News

Cyber Security Month

Hardly a week goes by without hearing news of yet another massive security breech. It's a scary world we live in.

October is Cyber Security Awareness month, so we wanted to take some time to talk about how we secure your information and practical steps you can take.

This list isn't comprehensive due to time/space requirements - but we want you to be secure!  So, if you are interested, we'd be glad to talk with you or send you additional resources that you can use.

How you can be more secure

  • Change your password regularly to keep attackers guessing. We're rolling out a new menu option that will let you change both your BosWeb and AS400 passwords at once!
  • Install OS, browser, anti-virus and Java updates promptly. Don't forget that Microsoft doesn't support Windows XP anymore - so now's the time to upgrade if you haven't already!
  • Try using a browser like Chrome or Firefox instead of Internet Explorer. Both of these browsers will warn you about potential security threats on the internet.

Some of the ways we help secure your information

  • Firewalls and other anti-intrusive measures protect the outside (and insides) of our network.
  • Encryption is used to protect in case laptops get stolen or someone tries to eavesdrop on our employees when they sign on remotely.
  • Backups are stored off site in a secured/monitored vault.

Cargo/Manifest/Entry Release Status Query

Many people have asked about the new Cargo/Manifest/Entry Release query announced in CSMS# 14-000542. Unfortunately, this message was only announcing a test pilot that CBP doesn't have in production yet. We've already been working with CBP on testing the new system and have found/reported several issues.

Please note that this new function only works for ACE releases. We have built this in behind the current ACS cargo release query so that if you are using ACE it will send both the ACE & ACS query as you probably do not know how the entry was submitted. We will let you know as soon as CBP makes it available in production.

ACE Cargo Release

Some may be wondering when we're planning on supporting ACE cargo release. Don't worry - it's in the works, we just haven't released it yet since the current CBP system doesn't support any OGA data (not even disclaimers!). We plan to release our software once CBP has added OGA support.

E-Bond

You may have heard recent discussion of the new eBond initiative at CBP. The system won't be live at CBP until January, but we're already working with both CBP and surety companies to make sure you'll be ready.

Under eBond you'll need to submit HTS values to the surety before you file your entry release if you're using an STB. This will dramatically affect your release sequence for STB based entries:

  1. Collect fully classified entry data
  2. Send eBond transaction to the surety (we're already working with the major sureties so you can do this right from within our software!)
  3. Surety will transmit the bond information to CBP for approval.
  4. CBP (and the surety) will notify you about approval/rejection.
  5. Once the bond is approved our software will submit the release automatically.

Is ACE on your radar?

If ACE isn't on your radar yet it should be! Don't forget that ALL entries must be filed via ACE by November 1, 2015 - that's just 13 short months from today.

Filing via ACE isn't difficult but it will impact the way you do your entry process. So, you'll want to make sure you leave plenty of time for your staff to adjust.

If you ARE using Xcb:

  • Read our ACE guide and contact support to learn how to file ACE entries.

If you AREN'T using Xcb:

  • We're making the transition easier by offering a discount on upgrade fees until the end of this month. On November 1st, prices will increase. Contact sales for more information.

Brokers have already filed thousands of ACE entries with Xcb, so there's no time like the present to make the switch!

Tickets - but not for speeding

Starting Monday October 6, we're rolling out a new support system in house. This system will help us resolve issues faster. There's only a few changes that you'll need to be aware of as we migrate to this new system:

  • Email the main support address - not individual techs: This helps us ensure your request can be addressed promptly by any available tech.
  • Expect a ticket number in the subject line: The ticket number helps us track an issue from start to finish. You don't need to remember it, but if you have it handy we can find the issue faster.
  • We'll remind you if we're waiting on information: We'll send you a reminder email if we're waiting on information to continue working on a ticket. 

Special thanks to everyone that’s helped us test this new system over the last few weeks!

On our way to WesCCon

We will be at WesCCon in San Diego October 15-19th. If you're attending too or are in the area, we'd love to meet you in person! Feel free to grab one of us in the hallway or you could schedule an organized time to sit down and talk by emailing us.

If not, now’s your opportunity.  Last week we released our long awaited ACE software upgrade.  Already, several brokers have successfully filed their first ACE entries.  Join them in making the transition to this new Customs system.

But first, you need to make sure you’re using Xcb (our current system).  ACE support is automatically available to all clients that have made the switch to Xcb.   SO, if you’re still using CB (our legacy software), you’ll need to upgrade to take advantage of ACE filing and use all the other new features that come with Xcb.

Filing entries using ACE doesn't just mean that you get new fields, it also means you’ll need to rethink the processes you use to file your entries.   So, we've designed a handy guide that walks you through the steps you’ll need to take to successfully file your first entry using this new system.

To make your transition even easier, from now through October 31, 2014, we’re offering reduced pricing for existing CB users to upgrade to ACE with Xcb. So, if you haven’t upgraded yet – now’s the best time to do so.

Important dates

  • NOW - ACE entry summary available for Xcb users.
  • 11/1/2015 - All entry summaries and cargo releases must be filed using ACE (Customs set this date, not us).
  • 10/1/2016 - ACS completely phased out.

Xtheta’s software is now certified for ACE!   So, now’s your chance to start taking advantage of the new functionality ACE provides.  This includes changes to entry summary, post summary correction, census error overrides, and ADD/CVD cases.
 

SaaS/ASP Clients Rolled out the week of July 14th
Standalone Clients Scheduling starts July 21st

 

How do we start using ACE?

In order to use ACE, you must be running on Xcb.  If you haven’t switched to Xcb yet, please contact us and we’ll be glad to assist you.

Once you’re on Xcb, you’ll need to work with your ABI reps to get set up for ACE on the customs side. CBP has assured us that you won’t need to do client testing.

You’ll probably want to take a measured approach to rolling out ACE to your clients:

  • Pick an individual to be the ACE expert and transition specialist.  You will need to get some expertise on this before letting everyone loose.
  • Pick one or two clients to pilot ACE entries (see the next section if you aren’t sure whether a client is a good fit).  You can roll it out to more clients once you’ve worked through some of the internal procedural changes that ACE requires
  • Be prepared for differences between ACE procedures and the ACS procedures you’re already familiar with.  We will be issuing detailed documents for this as the entry process is very different from ACS.  The entry programs have some new data fields/screens which you will need to understand.

ACE still has several limitations on CBP’s side.  So you’ll want to make sure that you only bring up clients that are good candidates.

In general look for clients that fit the following criteria:

  • Must use entry type 01, 03 or 11
    Reason: ACE only supports those entry types currently
  • Shouldn’t file Lacey entries
    Reason: ACE doesn’t support electronic Lacey declarations: you’d need to use paper
  • Client shouldn’t use combined tariff
    Reason: We don’t support combined tariff yet for ACE.
  • Client should have some small to mid-size entries
    Reason:  A bug in ACE on CBP’s side currently limits the size of entries.
  • Client should be flexible
    Reason: CBP still experiences periodic ACE related issues, so entries may need to get canceled and resubmitted via ACS from time to time.

Where are we going from here?

We’ll be adding support for Document Imaging System (DIS) later this fall.   This will let you send your documents to CBP electronically and will finally start moving the import business to a truly paperless environment. 

Later this year CBP will be adding support for ACE cargo release and PGAs.  When that support is available, we’ll update our software to take advantage of the new functions.

Welcome to our very first Xtheta INSIGHTS issue of the new year!  We hope you find this information useful as you navigate the complicated world of import.  If you have any questions, comments, or thoughts for a future issue please let us know!

ACE

We have told you before that CBP’s ACE system just was not ready for prime time.  But, they have been steadily rolling out fixes over the last few months and April’s release “C” will include important tariff/MPF validations.  While ACE’s entry summary module still is not complete enough to replace ACS, it will finally be a viable option for simple entries.  So, we feel comfortable pushing it out to our user base.

Easier Entry Program

As part of our upcoming ACE support, we will be releasing a new Xcb based entry program that supports both ACE and ACS.  The interface works similarly to the interface we’ve rolled out for In-Bonds and ISF. 

The new program simplifies the user interface and should greatly enhance user throughput.  The first obvious change is a dashboard that shows the status of your entries:  most recent entries will show at the top of the screen, with full tracking search included.   We have also integrated some of the best features from our AII/RLF system.  In some cases you only need to enter 2 screens to complete an entry, shipment details, and the lines on the invoice.  You do not need to use AII/RLF to get these benefits: this entry system still includes all the entry types.

It is important to remember that you will only get the new entry program and ACE support if you are signed up for Xcb.   The old programs will continue to be available for a short time, but will only work with ACS.  We will be phasing them out once ACE becomes mandatory.  So, please do not wait to prepare for the future:  contact support or sales to get the ball rolling.

Xcb

After much delay, we will also be rolling out a new Xcb web interface in parallel with the ACE and Entry changes.  This major update will include many new features throughout the whole system.  Some of the new features include several additional reporting options, text message notifications, an integrated help system and optional document imaging with workflow / barcoding support.

Other notes

We are working on documentation for all these new features and will keep you posted about current status.  While these changes do make the system much easier to use, we also understand that you’ll need some time to train your staff.   We will be rolling out our release in early March to give you time to familiarize yourself with the new screens before taking the plunge.  We will still support the old interface for ACS shipments in case you need additional time to transition.