Monthly Archive February 2019

ByBala Manikandan

Network and System Security

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Network and System Security means protecting your system from different kinds of attacks by unauthorized users. With the development of the Internet and the World Wide Web, it is a field that is gaining a lot of importance. In this post, we will discuss various threats to network security and how to protect our system from such threats.

1.      Worms

A worm is a program which simply creates copies of itself until the entire disk space in your system is filled up.

2.      Trojan Horses

These are harmless-looking applications such as text editors which actually perform malicious functions without your knowledge (for example, deleting/modifying other existing files)

3.      Spyware

This is a kind of software which may get installed on your PC without your consent, tracks your activity and reports this information to people who are willing to pay for it. Spyware mostly finds its way to a PC by getting downloaded along with another file, or from the Internet when you visit a webpage.

4.      Adware

Adware is a software that causes your computer to display unwanted pop-up ads. It reduces the performance of your computer, and is similar to spyware, with the difference that it may be installed with your consent. So it is important to go over the terms and conditions before you install any software on your PC.

5.      Spamming

This is a term used to describe the sending of e-mail in bulk by a known or unknown person. Spamming can also reduce system performance, and can even be used to spread computer viruses.

6.      Phishing and Pharming

These methods of attack rely on tricking users rather than using sophisticated technology.

  1. Phishing: In this attack, an unidentified person uses an authentic-looking e-mail or website to extract sensitive personal information from another user. For example, you may receive an e-mail which seems to be from your bank, asking you to fill up your personal details by clicking on a link. But the link may take you to a fake website where all your details are obtained and later used for malicious purposes.
  2. Pharming: This attack involves redirecting a website’s traffic to another authentic-looking, but bogus, website. The attacker convinces you that the site is real and then obtains all the information you provide to it.

7.      Snooping and Eavesdropping

  1. Snooping: It refers to the unauthorized access of someone else’s information. It may or may not involve using sophisticated snooping software. Examples are monitoring of keystrokes pressed, secretly observing someone else’s computer activity and directly capturing his/her login ID and password.
  2. Eavesdropping: Eavesdropping involves intercepting someone else’s data as it passes from one place to another. For example, intercepting someone else’s credit card number as it passes from the user’s system to the web server that requested it.

8.      Denial of Service (DoS) Attacks

In this kind of attack, the legitimate users are not allowed to use the resources, information or capabilities of the system. This attack, however, generally does not allow the attacker to access or modify data. For example, an attacker may flood the targeted system with a barrage of requests.

9.      Cookies

These are messages (pieces of information) sent by a web server to a web browser so that the web server can track users’ activity on a webpage. They can help webpages load faster, and can customize the page for users who have already visited them. As they are merely text files, they cannot act maliciously on systems. However, any information you provide freely to a website (including sensitive personal information) will most likely be stored in a cookie, unless you disable the cookie feature in your browser. If someone found out the encryption key to your cookies, he/she could get your personal details. Cookies a threat to security this way.

Preventive Measures

Having discussed about various threats to network and system security, the question arises as to how we deal with these threats. There are different methods to deal with different kinds of attacks, some of which are listed below:

General solutions:

  • Be careful when downloading files on the Internet.
  • Use a different way of writing e-mail addresses on the web. (For example, instead of “abc@xyz.com” you could write “abc AT xyz DOT com” or “abc    AT    xyz    DOT    com” with extra spaces.)
  • Instead of clicking links in e-mails, type the URL of the concerned website in your web browser (the link may direct you to a bogus website).
  • Disconnect from the Internet when away from home. Staying on the Internet increases the risk of certain infections and intrusions.

Solutions to Viruses, Adware, Spyware

  1. Use antivirus and anti-spyware software.
  2. Keep your system up-to-date.

   Solutions to Spam

  1. Use anti-spam software.
  2. Keep your e-mail address private.

 Solutions to Phishing and Pharming

  1. Avoid opening e-mails from unknown sources.
  2. Check the security guidelines of websites you often visit (so you can distinguish between legitimate and fake e-mails).

Solutions to Snooping, Eavesdropping and DoS attacks

1.   Protect your system by asking the user for a valid user-ID (authorization) and a valid password (authentication). Keep the passwords strong so that they cannot be easily guessed.

2. Install a firewall on your system. A firewall is a system (hardware or software) designed to prevent unauthorized access to or from a private network.

Solution to threats caused by Cookies:

  1. Turn off the cookie feature in your web browser, to ensure the safety of your personal information when not needed. 

We saw a few ways in which a system may be compromised actively or passively and the way to counter them. Join me as I uncover more topics on yet another post on Information security!

 

 

 

 

ByJayanthi

Mysuru, Karnataka, India

Reading Time: 6 minutes

After having visited various wonderful destinations in the #XploreBharat blog train and having visited Mumbai yesterday, today we visit another exotic and equally fun destination, Mysuru!! 🙂

As a Tamilian and having lived close to 23 years in my homestate, it was by chance that lady luck brought us to Bangalore or Bengaluru after a long US stint. Now living in Karnataka for the past few years, we have explored the length and breadth of this great state with full gusto! India is such a great country with awesome culture that changes every few hundred kilometres.

In that sense, we have dived into Karnataka culture by visiting the various places and Mysuru or Mysore is one of them. Join me as we visit the different places in Mysuru which is located in the state of Karnataka in India! 

First off, where exactly is Mysuru in India?

‘Mysore’ was rechristened as ‘Mysuru’ in 2014 and is located in the southern state of Karnataka. It is only about 145 kms from Bangalore or Bengaluru but with the traffic it might take close to 5 hrs or more!

 

Brindavan Gardens:

This is probably the first place that comes to mind when anybody thinks of Mysuru. Brindavan Gardens as the name suggests is a beautiful garden with wonderful water fountains. It lies close to the KRS(Krishnaraja sagar) dam in Mandya district of Karnataka. The KRS dam is built across the river Kaveri. With such beautiful scenery, Brindavan Gardens is the place for many Indian movie picturizations. 

Brindavan Gardens keeps the visitors enthralled with its musical water fountains and a walk around the garden itself is mesmerizing and relaxing. The garden is huge and is spread across 60 acres. There are eye catching topiary and other plants and flora which will definitely be a botanists dream.

It is best to visit Brindavan Gardens in the early evening hours to see the garden in natural light and stay back after sunset to enjoy the musical and well lit fountains. Many hotels and resorts pepper the gardens to enjoy the view of the fountains from the room itself. 

Sri Chamundeswari Temple:

The Chamundeswari temple sits atop the Chamundi hills which is about 13 kms east of the city of Mysuru. It is situated at an elevation of 3489 ft above sea level. Goddess Chamundi or Durga of the temple is the presiding deity of the Mysore Royal family. Goddess Chamundeswari is also known as ‘Mahishasure mardini’ for having killed the demon ‘Mahishasura’. This is the event that is the backdrop for the very,very popular ‘Dasara’ festivities in the month of Sept-Oct in Mysuru. Goddess Chamundi is also supposed to be an incarnation of Goddess Parvati(consort of Lord Shiva)

Enroute to the temple, we can see a magnificent Nandi statue(which is of monolithic architecture) and a statue of ‘Mahishasura’. 

The temple has its origins going back to a 1000 years. The  Chamundeswari temple was a small temple initially but after the Mysuru Maharajas and the Wodeyars gained power in 1399 AD, it was developed more and it assumed greater religious prominence. We can reach the temple easily by car and buses operated by the KSRTC(Karnataka State Transport corporation)

The entire city of Mysuru can be beautifully seen from the hillock. Prayers and offerings continue for the Goddess till date everyday. 

 

File:India - Chamundeswari Temple 03.jpg

                                                                                         (PIC: Creative commons)

Srirangapatna Fort:

No discussion of Mysuru will be complete without talking about the ‘Tiger of Mysuru’ -‘Tipu Sultan’. Tipu Sultan was the ruler of Mysuru between 1782 to 1799.  He was one of the few rulers who stood up against the British rule and waged many wars. He is known for the very popular saying “It is better to live like a lion for a day than to live like a jackal for a hundred years”.

Srirangapatna Fort was first built in 1454 in Indo-Islamic architecture. It underwent many changes first done by the Wodeyars and then by Tipu Sultan.  

The walls of the remaining fort are strong and is built in double enclosure. The Srirangapatna Fort is the second toughest fort in India.

                                                                                   (Pic credit: Wikimedia Author: Chithra Sivakumar)

The Srirangapatna fort has bastion gates, dungeons, gun powder houses. It also housed the ‘Lal Mahal’ which used to be the house of Tipu Sultan.  Unfortunately, the ‘Lal Mahal’ was razed by the British and now, only a board serves as a notice to the above.

Mysuru Palace:

You know the Kings and Queens that you read all your life? They come alive in Mysuru Palace.  If you visit Mysuru, the Palace is one of the “must” places to see and drink in the royal architecture. It is supposedly to be one of the beautiful places to visit in India after the Taj Mahal. It is home to the Wodeyars who ruled Mysuru for close to 500 years. There were 25 kings till Mysuru joined the Indian Republic in 1947. 

The Palace was built between 1897- 1912 by architect Henry Irwin. The initial cost to build the palace was 41.47 lakh rupees then! The palace has three entrances(East gate, West gate and South gate) The East gate and West gate are only opened during Dasara festivities. The palace is also surrounded by a huge garden and has three major temples housed within.

Mysuru Palace during Dasara:

The Palace is a visual treat during Dasara time. I need a separate post to talk all about the glory of the Mysuru palace during Dasara! 🙂 In short, the palace is illuminated with 97,000 bulbs for all nine days during Dasara.  The roads leading to the palace is all lit up during Dasra and it feels like a magical wonderland! (much like Christmas time in the US)

We had visited Mysuru several times before but visiting it during Dasara was a special treat and one which we would never forget. The nine days in Sept or October are known as ‘Dasara’ or ‘Navarathri’ dedicated to the Goddesses.  It signifies the victory of good over evil. Mysuru celebrates this by decorating the palace and having various festivities. 

 

On the last day of Dasara, known as ‘Vijayadasami’ ‘Jamboo savari’ is held wherein Goddess Chamundeswari is placed on a golden howdah on a decorated elephant.

 

Other places of interest in Mysuru are the Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens and Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary.

Best time to visit:

The best time to visit Mysuru might be the cooler months from July onwards. The Dasara season is a great time to visit too but there will be huge crowds which are adequately managed. The peak summer months of March, April, May will be hot for outdoor travel and viewing.

Before we leave, we should not forget to shop for Mysuru’s specialities of Mysuru silk sarees, soaps, sandal talc and of course, the sweet’Mysore pak’!! 🙂

The map below shows the various locations in Mysuru.

 

 

 The next stop of this #XploreBharatBlogTrain is Varanasi with Pallavi.

XploreBharat

This post is a part of the #XploreBharat Blog Train hosted by
AditiEshaMaheshwaranPraGunPreetiSabaSanjotaSoniaSudipSuhasiniSupriya

And a big shout out to our sponsors KAIV and FABZANIA for taking this Blog Train experience even further.

KAIV

KAIV is a personal grooming accessory and appliances brand offering a wide range of world-class products.

FABZANIA

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ByJayanthi

Realities of life in the USA

Reading Time: 3 minutes

After writing about ‘Myths about US’ I thought I should write about realities of life in the USA before all my memories of my once “home” ebb out…after all it has been 8 years since we returned and my stories still continue! 🙂

  • Layoffs are real

         Oh, yes – they are absolutely and totally real… India also might be feeling layoffs but not as pronounced as the ones in the US. I have seen my neighbours in the US being laid off and waiting for their next job… which is why, in the US – one is always advised to have 6 months of living expenses on reserve (mortgage expenses, bills etc) White collar jobs, blue collar jobs, best education – anything can be axed at any point of time!

  •         Indo-Pak grocery stores are real too 

              This is always nice to see in a foreign land…

  • Many people get stuck in the USA for prolonged period of time too(like 5 years or more)

            They would like to come home and visit India – but there is always something coming in their way like visas, parents visiting, in-laws visiting, immigration issues and other reasons. Many cannot return back to India even for a small visit for more than 5 years or more!! 🙁

  • Many couples have their baby alone

          Maybe I was very old-fashioned but I found this very odd – I have seen plenty of couples have their baby with no parents and in-laws to support them. Either the parents/in-laws are too sick to visit them in a distant land or their visit is deemed to be too expensive – either way, many couples welcome the next generation with limited pampering and love and no family at all… (Of course, they take the baby to India when the baby is 4-5 months old)

  • You become independent

          Once we move outside India – we become more independent with our needs and wants. We learn to cook our own meals, clean our own house inclusive of the bathrooms, mow the lawn, shovel the snow, even do our own woodwork and construction! All in all we reduce our dependence on manpower as manpower is expensive or it is not there at all!  

  • We learn the names of our distant cousins and families in a foreign land! 🙂

       The saying “Distance makes the heart grow fonder” is absolutely true in a foreign land. We might hardly know our distant cousins and families in India – but once in a distant land, the very same distant families and cousins will be a good connect! 🙂

  • Politeness is a beautiful feeling 🙂

         “Please”, “Thank you”, “Have a good day”, “You are welcome” , “How are you” and politeness of every possible way is visible all over the US and you are always greeted with a smile, whether we know each other or not.. 

  • ‘Where do I belong?’ is an all too consuming feeling that overpowers you after you stay there for a prolonged period of time…

     After you achieve all of life’s goals in the USA and you have stayed for more than 10 years, it is the next question that comes automatically. When we visit India – we feel India “has” changed in a lot of ways and “hasn’t” changed in a lot of ways too. We feel we cannot fit in with families and the ways there.

When we stay in the US,  we cannot merge fully into American culture either. We become a new generation of “Indian Americans” who preserve a lot of Indianess and adapt to our new country too!

  • And yes, many do return to India after staying close to 19-20 years too! 🙂 (like us)

These a few of things that I could remember… have I missed anything?

Read the second part of ‘Realities of life in USA’ here

For more of my India-US stories visit the link below:

ByJayanthi

What is Cryptojacking?

Reading Time: 2 minutes

It just feels like we hear something new about  cryptocurrencies everyday, but let us delve into the concept of ‘Cryptojacking’ in this post.  Having blogged about cryptocurrencies and blockchain before, here are a few facts about them:

  1. ‘Bitcoin’ and ‘Blockchain’ are two entirely different concepts
  2. ‘Bitcoin’ is a cryptocurrency while ‘blockchain’ is the underlying technology powering cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin 
  3. Blockchain is a distributed, immutable and shared ledger
  4. Transactions on a blockchain cannot be edited
  5.  ‘Bitcoin’ is one of the more popular cryptocurrencies based on the ‘Blockchain’ concept. 

Bitcoin’s energy consumption:

Since bitcoin is based on the blockchain concept, where there is no central authority directing the stakeholders(or miners in Blockchain/Bitcoin lingo), the only way a new block(FYI – a ‘block’ is where transactions are recorded) can be created and agreed upon is by means by of mathematics. This is called ‘mining’, which uses humongous amount of energy. Bitcoin mining can be done by simple software and specialized hardware.

Bitcoin’s current electricity consumption is 46.74 TWh!!(Terawatt hours) (Source: https://digiconomist.net/bitcoin-energy-consumption) To put this into perspective, according to one study in April 2018, Bitcoin’s energy consumption numbers were equal to the energy consumption of an entire country like Switzerland! (Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/shermanlee/2018/04/19/bitcoins-energy-consumption-can-power-an-entire-country-but-eos-is-trying-to-fix-that/#116123d81bc8)

Having understood that bitcoin mining is heavily energy intensive, we can understand that cyber criminals will look for alternate means to mine cryptocurrencies.

Cryptojacking:

This alternate and malicious way to mine cryptocurrencies is by means of a concept known as ‘Cryptojacking’. ‘Cryptojacking’ unsuspectingly makes use of an innocent person’s computer, tablet, phone or any other connected device to mine cryptocurrencies. The innocent individual is lured by means of suspicious email links or online ads which then runs the mining code in the background and drains your energy for wrong purposes.

The unsuspecting user continues to use his computer/connected without knowing that his connected device is being used for malicious purposes.

What do criminals gain from this?

They get bitcoins or any other cryptocurrency with minimal effort and electricity usage on their side. They can then use these cryptocurrencies to buy things that they wish.

How do we detect that cryptomining code is running on your computer:

The only way that we can detect if the cryptomining code is running on our computer is when the computer gets slow or gets heated up. 

How do we prevent cryptojacking?

We can prevent ‘cryptojacking’ by installing ad-blocking and anti-cryptomining extensions. Users should also turn off Javascript in the browser and be wary of phishing emails. It is also necessary to keep up with the latest in the security realm and install all patches as and when they are released. 

Future of cryptojacking:

The current damage caused by ‘Cryptojacking’ may only be slowing down of the device but this malicious attack may evolve further with time and pose a risk to personal and financial information. According to this report from eset.com, cryptojacking may not be slowing in 2019. So, it is necessary to take note of this attack and be knowledgeable about it and guard against it.

 

ByJayanthi

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom!!

Reading Time: 2 minutes

The title of this post either makes you smile or feel puzzled – either way, welcome to the musings of one of the sweetest times of my life… reading children’s books! 🙂 Once I had moved away from worrying about whether variables were static, private, public or private and whether methods were overloaded or overridden – there was a special time when we used to visit our local library to find children’s books and read them with great happiness! 🙂 Now, join me as I go to the kingdom of pure and gentle thoughts! 🙂

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom!!

As you may have guessed by now, ‘Chicka Chicka Boom Boom’ is the name of a children’s book to be read to very young children. It used to be a classic for children as young as 2 and it was quite a rage then. My then, 2 year old son used to adore it and I did too, as I read it with him(now he is 17 and he might find it blasphemous that I still remember it!! :))

Children’s books have to be written in a special way to keep the little readers glued to it. The book should not have too much of content and have pretty and enticing  illustrations. The content should be engaging such that little readers don’t lose their little attention span(this of course, goes for all writings!) and move onto the next activity….

This book does that excellently by teaching the alphabets of the English language in a special and fun way.  It goes like this: “A told B and B told C, I will beat you to the top of the coconut tree…” (anybody, care to finish it? :))There are videos on Youtube illustrating this beautiful book too.

More Children’s books:

The other children’s books that I(or rather my kids!! :)) fondly remember reading are:

  1. “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle
  2. “Brown bear, brown bear what do you see?” by Eric Carle
  3. “A House for Hermit crab” by Eric Carle
  4. “The Cat in the Hat” by Dr.Seuss
  5. “Green Eggs and Ham” by Dr.Seuss
  6. “Jamberry” by Bruce Degen
  7. “If you give a mouse a cookie” by Laura Numeroff
  8. “Goodnight moon” by Margaret Wise Brown
  9. “Is your Mama a Llama” by Deborah Guarino

The Eric Carle series and the Dr. Seuss series of books for children were always winners. I couldn’t even imagine that such beautiful lines could be created by the move of a pen!! “Chicka Chicka Boom”, “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”, “A House for Hermit Crab” and “If you give a mouse a cookie” are my all time favorite books. Even though it has been a very,very long time that I read them last – their sweetness and innocence is etched in my memory forever!

As my kids have grown and gravitated away from children’s books into teen series like Roald Dahl and more(for the daughter) and technical books like Java and Information security(for the son), I miss the innocence of the young age…I have also moved away from the blissful, innocent days into the serious horizons of Information security and beyond… 

Were/Are your young readers reading these titles too?