What is Information Technology

Information Technology is a set of processes, methodologies (data communications, coding, retrieval, storage, systems control and design), tools and related equipment used to
gather, process and present data. In expansive terms, Information Technology
also encompasses multimedia, telecommunications and office automation.

Information Technology can also be described as the employment of computers, networks, storage
and other physical devices, process and infrastructure to create, store,
process and share all types of electronic information. Basically, Information
Technology is used in the framework of business and organizational operations
as opposed to entertainment and personal technologies. Commercial use of Information
Technology entails both telephony and computer technology. The words Information
Technology’ were first used by the Harvard business review so as to distinguish between general purpose computing devices that could be programmed for many tasks and purpose built
devices architected to perform specific scope of functions.

As the Information Technology sector grew from the mid-20th century, it involved transistors
and combined circuits. This is where energy consumption and device cost fell
lower while computing capability advanced, a trend that continues up to today
when new technologies emerge.

The main elements of Information Technology are:

Hardware

These are basically tangible tools like the keyboard, printer, processor and monitor that work unilaterally to accept data, store, manipulate and display information.

Software

These are programs that allow hardware to manipulate the data.

Databases

These are the gathering of related tables and files containing associated data.

Networks

These are connecting systems that allow different computers to distribute resources.

Procedures

These are set of rules and commands for integrating the above IT components to process data and produce the required output.

Let’s delve deeper into these elements:

Database

Mostly abbreviated as DB, database is typically a collection of data organized in a way that a program can easily and quickly retrieve the required pieces of data. It is like an electronic
filing system. Databases are usually organized by files, records and fields. A file is a collection of records, a record is a complete set of fields and a field is a piece of information. For instance, a telephone book is a form of an analogous file. It has a list of records, each record consisting of 3 fields, telephone number, address and name.

An alternative idea in database design is Hypertext. In this type of database, any
item whether it is a picture, a film or a piece of text, can be linked to any
other item. Hypertext databases are very handy for organizing large volumes of
unorganized information. Keep in mind that they are not architected for
numerical analysis.

For you to access data from any database, you need a DBMS (Database Management System).This is a set of programs that allow you to access, arrange and select information
in a database. Increasingly, the word database is usually used as short hand
for DBMS. There are many types of DBMSs, ranging from large systems that run on
mainframes to small systems that run on personal computers.

Software

Software is a general term for different kinds of programs used to operate computers and
relative devices. It is that variable part of a computer, while hardware is the
invariable part. Software is divided into 2 main systems: system software (which
includes operating systems and any other software that supports application
software) and application software(programs that do what a user is directly
interested in).In some cases the tem middleware is usually used to describe programming that intercedes between system software and application software or
between 2 types of system software, for instance sending a remote request from
a program in a device that has one type of OS to a program in another device
with a different OS.

Another important and difficult to classify type of software is utility software. It is
a small but very important program with finite capability. Some come with the OS.
Just like applications, utilities are separately installable and can be used
independently from the Operating system. Software is often packaged in
diskettes and CD-ROMS. But today most software can be downloaded online
directly into a computer. Another new trend is where software is made available
through another website known as application service provider.

Some general types of application software include:

Productivity software

They include spreadsheets, word processors and tools for use by computer users.

Presentation software

Graphics software for professional graphic designers

CAD/CAM software

Specialized scientific applications

Industry specific software or Vertical market software

For example retail, insurance and banking environments software

Hardware

This is a collection of physical components of a computer system. They include the
monitor, mouse, keyboard and computer case. It also includes all parts inside
the computer such as the motherboard, hard disk drive and many others. Hardware
is basically what you can touch.

Networks

A data or computer network is a telecommunication channel that allows different computers
to share and exchange information. Computer network devices that
originate, route and eliminate the information are known as network nodes. Connection
between different nodes is established either through wireless media or cable
media. The internet is an example of a network. Nodes include hosts such as
phones, servers, personal computers as well as networking hardware. Two nodes
can be said to be networked together if one node is able to share data with the
other device, regardless of whether they are connected together or not.

Networks differ in the communications protocol used to organize network traffic, the
transmission channel used to carry their signals, organizational intent and the
network’s size. Networks support various applications including access to the
internet, digital audio, video, storage servers, shared use of applications, fax
machines and printers and use of instant messaging applications and email
applications plus many others.

Internet of Things (IOT)

The IOT is an increasingly growing subject of discussion both in the technology world and
outside it. It is an idea that not only has the potential to affect how we work
but also how we live. But what precisely is the IOT and what impact is it going
to have on you if any? There are many complexities surrounding the IOT but let’s
stick to the essentials. Lots of policy related and technical related
discussions are taking place but many people are still trying to understand the
foundation of what the hell these discussions are about.

Let’s begin with grasping a few things first;

Broadband internet connection is becoming more widely available, the price of connecting
is decreasing tremendously, more devices are being developed with sensors and Wi-Fi
capabilities built into them, technology costs are decreasing and smartphone
infiltration is sky-rocketing. All these scenarios are creating an excellent
storm for the “Internet of Things.”

So what exactly is The “Internet of Things?”

Simply put, this is the idea of connecting any device and machine with an off and on switch
to the internet and to or each other. This includes everything from coffee
makers, washing machines, cellphones, headphones, wearable devices lamps and
almost everything else you can think off. This also includes machines for instance
oil drills or Jet engines. Provided it has an off and on switch then chances
are high it can part of the Internet of Things. It is like a large network of
connecting things. The connection will be between people-things, people-people
and things-things.

How Does This Affect You?

The rule for the future is going to be,” Everything that can be connected to the internet,
will be connected.” But why would you want so many related devices conversing
to each other? There are several examples of what this might be like or what
the potential impact might be. Say for instance you are on your way to work and
your vehicle could have instant access to year schedule and already knows the
ideal route to take. What if your alarm wakes you up at 5 and then notifies
your coffee maker to start making coffee? What if a device you used at work
could notify you where and when you were most productive and active and then
share the data with other related devices/machines that you used while working?

Computer Security

Computer security also known as Information Technology security or cyber security is protection of data systems from damage or theft to the software, hardware and to the data on them
as well as from misdirection and disruption of the services that they provide. This
includes controlling access to the hardware as well as protecting against any
harm that may come through code and data injection, network access and due
malpractice by other operators whether accidental, intentional or because of
them being cheated into deviating from the secured protocols. Computer or cybersecurity
is of growing importance because of the increasing dependence on Information Technology systems in
most communities and the growth of smart tools including televisions and
smartphones and increased use of wireless networks and internet services such
as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

Potential threats to the security of any IT infrastructure can be classified into 5 main categories:

Unauthorized access

Abuse of IT systems is mostly possible via bypass of in built permissions. Breach of access
security systems is a major threat because it not only causes harm to the Information Technology
systems but also makes the task of identifying responsibility for the breach
almost impossible as the breach is normally done by misrepresenting identities.
In addition, unauthorized access to systems or terminals via remote log in, theft
of files and cracking of passwords can also pose serious threats to the security
of any IT infrastructure.

Ineffective security measures

Ineffective security measures as well inadequate implementation of security measures also
increase vulnerability of Information Technology infrastructure. Incomplete or inadequate
follow up on security violations, poor definition of access permissions and
lack of control of sensitive information can also enhance the threat to IT
systems.

Operational lapses

In some cases the IT system can be threatened by poor handling of housekeeping
procedures on different elements. Problems of data loss during occasional disc
check or after preventive maintenance or relocation of data are very common. Even
small mistakes as failure to delete redundant or sensitive data and mislabeling
data can pose a very serious threat to the security of your Infrastructure.

System development process

Many security threats to Information Technology systems are also as a result of
security lapses during the software creation stage. Inadequate control over the
alterations made during and after testing, wrong testing and implementation of
the infrastructure wrongly may expose the system to serious security risks.

Communication traffic jams

The growing traffic of data online is exposing IT systems to greater risks of failure to control
over communication systems. Poor verification, authentication and identification
are all matters of concern for both information system users and communication
system users. As the old IT adage goes No one can be sure his or her system is
safe if it is connected on a network, the only thing they confirm with surety
is that it is not safe’

Information Technology Security Measures

Computer security is only attained by the implementation of three main processes: Threat detection, prevention and response. The three processes are based on many system components
and policies which include the following:

Cryptography and user account access controls can protect system data and files respectively.

Firewalls are by far the most effective prevention systems for a network infrastructure as they can shield access to network services and prevent attacks via packet filtering. Firewalls can either be software or hardware based.

IDS (Intrusion Detection System) products are architected to detect any network attacks in progress and help in post attack forensics, while logs and audit trails serve a similar purpose for individual IT systems.

Other security measures that you can take to prevent cyber-attacks include:

Use Security programs that Update Automatically.

Hackers continually develop new tricks to attack your IT system or computer, thus your
security software should be up to date to prevent against any new threats. Most
security applications can easily update automatically, so program yours to do
so. You can get free and effective security applications from many reputable companies.

Also set your web browser and operating system to update automatically. If you allow
your web browser or security software or operating system to get out of date, bad
guys could easily sneak their harmful programs (malware) onto your system and
use it to spy on your activities , break into other computers or send spam. Finally,
do not buy security applications in response to unexpected emails or pop up
messages, especially pop ups that claim to have scanned your IT infrastructure
or system and found malware. Most scammers send notifications like these to try
to get users to purchase useless software or worse to break into their systems.

Treat Your Personal data Like Money.

Do not show it or handout to everybody. Your credit card numbers, social security numbers
and bank utility numbers can be used to open new accounts or steal your money. So
anytime you are asked to provide your personal data, whether in an email, web
form, a phone message or a text, think about whether you can trust the
requester. In an attempt to steal your personal information, scammers will do
anything to appear trustworthy.

Check Out other Companies or people to find out Who You are dealing with.

When you are browsing online or connected to a network, some research can save you a lot.
If you see an offer or an ad that looks too good to be true, take a minute to
find out the firm behind it. Type the product name or the company name into
your search engine with terms like scam, complains and review .If you get bad
reviews, you will have to decide if the good’ offer is worth the risk. If you
cannot find contact information for the firm, please just pass. Do not just
assume that any advert you see on a reputable website is trustworthy. The fact
that a website features an advert for another does not mean that it endorses
the advertised website.

Give data over Encrypted sites only

If you’re banking or shopping online, stick to a website that uses encryption to protect your personal data as it travels from your system to their server. To ascertain if a site is encrypted look for https at the start of the site’s address, the S is for secure. Some sites use encryption
only on the sign in page, but if any session of your browsing is not encrypted,
the account could still be vulnerable. Look for https on all pages of the website you are on, not just the sign in page.

Protect Your Passwords

Here are some principles of creating a strong password and keeping it safe:

Keep it long. The longer it is the tougher it is for anyone to crack. Use
not less than 10 characters; 12 is appropriate for a home user.

Mix special characters, numbers and letters. Be unpredictable, do not just use your birthdate, common word or name.

Do not use a similar password for many important accounts. If it is stolen  it can be used to access all your accounts.

Do not share your passwords by email, texts or phone. Legit firms will not send you emails or messages asking for your account password. If you get such an email, it is likely a scam.

Keep your passwords out of plain sight and in a secure place.

Back Up Your Files

There is no system in the world that is totally secure. Copy files onto an external hard
disk or a removable disk and then store it in a secure place. If your system is
compromised you will still have access to your data.

Emerging Information Technologies

For those in the Information Technology field, staying abreast with technology trends is
a very serious business. Technology is very dynamic and it is crucial to stay
ahead of the technology curve in an attempt to foresee the next hot Information Technology trend .Here are some emerging Information Technology trends 2016:

Predictive Analytics

Predictive analysis has always been a dream of most manufacturers since human beings started
manufacturing different products for sale. Most companies have tried severally
over the years to predict client demand and follow historical trends so as to
minimize over production and other costly slip ups. However, these forecasts
were just a business’s best guess and were only supported by a portion of data
they were able to scrutinize themselves. But this is about to change forever.

Now information can be collected and analyzed more efficiently than ever. New
sensors and software allow for exact predictions based on information captured
via all the points of production. Devices can now also predict when they are about
to malfunction so that the owner can schedule maintenance rather than relying
on occasional maintenance schedules. In addition, demand can now be forecasted
and tracked much more efficiently. This allows producers and manufactures to only
manufacture the necessary amount to keep up with the demand.

Advanced machine learning

This technology will make computers far smarter. It is a tech trend for this year and beyond
where computers automate information manipulation by adapting and learning. The
result is AI (Artificial Intelligence).Grasping sophisticated algorithms requires
DNNs (Deep Neural nets) that allow computers to analyze the world on their own
and act normally. Deep neural nets are what make smart computers appear
exceptional. They enable software and hardware based devices to learn all the
features in their immediate environment, from broad sweeping abstract classes
of content to the finest details. In this fast paced technology environment, professionals
and businesses that learn how to utilize advanced machine/computer learning can
get a big competitive advantage.

Virtual assistants

Virtual assistants of today are the brilliant agents of tomorrow. Hardware is typically
dead, it is software that is increasingly the agent of the required change, so
instead of hardware, think of virtual personal assistants, autonomous vehicles
and exceptional advisors as the future of technology. Cortana, Alexa and Google
are just the beginning of better things to come. It is expected that over the next
three to five years we will move to a post application tech world with
brilliant agents delivering contextual and dynamic interfaces and actions. So
Information Technology experts should try to explore how they can utilize autonomous agents and
things to augment free people and human activity for tasks that only human
beings can do. However this technology is a long term phenomenon that is
expected to continually evolve and expand over the next 10 years.

Ambient user experiences

Virtual reality and augmented reality are expected to make a big positive impact long
term. Here we are talking about a future of immersive environments with virtual
and augmented reality, but for 2016 it is only about continuity between
location and devices.

Hyper location tech is key to delivering an ambient
experience to users that is also giving rise to the idea of slippy UX. It is very
different from simple sensor based applications on smartphones. Instead of a
user having to go and look for things like stores, the device would already
know what type of store they are looking for depending on what stores they have
picked previously. Context comes from both physical and human elements, the
latter is the user’s exact position, noise, pressure, light, relative position
and atmospheric pressure are while the
former is habits, emotional state, social interactions, present tasks, general
objectives, interests and group dynamics.

3D printing

Some people think there has been a lot of adduce around 3D printing, nonetheless it remains
a great growth area with a lot of potential. As different materials that can be
3D printed easily increase, so do the applications of 3D professionals with
military, energy, automotive, medical and aerospace all set to benefit. Democratized production and open hardware technologies like 3D printing are ushering in a third industrial revolution. For example food printing has been widely speculated as the imminent trend for 2016. The
objective is to build up a wide range of food inks, typically substances that
form gels with the Holy Grails and water to bring food to life. The main aim
here as with all 3D printing technologies is to get rid the production chain
for food.

Advanced Robots

Automation was a hot topic in 2015 and it will continue to become hotter throughout 2016.Advanced robotic technologies have become more complex allowing producers to program
their machines to perform typically any activity imaginable. In addition, these
robotics have a user friendly feature, making it easier for less large job
shops to implement the technology. With the increasing skills gap in the manufacturing
sector, producers that utilize automated systems will definitely be able to
keep up with the demand.

Collaborative robotic systems are also making their way to medium and small sized manufacturing
firms. The robots are able to work very well side by side with human beings. The
collaborative robots can either take over repetitive jobs or assist employers
to free the workforce up so that they can work on jobs that require problem
solving and critical thinking. It is expected that, more producers will invest
in this technology this year and the coming years to help bridge the skills gap
and compete worldwide.

 

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