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Monthly Archives: October 2016

Types of Computer Threats

The classification of the types of information security threats is made on the way the information in the system is compromised upon. There are the passive threats and the active threats. The passive threats are very difficult to detect and equally difficult to prevent as well. Then there are the active threats. Since these threats continue to make changes to the system, they are easy to find out and fix as well.

Virus: The most common of the types of cyber threats are the viruses. They infect different files on the computer network or on the stand alone systems. Most people fall prey to the viruses, as they trick the person into taking some action, like clicking on a malicious link, downloading a malicious file, etc. It is from these links and files, that the virus is transmitted to the computer. There are also cases of the viruses been a part of an email attachment, which may be downloaded from the internet. In some cases, the viruses can also spread through infected portable data storage as well. Hence, it is important to have an antivirus on the system, which can not only detect the virus, but be able to get rid of them as well.

Worms: The other common types of internet security threats are the worms. They are actually malicious programs, which take advantage of the weaknesses in the operating system. Like the worms in real life crawl to move from one place to another, similarly the worms in the cyber world also spread from one computer to another and from one network to another. The most prominent feature of the worms is that they are able to spread at very high rates, which can lead the system being at risk of crashing. There is a type of worm, called net worm. These worms replicates itself by sending complete and independent copes of itself over a network, thereby infecting almost all the systems on the said network.

Trojan: This is a different type of computer virus, which is disguised under the garbs of a friend. The Trojans derive their name from the legend. They make their way into the software, which may not be noticed. It is often seen, that the Trojans are a part of the different attachments in emails or download links. In some cases making a visit to certain web pages also puts the computer system at risk.

Spyware: Spyware as the name suggests spy on the network and the computer system. They may be downloaded unintentionally from different websites, email messages or instant messages. In some cases, they may also make their way through different direct file sharing connection. In some cases, clicking on ‘Accept User License Agreement’, can also put the computer at risk.

Rootkits: The job of the rootkits is to give cover to the hackers. The best or the worst part about rootkits is that they are able to hide themselves from the antivirus software as well, due to which the user is not aware that a rootkit is present on the system. This helps the hacker and he is able to spread malware on the system. Therefore, it is important that one opts for antivirus, which also has a rootkit scanner, which will be able to detect the invasion.

Riskware: They are dangerous applications, who often become a part of software applications. They are often seen as a part of development environment for malicious programs and spread to the software applications. In some cases, these applications can also be used by hackers as additional components to gain access in the network.

Adware: The recent addition to the list of computer threats are the adware. They are actually advertising supported software. It is not uncommon to see different advertisements or pop ups coming up on the computer, when certain applications are being used. They may not pose a lot of threat, but often lower the speed of the computers. There are chances that the computer system may become unstable because of these adware.

Cookies: When we visit a website, there are files due to which the website is able to remember the details of the computer. They are more of a threat to confidentiality as opposed to the data on the computer. In most cases, cookies may be stored on the computer without the consent of the user and data may be stored on them, which is passed back to the website server the next time, one visits the website. The data gathered may be sold to third parties and depending on the interests, which may lead to different advertisements flashing on the screen.

Phishing: Often people appear to get emails from trustworthy organizations, like banks. In some cases, the emails may come from bogus sites, which may resemble the original site or it may superimposes a bogus pop up, due to which confidential data is gathered. They are often a part of different scamming activities and often poses to the financial threats.

Way to Overcome Computer Rage

Rage or anger caused by computer trouble, frustrates workers, causes interruption in the work schedule, ultimately leading to deadlines not being met, which can further anger clients, and result in financial damages. Let us see how to tackle this problem.

● Always keep a backup of all your files. Store files online or transfer all necessary data onto CDs and DVDs. So in the event of a system crash, you can always retrieve your files even if the hard drive has to be formatted.
● Keep your cool. If you encounter an unexpected system error, do not use swear words or do something like hitting and smashing your PC that could actually harm the hardware. This will do you no good. You could physically hurt yourself and your actions may also cause monetary loss. Instead, get up, and walk away. Breathe deeply. Splash cool water on your face. Take a stroll, have a chat with your coworkers and friends and return only after you feel you have calmed down. You may even realize that you do not feel so frustrated after all. Try to look at things from a different perspective. You may be surprised to find the solution was right there in front of you, but you did not realize it because your mind was so clouded with anger.
● Call for help. Make a call to the tech support or IT help-desk of your organization, and ask them to come and have a look at your PC. If you are home, ask for help from a friend or an acquaintance who is good at troubleshooting such problems, or take your laptop to the store to get it repaired or call a tech support company and hire their services.
● Do not shout and express your anger at the people around you. It is not their fault that your computer crashed. If you have the tech support working on your problem, make use of the free time by completing unfinished paperwork, making urgent calls, or just chatting up with a coworker. Diverting your mind from the problem at hand can sometimes be beneficial. It will help you to think clearly and logically.
● If you face the same problem regularly, get to know the correct debugging and troubleshooting techniques. A little IT knowledge will always prove helpful, and you could even solve the problem yourself, instead of waiting for the tech support to show up.

With computers being used in practically every industry, hardware and software troubles are bound to be on the rise. It’s up to you to keep a calm mind and not get perturbed by computer problems. Do not let computer rage control you. Learn how to control it so it does not interfere with your day-to-day activities.

Methods of Computer Security

Passwords
They are the easiest and most common authentication processes that are used, not only on desktop computers, but also at the network level. However, certain rules should be followed, while setting a password for your computer or network. Do not use easily predictable words; they don’t even require a hacker to access the system through your account. Use passwords that are unpredictable. Set long ones, and use numbers and special characters for this aspect. Remember your passwords; don’t write them down anywhere. Hackers use various tools to know your passwords, but a long one with a number of special characters, will indeed gives them a lot of trouble.

Digital Certificates
Using a certain algorithm, computer administrators combine your personal details with other user credentials to generate a public key. This key or digital certificate, is used for the authentication purpose in the network.

Smart Cards
They are among the very few hardware authentication processes, in which a simple card with an embedded circuitry is used for accessing the network. Each valid card for a particular network, when inserted into a particular circuitry, gives an output, which decides whether you will be allowed to enter into the network or not. The programming logic inserted into each card is different, and it’s one of the safest methods of authentication.

Fingerprint Detection
Almost available in all laptops that are manufactured today, fingerprint detection is another safe method of computer security authentication.

Face Recognition Systems
Many people working in the field of security have questioned their user-friendly nature, and the security provided by them. Calculations of dimensions of the face are done by the computer, and the logic used in doing so, has been often found to be error-prone.

Biometrics
It is often considered as a far more secure way of authentication, than passwords or digital certificates. It is even safer than smart cards, which may be misplaced. The physical and behavioral traits of a person are taken into consideration for this type of authentication.

Captcha Keys
In this process, it is verified whether a human or a computer bot has logged into the system. Captcha keys are randomly generated alphabets and numbers, which are presented in such a form that only a human can recognize it.

Now, let’s talk about the normal computer security authentication processes that we can install (or use) at the local level. Setting up a BIOS password for your computer may not be the ultimate security option. Removing the BIOS battery from the computer system for 30 seconds, deactivates this security feature. Setting up the administrator password is of utmost necessity. If this is not set, then any user can log into the computer, irrespective of the fact whether he has an account in that system or not.

Supercomputers

So what are supercomputers? They work on the principle of doing large amounts of work in minimum time. Supercomputers are capable of performing operations in minutes and seconds, that would take a team of even high-end machines, days or weeks or more realistically, months to perform. They are also super in terms of maintenance and need large rooms all to themselves, along with extremely cool temperature surroundings. They consume a lot of power and have a very high processing speed, due to their large number of microprocessors. Supercomputers are used in situations, where a large amount of data needs to be processed in a small time span, with rendering and modeling operations performed simultaneously.

Biology

Supercomputers can be used to model or render the working of the nervous system or brain of an organism. In 2006, the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne of Switzerland used a supercomputer to render a part of a rat’s brain, to understand how neurons transmit and generate messages in this type of organism. However, the computer was only capable of demonstrating the working of a small area of the brain. Nevertheless it was a breakthrough.
In 2009, a joint venture by IBM and Stanford University modeled the cortex of a cat using the Blue Gene/IP supercomputer. They simulated 1% of a human brain’s functioning in the same year. Within the next 10 years, a complete rendering and simulation of how the human brain works, will be shown by a supercomputer. Why model a brain? To understand how such a body part works, how messages are transmitted, how are memories stored etc. Psychologists will be able to study why some mental conditions occur and which part of the brain is affected. The human brain is the most used part of the body but very little is known about it and bridging this gap, is a key job of supercomputers.

Space

The final frontier and perhaps the last remaining region which remains semi-unexplored by man. Supercomputers are used to:

  • Modeling the path and behavior of various celestial objects and bodies in space.
  • Rendering the Sun, its functioning and its impact on the Earth.
  • Supercomputers can simulate supernova explosions, that occur in deep space and are out of monitoring reach.
  • Simulation of how the Universe was created, by recreating and rendering the Big Bang event as well as how stars, dark matter and other space entities are formed.

Climate

“As unpredictable as weather”, is a common phrase but what if you could predict the weather? Or at least, identify warning signs and premature indicators? Supercomputers once again come to the rescue by rendering models and simulations of climatic conditions as well as arranging numbers and data into useful statistics and graphs. Predicting the changes and fluctuations in weather patterns is possible through supercomputers. Cloud coverage and migration, analysis of the previous season’s weather and comparison with the current situation, estimating the intensity and coverage of sunlight on Earth, analyzing the effect of pollutants on the atmosphere and weather and predicting ocean currents and temperature are just a few areas, that are explored and examined by supercomputers. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration uses IBM manufactured supercomputers to aid in weather forecasting.

Natural Disasters

The deadly impact of natural calamities can be estimated and calculated in advance, to minimize damage. To a certain extent, supercomputers can predict the path or route of hurricanes, tornadoes and storms or tsunamis. This helps in carrying out evacuations and strong-holding key resources. Seismic activity detection and calculating the possible paths of seismic waves can help in planning and learning how to handle such calamities.

Research

►Supercomputers are used in solving complex equations such as in quantum physics and mechanics.
►With military aircraft and machinery, supercomputers can simulate aerodynamics at work and model flight patterns to aid in the development of better machinery.
►Nuclear research needs testing but instead of live detonations, supercomputers can help simulate nuclear explosions and reactions, that help advance the reach of nuclear technology.
►Proteins are a very important biological component and their molecular structure is 3-dimensional in orientation. One fold or overlap of a molecular strand and the protein’s working or function in the body can change. Diseases such as Alzheimer’s and cystic fibrosis are linked to such folding of proteins, so understanding the nature of defective proteins and how normal proteins fold, is the key to learning why such diseases occur and how to cure them. Simulation of the folding operation of proteins is a very complex and computation filled task, once again a job for supercomputers.
►The flow of blood, its path and journey, speed and various difficulties that could occur, can be simulated with rendering done by a supercomputer. This is again of great medical use, as blood functioning in those blood disorders and illnesses can be compared with regular blood functioning to understand the complete spectrum of difference.
►Supercomputers also aid research and studies in the field of fluid dynamics or deep inside the Earth’s core exploration. They can also create complex animated models of molecular structures of various chemical and biological compounds and crystals.