Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Cyber-teaching: bite-size learning No.2

We are told there are many millions of PCs/Laptops bleeding information, leaking details (about devices, their operations and data) on to the world wide web (WWW). That being so, it must generate voluminous traffic (in addition to the payload it brings to the receiving party). This suggests to me that, today, in my view, it might justify the WWW being also titled the "information-spillage superhighway".

We are also told we're not doing enough to control the flow (egress) of information from out devices. That could be because for some it is not easy changing mind-sets at the flick of a switch. Some basic information is needed to help us understand what to look out for on our PCs/Laptops.

I mentioned about bite-size learning (No.1) when cyber-teaching to assist cyber-discovery for those who are non technical, technology-savvy, or over-whelmed with technical presentation. The Graphical Network Monitor shown yesterday is a useful graphical user interface (GUI) to present static presentation of programs and connections that programs can make externally to the PC/Laptops, etc. and externally to the organisation (WWW).

There are many built-in software tools within operating systems but for the less knowledgeable they may not be aware. Sometimes when cyber-teaching it can be helpful to show how an external program (e.g. ESET SYSINSPECTOR) can extract the tool information from the PC/Laptop to illustrate, for instance, "active programs" at the system level that are communicating with the outside world whilst the user PC/Laptop is powered up and logged on.

So the user has already seen previously "the GUI" and now can see how harvested information via SYSINSPECTOR can be obtained about active programs on the PC/Laptop.  Looks too technical? May be not. Everything in life is a state of mind; the more complex you think something is, the more you convince yourself it is difficult. Changing that state of mind requires perhaps using imaginative ideas to present the so-called complex and difficult into an ordinary, everyday common practice which people are familiar. In this case, the photo image could be described and read as if it were a food cooking recipe.

The  SYSINSPECTOR program is your recipe book showing various recipes. At the top the filtering (which is a risk indicator) can be set the same way one  would set the temperature on the oven. Metaphorically speaking, the riskier the program, the higher the cooking temperature (food burns).

The highlighted program (in green) is a recipe you didn't realise was in the book. The recipe is not good for you because it has an ingredient in it that you have an allergic reaction (nut); it is a high risk to you and needs to be quarantined or removed. Importantly, you need to know whereabouts in the recipe the ingredient, which can cause allergic reaction, is located; this is found the program processes (top right-hand pane).  Finally, you need to know if the ingredient is active to make the recipe work? Can it be substituted with something safer? If not, should you switch it off and remove the program (showing the status in the bottom right-hand pane)?

I am not suggesting you should follow the above, just illustrating that cyber-teaching does require using varying techniques to get the message across.

So the next step forward? Can you help others know which are safe programs and which are not? Can you show others how to switch off an offending program and then remove it?

In closing, there are a number points about my observations in this discussion I would like to raise with you:

1)  In writing these bite-size discussions I am not telling you what to do or selling anything; nor am I selling any teaching (this is free here). I do not work for or on behalf of any of the organisations mentioned.
2) Single-person businesses and self-employed and SMEs do not have a fortune to spend and cannot bank-roll vast monitoring services.
3) The above workplaces need cost-effective methods.
4) The two programs identified in this bite-size discussion: the GUI costs approx. £Sterling (£4.00), but there are other free versions, and the other(SYSINSPECTOR) is free of charge. Again there are other tools out there that can do a similar job, too. Remember these are what we call starting-point tools to introduce a subject matter and assist comprehension.
5) There are a wide range of programs out there that monitor in 'static' and 'live' modes (and that is important, too) but this discussion is about awareness, first, and then  strengthening your knowledge thereafter.
6) The tools discussed can be installed and run from a USB stick.
7) Before changing anything on your PC/Laptop get hold of a second-hand PC/Laptop and play around until you feel comfortable with making changes to your own PC/Laptop.
8) Remember to always back-up your data etc. first.

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