New Work Coming from Philadelphia to Nicom Maritime

Congratulations to Mike Hatfield and Ken Acker for bringing in some new business from the Maritime Exchange in Philadelphia.

This new piece of work has to do with changes that the United States Customs and Border Protection arm of Homeland Security is implementing to their standards for receiving cargo manifest information.

Known as ACE M1, these changes allow CBP to place and remove holds against bills of lading, specific containers, or entire manifests, as related to ocean and rail cargo. The system that Nicom Maritime modernized for the Maritime Exchange will therefore need to be modified to incorporate these changes.

This will mean shuffling of resources for us, but those are the kinds of problems we like to be working on!

Well done guys!


ASP.NET and SharePoint Security Vulnerability

An important message to my IT contacts, thanks to Mike Hatfield, Nicom’s Chief Technology Officer, regarding a security vulnerability…

On the 17th of September, a security vulnerability was announced that affects all versions of ASP.NET and SharePoint web sites/applications that can allow someone to access very sensitive information if exploited.

For Technicians:
A security update has been released today to address the problem. Please, make sure this Windows update is applied to your web, SaaS and SharePoint servers. Please see this article from Microsoft for more information:

For Developers:
As a developer, you normally cannot control updates that are applied to servers hosting your applications. You can, however implement the web.config work around that has provided by Scott Gutherie from Microsoft as documented on his blog here:


Even Smart Business People Need to Protect Themselves Online

I received an email the other day saying I could get 68% off luxury watches. Then a few seconds later I received another email saying I could get 88% off luxury watches, and both emails pointed me to the same web site! So for fun I went to the web site and it told me I could get luxury watches for 85% off.

All this to say that you can’t really trust emails from people you don’t know. In the past twelve months alone, I must have run across fifteen distraught widows of world leaders who had huge sums of money to deposit if only they could find a bank account number with which to do so.

Now those are obvious things to avoid, but there are some pretty sophisticated scams out there on the Internet, and I read all the time about people being taken in.

Even smart people like you. So maybe it’s time for a refresher course on how to protect yourself online.

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Does Your Business Have a Plan in the Event of a Pandemic?

Imagine what your company would be like if fifty percent of your employees – or more – fell ill at the same time. Would you be able to continue operating?

What about after the symptoms have passed and they are capable of working, only they are instructed to stay home as is often the case with the H1N1 virus – would they then be able to be productive?

With today’s technology, the effects of a pandemic or other threat to the continuity of your business can be mitigated by putting into practice such things as alternate workplaces, work from home abilities, and notification callouts. But it all takes planning so that if a threat were to become a reality, your business is prepared.

That type of planning is what Ian McLaws does. He is the consultant who was brought in by Jazz Air LP (doing business throughout North America as Air Canada Jazz) to help implement their Business Continuity Plan. On June 16, Jazz did a thorough 24-hour test of their plan using their Alternate Systems Operations Control Centre in Burnside, and it went without a hitch.

McLaws explains that a Business Continuity Plan, or BCP, is designed to enable a business to continue operating while recovering from a disaster and to resume normal operations. It involves planning for the eventuality of a disaster event so that essential business functions such as Information Technology can continue operating.

McLaws’ main role at Jazz was to manage the disaster recovery plan part of it, or DRP, which outlines the steps necessary to restore the Information Technology environment to its normal state.

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Online Purchasing Systems Safe, Secure if Built Correctly

What happens behind the scenes when you enter your credit card information online? Is it safe? For answers, I turned to the experts at Skipjack Financial Services, a Cincinnati-based company whose Canadian office is in Halifax.  I know them well because my employees at Nicom IT Solutions often use Skipjack when they create web sites that have an online payment option.

The first thing the Skipjack folks pointed out is that online payment processing is not that much different from traditional credit and debit card processing. In fact, a large portion of the transactions that they process are from traditional devices, like point-of-sale terminals.

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