IT Consulting and Tech Support Blog

FindTime—an awesome meeting scheduling tool

FindTime screen shot

Okay, scheduling more than one person for a meeting is hard. Millions of electrons give their lives for the countless numbers of emails saying stuff like “Hey can you do Monday at 10:00”, “No howbout Tuesday at 3:00”, “That doesn’t work for me”; which led to tools, perhaps the most popular being Doodle that allowed for meeting polls.

Microsoft likes to keep up with the Joneses, or, in this case, the Doodles. One way they do keep up is by purchasing, like they did with MileIQ. The other way is that they do things in-house, which is the case with FindTime, written by the experimental folks at Microsoft Garage. FindTime is a meeting polling add-in for Outlook that helps suggest the best meeting times. The cool thing is, of course, it is integrated with Office 365 and will suggest the best meeting times for each recipient in your organization. Of course, it doesn’t know the status of attendees outside your organization (but I bet they are working on it).

Here’s a one-minute intro on YouTube.

It is worth a look. Protip: Avoid using the “calendar hold” feature, it can lead to clutter in the attendees’ calendars. I really like this tool, and I think you will, too.

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MileIQ Premium now integrated into Office 365

Microsoft is constantly adding features to 365, so I’m going to try to keep everyone abreast of some of the cooler features as they roll out.

So my wife has been hassling me for years to try MileIQ for tracking my work-related driving. She uses it for her business and absolutely loves it because she drives a lot. But the last thing I needed was yet another app to sign into, keep track of, blah blah blah. Basically, I’m lazy, and I just didn’t want to deal with the hassle. But now I’m out of excuses: MileIQ premium is now integrated into most Office 365 subscriptions, and is totally free.

If you need to keep track of your travels for business (or any reason, really), and you are on 365, you can go to www.mileiq.com/office365, sign in, and see if your O365 plan qualifies.

I have not been able to track down which 365 plans include MileIQ, even after conversations with our Microsoft Partner Support folks. We’ll update everyone in a future newsletter as soon as Microsoft catches up to itself.

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The Cost of “Free” Software

Have you ever been tempted to try to acquire expensive software without paying for it? It turns out that “free” software can be more expensive than one might think!

Take Photoshop for example: Subscribers can sign up and start using Photoshop for as little as $10, a far cry from the high upfront cost that it used to be, in the range of $600+. Adobe’s move to this subscription model makes it easy for aspiring artists or even amateur photographers to use the professional software at a reasonable cost.

Don’t want to pay? Cracked versions of Photoshop are illegal, and trying to obtain them can lead to more than just legal trouble. A Google search for “Photoshop crack”, “Photoshop key”, or similar keywords can yield a wide array of results. It’s possible that some of these results will actually lead to a download of Photoshop. However, many of them can lead to pages full of malware, viruses, or worse.

When searching for a “free” version of copyright protected information or product, there is a high probability of coming across websites that are less than trustworthy. Often times, these sites have malicious advertisements or pop-ups that are created to harm the computer and the entire network that is connected to it.

New River Computing has seen quite a few “ransomware” infections in recent weeks as a result of Flash ads from searches, malicious email links, and more. Here’s an example of what can go wrong:

We received a call about some files not being accessible. Our engineers connected to the server and immediately noticed the issue—all of the client’s files had been encrypted by a malicious virus. Our team jumped into action right away and disabled access to the server to stop the encryption process. The next step was to identify the infected computer. After a bit of digging, the computer was identified and steps were taken to determine how it became infected. By stepping through the web browser’s search history, several sites associated with free software were identified. Many of these sites contained pop-ups and Flash-based ads. It was eventually determined that the infection came from a compromised Flash ad stream.

Here’s how the virus works:

  1. The virus installs using a security flaw
  2. It searches for files to encrypt, scanning the network for shared folders on other computers and servers
  3. Then the virus encrypts (locks or conceals) the files and folders making it impossible for you to retrieve them
  4. The virus reveals itself when you try to access a file or folder and you see a pop up with an “800” number to call for the ransom
  5. If you call the number and pay them, they may release your files and folders; or they could take your credit card information and go on vacation

After all is said and done, several engineers worked simultaneously in order to regain control and scrub the network, adding up to about 11 hours, with the cleanup cost totaling around $1500. Comparing the costs of a virus remediation vs the costs of paying for Adobe Photoshop: For the same price as the infection cleanups, the user could have had the full Photoshop subscription for 30 months (2 ½ Years) or just the photography suite for 150 months (or 12 ½ years.).

We should note that we were able to restore all files that had been encrypted, because there was a complete and current backup.

As Robert H. Heinlein once said, “TANSTAAFL!” (There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.)

 

Posted in Backups, Exploits, New River Computing News, Security Products, Vulnerabilities, Web Security | Leave a comment

Top 5 Risks of Outdated Technology

Click on the image below to view Microsoft’s infographic of The Risky Business of Outdated Technology!

MS_RiskyBusiness_v13

We can help – Contact us for a free network review!

Posted in Exploits, Microsoft Windows, Technology Trends | Leave a comment

The most destructive computer viruses – infographic

Supreme Systems IT put together this infographic about the “most destructive” computer viruses of all-time. It gives a broad overview and history of computer viruses and malicious software.

computer virus infographic

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HIPAA security – keeping data secure

If you are a “covered entity” under the HIPAA Security rule, then you already know that your company (and thus your employees) collect a lot of protected health information (aka PHI). PHI is basically information about another person that is not for public knowledge but needed in order to conduct business. What business? Information that insurance companies need to process claims and health care professionals need for continuity of care.

Due to more recent mandates, healthcare entities have been required to use electronic health records where patient information is entered, accessed, stored, and distributed through computer and web based programs.  The HIPAA security rule simply states that all data that pertains to PHI must be secure and not accessible by persons that do not need to know or by persons that intend to harm. Continue reading »

Posted in Exploits, Mobile Security, Technology Trends, Uncategorized, Vulnerabilities, Web Security | Leave a comment

How will users upgrade to Windows 10?

Windows 10 Logo

Microsoft seems to be (mostly) following Apple’s OSX strategy by making its own upcoming OS “Windows 10” a free upgrade. According to Thurrott.com, “Microsoft says it will deliver the final version of Windows 10 to 190 countries sometime between June 21 and September 23, 2015.” The update will be available to existing Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 customers. Continue reading »

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5 Ways to Avoid a Phishing Attack

Here at New River Computing, we like to share interesting infographics as we come across them. Our main goal is to try and disseminate intricate IT related information quickly and clearly, to as many users as possible.

This particular one deals with Phishing Attacks. We hope it helps. Stay Safe!

Continue reading »

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Craigslist Resume Scam Spreads Trojan Virus

Reports of “Craigslist résumé” viruses have skyrocketed in recent months. Some of our clients here at New River Computing have unfortunately fallen victim to this recent outbreak. Thankfully, we’ve been successful at cleaning up the aftermath, but often the remediation process is long and arduous due to the sophistication of the malware. Continue reading »

Posted in Exploits, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Windows, Virus Outbreak Alerts, Vulnerabilities, Web Security | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Matt Stuart featured on WDBJ7 cyber security report

NRC’s Matt Stuart was recently interviewed for a feature on Ronaoke’s WDBJ7 about cyber-security and how you can protect yourself this Cyber Monday. Matt discussed some of the recent trends in security vulnerabilities include cold-calls from scammers falsely claiming to be Microsoft support representatives, and spoofed websites that fool users into thinking they are visiting a legitimate site. You can check out Matt’s advice on the video clip above.

Keep in mind that Microsoft, along with most other legitimate technology companies, will never call you out of the blue and ask for credit card information or access to your computer.

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