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“Drone attack on the world’s biggest oil processing facilities in Saudi Arabia” – Bloomberg TicToc

Ready or not, it appears the financial war and countries under embargoes are simultaneously coming to a head. What’s next to follow then? Is there still time for sense and sensibility?

10 explosive drones, claimed by Houthi rebels in Yemen, attacked the world's biggest oil processing plant in Saudi Arabia, disrupting the heart of the kingdom's oil industry

 

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Microsoft Azure Customer Data Deleted In DNS Flaw

Users of Microsoft’s Azure system lost database records as part of a mass outage on Tuesday.

A combination of DNS problems and automated scripts were to blame, said reports.

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Microsoft deleted several Transparent Data Encryption (TDE) databases in Azure, holding live customer information. TDE databases dynamically encrypt the information they store, decrypting it when customers access it.

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Keeping the data encrypted at rest stops an intruder with access to the database from reading the information.

While there are different approaches to encrypting these tables, many Azure users store their own encryption keys in Microsoft’s Key Vault encryption key management system, in a process called Bring Your Own Key (BYOK).

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The deletions were automated, triggered by a script that drops TDE database tables when their corresponding keys can no longer be accessed in the Key Vault, explained Microsoft in a letter reportedly sent to customers.

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The company quickly restored the tables from a five-minute snapshot backup, but that meant any transactions that customers had processed within five minutes of the table drop would have to be dealt with manually. In this case, customers would have to raise a support ticket and ask for the database copy to be renamed to the original.

 

Why were the systems accessing the TDE tables unable to access the Key Vault? The answer stems from a far bigger issue for Microsoft and its Azure customers this week.
An outage struck the cloud service worldwide on Tuesday, causing a range of problems. These included intermittent access to Office 365 in which users had only half a chance of logging on. Broader Azure cloud resources were also down.

 

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This problem was, in turn, down to a DNS outage, according to Microsoft’s Azure status page:

Preliminary root cause: Engineers identified a DNS issue with an external DNS provider.

Mitigation: DNS services were failed over to an alternative DNS provider which mitigated the issue.

Reports suggested that this DNS outage came from CenturyLink, which provides DNS services to Microsoft.

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The company had suffered a software defect, it had said in a statement.

This shows what can go wrong when cloud-based systems are interconnected and automated enough to allow cascading failures.

A software defect at a DNS provider indirectly led to the deletion of live customer information thanks to a lack of human intervention.

CenturyLink seems to be experiencing serial DNS problems lately.

The company, which completed its $34bn acquisition of large network operator Level 3 in late 2017, also suffered a DNS outage in Decemberthat reportedly affected emergency services, sparking an FCC investigation.

Azure users can at least take comfort in the fact that Microsoft is offering multiple months of free Azure service for affected parties.

Source: Naked Security

 


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Why Small Businesses Need ERP Accounting Systems

Pros and Cons of ERP Systems for Small to Medium Businesses

ERP, or enterprise resource planning, software enables small businesses to replace different departmental information systems and databases with programs that work together and utilize a single database. ERP software is available for key business functions such as order processing, production control and finance.

By using a common technology platform and database throughout the company, small businesses can integrate departmental activities and achieve a range of cost, operational and productivity benefits.

Implementing an ERP system requires careful planning to achieve the target benefits and minimize the risk of project failure.

Shared Information

A key benefit of ERP software is that it provides the various departments of your company with the same snapshot of important business information.

In many small companies, departments have their own information systems, creating information silos that other departments cannot access or share.

When an order progresses through the company, for example, departments such as order processing, production control and dispatch have to re-enter data and search for information about stock levels, lead times and customer requirements.

With an ERP system, all relevant data is available to those departments, eliminating the need to re-enter data, reducing the risk of error, improving productivity and speeding up the time to fulfill orders.

Decision Making

The availability of consistent data improves the speed and quality of decision making.

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Your management team can identify any potential production bottlenecks that might affect delivery times or affect productivity levels.

Financial controllers obtain an immediate, up-to-date picture of orders, work in progress and stock levels to improve financial planning.

Production planning staff can manage stock levels efficiently in line with orders and delivery schedules. Human resources staff can identify the need for recruitment or redeployment in line with changing business needs.

Senior managers have an overall picture of operations so they can make effective decisions on investment and resource allocation and respond quickly to changing business opportunities.

Transformation

Deploying an ERP system can help you transform different aspects of your business and cope with the challenges of growth.

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By reducing duplication in administration, streamlining processes such as order processing and production planning, ERP systems free staff to concentrate on more important tasks and deal with increasing volumes of business efficiently. By equipping employees with powerful business tools, ERP systems enable your team to make a greater contribution to efficiency and profitability.

Risks

ERP systems offer small businesses many important benefits.

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However, implementing an ERP system carries significant risk.

A company-wide deployment represents a major investment in time, effort and capital.

The cost of a complete ERP system may be beyond the means of a growing business.

Although you can deploy individual modules for different departments as funds are available, you would not reap the full benefits of a company-wide system for some time.

Deployment also can lead to disruption as employees go through a learning process to adjust to the new system.

Leadership

To achieve a balance between the risks and rewards of an ERP system, you need to identify priorities, lead the change from the top and allocate resources to training and project management.

GUARANTEE

Seek advice from a consultant with experience of ERP in small businesses so you select the right system for your company and manage the change effectively.

About the Author

Based in the United Kingdom, Ian Linton has been a professional writer since 1990. His articles on marketing, technology and distance running have appeared in magazines such as “Marketing” and “Runner’s World.” Linton has also authored more than 20 published books and is a copywriter for global companies. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in history and economics from Bristol University.

Source: SmallBusinessChron

 

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