Technology trends blog posts

Security and cyber liability panel discussion

Published January 20, 2023

New River Computing recently hosted a panel discussion on security and cyber liability featuring the following panelists:

The panel was moderated by Jeff Nosenzo - Vice President of Brown Insurance.

If you missed out on the panel or want to revisit it, you can check it out in the video above!

The cost of "free" software

Published April 11, 2016

Have you ever been tempted to try to acquire expensive software without paying for it? It turns out that &quto;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.)

Top 5 risks of outdated technology

Published February 16, 2016

Click on the image below to view Microsoft’s infographic of The Risky Business of Outdated Technology!

Microsoft infographic about risks of using outdated technology.

We can help - contact us for a free network review.

HIPAA security – keeping data secure

Published July 24, 2015

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.

When we think of breeches in data we first think of “hackers.” According to Symantec, the healthcare industry is a hot target for hackers because medical records contain valuable personal information such as social security numbers, birth and death dates, billing information, etc.  Criminals use this information to buy medical equipment, drugs that can be resold, or combine a patient number with a false provider number and file made-up claims with insurers.

Background systems managed by good IT Management firms (like NRC) can reduce the hacker threat. Now your agency is left to face the bigger threat of human error. According to USA today, 80% of the breeches that occur are rooted in employee negligence, by human error or the less frequent rogue employee.  According to hipaajournal – 31% of the breeches reported are due to lost or stolen devices, 29% to criminal attacks, 8% to a malicious insider, and 29% to employee errors.

There are some simple steps each employee can take to minimize errors:

  • Stolen or lost devices (including removable media) should be reported to the Security Officer immediately.
  • Protect your passwords – don’t write them down, post them, or share them.

Tip: develop a password based on a phrase, song, or poem that you know well!

  • Log off computer when not in use – if even for a minute.
  • Have a guest visiting your office? Close up your machine (ctrl + l should do it).
  • Don’t let others use your computer.
  • Don’t download programs on your computer without talking with IT (some of those programs look fine but are actually designed to glean information).
  • Be careful to whom you send that email! If you have to send email, encrypt it.

Administrator tips:

  • Limit BYODs unless there is a solid system for protecting information such as Windows 8.1 Enterprise solutions and Office 365.
  • Don’t let guests on your network! Set up a guest account!
  • Track activity! Watch out for rogue employees.
  • Immediately disable access to systems when employees leave the agency.
  • Have a solid policy in place that addresses how company equipment, software, and access is used.
  • Limit employees’ ability to use removable media and disable printing where it makes sense.

How will users upgrade to Windows 10?

Published March 18, 2015

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, “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.

Here is how users will be able to get this free upgrade:

Windows 10 upgrade path matrix

More information from Microsoft regarding Windows 10 can be found here.

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