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Staying Safe with the Internet of Things

Smart devices enabled by the Internet of Things (IoT) save cost and effort. Users can control them remotely, or they can automatically adjust themselves to the time of day or environment. At the same time, they present risks. Many have poor security. They’re easy to install and forget. It’s hard to notice when malware has infected a device, making it spy on your network or perform actions that could get your site blacklisted.

If you’re aware, you can keep risks to a minimum. Here are some methods that will help:

Keep Track of All Your Devices

You should have a complete inventory of the devices in your network, including models and serial numbers. You need to know why they’re there. If a device isn’t serving a useful purpose any longer, take it out of the network.

Change Default Passwords

Many IoT devices come with default passwords that are public information. Change them before exposing the devices to the Internet. If a device’s password can’t be changed, you need to think hard about whether it’s safe to use.

Limit Network Access

Use firewalls and network configuration to limit the exposure of devices. Don’t give them access to any part of the network they don’t need, especially servers with sensitive information.

Patch Where Possible

While many IoT devices can’t be patched, the better ones can. Keep their software up to date so vulnerabilities won’t stay open.

Monitor Your Network

If there are bursts of traffic you can’t account for, a device on the network may be infected. Find the source and take appropriate action.

Tiny as these devices are, they’re small computers. You need to treat them with the same care as any other computers on the network. Keep them secure, and they won’t cause problems.

Understanding Artificial Intelligence in the Modern World

There is a great deal of controversy about what is possible with artificial intelligence in general and what will happen with artificial intelligence in the future.

On the one hand, artificial intelligence is used today. On the other hand, the artificial intelligence that is used today is not what a lot of people have pictured when they imagined the use of artificial intelligence in the future. There are many questions about the capabilities of artificial intelligence in this general time period.

Artificial Intelligence and Independent Learning

Experts disagree on what constitutes genuine artificial intelligence. It’s been said that an authentic artificial intelligence would be capable of learning by itself.

The pseudo-artificial intelligence of today is capable of copying and improving on information that is available today. Artificial intelligence like this is not truly capable of innovation.

Artificial Intelligence and Self-Awareness

The question of whether or not it is possible to create an intelligence that is self-aware has intrigued both experts and people outside the field for a long time. At present, there is still a lot of debate over whether or not it is even possible to create something like that.

Increased Sophistication

Computers should certainly improve in terms of voice recognition and storage capacity. The systems will have more data and audio data to work with, which will improve their own ability to sort through different terms and pieces of information.

The pseudo-artificial intelligence of the modern world will get better. People will have electronic personal assistants that are even better in terms of their voice recognition and general capabilities. There is no reason to believe that advances in artificial intelligence will stop there. However, experts still don’t ultimately know how everything will progress.

Artificial Intelligence

The Impact of IT on the Banking Industry

All industries are being heavily influenced by new changes in information technology, and this is certainly true for the banking industry. There has been a lot of discussion about the influence of IT in the banking industry, and how it might fundamentally change the manner in which a lot of people perform banking transactions.

The Rise of Blockchain Technology

As blockchain technology becomes more and more common, there won’t be as many centralized banking systems. Many of the specific banking transactions that people perform will be faster as a result of blockchain technology, so this is something that plenty of bank customers might support. The fact that this technology will get so much consumer support should only make it more economically viable.

Paper Checks May Become Obsolete

A lot of people have already dropped paper checks in favor of making online payments. This is starting to become enough of a trend that paper checks may eliminated in the near future. In some countries, paper checks have already become a thing of the past.

Cash might be used more frequently than paper checks in the near future, but people are still starting to rely on cash less and less as well. Online payments are becoming convenient enough that most of the advantages associated with cash payments are disappearing.

Bitcoin and Similar Currencies Will Become More Popular

It’s clear that Bitcoin isn’t going anywhere, even though some people in the industry were skeptical of Bitcoin initially. Given how useful Bitcoin is when it comes to international banking, increasing rates of globalization should only make Bitcoin more relevant.

Many of the new technological changes should be positive for customers overall. They will also certainly have a huge effect on the experience of customers in general.

College Degrees for IT Career Preparation

College-level curriculum in certain technical fields is useful preparation for an IT job. Several options exist for students, including associate and bachelor’s degrees. The major a student picks for their degree helps them either prepare for a specific IT job or get a broad background to prepare for many entry-level jobs.

Specialized IT Associate Degree (2-year)

A 2-year degree in a specific IT field, such as computer repair, system administration, web development or mobile development, is an ideal option for a student who already knows the area of IT in which they want to work. Detailed training in this field prepares them for a job soon after they graduate. 2-year degrees are less expensive than bachelor’s degrees and are typically available at a community college. While the starting pay a graduate receives at their first job is usually less than what someone with a 4-year degree would earn, the specific skills they learned about their field helps them advance fast and continue to learn.

Computer Science Associate Degree (2-year)

Many community colleges offer a general degree in computer science for students who want to prepare for a bachelor’s degree. This degree usually includes required math, introductory programming and general education requirements. After completing the degree, students can transfer many of these credits to a 4-year university program.

Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science (4-year)

A 4-year computer science degree from a reputable university can provide considerable general knowledge about math, programming, software design, algorithms and computer systems. Further specialization can tailor the degree to include areas like networking, databases, web development, artificial intelligence, mobile development and IT security.

Often, computer science students do a co-op or internship with a company to get real work experience on their resume. Many computer science programs also offer a capstone course where teams of students work together on a semester-long project for a company. All of this is useful preparation for real IT work upon graduation. With a both broad and specific knowledge of IT, in addition to practical work experience, students are well prepared for most entry-level IT jobs when they graduate.

Conclusion

Both associate and bachelor’s degrees in IT are great options for career preparation. Colleges offer many paths students can take at both levels. The path a student chooses can help them prepare for a specific career or give them general computing knowledge and project experience that prepares them for a variety of IT jobs.

Students – top off your educational experience by earning certification. Learn more about earning Business Computing Associate certification.

Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Technology Soundbites

Here are quick sound bites on two blockchain-based cryptocurrencies.

What Is a Basic Attention Token?

Basic Attention Tokens or BATs are accounting units used by publishers, users and advertisers. The Ethereum-based BAT technology closely connects to the blockchain based digital advertising platform, Brave. Brave is a browser solution which includes an ad blocker by default. This browser allows publishers, users and advertisers to exchange or donate BATs.

Notes on the Brave Browser

The Brave browser sets itself apart from all other available browsers by function. It provides a tangible way to measure user attention. The browser works by monitoring user attention and assigning value to that attention.

A user’s focused attention on a piece of content produces the basic attention token. The content could be a video, text or any other content type. Basic Attention Tokens are the reward for publishers who receive attention; BATs have real monetary value.

Brave will enhance the user experience of browsing due to its inability to display malvertisements. The browser will also ensure that any advertisements shown are more than relevant but based upon data derived from machine learning. This allows users to see advertisements they are highly interested in while remaining completely anonymous.

Bitcoin and the IBM Blockchain

The IBM Blockchain is the stable network through which Bitcoin is distributed. The Hyperledger fabric is specifically for professionals who want to conduct business via blockchain. The trust, anonymity and security issues you would normally encounter with the Bitcoin blockchain are no longer present by use of a private blockchain.

In this way, the identity of the person you’re doing business is known to you when it otherwise wouldn’t. Since security threats are no longer an issue, it makes it feasible to conduct business in federally regulated industries via the IBM Blockchain. It’s also safer to conduct a number of transactions: cars, houses, patents, digital property and more.

IT in Manufacturing: 5 Benefits of ERP

The origins of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), a software system designed to meet a company’s needs by merging its operational processes in a single application, can be traced back to the 1960s when software engineers identified a need for companies to centralize their computing systems, which mainly involved automating their inventory management and control systems.

By the 1970s, the tech world gave birth to what would become ERP’s predecessor and prototype, Manufacturing Resource Planning (MRP). A decade later, MRP became MRPII. Then in the 1990s MRPII evolved into ERP. Since manufacturing is ERP’s earliest beneficiary, the two are a natural fit. Manufacturing ERP software has also been used by other industries like transportation and automotive. Here are five ways ERP benefits manufacturing.

Streamlined Processes

An IDC Manufacturing Insights survey reported that 71 percent of manufacturers expect an escalation in market complexity, while 61 percent think it will lead to a jump in operational complexity. Manufacturing ERP systems seek to address the problems that come with an increasingly complex workplace by streamlining operations, improving functions like production, data entry and order fulfillment.

Cost Control

ERP software helps reduce operational and administrative costs using one source of real-time data. Knowing and understanding a company’s Key Performance Indicators, along with other pertinent information, is crucial to boosting manufacturing growth. Manufacturers with ERP solutions can proactively manage operations and prevent delays and disruptions.

Increased Flexibility

ERP systems also benefit the manufacturing industry because of their flexibility, their ability to adapt to a company’s individual needs. In fact, since manufacturing operations constantly evolve, ERP has a feature that allows for seamless adaptability.

Maintaining an Edge Over the Competition

Manufacturers often find themselves caught in a tug-of-war between two conflicting options: investing in an ERP system, which could require a major investment, and doing nothing while their competitors take advantage of the opportunity to improve their operations and remain at the front of the pack.

Inventory Reduction

Companies often call any excess inventory “safety stock“. Too much of it can lead to wasteful practices in such areas as warehouse employees, excessive paperwork, non-verbal communication, actual inventory counts and storage.

The Python Programming Language

Python is a powerful, interpreted, open-source language available for most operating systems, including IBM i. It has many uses and has a very easy to learn syntax. Many packages are available to add capabilities not included in the Python core. Python is a great language to use for general purpose programming of all sorts.

Open Source - Python

 

 

 

 

Python Language Details

Python structure uses white space instead of brackets. This makes the code more readable than in similar languages such as Perl. The syntax is logical and easy to follow, even for beginners, and typing is dynamic. Even with this simple syntax, the language also has great flexibility and powerful capabilities. Object-oriented programming is possible but not required, as it is in other languages like Java or Ruby.

Web Development

One use of Python is for back-end web development. Frameworks such as Flask and Django simplify back-end development using built-in components that are popular. Rapid development and prototyping are possible using these frameworks. Python is also good for general scripting, including projects involving crawling the web or scraping information from websites.

Data Science

Python is a great language to use for data science. Useful libraries include NumPy, which adds speedy mathematical capabilities, and SciPy, which adds the ability to manipulate complex data in arrays for linear algebra and other purposes. Several other libraries are useful for doing data science in Python.

Philosophy

Python has a philosophy often referred to as “The Zen of Python“. This philosophy encourages simple, clean code that is easy to read and explain to others. It has several other suggestions for optimizing the use of Python to make it uniform and ideal using best practices.

Summary

A simple yet powerful open-source language, Python is a great choice for many projects. Using Python gives you many capabilities out of the box and additional packages to add more. The language is quite readable, and its uses include many technical domains.

Learn Python with COMMON’s Open Source Video Series.

 

Python

Opportunities in College-level IT Education

Many students today are interested in getting a college-level IT education, which makes perfect sense. Today’s college students are increasingly making practical career choices. They’re well aware of the fact that an IT education will give them job skills that they can use immediately, especially if they have the right education. Fortunately for them, an increasing number of schools do have information technology education programs.

IT Degrees

Many students will specifically work towards two-year associate degrees in information technology education programs. A two-year degree will prepare students for a career in computer programming, computer support or network administration. Some colleges will offer four-year degree programs in information technology as well. These will typically give students the opportunity to work in information systems technology and other particularly advanced fields.

Certificates

A number of people who are already working in the IT industry will pursue college-level IT education in order to enter credit certificate programs that will help them learn new skills. However, there are also students who will earn these vocational certificates while they are earning their associate degrees, so they will be adequately prepared for a high-level career in IT with a lot of available options.

IT Internships

It’s a good idea for students to get direct work experience in the field with IT internships. Some students will get the opportunity to earn course credit by participating in these internships. Other students will get small salaries, while other IT internships are unpaid. There are students who choose to complete IT internships after graduation, which might be allowed with some internships. The more experience, skills and qualifications that students can bring to the table, the better. Having educational qualifications, as well as industry experience through an internship, might be the ideal combination.

After completing your education, check out the COMMON Career Center for career opportunities.

Transamerica – How One Company Is Capitalizing on Big Data Analytics

Companies who want to have continued growth understand a key component of their success will occur when they are able to personalize their customer’s experience, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. Not only is the personal approach ultimately more efficient for organizations, it also helps increase customer satisfaction, which in turn leads to more growth.

TransamericaOne company, Transamerica, decided to harness big data concepts in order to provide the best possible personal service to its 27 million customer base. Transamerica pulled in data from over 40 sources, including social media, third-party data, customer voice response systems and all its investment, retirement and insurance data sources. By using big data analytics and machine learning concepts, Transamerica was able to identify new data patterns and insights in order to quickly and efficiently develop, test and deploy its predictive models. Now building models takes hours instead of days, allowing for fewer processing cycles and thereby reduced infrastructure demands, while at the same time increasing the personal experience for its customer base.

So what are some of the tools that Transamerica used to accomplish its goals? Transamerica takes advantage of Hadoop, part of the open-source Apache project. By using a Hadoop-based data lake along with a host of other tools, Transamerica found it was able to store vast amounts of data in their distributed computing environment. Of course, security risks are always a factor when dealing with large stores of potentially personal data, so Transamerica’s entire platform was designed in such a way as to maximize appropriate use of data and adherence to legal and regulatory obligations, while minimizing security risks.

Want to know more about how Transamerica and its customers win big with big data analytics? Click here.

Cloud Technologies and Handling Ransomware

Cloud computing is one of the best technologies to have in the workplace. Not only can you store your data quickly and efficiently, but it’s also easier for you to access any data. With that said, when it comes to your business security, especially the malicious tool known as ransomware, why are cloud services so important?

Cloud = Virtual Storage

One reason why, is because cloud computing allows you to store your data virtually over the Internet. This makes it untouchable in the event of a disaster. Let’s say a ransomware attack happened on your device, and it affected the data on your hard drive. Despite this, none of your virtual data would be affected, especially since this isn’t what most hackers are banking on. However, since ransomware locks your computer, you wouldn’t be able to access any of your virtual files, right? As a matter of fact, you can. Cloud computing not only keeps your files safe in the event of a disaster, but your data is also accessible from any device with an Internet connection. Whether it’s another computer in the workplace or even your mobile phone, the sky’s the limit to where you can access your personal data.

For more information about cloud computing, COMMON offers educational opportunities throughout the year. Stay in touch to see when the next cloud-related sessions become available.