Jan 05

Sean Hannity Radio Show Interview on Julian Assange, WikiLeaks, Russian Hacking, and Cyber Warfare

sean-hannity-radioBackground

The day after an amazing personal interview of Julian Assange by Sean Hannity aired on his TV show, FMS President Luke Chung was invited to discuss the related technology on his radio show.

Hannity traveled to London to interview Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy where he’s seeking asylum. They discussed an overview of Assange’s role as founder of WikiLeaks, and their obtaining and publishing the emails from the Democratic National Committee the weeks before the US Presidential election. Some people attribute Hillary Clinton’s loss to the revelations in those emails especially from John Podesta, the former White House Chief of Staff and Chairman of the Clinton campaign. They are also accusing the Russians for hacking (stealing) and providing the data to Assange so Donald Trump could win the election.

Radio Show

On January 4, 2017, I was on the radio show with Sean Hannity and Brigadier General Eli Ben Meir, former Israeli Military Intelligence chief. The three of us discussed the WikiLeaks disclosures. I commented specifically on:

  • Cyber attacks and the security breach at OPM disclosed non-classified government employees and by omission who were covert at American Embassies globally.
  • Noting Julian Assange’s careful word choices to exclude Russia as source without excluding them as the ultimate source of his sources.
  • The need for WikiLeaks’ to keep their sources confidential and how they amplified the data from Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden.
  • Different approaches to preventing cyber attacks depending on the cause.
    “It’s one thing when someone steals your car because they broke into it. It’s another thing when someone steals your car because you left your keys in the ignition.”

Here’s the audio of the show:

My segment starts at the 6:50 mark. Sean and General Meir speak first, then I start around 9:25. Final comments at 14:15 and it wraps up by 14:50.

Additional Issues

Only a limited amount of information can be discussed in such a short interview. Some additional issues to consider are:

Data Security

Securing data over the internet and inside organizations is very challenging. Threats may come from:

  • External hacks that need to be monitored and defeated
  • Internal people who unintentionally leave the front door unlocked
  • Internal people who intentionally leak information

Different solutions are required for each type of threat. Some are at the software vendor, design, and developer level, while others involve end-user training, background checks, and monitoring.

Applications can be built so that simply disclosing a user name and password doesn’t compromise the whole system by require two-factor authentication and registering devices that can use those credentials.

Unfortunately, many systems were built well before today’s cyber threats existed. The cost of making those systems more secure without breaking their existing functionality will be daunting and expensive. In many cases, the original source code, development environment and/or vendor are long gone, so the only option is to replace them which is also very expensive and time consuming.

Julian Assange and WikiLeaks are Not Heroes

We need to keep in mind that the WikiLeaks exposed top secret US information by publishing the disclosures from Manning and Snowden. Lives were put at risk and lives may have been lost because of those publications. The Arab Spring was inflamed in part by the disclosure of diplomatic communications and one could argue the human tragedy in Syria is tied to this as well. While Republicans are celebrating and defending Assange and WikiLeaks now for the DNC emails, the tables may turn very quickly.

Data That’s Not Exposed May be More Dangerous

While many are focused on the DNC emails, it’s not unreasonable to assume the people who hacked that also got the RNC emails. Data can be power, and in the wrong hands, data can be used for nefarious purposes such as blackmail.

If the RNC data were compromised, we should be extremely worried if the hackers discovered it was more valuable to keep private than public. Whether they use it directly or sell it to another party or country, the information can make victims puppets by threatening the exposure of their personal data. It’s not uncommon during E-discovery of an email server to discover all sorts of inappropriate language, behavior and activity conducted by individuals in an organization. Disclosures of affairs, homosexual activity, underage sex, bribery, unethical business dealings, breeches of confidentiality, collusion, and actual crimes are often found in email threads and can be used for blackmail.

Oct 28

FMS Inc. Joins Microsoft Enterprise Cloud Alliance

FMS Inc., a leader in software database development and design, is proud to announce it is joining the Microsoft Enterprise Cloud Alliance.

Celebrating 30 years in software development, FMS has a long track record of building mission-critical solutions for a wide range of organizations around the world. From desktop to web and mobile solutions, FMS serves tens of thousands of customers in over 100 countries ranging from small to large commercial organizations, non-profits, educational institutions, and government agencies.

The Microsoft Enterprise Cloud Alliance offers an innovative way for FMS Inc. to integrate its innovative products and services with Microsoft Corp.

“We’ve helped many organizations create and deploy database applications on the Microsoft Azure cloud,” said Luke Chung, President and Founder of FMS, Inc. “With Microsoft’s cloud center, our solutions are hosted on an enterprise quality infrastructure platform that’s highly scalable and reliable.  It eliminates the headaches of managing our own hardware and connectivity, and best of all, it’s a fraction of the cost compared to doing it ourselves. That translates to quicker time to market and lower costs for our customers.”

To learn more about the Microsoft Enterprise Cloud Alliance, please visit https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/mt438667.aspx

About FMS Inc.

Since 1986, FMS has created innovative software solutions for commercial and government organizations. A Microsoft partner since 1992, FMS is a leading provider of products for Microsoft Access and Microsoft Office. Our Professional Solutions Group offers custom solutions on Windows, web and mobile platforms. Our Advanced Systems Group created Sentinel Visualizer, an advanced link analysis and data visualization product for the intelligence, defense and law enforcement communities. For 30 years, FMS has helped over 50,000 customers in more than 100 countries make better data-driven decisions.

Aug 24

Total Visual Agent Available for Microsoft Access 2016

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Total Visual Agent, the world’s most popular maintenance scheduling tool for Microsoft Access/Office and Visual Basic 6 (VB6) is now available for Microsoft Access 2016 (and earlier). This is the ninth major release of Total Visual Agent and introduces many enhancements to automate maintenance chores easier than ever.

To keep your Microsoft Access databases healthy, you need to regularly compact them. For disaster recovery, you should also be making backup copies of your database regularly. You may also have regular tasks such as printing reports that are performed regularly. Total Visual Agent does this and much more on a schedule you specify. Run tasks hourly, daily, weekly, monthly or just one time. Perform database chores, run Access macros or Windows command lines. A complete audit trail is maintained, and you can even be notified by email if something goes wrong. Total Visual Agent can also be run as a Windows service to restart if the machine reboots and for added security since a user doesn’t need to be logged in.

Total Visual Agent 2016 leverages our vast expertise, and offers the best database management solution with many new features:

Total Visual Agent

  • Supports Microsoft Access 2016
  • Supports Windows 8 and 10
  • Does Not Require Access to be Installed on your PC
  • Database Lock Error Identifies Offending Machines
  • Activity Log is Separated from Settings Database
  • Activity Log Shows Duration of Each Activity
  • Email Notifications Support TLS and Office365 SMTP
  • Tasks are Not Run at the End of an Event Interval
  • Enabled/Disabled Status Shown on the Event Form
  • More Robust Windows Service Feature
  • Improved Monitor Settings Tab
  • Default Location of Archive and Extract Folders Moved
  • Improved Setup Program
  • New user manual and help file
  • download-trial-blueand More…

Download the free trial version today!

Easily Define and Manage Events, Tasks, Databases and Folders

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Aug 17

Total Access Emailer Version X.7 for Microsoft Access 2013, 2010, and 2007

Microsoft Access Email BlasterTotal Access EmailerMicrosoft Access Email

With the recent release of Total Access EmailerTotal Access Emailer for Microsoft Access 2016, we are pleased to release updates of earlier versions to include the many new features:

  • Total Access Emailer 2013, Version 15.7
  • Total Access Emailer 2010, Version 14.7
  • Total Access Emailer 2007, Version 12.7

Total Access Emailer is the most popular email blaster for Microsoft Access. Easily send personalized emails directly from your Access database. Quickly communicate with every email address in your table or query. Use fields from your data source to customize each subject and message. Attach files from disk and also attach reports as PDF files filtered for each recipient.

The new X.7 version includes many new features since their previous version:

  • email-validationEmail Validation to check the syntax of the values in your email field so you can flag invalid emails in your table before you send your blast
  • Save Attached Files to Disk. This lets you document the attached files sent to all your contacts without using blind cc (Bcc).
    • This can also be used independent of sending emails as a way to distribute files and PDF reports to disk. You can even create folder names based on field values.
  • Preview Saving Files to Disk
  • New VBA Function to Preview Email Blasts with Save Files
  • Code Generator Supports Preview Email with Save Folder
  • Support for Office365 and other SMTP Services using TLS
  • Enhanced setup for Windows 10 and 64-bit installations
  • Updated user manual and help file
  • Complete list and additional details of new features in Total Access Emailer X.7.

download-trial-blueDownload the free trial version and send your own personalized emails from Microsoft Access.

Create multiple email blasts in your database and run them at any time through the Total Access Emailer add-in Wizard:

Main Screen of Total Access Emailer 2016

Jul 01

Microsoft Office365 Exchange Online Service Performance Degradation and SMTP Problems

office365A few years ago, we migrated our email service to Microsoft’s Office365 cloud service. Overall, it’s been very reliable and eliminated the challenges we had hosting Exchange ourselves. It let us get to our emails using Outlook installed on Windows, any internet browser, and smartphones. Office365 also offered other Office product online (Access Web Apps, Excel, Word, etc.), SharePoint and OneDrive Business.

Unfortunately, on the morning of June 30th, we discovered:

  • Delays sending and receiving emails
  • Some emails were bouncing back from recipients who couldn’t validate our Office365 Exchange Server’s SMTP (protection.outlook.com) with our domain name. That meant the Exchange SMTP server was no longer considered a trusted sender of emails from the @fmsinc.com domain.
  • Our use of the Office365 SMTP server to send emails with our Total Access Emailer product was also failing to authenticate against the server

The problems began the evening before. Needless to say, we aren’t happy about this experience which impacted us and our clients using Office365. Reports are that it affects Office365 customers across North America.

exchangeContacting Microsoft, they confirmed problems with the health of their Office365 Exchange Server. Throughout the day, problems lessened but persisted. We hope the problems are resolved soon and that we’ll understand what went wrong once we overcome the immediate crises.

These are the reports we’ve received from Microsoft. We’ll keep you updated as we learn more:


Exchange Online Service Degraded

This is what the Office365 Admin portal shows for Service Health:

Office365Issues

Office365Health


EX71628 – E-Mail and calendar access – Restoring Service

Jun 29, 2016 12:11 PM

CURRENT STATUS

Our investigation determined that an existing transport feature which is designed to expedite the delivery of email messages became degraded, which caused impact to email delivery for a subset of users. We’re bypassing the affected feature to restore service

User Impact

Users may be unable to send email messages through the Exchange Online service. Email messages may appear to be stuck in the Drafts or Outbox folders.

Scope of Impact

A few customers have reported this issue, and our analysis indicates that for most customers, it’s unlikely that many users would report impact related to this event.

  • Start Time: Thursday, June 23, 2016, at 3:00 PM UTC

Preliminary Root Cause

An existing transport feature that is designed to expedite the delivery of email messages became degraded, which caused impact to email delivery for a subset of users

EX71628 – E-Mail and calendar access – Extended recovery

Jun 30, 2016 2:18 PM

Current Status

We’ve developed an additional fix to address the underlying cause of the issue. We’re preparing to deploy the fix to the affected environment to ensure that the issue does not reoccur.

User Impact

Users may be unable to send email messages through the Exchange Online service. Email messages may appear to be stuck in the Drafts or Outbox folders.

Scope of Impact

A few customers have reported this issue, and our analysis indicates that for most customers, it’s unlikely that many users would report impact related to this event.

  • Start Time: Thursday, June 23, 2016, at 3:00 PM UTC

Preliminary Root Cause

An existing transport feature that is designed to expedite the delivery of email messages became degraded, which caused impact to email delivery for a subset of users.

Next Update by: Saturday, July 2, 2016, at 7:00 PM UTC


EX71674 – E-Mail timely delivery – Service restored

Jun 30, 2016 7:35 PM

Final Status

We’ve confirmed that the remaining message queues have now drained after implementing a configuration change to optimize message filtering.

User Impact

Users were experiencing delays when sending and receiving email messages. Affected users may have received Non-Delivery Reports (NDR) when sending email messages.

Scope of Impact

Customer reports indicated that many users likely experienced impact related to this event. Our analysis indicates that this issue may potentially have affected any of your users attempting to send or receive mail.

  • Start Time: Thursday, June 30, 2016, at 2:30 PM UTC
  • End Time: Thursday, June 30, 2016, at 11:30 PM UTC

Preliminary Root Cause

The infrastructure responsible for processing Exchange Online Protection (EOP) message filtering became degraded.

Next Steps

  • We’re analyzing performance data and trends on the affected systems to help prevent this problem from happening again.
  • We’re reviewing our code for optimizations and automated recovery options.
  • We’ll publish a post-incident report within five business days.

EX71674 – E-Mail timely delivery – Service restored

Jul 1, 2016 12:08 AM

Final Status

We’ve rolled out the fix and confirmed that service is restored. Any meeting requests created during the outage will need to have the conference room calendar removed and readded to book the room.

User Impact

Users that attempted to create a meeting request with a conference room calendar were unable to successfully book a conference room. This lead to conference rooms being booked by multiple resources.

Scope of Impact

A few customers reported this issue, and our analysis indicated that this may have affected any users attempting to use this feature.
  • Start Time: Monday, June 27, 2016, at 6:00 PM UTC
  • End Time: Friday, July 1, 2016, at 2:54 AM UTC

Preliminary Root Cause

A recent update affected the ability for calendar invite requests to successfully book conference rooms.

Next Steps

  • We’re reviewing our deployment and provisioning procedures to help prevent this kind of problem in the future.
  • We’ll publish a post-incident report within five business days.