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 Julian 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.

Additional Resources

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

topbannertotal-visual-agent-60scheduler

Total Visual Agent is 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

manager_2016

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.

Jun 13

Total Access Emailer Ships for Microsoft Access 2016

Microsoft Access Email BlasterTotal Access EmailerMicrosoft Access Email

Total Access EmailerTotal 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.

Total Access Emailer is now available for Microsoft Access 2016. Total Access Emailer 2016 includes many enhancements since the prior release for Access 2013:

  • Supports Access 2016
    • 32 and 64-bit versions
    • Add-in and VBA Runtime libraries in the Professional 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
  • Enhanced setup for Windows 10 and 64-bit installations
  • Updated user manual and help file
  • Complete list and additional details of new features.

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

Easily Run and Manage the Email Blasts You’ve Created in Your Database

Main Screen of Total Access Emailer 2016

May 05

Total Access Statistics for Microsoft Access 2016

Total Access StatisticsTotal Access Statistics is now available for Microsoft Access 2016 (32 and 64-bit versions). Running as an Access add-in Wizard, Total Access Statistics generates a wide range of numerical analysis beyond the power of queries. All results are in Access tables that you can add to your queries, forms and reports.

Easily generate statistical values such as:

Total Access Statistics includes a VBA programmatic interface with a royalty-free runtime distribution library so you can add the advanced analysis into your Access applications for distribution to others.

download-trial-blueDownload the Free Trial to experience it yourself.

Owners of Total Access Statistics for earlier versions of Microsoft Access can upgrade at a discounted price.

Apr 15

Total Access Startup Available for Microsoft Access 2016 and 2013

total-access-startupTotal Access Startup makes it easy to centrally manage all your Microsoft Access database deployments. Ensure that all your users run the latest version of your database application with the right version of MS Access. Easily deploy updates without having to manually change things on each user’s PC. Simply point your users to a shortcut and they never need to know the actual name of the database.

overview

Total Access Startup 2016 is now shipping to let you:

  • For optimal performance, deploy a local copy of your master database on each user’s PC and keep it updated when you update the master
  • Run it with a specific Access version or a range of allowable Access versions. This makes it easy to support legacy versions of Access even if users install later versions of Office/Access.
  • Specify the bitness (32 and/or 64-bit) that are allowed for Access 2010, 2013, and 2016.
  • Display a professional splash screen graphic while your database loads
  • If your users can’t launch your database, a message appears with information you provide to contact you. You can customize our messages or translate them to your user’s language.

startupMore Resources

Total Access Startup is also part of the Total Access Ultimate Suite. Existing Total Access Startup customers can upgrade at a discounted price.

Mar 09

Microsoft Office 2010 Update KB3085515 Causes Access ACCDE and MDE Databases to Crash

Access2010-boxMajor Alert: Office Update KB3085515 Breaks Microsoft Access 2010 Databases in ACCDE and MDE Formats

On March 8, 2016, Microsoft released an update KB3085515 for Office 2010. It addressed some VBA issues for Excel.

Unfortunately, the update of the VBE7.DLL file causes many Microsoft Access databases to fail. A heated thread on the Microsoft Community forum describes the problem: KB3085515 breaks MS Access 2010 reference

The updated file is:

C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\microsoft shared\VBA\VBA7\VBE7.DLL

Fix

Microsoft released an update that fixed this problem: Office 2010 Update KB3114989


The information below is from the original diagnoses of the problem

Impact

We are still determining the full impact of this bug. We know this impacts wizards in Access and customers of our Microsoft Access add-ins. It also impacts the people you support with our runtime distribution libraries referenced from your MS Access databases. At the very least we know it prevents running:

  • Microsoft Access databases in ACCDE and MDE formats (defined below).
  • Databases (ACCDB or MDB) with library references to ACCDE and MDE files.
  • Built-in MS Access 2010 Wizards that are ACCDE files.

ACCDE and MDE Database Formats

ACCDE and MDE databases are “compiled” versions of ACCDB and MDB database formats where form and report design changes can’t be made and VBA modules can’t be viewed or edited. They are “locked” to referenced DLLs, libraries, and other dependencies that can change over time…provided those dependencies follow Windows protocol for binary compatibility to identify new versions.

Unfortunately, the Microsoft Excel update of the VBE7.DLL file broke the VBA dependency by not creating the new version correctly. That causes previously developed ACCDE and MDE databases to stop working. This was not an issue for the Excel community since they don’t have an equivalent “compiled” version of Excel spreadsheets (the VBA code is always exposed behind spreadsheets), but it kills Access Wizards and the ACCDE and MDE databases people create.

Microsoft Access 2010 Add-ins Won’t Run

In addition to causing some Microsoft wizards in Access to fail, our Microsoft Access 2010 add-ins won’t run since they are Access databases in ACCDE format. You may see messages like this when you try to launch them:

  • Microsoft Access can’t start the wizard, builder, or add-in.
  • This feature isn’t installed, or has been disabled.

There may be suggestions to reinstall the add-in but that won’t help. This impacts these of our products:

Microsoft Access ACCDE Libraries

Some of our products include ACCDE runtime distribution libraries that let you incorporate our product’s features in your application for distribution to your users. You and your users are impacted by this problem and may experience messages like these:

  • The code contains a syntax error, or a Microsoft Access function you need is not available.
  • File format no longer supported.

Customers using our redistributable runtime libraries in databases distributed to their users are impacted:

Microsoft’s Response

The Microsoft Access development team is aware of this problem and is working on a solution as we speak. Microsoft has already stopped people from downloading the update and thankfully didn’t release a similar update for Office 2013 and 2016. They’ve also published this blog post:

You may encounter errors with your ACCDE/MDE files and/or wizards after installing the March update for Office 2010 (KB3085515)

The hope is for a new update that fixes this problem. Timing of when that will be available is unknown, but we’ll keep you informed as we learn it.

Current Solution: Uninstall the Update

The only solution is to uninstall the update. You can uninstall it from:

  • Command line, or
  • Control Panel.

Run a Command Line

You can run this line from the command prompt or put it in a BAT file if you want to share it with others: Note that we have reports that this may not work for everyone since it requires certain permissions:

wusa /uninstall /kb:3085515 /quiet /norestart

Uninstall from the Control Panel

The patch can be uninstalled from the Control Panel, Windows Update program: WindowsUpdate In Windows 10, from the Windows Update screen, click on the Advanced options hyperlink: windows10-update then click on View your update history: windows10-update-historyChoose Uninstall updates to see the list of installed updates: windows10-update-uninstall For Windows 7, click on the View update history link on the left border: windows-update-history From the top section, click on the Installed Updates link: windows-update-installed

List of Installed Updates

View the list of Windows updates installed on your PC, grouped by product which are collapsible. Go to the section Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2010 (or equivalent): windows-update-uninstall Find the KB3085515 update, click on it to uninstall and confirm it.

Mar 07

Tips and Techniques for Setting Up Remote Desktop Connections and Using Multiple Displays

Remote DesktopWe have a new paper on Remote Desktop Connections describing how to:

  • Setup Remote Desktop Connections
  • Troubleshoot problems connecting to a remote computer
  • Tip to simplify logging in
  • Tip for using multiple display monitors

display-multiple

Remote Desktop Connections are Great for Running another PC On Site or Off Site

It’s very convenient to run another PC from your current PC. Whether it’s another machine in your office, network, or physical location, Windows offers a Remote Desktop Connection feature to do so. This is particularly useful to:

  • Run a PC on your network without having to physically go to it.
  • Run a Virtual Machine (HyperV or VMWare Workstation) hosted on another machine.
  • Run a PC next to you without needing a KVM switch to share monitors, keyboards and mouse. Common if you have older PCs lying around. Just remote to it.
  • From offsite, run the PC in your office (or network). You can run it as if you were on site with the benefit of the speed of your internal network rather than data coming to your PC over your Internet connection. You will need VPN authentication to connect to your network
  • Offer PCs with Windows applications that people can run without having to install anything on their PC. This avoids the issues with installations on individual machines, conflicts with other programs, Windows updates, etc. Easily manage Windows applications like Microsoft Access, Visual Basic 6, .NET and other legacy apps and let any user, including Macs, run them.

Learn more from our paper, Tips and Techniques for Setting Up Remote Desktop Connections and Using Multiple Displays.