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Monthly Archives: September 2016

Basic to Ensure Computer Security

Everyone talks about computer security i.e being secure online but how many of us actually practice the effective security tips? Then when hackers or viruses attack, we look around to attach blame. Well, prevention is better than cure, so it pays in the long run to secure your system in advance.

Set up user accounts
One computer, many users, is a security disaster waiting to happen. Your files and data are your personal, private content and should be protected accordingly. To prevent other users from seeing or accessing your data, set up user accounts on your PC. A user account shows an individual’s specific data and not what is present on the entire system. It also specifies privileges on shared data, such as deleting/editing operations and what software can be installed on the machine.

This feature is especially useful when kids and adults use the same machine. What if your child accesses your important work files and deletes them by mistake? With a separate user account, he/she can only view certain files and cannot modify or delete them. Even if you are the sole user of the PC, set up a guest account, in case someone else needs to use the computer.

Secure your wireless network
With wired Internet access, there’s little risk of someone encroaching on your network. But wireless networks do have holes in their security, so as the owner of the network, you need to be vigilant. Setting up password-protected network access is the first step. You need to assign a network name and password to your Wi-Fi network. Use the latest wireless encryption methods like WPA or WPA2. Do not reveal your network password to others.

Arm your computer with an anti-virus program
The best defense is a good offense. One of the most basic computer security guidelines is installing an anti-virus software. Installing security programs like an anti-virus, keeps your computer round-the-clock safe against viruses, malware, Trojan worms etc. and other malicious programs. For better protection, try to install complete security suites, that provide Internet security and firewalls along with anti-virus software.

Be regular in updates and virus scans
Just installing an anti-virus program will not protect your PC. You need to keep it up-to-date with regular virus signature and threat updates. New viruses and malware programs emerge online each day. Another bad trait of viruses is that they keep trying to find new ways to enter an unsuspecting computer. The only way to counter such attacks is to update your security programs on a regular basis. You should also scan your computer regularly for dangerous programs. Schedule periodic scans, once-a-month scans, scanning new added devices and automatic full system scans, to ensure your PC is threat-free.

Install parental control software for kid-friendly computer usage
Keeping your computer secure definitely involves keeping your kids safe from cyber enemies. Aside from explicit and adult content, you need to filter and monitor what your kid is up to online. Social networking sites in particular, are fun online places to socialize but they are also preying grounds for the depraved. Parental control software allows you to set filters and block sites as well as receive warnings when suspicious activity is taking place online.

Block unwanted search results
You can even change your web browser’s security settings to block certain sites and filter out objectionable content. Such settings are not as powerful as parental control software but it helps to be extra secure. You can find this feature in the Tools option of most browsers. With search engines like Google, you can fiddle with search preferences settings.

Download wisely
Whether it is a picture, an MP3 or a game, downloaded files are an excellent way for malicious software to enter your computer. Once you download and install or use a file, there’s no telling what it will do to your machine. So be extra careful when it comes to downloading. Download files from trusted and preferably certified sites. Sites offering free, cracked versions of software programs are especially dangerous, as some cracks can contain malware.

When a download begins, you are asked to save the file before the downloading actually starts. Read the file name and its extension carefully, to ensure what you want is being downloaded. While installing a program, read the license agreement and make sure, only the program you want is being installed. Sometimes spyware and hidden programs are bundled into the installer program, and are installed secretly along with your software. Scan your PC for threats after downloading files from the Internet.

Be careful with emails
Getting and sending emails is easy, going through your inbox for mail, that is actually relevant, is not. Email inboxes are storehouses of junk mail, spam, advertisements, forwards, mail and many times, a hidden threat. You can keep your inbox sorted and clutter-free by using spam blockers and filters. Threat-wise, try to avoid opening emails from senders or addresses you don’t know.

A key sign of a malicious email is poor language. Weird, nonsensical text or poor grammar or even bogus-seeming email addresses are some signs of a harmful email. Be especially wary of email attachments. Check the file extension. Files with .exe, .pif, .com,.bin or .bat extensions, can be malicious. If you do not know the sender of the email, do not open or download such files, just delete the mail. Instead of opening the attachment from the mail itself, save the file, let it download and scan it, before opening it.

Secure your data with backups
Sometimes no matter what steps you take, you lose data. Part of being secure is having a fail-safe or backup to fall back on, in case something bad happens. So in case a virus has attacked your files or data is accidentally deleted, your data is never really lost, if you have a backup of it. Backup your data regularly, either by storing it on physical devices like CDs or by backing it up on a network. Set a system restore point for your PC, so in the event of a system crash, you can restore your PC to a particular working state with your data intact.

Be smart with your passwords
Passwords are supposed to keep your individual settings and data safe, so you need to keep their true value or the actual password safe. This means, do not write down all your passwords on a piece of paper and keep it lying around. With numerous passwords, it’s understandable that remembering them all is difficult. So you can write them down but the place where you store this info, should be secure. And once in a while, please change your passwords. If in case, they are revealed, updating the passwords can render all hacking attempts as naught. Another safety precaution is the “remember me” option in most secure sites. If multiple users access the same PC, do not select this option.

The above computer security tips are just the tip of the iceberg, when it comes to securing your PC. For every good advancement in technology, cyber evil seems to get even more evil, so it pays to be vigilant in today’s cyberspace.

Computer Security

Computer security is that branch of information technology which deals with the protection of data on a network or a stand-alone desktop. As every organization is dependent on computers, the technology of its security requires constant development. Here are the different types of computer security.

Hardware Security

Threat
Even if the computer is not plugged into a network, a person can open its cabinet and gain access to the hard drives, steal them and misuse or destroy the data saved on them or, damage the device altogether. It is also necessary to remember that in case one dissembles his computer hardware, the risk of losing coverage of warranty becomes very high.

Protection
The security of computer hardware and its components is also necessary for the overall protection of data. If a stand-alone system contains some important or classified information, it should be kept under constant surveillance. Locking system for a desktop and a security chain for a laptop are basic security devices for your machine. Certain disk locks are available in various sizes, which control the removal of the CPU cover protecting internal components of the system.

For example, you will find disk/tape drive lock, computer case lock with cable and padlock, security cables, etc. A disk lock guards all the internal access points located on the CPU and protects them.

Software Security

Network Security
Computer networks are an integral part of any organization these days, as they facilitate the free flow of data and services to the authorized users. However, such networks also pose a security threat in case the data is classified and confidential, thus making network security a vital necessity.

Threats
As the data is available only for authorized users, it is possible for hackers to pretend to be one, by providing the correct user name and password. Computer network security can be disrupted or encroached in the following ways:

Denial of Service
Denial-of-service is meant to disable a computer or a network and can be executed with limited resources. It is one of the most common forms of attacks by hackers and can effectively disable the whole network of an organization. Denial of service attack makes a computer resource unavailable to its intended user.
To carry out this kind of attack, hackers generally flood a network or the access routers with bogus traffic. They also make attempts to disrupt connections between two machines and prevent individuals from accessing a service.

Trojan Horse
Trojan horse is common and one of the most potential threats to computer security. They are malicious and security-breaking programs, disguised as something which is considered as non-malicious by the security software. They are a useful tool for hackers who try to break into private networks. Hackers generally attach Trojan horse to a file, which triggers a virus or remotely controlled software, giving the hacker complete control over the computer.

Viruses and Worms
Viruses and worms are well-known for their destructive nature and the property of replicating themselves. They are basically pieces of computer program codes, which are written by hackers and other computer geniuses.

Sniffing
Sniffing is the act of intercepting TCP/IP packets while they are getting transferred on a network. The interception generally takes place through simple eavesdropping done by a hacker.
Protection

Firewall
It is one of the most essential type of network security in today’s world of Internet. Firewall is a filter that prevents fraud websites from accessing your computer and damaging the data. However, a firewall is not a great option for securing the servers on the Internet because the main objective of a server is granting access to unknown users to connect to various web pages.

Security Software
Along with firewall, try installing a good anti-virus and security software to enhance the security level of your computer system.

Data Security

Threat
Although uncommon, hardware malfunction can prove to be a major threat to your data in the computer. The life span of hard disks is always limited because of surrounding factors and this can amount to a severe loss of all your files saved on the disk, if there is no proper backup of those files made on any other system.

Protection

Keep Backup
It is important to avoid data and information loss in case of hard disk crashes. The only solution is to regularly keep backups of all the data on other media such as magnetic tapes, CD-ROM, etc. It is a good practice to store the media off-site and in case of a disk crash, restore the information from the backup media onto the new disk.
In case a backup media is not affordable, one should try to store the files on at least two different media devices. These media devices should be systematically kept at a place which is safe and secured, as the information contained may be confidential. People usually have backup for database files, spreadsheet files and large documents. As the technical constraints are always there, it is better to take regular backups, in order to avoid any loss of information.

Clean-up Software
Install a software program on your computer that will clear all the old, unused files and registry keys. It will also help to detect malware and save your computer from a severe damage caused by it. Keep your system in the loop of latest updates and security alerts or else, it will become vulnerable to security threats.
It is important to keep a record of technical support consultants and software documentations, like manuals and guides to make them accessible to the staff members of the company.

Positive and Negative Impacts of Electronic Devices

Nowadays, children as young as two play with electronic devices. These devices include video games, television, mobile and apart phone apps, computers, tables, and PSP games. Children tend to be active consumers and many electronic products are targeted to the youth market. It is also true that parents use gadgets and devices to keep their children quiet and in one place for a period of time.

Electronic devices can be useful but also have negative impact if they are over-used. Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of allowing a young child to use a computer or electronic device.

Benefits of Using Devices

• For children younger than preschool age, electronic devices may help to stimulate the senses and imagination. Some use may help to promote listening ability, learning sounds, and speech.

• Electronic devices and games may encourage cognitive learning and the development of analytical skills. This may in turn help children build innovative thinking and investigation skills, strategic thinking, and creativity.
• Using computers may improve manual dexterity and build computer literacy.
• Mastering games builds confidence and develops hand-eye coordination.
• Games that encourage players to move up levels and earn high scores may help develop mathematical and engineering skills, as well as the motivation to meet goals.

Drawbacks of Using Devices

• A survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that children spend more than seven hours per day on an electronic device on average. They can use electronics, but do not know how to tie their own shoes or swim.

• It is important to children to spend some time for outdoor activity with family and friends. The times spent on the devices may curb some outdoor activities.

• When children play violent games for a long period of time, they are tends to be more aggressive. They are more prone to confront their teachers, peers, and relatives.

• Children who spend significant time on devices may have difficulty concentrating on their studies.

• Excessive computer exposure can be addictive. This can lead to a sedentary lifestyle, poor health, time management, and eating habits.

How to Manage a Child’s Computer Exposure

It is impossible to completely eliminate electronic devices from a child’s life, but there are ways to decrease their negative impacts.

  1. Know the rating of the game and television programs your child wants to use or watch.
  2. Do not set up electronic devices in a child’s bedroom.
  3. Make media rules. For example, place a time limit of how often or long a child is allowed to use an electronic device, including games and television.
  4. Monitor your child’s media consumption, including video games, television, movies, and the Internet.
  5. Communicate with your child about what they observe in video games, television program or movies. Ask them how they feel about the media they have access to and discuss it with them.

Augmented Reality in Virtual Shadow

This has been hailed as the year of virtual reality. By the end of 2016, four major headsets backed by tech giants such as Facebook, Sony and Samsung will have debuted with the promise of providing total immersion inside virtual worlds. But tech industry leaders still say that augmented reality technologies which blend virtual elements with the real world offer even more promise in the long run.

You would be forgiven if you got the impression that the future is all about virtual reality. Maybe it’s because Hollywood and pop culture have already spent years putting the idea of virtual reality in many people’s heads through films such as “The Matrix.” Maybe it’s awareness of virtual reality benefiting from a previous boom and bust cycle of mainstream excitement in the 1990s. Or maybe it’s simply the fact that the latest generation of more refined virtual reality headsets have grabbed all the headlines recently. Whatever the case, it’d be easy for casual news readers to miss the fact that much of the tech industry is betting big on augmented reality instead of virtual reality.

When Apple’s Tim Cook said that the market for augmented reality would be larger than virtual reality in an ABC News interview, he was not making a visionary statement about the future. Instead, he was simply stating the common wisdom in Silicon Valley. A survey of 650 startup founders, tech company CEOs and investors found that two thirds believe revenue from augmented reality (AR) products and services would surpass revenue from the virtual reality (VR) market. The VR market is currently far bigger than the AR market, but a separate report by the consultancy firm Digi-Capital predicted that the AR market would reach $90 billion by 2020 compared to the VR market’s $30 billion.

Augmented Reality’s PR Problem

So why such a huge disconnect between the attention focused on virtual reality and the predicted rise of augmented reality? Part of the issue may be the fact that augmented reality probably remains even more baffling and mysterious than virtual reality for most people. Google’s commercially unsuccessful Google Glass experiment did not enlighten many folks about augmented reality outside the tech industry.

Virtual reality did not always dominate augmented reality in terms of public attention. Starting in June 2009, interest in augmented reality surpassed interest in virtual reality—based on Google searches and news coverage—for almost five years. But by February 2013, interest in virtual reality had begun skyrocketing in terms of both Google searches and news coverage to overshadow augmented reality.

It wasn’t until the phenomenal success of the free-to-play mobile game “Pokemon Go” this summer that many Americans and people around the world finally got their first taste of what augmented reality could enable. Millions of people roamed the streets and backwoods while staring at their smartphone screens in the hope of catching and collecting rare Pokemon specimens found in specific real-world locations. Some experts have since pointed out that “Pokemon Go” isn’t quite augmented reality, but the important thing is that it got many people thinking about augmented reality.

But even the “Pokemon Go” phenomenon and related flurry of news coverage about augmented reality may not have completely solved augmented reality’s PR problem.  A recent ReportLinker survey found that more than half of Americans said they’re still unfamiliar with augmented reality as a technology. On the other hand, just over half of Americans say they would use augmented reality sometime in the near future.

The Early Mobile Advantage

The success of “Pokemon Go” does hint at the short term advantages of augmented reality over virtual reality. It’s easy for anyone with a smartphone to download and play the free-to-play mobile game, which means the game had access to a huge market of customers. The analyst firm AppAnnie reported that “Pokemon Go” had been installed more than 100 million times as of early August.

By comparison, it’s harder to experience the wonders of virtual reality without dropping some dollars on a VR headset. Cheap Google Cardboard headsets costing $15 and up can provide smartphone users with a taste of virtual reality experiences downloaded through mobile apps, but the more sophisticated VR headsets can cost hundreds of dollars. Augmented reality’s mobile advantage was cited by Andrew Ng, chief scientist at Baidu Research in Silicon Valley, as a big reason why he was especially “bullish” on augmented reality in the short term.

“It’s just really, really tough to ship hardware to hundreds of millions of people and to convince hundreds of millions of people to spend tens or hundreds of dollars to buy your AR or VR goggles,” Ng said in an interview on the Sinica Podcast.

Baidu is China’s search engine giant equivalent to Google. The Chinese tech giant has already begun rolling out augmented reality games and enhancements for advertisements through its existing mobile apps. That means it can already push augmented reality out to the hundreds of millions of Chinese people with Baidu’s apps installed on their smartphones.

The earliest big-name augmented reality headsets such as Microsoft’s Hololens and Magic Leap may not go on sale for the general public before 2017 and will likely cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. That presents the same or even higher price barrier to customers as many of the most expensive virtual reality headsets already on the market. (It’s worth noting that Microsoft and Magic Leap often describe their headsets as “mixed reality” technology, which includes augmented reality.)

Beyond the consumer market, both virtual reality and augmented reality will almost certainly find uses and customers in industry, academia and the military. In the long run, it’s likely both markets will generate plenty of revenue for the tech companies pushing out related products and services. But Silicon Valley seems to be placing its biggest bets on augmented reality’s mix of virtual and real worlds.