com
•5 million personal records belonging to MedicareSupplement.com exposed to public
•2.8 million CenturyLink customer records exposed
•700k Choice Hotels customer records leaked

If you need to improve your system security call Synergy Software Systems on 0097143365589 to learn more of our solutions.

End of support deadlines -Microsoft

January 15th, 2020

Businesses running Microsoft’s business software are facing all sorts of end-of-support deadlines at the start of 2020.

Major premises-installed business products are falling out of “extended support” this year, which means they’ll no longer get patches, including security updates, from Microsoft. It’s considered potentially risky to continue to use such “unsupported software” after their end-of-support milestones.

IT pros may have already reacted to address many of these milestones, but some workloads remain as problems to address.
Crashing deadlines are very near this month for organizations using Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008, but other important milestones loom, as well.
Windows 7 Client and Server Deadlines – Jan. 14, 2020 end-of-support date for Windows 7. That support deadline also applies to Windows Server 2008/R2, Dynamics CRM 2015, Dynamics GP 2015 R2, Dynamics NAV 2015,Dynamics SL 2015.
Later this year Office 2016 , and Outlook 2016 versions will also go out of support.

Teams is coming to Office 365 ProPlus and 365 Business……..

January 11th, 2020

Microsoft will turn on Microsoft Teams for Office 365 ProPlus or Office 365 Business tenancies that follow the semiannual channel update model starting on Jan. 14, 2020. unless it’s blocked beforehand by IT pros. The “semiannual channel” refers to Microsoft biannual update model, where feature updates typically arrive in the spring and fall. Teams will get delivered to organizations using version 1908 or later of Office 365 ProPlus, Microsoft explained, so the version of the product matters.The Teams update process is different from the update process of other Office apps such as Excel or Word.

Organizations using Office 365 ProPlus or Office 365 Business also have an option to follow a monthly feature update model. Those subscribers already may have received Teams months ago, as Microsoft had kicked off Teams for subscribers using version 1906 of those productivity-suite products back on July 9.
Microsoft’s original plans to deliver Teams to Office 365 ProPlus and Office 365 Business subscribers were described back in June. At that time, Microsoft had explained that it was delivering Teams to Office 365 Business users even though they don’t have the use rights for Teams. The version of Teams that Office 365 Business users get is a free one-year trial version, which is called the “Microsoft Teams Commercial Cloud Trial.” Teams gets delivered to Office 365 Business users even if they did not request getting the trial.To block the arrival of Teams for these Office 365 products requires Group Policy settings or the Office Deployment Tool.

After Teams arrives, it’ll start getting feature and quality updates, which will arrive “approximately every two weeks,”

Microsoft yesterday announced plans to establish a new cloud datacenter region in Qatar

December 15th, 2019

Microsoftannounced plans to establish a new cloud datacenter region in Qatar to deliver its intelligent, trusted cloud services and expand the Microsoft global cloud infrastructure to 55 cloud regions in 20 countries. The new region is anticipated to be available starting with Microsoft Azure in 2021, and Office 365, Dynamics 365 and Power Platform to follow.

The announcement was made by HE Minister of Transport and Communications Jassim Saif Ahmed Al-Sulaiti and EVP and President, Microsoft Global Sales, Marketing and Operations, Microsoft Corp., Jean-Philippe Courtois. HE the Minister said in his opening remarks, “This collaboration with Microsoft comes as part of accelerating the efforts led by the Government of Qatar to implement the country’s digital transformation agenda and build a knowledge-based economy as laid down in the Qatar National Vision 2030.”

Government entities, organizations, public and private enterprises and developers will have access to scalable, highly available, and resilient cloud services to accelerate their digital transformation journeys – better engage customers, empower employees, optimize operations, and transform products and services – from the new cloud region in Qatar. The new cloud region is anticipated to play a pivotal role in bridging the skills gap in Qatar. Microsoft is also collaborating with the Qatar Digital Government to launch a nationwide upskilling program that will train government employees enhancing their technical acumen in cloud technologies.

The new cloud region will adhere to Microsoft’s trusted cloud principles and become part of one of the largest cloud infrastructures in the world, already serving more than a billion customers and 20 million businesses. Microsoft’s cloud services are compliant with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and are certified for a large portfolio of international security and privacy standards, some of which form the basis of Qatar government policies, including the Ministry of Transport and Communications’ National Information Assurance Policy and the Cloud Security and Information Privacy Protection regulations.

The new Microsoft region in Qatar will offer Microsoft’s scalable, trusted and reliable cloud services combined with in-country customer data residency. Microsoft will help empower customers through its deep expertise in protecting customer data to meet extensive security and privacy requirements as well as the broadest set of compliance certifications and attestations in the industry.

This news follows the recent announcement at QITCOM 2019, where MOTC announced its choice of Azure as its preferred cloud platform – a collaboration the two sides see as an opportunity to encourage government entities and institutions in Qatar to embark on or continue their digital transformation journey.
Microsoft Azure is an ever-expanding set of cloud services that offers computing, networking, databases, analytics, and Internet of Things (IoT) services. Office 365 enables cloud-based productivity with email, collaboration, conferencing, enterprise social networking and business intelligence. Dynamics 365 and Power Platform is the next generation of intelligent business applications that enable organizations to grow, evolve and transform to meet the needs of customers and capture new opportunities.

Microsoft has accelerated the pace of global expansion with the opening of cloud regions in five new markets in 2019, including being the first global cloud provider to deliver services from datacenter regions located in Africa.

What will happen to your Windows 7 PCs on 15 January 2020?

December 12th, 2019

Microsoft pushed a full-screen warning to Windows 7 users who are still running the OS after January 14. . After14 January 2020, they’ll get no more security updates to the operating system for free. Even though users will be able to continue to run Windows 7 after that date, they’ll be more susceptible to potential security problems. Microsoft delivered this new, nag notification, to Windows 7 users by making it part of a patch rollup. The coming notification was embedded in monthly rollup KB4530734, which Microsoft made available to Windows 7 SP1 users on December 10 as part of its Patch Tuesday set of updates.

Those who see the full-screen warning will have three options: Remind me later; Learn more; or Don’t remind me again. If users don’t click on the “Don’t remind me again” button and just dismiss the screen, they will continue to get nag warnings.

Dynamics HR, and Talent, recent updates- December 2019

December 7th, 2019

Microsoft will continue investing in operational HR solutions with the erp version with a Dynamics 365 Human Resources to be released early next year on February 3, 2020.

This builds on the current core HR capabilities that are in Dynamics 365 Talent today
. It’s a branding and marketing change for core HR capabilities.
Microsoft will also be incorporating the ‘Ax’ partner adds on from Dynamics partners Four Vision, and Elevate, to further enhance the offering within leave and absence, time and attendance, and benefits administration. These new capabilities will begin rolling out within Dynamics 365 Human Resources in early 2020.

Expected updated licensing.

Microsoft recently announced, via a blog post. the decision to retire the Dynamics 365 Talent: Attract and Dynamics 365 Talent: Onboard apps on February 1, 2022, They will transition Attract and Onboard customers to a solution of their choice. This does not affect those who only use the core Talent module.

To allow time to opt-in, Dynamics 365 customers that are entitled to but are not currently using Attract or Onboard will have until February 3, 2020 to notify Microsoft that they intend to implement Attract and/or Onboard. You can opt- at any point between December 6, 2019 and February 1, 2020. If you are not currently using Attract and/or Onboard and want to opt-in to ensure service availability until February 1, 2022, submit a support ticket before 1 Feb 2020.

Meanwhile Synergy Software Systems continues to implement and support its own GCC localised HR and Payroll module built inside both Dynamics Ax 2012 and Dynamics 365 , and proven with around 50 company implementations.

Power BI update -Gateway recovery key, move to .Net framework 4 – Ask Synergy Software Systems, Dubai’s Power App specialist.

December 5th, 2019

The November update for the On-premises data gateway (version 3000.14.39) is released.

Change Gateway Recovery Key
The recovery key provided by gateway admins during installation of on-premises data gateways in a standard mode could not be changed in the past. This key is used to create the symmetric key which in turn is used for encrypting credentials in data sources/connections using that gateway. With the November release of Data Gateways, you will now be able to rotate this key. More information about recovery keys, detailed description on how to perform this change and associated limitations can be found in the data gateway docs.

November version of the mashup engine
This month’s Gateway update also includes an updated version of the Mashup Engine. This will ensure that the reports that you publish to the Power BI Service and refresh via the Gateway will go through the same query execution logic/runtime as in the latest Power BI Desktop version.

Please note that this upcoming change may impact you:
PB1 will be using .NET 4.8 framework for gateways February 2020 version or higher hence some of the operating systems it used to support may no longer be supported. i.e. for many this change will also force a Windows update.

All .NET Framework versions since .NET Framework 4 are in-place updates, so only a single 4.x version can be present on a system.
In addition, particular versions of the .NET Framework are pre-installed on some versions of the Windows operating system. This means that:
• If there’s a later 4.x version installed on the machine already, then you can’t install a previous 4.x version.
• If the OS comes pre-installed with a particular .NET Framework version, then you can’t install a previous 4.x version on the same machine.
• If you install a later version, you don’t have to first uninstall the previous version.
• The .NET Framework requires administrator privileges for installation.

Microsoft to disable Office 365′s Delve Blogs from December 2019??.

December 4th, 2019

Delve is an Office 365 capability associated with the Office Graph that’s designed to surface relevant information for end users to access Delve from the Office 365 App Launcher.The Delve Blogs feature lets Office 365 users create personal blogs.

Microsoft described its impending end in a Nov. 22 Microsoft Premier Support response letter that was published by a customer. Instead of offering a fix, Microsoft described Delve Blogs’ coming shut-off. A portion of Microsoft’s response letter, which mentioned the blog feature is to be deleted on April 17, 2020, with disablement happening earlier:

Delve Blogs to be Retired
Delve blogs are being retired. Delve blogs will no longer be available for creation, and existing blogs will eventually be removed.
Delve Blog retirement schedule:
• Beginning December 18th, 2019, tenants will not have the ability to create new Delve blogs.
• Beginning January 18th, 2020 the ability to create new posts in existing Delve blogs will be disabled.
• Beginning April 17th, 2020, existing Delve blogs will be deleted and removed from Delve profiles.

Plan to use alternative methods of blogging. We recommend creating Communication sites using News, Yammer, and Stream as a modern way of engaging with your audience. To learn more about how to setup a great blogging site, please review Creating a blog with communications sites and news posts.

Microsoft’s Delve Blogs retirement message also arrived earlier this week for administrators via the Office 365 Message Center. Microsoft’s deadlines and communication approach are “quite aggressive” for organizations, but the Delve Blogs is likely getting axed because too few organizations use the feature.

So far, there’s hasn’t been any apparent public communication from Microsoft that Delve itself will be going away. Communications Sites in SharePoint is a possible substitute for Delve Blogs but not for all organizations because “not all users can create sites for themselves.” To address the coming deletion of Delve Blogs, end users should start saving their blogs as document files..

Revenue recogntion Dynamics 365 – ask Synergy Software Systems, Dubai

November 26th, 2019

The new revenue recognition standard is for compliance with ASC 606 and D365FO. it became available last month in generally release 10.0.5
To use this feature enable the module through license configuration when in maintenance mode.
System administration> Setup> License configuration. ( or go to the home page and use Advanced Search. Type “license configuration” and click on the “License Configuration” option.) Find the revenue recognition module under the General ledger node and select the module so that it is available for use.

To use the functionality set up schedules under Revenue recognition / Setup / Revenue schedules.
Set up five new posting types have been added to the inventory posting set up.

This video explains the basics of revenue recognition in Dynamics 365 Finance and how it’s used on sales orders. Customers will learn how different revenue schedules can be defined per item and how revenue schedule details are created upon invoicing a sales order.

Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 support will end January 14, 2020- ask Synergy Software Systems about options.

November 16th, 2019

On January 14, 2020, support for Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 will end. Only 2 months away
That means the end of regular security updates.

Don’t let your infrastructure and applications go unprotected.

We’re here to help you migrate to current versions for greater security, performance and innovation.
009714 3365589

Azure Arc in preview manage hybrid data across cloud platforms……

November 16th, 2019

Now in preview, Azure Arc helps simplify enterprise distributed environments by managing everything via Azure services (like Azure Resource Manager). Connecting hybrid infrastructure via Azure Arc improves security for users via automated patching, and provides improved governance, with everything ‘under one roof’. Azure Arc, a tool that lets organizations manage their data on: the Microsoft Azure cloud, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform or any combination.

Microsoft says that deployments can be set up “in seconds” via Azure data services anywhere, a feature of Azure Arc.

Azure Arc also supports Kubernetes clusters and edge infrastructures, as well as on-premises Windows and Linux servers.
No final release date yet but there is a free preview of Azure Arc .


Microcode BIOS Updates coming from a Microsoft Update

November 13th, 2019

Intel Microcode Updates coming from a Microsoft Update or the Windows Catalog.
The security implications of why you should update the microcode on your processors are covered in these links

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4093836/summary-of-intel-microcode-updates

https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/security-center/advisory/intel-sa-00233.html

https://www.amd.com/en/corporate/product-security

Microsoft is collaborating with Intel and AMD on these microcode updates.

When processors are manufactured, they have a baseline microcode baked into their ROM. This microcode is immutable and cannot be changed after the processor is built. Modern processors have the ability at initialization to apply volatile updates to move the processor to a newer microcode level. However, as soon as the processor is rebooted, it reverts back to the microcode baked into their ROM. These volatile updates can be applied to the processor one of two ways – System Firmware/BIOS via OEM and by the Operating System (OS). However, neither updates the microcode in the processors ROM. If you were to remove the processor from one computer and to install in a computer with an older System Firmware/BIOS and an un-updated OS, then you will again be vulnerable.

Windows offers the broadest coverage and quickest turnaround time to address these vulnerabilities. Microcode updates delivered via the Windows OS are not new; as far back as 2007 some updates were made available to address performance and reliability concerns.

You could jus take the OEM System Firmware/BIOS Updates, but often Microsoft Update hasthe microcode updates to address issues much sooner.

When the processor boots, it has versioning to make sure it is utilizing the latest microcode updates regardless of from where it came. Install of System Firmware/BIOS updates and microcode updates from Microsoft Update is therefore O.K. It is possible that the OEM updates the microcode to one level and the OS updates the microcode to an even higher level during the same boot.

Microcode updates install like any other update. They can be installed from Microsoft Update, WSUS, SCCM or manually installed if downloaded from the Catalog. The key difference is that the payload of the hotfix is primarily one of two files:

mcupdate_GenuineIntel.dll – Intel
mcupdate_AuthenticAMD.dll – AMD

These files contain the updated microcode and Windows automatically loads these via OS Loader to patch the microcode on the boot strap processor. This payload is then passed to additional processors as they startup as well the Hyper-V hypervisor if enabled.

Azure Synapse – BI for petabytes of data

November 11th, 2019

Microsoft introduced Azure Synapse Analytics last week as , the “next evolution” of Azure SQL Data Warehouse.

It promises better performance and more capabilities, than Azure SQL Data Warehouse, and existing customers will “automatically benefit” from the enhancements that are now in preview.

Azure Synapse is a “limitless” analytics service, and accommodates all data warehouses, data lakes, machine learning, and BI needs, either with a serverless or provisioned resources approach.

Among the benefits of Synapse:
• The service can query both relational and non-relationship data using SQL
• It can “apply intelligence” over all data, including Dynamics 365, Office 365 and SaaS services that support the Open Data Initiative
• It offers a unified experience for data prep, data management, data warehousing, big data, and AI
• Privacy and security features include: automated threat detection, always-on data encryption, column level security, and dynamic data masking

In an Ignite demo, Rohan Kumar, Microsoft corporate vice president for Azure Data claimed a petabyte scale query across multiple data sources ran in Synapse in 9 seconds, versus over eleven minutes in Google’s BigQuery. He also claimed that both AWS Redshift and BigQuery degrade more as concurrent load increase

Micorsoft Power Platform Enhancements -ask Synergy Software Systems

November 11th, 2019

• Microsoft Flow is renamed to Microsoft Power Automate, to better align with the Microsoft Power Platform.
Robotic process automation (RPA) is added to Microsoft Power Automate, to deliver end-to-end automation solutions that span AI, APIs, and UI on the Microsoft Power Platform.
Microsoft Power Virtual Agents—a no-code/low-code app that allows anyone to create, and to deploy, intelligent, AI-powered, virtual agents.
Many security enhancements for Microsoft Power BI, no matter where analytics data is used and accessed.
Microsoft Power Platform and Microsoft Teams, As organizations encourage a data-driven culture, it’s important they break down silos and ensure that the right people in the organization have the data they need to be involved in the decision-making process. Teams and Power Platform brings together the best of workplace collaboration and data-driven business into one place.

Power Platform applications dashboards, apps, and automations are available within Teams, so they are easier to find, share, and use on an everyday basis. The conversational nature of Teams enhances how users interact with Power Platform applications. Adaptive cards and bots let users engage with these tools directly through conversation. This integration gives IT Administrators high fidelity control and prioritization of features.

Power Apps creators can publish their apps directly to their company’s app library in Teams. By the end of 2019, users will be able to pin Power Apps to their Teams left rail, to provide easy access to regularly used apps.

New triggers and actions for Power Automate are available within Teams to streamline the completion of common team and personal tasks, such as scheduling focus time, and automating document approvals.

New features coming to Power BI next year include the ability to create rich adaptive cards in Teams conversations, to help users see and act on their data. An improved Power BI tab experience in Teams will make it easy to select the correct reports..

The American Red Cross is leveraging Power Platform integration with Teams to improve disaster response times.

• New, prebuilt models for AI Builder to add more advanced AI models to Microsoft Power Automate and Microsoft Power Apps.

These new features and products provide the Power Platform with an unmatched set of capabilities that enable everyone to: analyze, act, and automate across their organization, so as to transform businesses from the ground up.

Enhanced HA and DR benefits for SQL Server Sofware Assurance from 1 November.

November 5th, 2019

The enhanced benefits to SQL licensing for high availability and disaster recovery that are listed below are now applicable to all releases of SQL Server for a customer with SQL Server licenses with Software Assurance. The updated benefits will be available in the next refresh of the Microsoft Licensing Terms.

Business continuity is a key requirement for planning, designing, and implementing any business-critical system. When you bring data into the mix, business continuity becomes mandatory. It’s an insurance policy that one hopes they never have to make a claim against in the foreseeable future. SQL Server brings intelligent performance, availability, and security to Windows, Linux, and containers and can tackle any data workload from BI to AI from online transaction processing (OLTP) to data warehousing. You get mission-critical high availability and disaster recovery features that allow you to implement various topologies to meet your business SLAs.

A customer with SQL Server licenses with Software Assurance has historically benefited from a free passive instance of SQL Server for their high availability configurations. That helps to lower the total cost of ownership (TCO) of an application using SQL Server. Today, this is enhanced for the existing Software Assurance benefits for SQL Server which further helps customers implement a holistic business continuity plan with SQL Server.

Starting Nov 1st, every Software Assurance customer of SQL Server will be able to use three enhanced benefits for any SQL Server release that is still supported by Microsoft:
• Failover servers for high availability – Allows customers to install and run passive SQL Server instances in a separate operating system environment (OSE) or server for high availability on-premises in anticipation of a failover event. Today, Software Assurance customers have one free passive instance for either high availability or DR
• Failover servers for disaster recovery NEW – Allows customers to install and run passive SQL Server instances in a separate OSE or server on-premises for disaster recovery in anticipation of a failover event
• Failover servers for disaster recovery in Azure NEW – Allows customers to install and run passive SQL Server instances in a separate OSE or server for disaster recovery in Azure in anticipation of a failover event

With these new benefits, Software Assurance customers can implement hybrid disaster recovery plans with SQL Server using features like Always On Availability Groups without incurring additional licensing costs for the passive replicas.

A setup can use SQL Server running on an Azure Virtual Machine that utilizes 12 cores as a disaster recovery replica for an on-premises SQL Server deployment using 12 cores. In the past, you would need to license 12 cores of SQL Server for the on-premises and the Azure Virtual Machine deployment. The new benefit offers passive replica benefits running on an Azure Virtual Machine. Now a customer need to only license 12 cores of SQL Server running on-premises as long as the disaster recovery criteria for the passive replica on Azure Virtual Machine is met.

If, the primary. or the active replica. uses 12 cores hosting two virtual machines and the topology has two secondary replicas: one sync replica for high availability supporting automatic failovers and one asynchronous replica for disaster recovery without automatic failover then . the number of SQL Server core licenses required to operate this topology will be only 12 cores as opposed to 24 cores in the past.

These high availability and disaster recovery benefits will be applicable to all releases of SQL Server. In addition to the high availability and disaster recovery benefits, the following operations are allowed on the passive replicas:
• Database consistency checks
• Log backups
• Full backups
• Monitoring resource usage data

SQL Server 2019 also provides a number of improvements for availability, performance, and security along with new capabilities like the integration of HDFS and Apache Spark™ with the SQL Server database engine.