New regulations in the Payment Card Industry (PCI) dictate that online and e-commerce companies must migrate to more secure encryption protocols designed to reduce the risk of data breach. Companies must disable SSL/early TLS in favor of the newer, more secure encryption protocols by June 30, 2018. Unfortunately, many organizations may not be aware of this requirement deadline. TLS 1.1 or higher will be required for all payments processed after that date. Some payment processors are even requiring a minimum of TLS 1.2 and an earlier timeframe.

What is SSL/early TLS?

Transport Layer Security (TLS) is a cryptographic protocol used in establishing a secure connection between two systems. It is used for authentication and to protect the integrity and security of information in transit. It was originally developed as Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) in the early 1990s by Netscape. Since then, it has seen several revisions to improve security, in response to known attack vectors, and to support new cryptographic algorithms.

How does this impact my .NET 4.5 or older application?

If you don’t accept payments through your application, there should be no impact. If you do and are targeting .NET frameworks 4.0 or 4.5, the default security protocols are SSL 3.0 and TLS 1.0. Unless you explicitly enabled higher protocols in your code, or use an updated third-party communications framework, the transactions will begin to fail. If you are on .NET Framework 3.5 or earlier, there is no support for applications to use TLS System Default Versions as a cryptographic protocol. There’s still hope for meeting the deadline, but the effort is greater.

How does this impact my .NET 4.6 or newer application?

If you developed the application recently using best practices, then TLS 1.0, 1.1, and 1.2 are all enabled by default. If you have upgraded an older application to use a newer .NET framework, you may be using an outdated communications mechanism which does not enable TLS 1.1 or higher by default.

I’m already on a fully patched Server 2016 and targeting .NET 4.7.2

You may already have everything enabled by default and do not need updates. It is best to verify with your payment provider and be sure that any third-party libraries are up to date before the deadline. Some older classes and communication libraries may not have the newer TLS protocols enabled by default.

If you have questions about these new requirements or need assistance implementing them, Antares can help. Contact us today.



Tech Trends That Are Changing the Healthcare Industry

Pioneering medical technologies enhance and extend the capacity of physicians, nurses and other healthcare practitioners. They streamline the collaboration among healthcare providers across different facilities and speed up patient access to treatment. They even have the ability to alert emergency responders to accidents in real time and offer predictive capabilities previously unimagined. Three healthcare technology trends are topping the charts in terms of industry impact.

Electronic Health Records

Equipped with Electronic Health Records (EHRs), medical practitioners are capable of providing patients with enhanced, efficient healthcare. Records are more easily accessed, updated, and shared among relevant doctors, nurses and specialists, reducing wait times for patients. They’re also more secure, and they encourage more complete documentation and more accurate coding and billing. The decreased paperwork, improved safety, and reduction of redundancy not only improve the overall state of healthcare but also reduce costs for patients and providers.

“The more connected the records are among different healthcare systems, the more helpful they are,” says Jennifer Blalock, RN, a medical professional with Atrium Health in Charlotte, NC. “They allow immediate access to diagnoses, labs, tests and prescriptions, greatly improving patient care and, critically, safety.”

Internet of Things

As broadband internet becomes more widespread and the cost of connecting decreases, more devices are being designed with WiFi capabilities and sensors built into them. This ability to connect any device to the Internet is having a profound impact on healthcare management. Fitness trackers and other mobile health apps empower consumers to maintain their health more effectively and with greater autonomy. As consumers become more health conscious through the use of these apps, they’ll take up less time in healthcare centers, giving providers greater bandwidth for more critical health issues.

Physicians and emergency responders are also empowered by the development of fall detection, temperature monitors and other wearables that give real time access to patients even when they’re at home. Prescriptions management, sleep cycles and even a patient’s heartbeat can be monitored remotely to ensure premium healthcare at any time and in any location.

“Remote trackers, also known as telemetry, enable patients to get more consistent care and doctors to get more consistent knowledge about patient compliance. Patients also receive more regular care based on the fact that they are required to come into the office for monitoring,” Blalock says, adding, “As a placebo effect, it also seems to provide many patients with just more peace of mind.”

Augmented Intelligence

Augmented Intelligence (AI) has the capacity to optimize the performance of healthcare providers by amplifying and extending diagnoses. With the enhancements offered by AI, healthcare providers are able to access results faster and even automate nonessential aspects of their workload. This reduces wait times and speeds up the referral process, ensuring patients with urgent medical issues receive more immediate care.

Through the rapid analysis of expansive stores of data, AI also equips healthcare providers with improved predictive analytics models. Data that may have been merely warehoused by healthcare facilities in the past now has the potential to be used in early detection of diseases and the streamlined implementation of preventative healthcare.

Blalock notes that there’s still some hesitation among both patients and more traditional physicians when it comes to the use of AI, often because patients don’t completely understand that practitioners are using the AI to supplement their own interpretation. Instead, they fear that AI may be actually taking the place of personalized diagnoses.

“I think it’s a good resource in regard to predictive information,” she says, “Which seems to be the best use of AI by healthcare and the direction in which it’s moving. I do still think there should always be caution included in its use. Large healthcare corporations are constantly looking to reduce cost, and too frequently, they do this by reducing direct patient care providers.”

Antares: Your partner in healthcare technology

At Antares, we’ve spent thirty years successfully developing custom software for clients in the healthcare industry, including the Louisiana Department of Health; the Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center; McKesson Automated Prescription Systems and Amedisys, Inc., a leading provider of home health, hospice and personal care. Our experienced tech experts analyze your needs and design custom applications built to your exact specifications. Contact our team today to learn more about the technologies we’ve helped implement, and how we can help you achieve your business goals.

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Signs Your Internal Tech Team Needs Some Software Assistance

If you’re a small business making ends meet, commercial software is a great way to get tech advantages on a budget. As your business grows, however, you may discover that those standard, off-the-shelf business software solutions are a liability rather than an advantage to your internal tech team’s performance.

Standard software solutions don’t fit your workflow.

Your business offers unique benefits to your clients. It’s a safe bet that your extraordinary offerings are the result of proprietary processes you’ve developed to get the job done efficiently. Making those processes fit within the limitations of standard business software offerings can be tricky and time-consuming, stifling your tech team’s efficiency.

A custom software solution can be tailored to precisely align with your business goals, practices and processes. Your workflow will be more fluid and adaptable in an environment built to accommodate it, and your team won’t lose time trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.

Your team is losing time managing and maintaining commercial software.

Speaking of losing time, managing and maintaining commercial software can be a time waster for your tech team. When it comes to out-of-the-box software solutions, your team has minimal control over software-related issues. A lot of time is spent on phone calls to third-party software support and troubleshooting. When the software is updated, abandoned, or hijacked by hackers, your tech team has little to no control over the outcome.

When you outsource custom software development to build a more tailored solution, your tech team can head off potential problems by providing the exact specs that will best suit your business model. They’ll be able to exercise greater control over changes, updates, and development of future iterations, which ensures more productive time.

The whole team holds their breath whenever there’s an update.

Who hasn’t experienced the sudden crash of a system owing to an unexpected update? Standard business software solutions aren’t built for your convenience. They’re built for general convenience. It’s unlikely developers of a standard product are going to consult with your team before making updates, and those obligatory email notifications are too often lost in junk mail. Unanticipated updates and alterations can send your team scrambling for last minute solutions, leaving other daily business untended and your processes temporarily hobbled.

Custom software is developed specifically for you and your team. Updates are made based on your needs and schedule, giving your team time to prepare for transitions. Tailored solutions also allow you to plan ahead of necessary updates and schedule them advance, so your team isn’t at the mercy of a third-party’s whims.

Your existing software is restricting your company’s growth.

Growing beyond your standard software can be a challenge. Too many times, we ask internal tech teams to nip and tuck standard software to fit a burgeoning business model. Or worse, we attempt to keep a business squeezed into the boundaries set by commercial software. Both are surefire ways to stay stuck in second (or third or fourth) place forever. If your software can’t grow with your company, you need better software.

For thirty years, businesses have outsourced their custom software development to Antares because they want solutions that grows with them. We’ve worked with clients in healthcare, insurance, finance, oil & gas, and commercial product development to create tailored software applications that suit their unique needs.

What about your team? Is productivity down and frustration at an all time high? Are surprise updates and modifications disrupting your business flow? Get in touch with us today to develop a solution that optimizes your business operations and gives your tech team the software assistance they need.

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Does Your Employee Portal Align With Your Organization?

Alignment is always a critical component within any organization. Your employees have to be aligned with the values and mission of the company in order to create and maintain efficient processes. But first, employees have to be put in a position to succeed. One of the best ways to set them up for success is by optimizing your organization’s technology. Your employee portal is a valuable tool to help your employees work more efficiently, communicate more effectively and provide information to consumers quickly. Here’s how an effective employee portal can help align your company as a whole.

Streamline Business Communication

Without effective communication, no organization can operate efficiently. For many business owners, one of the most attractive attributes of portal development is providing a platform to allow employees within an organization to communicate easily. It may provide simple management of contact information, forms, announcements, access to discussion boards, etc. The better the communication tools are, the better the organization will operate as a whole.

Make Document Sharing Simple

Your employee portal should be a place where employees have easy access to all important documents. Of course, certain documents should only be seen by a limited number of eyes, so your software development services can place the proper restrictions on those as needed. Employees should be able to access documents quickly and easily in order to share them with other members of their organization, vendors or even customers. This is often a critical attribute of employee portals, especially for industries like healthcare and insurance.

Automate As Much As Possible

Gathering and reporting data can be a tedious and daunting process. However, an employee portal can automate these processes to make them more efficient. Business decisions can be more informed as a result of automation, since the information needed is readily available at all times. These automated processes have a trickle-down effect, as it makes the entire organization operate in the most efficient manner possible.

Product Information at Your Employees’ Fingertips

When clients request certain information, they expect to receive it right away. A portal solution will allow employees to access this information and deliver what the client needs. Providing the best service to your consumers should be a top priority.

Antares provides business technology solutions to companies in various industries, including healthcare, insurance, oil and gas, finance, product development and more. Our goal is to ensure your entire organization is aligned to solve any existing problems and eliminate future concerns. To learn how our solutions can benefit your company and clients, contact us today.

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Project Overview: DEMCO Web-based Budget Application

Dixie Electric Membership Corporation (DEMCO) is an electric cooperative serving more than 100,000 members in seven southeast Louisiana parishes. DEMCO engaged Antares to rewrite their 12-year-old legacy budgeting application and develop the new, more efficient web-based system. The DEMCO Budget Application supports their annual budget process, providing functionality for department managers, budget administrators and executive leadership to enter, review, revise and complete their budgets for the upcoming year. The app also imports historical data from DEMCO’s accounting system and helps them base future budgets on them.

The new system streamlined DEMCO’s budgeting process and allowed for more interactive reporting and easier updating of budget numbers. It automatically creates complex budgets for payroll and benefits based on a few simple factors they can adjust. It also interfaces with the cooperative’s General Ledger System to report actuals against budget values throughout the year. The General Ledger System is part of Southeastern Data Cooperative’s utility software package.



5 Myths You Shouldn’t Believe about Custom Software Development

Custom software development has come a long way in the last few decades. Now that the industry has evolved along with technological advancements, companies are getting a clearer sense of how custom software can benefit their business on many levels. However, even with the obvious benefits of custom software, some businesses may have misconceptions or may not completely understand all of the advantages. There are still some myths about custom software development services floating around, and here are some of the main ones you may have heard, but shouldn’t believe.

Only Cloud-Based Software is Customizable

The cloud has taken over all the talk when it comes to storing and using data. While the cloud is one of the top choices for businesses today, it’s not the only solution that’s customizable. The best software development outsourcing companies will work with you to develop software tailored to your needs. Whether it’s putting all data in the cloud or using an in-house software platform, companies have options when it comes to customizable software.

Custom Software is Too Expensive

Anything that’s customized tends to be more expensive than an off-the-shelf product. This isn’t true when it comes to custom software development. If you only look at the upfront cost, then it may appear a commercial software program is cheaper than custom software. However, if you analyze the numbers over time, you’ll typically see that the value of a custom software solution outweighs that of commercial software. If properly designed for your business over its lifetime of use, the cost of custom software will be much lower than commercial software and provides you a strong return on investment.

Commercial Software is Better Overall

A common misconception is since commercial software is built for various industries, it must be better. If you are working with a reputable software development company, not only is custom software on par with standard software products, it’s actually better since it’s tailored around your company’s specific needs.

You Can Only Work With One Custom Software Development Company

Just because a custom software development company works on your project doesn’t mean you have to work with the company forever. Any good software company should have the expertise to work with standard code, even if they have not developed it. So if you find the need to switch companies, you should be able to do so seamlessly.

Larger Companies Finish Projects More Quickly

Having more people at a larger custom software development company work on your project doesn’t necessarily mean it will be completed quicker. In fact, the opposite can actually be true. The more hands you have working on a project, the greater the risk is of miscommunication and other issues. Working with a reputable, trusted software development company that will determine the right-size project team is essential to the success of any project.

Antares has more than 30 years of experience providing the best custom software solutions for our clients. We’ve been through the tough times and the good times of custom software, so we know about every myth and misconception out there. See how we can help your business thrive through the use of innovative technology. Contact us today.

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What’s Trending in Custom Software Development?

Technology and software will always have new trends, and businesses who embrace them often come out ahead. Companies, specifically in the insurance, healthcare, oil and gas, finance and commercial product development industries, should keep up with the trends in custom software development to better serve their employees and clients. The more efficient your processes are, the better off business will be, especially when it comes to your bottom line. Here are some of the latest custom software trends you should be aware of.

Internet of Things Will Reach New Heights

Everyone has multiple devices today. With that said, most employers are becoming more open to allowing employees to use those devices to work anywhere and at any time. Using software development services to embrace the Internet of Things (IoT) has set some companies apart from the competition. Whether it’s having access to information quickly or making processes more efficient, addressing the growing trend of IoT is critical for businesses to stay ahead.

Blockchain Development

Blockchain software development services may have been the number one trend within the last year, and we predict it won’t be slowing down. Due to the complexities of blockchain development, hiring a reputable software development company is critical to the success of implementation and management. The process isn’t easy, but many large corporations have already implemented blockchain technology to boost efficiency and profits.

Data Integration, Reporting and Analytics

The concept of business intelligence isn’t new, but its importance has been made very clear recently. With data integration, reporting and analytics, organizations can become more efficient since important company information is readily available. These software development services allow managers to quickly access company information to stay on top of their business and have the ability to make informed decisions promptly.

Emphasis on Security

Cybersecurity is going to continue to be a hot topic for the foreseeable future. Cyber criminals don’t take any days off, but fortunately, neither does custom software. Every good custom software development package implemented into an organization today has built-in security measures to protect valuable information. This is especially important in the healthcare industry, where highly sensitive information is stored in a company’s database. As custom software continues to evolve, security will remain a priority.

Antares is celebrating 30 years of helping businesses determine the right software solutions for their organization. Our track record speaks for itself, as we have helped companies large and small develop more efficient processes, boost profits and remain secure at the same time. We always stay ahead of the latest trends in order to better serve our clients. Don’t hesitate to contact us to see how our solutions can benefit your organization.

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