Category: Tech Insight

Proposal to drop TLS 1.2 support in early 2025

Proposal to deprecate Transport Layer Security TLS 1.2

Transport Layer Security – or “TLS”- is a cryptographic mechanism to facilitate secure connections and communications across the internet. For example, the https network connection between your device and secure websites or applications, like MIDAS.

Several incarnations of the Transport Layer Security protocol have been developed over the years, the most recent being 1.3:

ProtocolReleasedCurrent Status
TLS 1.01999Deprecated
TLS 1.12006Deprecated
TLS 1.22008In use since 2008
TLS 1.32018In use since 2018
TLS Protocol History

TLS 1.0 and 1.1 are now considered “legacy protocols” and “weak” by today’s cryptographic standards. That’s because they’re susceptible to several vulnerabilities. Modern web browsers automatically default to preferring more secure TLS 1.2 and 1.3 connections. In fact, they may even display a warning when connecting to a website that only supports the now obsolete TLS 1.0/1.1 protocols.

As security and cryptographic standards have evolved over the years, we have too! We’ve previously dropped support for TLS 1.0 connections to our network in 2017. We then subsequently dropped support for TLS 1.1 connections in 2020.

As part of our ongoing commitment to security, we’re now proposing to also deprecate support for TLS 1.2 connections to our client servers in early 2025. Going forward, we propose to only support TLS 1.3 (the latest Transport Layer Security protocol version) connections.

But wait.. isn’t TLS 2.0 still considered secure?

In the past few years, researchers have discovered cryptographic weakness in the ciphers and algorithms that TLS 1.2 uses.

While TLS 1.2 can still be used, it is no longer considered the most secure option. TLS 1.2 is only considered “safe” when weak ciphers and algorithms are removed.

On the other hand, TLS 1.3 supports the latest modern encryption with stronger encryption algorithms and more robust authentication mechanisms. At time of writing, it currently has no known vulnerabilities, and also offers performance improvements over TLS 1.2.

What impact would disabling TLS 2.0 support have?

Most modern browsers and operating systems support TLS 1.3.

Therefore, the vast majority of users will be unaffected by our proposal to switch off support for TLS 1.2 in early 2025. However, if you’re using an older device or operating system, you may need to take action.

Here’s a list of browsers and devices that will be affected when TLS 1.2 connections are blocked:

  • Internet Explorer: All versions of Internet Explorer do not support TLS 1.3. This should not impact any of our users, as our MIDAS software has not been supported in IE since 2019.
  • Edge Legacy: Versions of Edge Legacy prior to April 2018 do not support TLS 1.3. Users would need to update to a newer version of Edge or a different browser.
  • Safari on macOS 10.12 Sierra or earlier: These older macOS versions do not support TLS 1.3 in Safari. Users would need to upgrade their macOS or use a different browser.
  • Very old versions of other browsers: Browsers that haven’t been updated in several years might not support TLS 1.3.
  • Older Android devices: Devices running Android 9 (and earlier versions) do not support TLS 1.3.
  • Older iOS devices: Devices running iOS 12 (and earlier versions) do not support TLS 1.3.

Web browsers and devices that do support TLS 1.3:

  • Microsoft Edge (current versions): Supported since April 2018 (Edge 79+)
  • Google Chrome: Supported since April 2018 (Chrome 70+)
  • Mozilla Firefox: Supported since October 2017 (Firefox 63+)
  • Apple Safari (on macOS 10.13 High Sierra or later): Supported since September 2018 (Safari 14+)
  • Opera: Supported since April 2018 (Opera 57+)
  • Android: Android 10 (or later)
  • iOS: iOS 13 (or later)

Important Information For Hosted API users:

If you’re a cloud-hosted MIDAS customer utilizing the optional MIDAS API you may need to take action before TLS 1.2 connections to our network are disabled in early 2025.

You’ll need to ensure that your applications and the underlying programming language you develop in can support (and are correctly configured for) TLS 1.2 connections.

For instance Java 7 (1.7) (and lower) and .NET 4.7 (and lower) languages don’t support TLS 1.1/1.2.

If your applications/programming languages do not support TLS 1.3 encryption, your MIDAS API calls will begin to fail in early 2025 once we disable TLS 1.2 support across our network.

Please refer to the vendor of your programming language if you’re unsure whether it supports TLS 1.3, or for assistance enabling such support in your development environment.

Remind me again.. when is this all happening?

Currently, we are proposing to drop support for TLS 1.2 connections to our network in early 2025.

We have not fixed a specific date in 2025 for this as yet (as we want to hear from you – see below).

However, anything can change over the course of a year. Should new vulnerabilities be discovered in TLS 1.2 during 2024, this may prompt us to bring our plans to deprecate 1.2 support forward.

We Want To Hear From You!

We are currently only proposing to deprecate TLS 1.2 connections to our network in early 2025.

However, we’re open to feedback from you our users in the meantime.

If you feel you have a particular usage case that would require continued reliance on TLS 1.2 support, please reach out to us to discuss.


Optimizing Source Code with AI

Optimizing Software Code using AI

Often in the release notes for our MIDAS room scheduling software, you may see the entry “Code Optimization”.

What is “Code Optimization”?

Code optimization is the process of refining our software’s source code to make it execute more efficiently, consume fewer resources, or improve its overall performance. It involves strategically modifying source code whilst at the same time ensuring the new code still produces the correct results.

Key goals of source code optimization:

  • Enhanced speed: Executing tasks more quickly
  • Reduced resource consumption: Using less memory, CPU cycles, or power
  • Improved scalability: Handling larger workloads effectively
  • Maintainability: Making code easier to understand and modify

Some common source code optimization techniques involve:

  • Algorithm optimization: Choosing more efficient algorithms
  • Loop optimization: Reducing loop iterations or overhead
  • Memory optimization: Minimizing memory usage and allocations
  • Input/output optimization: Streamlining data reading and writing
  • Caching: Storing frequently used data for faster access
  • Compiler optimization: Leveraging compiler features for automatic optimization
  • Profiling: Identifying performance bottlenecks to focus optimization efforts

Code Optimization in MIDAS

Over the years we’ve been developing MIDAS, all our code optimization work has been done manually.

This work has involved attempting to simplify and rewrite parts of the source code to be more efficient.

Code Optimizing with AI

In our latest release, MIDAS v4.35, for the very first time, a small section of source code has been optimized with the assistance of AI (or Artificial Intelligence).

We did this as an experiment to see whether AI could potentially be used to aid our development processes in the future.

We chose a small “subroutine” from our software and asked an AI if it could optimize it for us.

A “subroutine” is essentially a small block of code which can be re-used and “called” repeatedly during a program’s execution.

The subroutine within the MIDAS software code that we asked an AI if it could optimize for us was basically a function which converts dates to “epoch” time.

Epoch time is the number of seconds that have elapsed since January 1, 1970 (midnight UTC/GMT).

How did the AI do?

Our original subroutine was 15 lines of code long. AI was able to optimize this down to just 9 lines of code.

However, the initial source code that the AI generated for us did not just work “out of the box”. In fact, it didn’t work at all!

But using this AI generated code as a “template”, our team was able to modify the generated code so that it worked and produced the correct results.

Our team then extensively tested the new subroutine to ensure that it consistently produced the same expected output as the original subroutine.

Once we had a working subroutine that we were confident in, the next step was to “benchmark” the new routine against the old one. After all, there would be no point in using the new routine if there were no performance gains to be had, or indeed if the new code performed worse than the original.

To test this, we ran each subroutine 10,000,000 (10 million times), and analyzed the results:

Our Original Subroutine:
30 wallclock secs (30.28 usr + 0.00 sys = 30.28 CPU) @ 330229.18/s (n=10000000)

AI Optimized Subroutine:
27 wallclock secs (27.09 usr + 0.00 sys = 27.09 CPU) @ 369085.41/s (n=10000000)

To explain the above results, over 10 million iterations of each subroutine, the new AI optimized subroutine was more efficient. It ran (executed) quicker, and consumed less processing (CPU) power to achieve the same results as the original subroutine.

On our test server, the optimized subroutine was able to run 369,085 times in the space of one second, compared with 330,229 times in the space of a second for the original subroutine.

Ok, so the original subroutine was pretty quick and efficient to begin with – but with the assistance of AI, we were able to improve its efficiency by almost 12%.

Where do we go from here?

Firstly, don’t worry, Artificial Intelligence is not about to take over the development of our MIDAS software!

MIDAS has been – and will remain – coded, developed, and maintained by human programmers.

But our experiment – on a very small part of our code – has demonstrated that AI tools may be able to assist our human developers to write ever more efficient source code.

The result of such carefully applied optimizations is that our software can potentially run faster, use resources more efficiently, and provide a better overall user experience.


What AI thinks about MIDAS?

What rivals ChatGPT and Google Bard think about MIDAS

It’s an exciting time in the world of Artificial Intelligence (AI), especially when it comes to AI powered interactive chat “bots”.

You may well have heard about “ChatGPT“, which is funded by Microsoft, and who are now starting to integrate its capabilities into the Bing search engine.

You may have also heard about Google’s rival, “Bard” (now know as “Gemini”), who are also integrating their AI chat bot into their search engine.

So for a bit of fun, we decided to put both of these leading AI chat bots to the test. We asked them both a very simple question to see if they knew…

“What is MIDAS room booking software?”

Here’s what ChatGPT has to say…

MIDAS (which stands for Meeting Room Scheduling) is a web-based software application designed to help organizations manage their room booking and scheduling needs. The software allows users to book meeting rooms, conference rooms, and other facilities quickly and easily, and provides a range of tools to help manage the booking process efficiently.

MIDAS allows users to set up and manage multiple rooms, view real-time availability, and make bookings directly through the software. It also includes features such as email notifications, automated invoicing, and reporting tools to help track usage and optimize room allocation.

MIDAS is a popular choice for businesses, schools, and other organizations that need to manage their room scheduling needs efficiently. It is easy to use, flexible, and customizable, making it suitable for a wide range of applications.

– ChatGPT

Here’s what Google’s Bard has to say…

MIDAS is a cloud-based room booking software that helps businesses and organizations of all sizes manage their meeting and event spaces. With MIDAS, users can easily book rooms, track room availability, and manage room reservations. MIDAS also offers a variety of features that can help businesses save time and money, such as:

  • Real-time availability: MIDAS provides real-time availability of rooms, so users can always see which rooms are available and book them quickly and easily.
  • Group booking: MIDAS makes it easy for users to book rooms for groups, so they can easily coordinate their schedules and ensure that everyone has a space to meet.
  • Reporting: MIDAS provides detailed reports on room usage, so businesses can track their spending and make informed decisions about how to allocate their resources.
  • Integrations: MIDAS integrates with a variety of other business systems, so users can easily manage their room bookings from within their existing workflows.

MIDAS is a powerful and flexible room booking software that can help businesses and organizations of all sizes save time and money. With MIDAS, users can easily book rooms, track room availability, and manage room reservations. MIDAS also offers a variety of features that can help businesses save time and money, such as real-time availability, group booking, reporting, and integrations.

Here are some of the benefits of using MIDAS room booking software:

  • Save time and money: MIDAS can help businesses save time and money by automating the room booking process. With MIDAS, users can easily book rooms, track room availability, and manage room reservations. This can free up staff time to focus on other tasks, and it can also help businesses avoid overbooking and underutilizing their meeting and event spaces.
  • Improve efficiency: MIDAS can help businesses improve efficiency by providing a centralized platform for managing room bookings. With MIDAS, users can easily see which rooms are available, book rooms, and track room reservations. This can help businesses avoid the hassle of manually tracking room availability and booking rooms.
  • Increase collaboration: MIDAS can help businesses increase collaboration by providing a platform for users to share information about room bookings. With MIDAS, users can easily see which rooms are available, book rooms, and track room reservations. This can help businesses ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to meeting and event planning.

Overall, MIDAS is a powerful and flexible room booking software that can help businesses and organizations of all sizes save time and money. With MIDAS, users can easily book rooms, track room availability, and manage room reservations. MIDAS also offers a variety of features that can help businesses improve efficiency and increase collaboration.

– Bard

Our thoughts…

We have to admit that on this occasion, we preferred Google Bard’s response. It was certainly a more in depth summary of our MIDAS software.

ChatGPT’s response – whilst concise – was a little misleading. It claimed that “MIDAS” stands for “Meeting Room Scheduling”.

Whilst MIDAS is indeed a meeting room scheduling system, the acronym “MIDAS” itself doesn’t stand for “Meeting Room Scheduling”. For a clue as to what MIDAS does stand for, see this blog post.

AI chatbots are certainly having a bumpy ride of late.

Back in February this year, $100bn was wiped off Google’s parent company, Alphabet’s shares, after Bard made a mistake and investors became nervous.

More recently, a man widely considered to be the “godfather” of Artificial Intelligence, who quit his job at Google, has warned about the growing dangers from developments in the field.

When two big rivals – Google and Microsoft – both launch competing AI ChatBots, the race is on. Yet many are warning that we need to slow down AI development and ensure that ethics are taken into account.

In the fifteen plus years that we’ve been developing MIDAS, we’ve seen (and implemented) numerous technological advances. It’s exciting – if not also a little scary – to think where the advancements in AI might take us in just a few year’s time.

UPDATE: January 2024: We’ve used AI for the first time to help optimize some of our MIDAS code! Read more about this in our optimizing code with AI blog post.

UPDATE: February 2024: “Bard” has now been rebranded as “Gemini”.


World Backup Day 2022

The 31st of March each year is World Backup Day. This day is designed to help raise awareness of the importance of keeping your critical data backed-up.

A “backup” is an additional copy of all your important files and data – for example, your family photos, home videos, documents and emails.

Instead of keeping a single copy just in one place (like your computer), the idea is that you also keep another secondary copy of everything somewhere else as well. That way, if anything should happen to the device where your original data is stored, you’ll still have a “backup” copy stored elsewhere.

Here at MIDAS HQ, we strongly believe in the importance of regularly backing-up data you can’t afford to loose. We’ve built in a number of backup features to our leading room booking and resource scheduling software to do just that!

How MIDAS backs up your data

MIDAS seamlessly makes complete and automated backups of its own database. It does this upon the first successful login each and every day. These backups are compressed, and typically backups are less than 1MB each in size. Backups are also encrypted, and stored on your MIDAS server for a length of time you specify, typically 7-30 days.

To further protect your data, these automated daily backups can optionally also be emailed daily to a specific email address too. This feature allows you to retain your own “off-site” copies of your MIDAS data within no effort!

In addition to the automated daily backups which your MIDAS system takes, we also provide the ability to instantly generate an backup at any time too! An administrator can navigate to MIDAS Admin Options → Manage MIDAS → Database, and use the one-click “Backup Now” button. We really couldn’t make it easier to backup your MIDAS data on-demand!

Restoring Backups

Database backups (whether generated manually or automatically) can be easily and readily restored at any time. You can choose to partially restore a part of a backup, or restore it in full – at any time, all through a simple interface. This may be accessed through MIDAS Admin Options → Manage MIDAS → Database → Restore. So, should you ever wish to “roll back” your MIDAS system to an earlier point in time, or if you suffer a massive server failure and loose data, you can have your MIDAS system back up and running again in no time!

Database Backup and Restore in MIDAS
Database Backup and Restore in MIDAS

For more information on the backup and restore features of MIDAS, please see mid.as/help/manage-database-settings

For our “cloud hosted” customers, we also take complete database backups three times a day. A daily backup is then separately stored off-site for a period of six months.

So as you’ll see from the above features and processes we’ve built into our software, we take backups seriously! We make it painless to ensure your important MIDAS booking data can be easily backed up and restored with minimal fuss!

Whilst you can be confident your MIDAS data is taken care of, why not take a moment to backup your own important personal files on World Backup Day? Your family photos, home videos, documents and emails are important! Can you afford to loose them!? Yes, it may be a little tedious, but you’ll be glad you did should anything ever happen to your files!

How many backups of my important data should I make?

As a general rule, it’s a good idea to have at least three copies of your important data. At least one of these copies should be kept off-site or in the cloud. This is known as the 3-2-1 backup rule.

Here’s what it means:

  • Keep at least three copies of your data, including the original data and two backups.
  • Store the copies on two different types of media, such as an external hard drive and a cloud storage service.
  • Keep one of the backups off-site. Either in a different physical location or in the cloud, to protect against disasters like fire, theft, or flooding.

By following the 3-2-1 backup rule, you can ensure your important data is protected even if one copy is lost, damaged, or destroyed.

It’s also a good idea to regularly test your backups too! Testing a backups ensure they are working properly in the event you’ll need to access them. It’s important to update your backups regularly too – to keep them current.