• What is Information security?

    After having dealt with a huge number of posts on Information security, I thought I will answer one of the fundamental questions about Information security in this post – “What is Information security?” 🙂

    Definition:

    Information security or “InfoSec” is that discipline of study that broadly seeks to counter and prevent cyber attacks. It also seeks to keep data/information safe by employing different techniques and strategies.

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  • The toughest job in the world…

    I think most women might know it and most men might have guessed it too… 🙂  Every job is nerve racking and highly demanding with its timings and different styles of working but this one job demands you to be a super juggler and the stakeholders in this career tug at your heart strings more! more

  • Social engineering

    Introduction:

    ” 22 bank accounts hacked, ₹5.3 lakh stolen in 48 hours” scream the headlines in a local newspaper on 28th January, 2018 morning.(Source: http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/22-bank-accounts-hacked-53-lakh-stolen-in-48-hours/article22538891.ece)

    How did it happen? Two customers were duped of nearly 20,000 Rs and 50,000 Rs by a two conmen(or was it one?) who called the customers in the guise of “bank agents”. They were  asked for their bank details and OTP(one time password) The customers readily obliged since the call was from their “bank”. In a short time, they noticed, that their money was fraudulently withdrawn. 

    This is the social engineering technique used by hackers and fraudsters.Let us see this in greater detail.

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  • The drive

    Years ago, a newly married girl in her early twenties stepped into the US with her  husband. After a number of tiring flights from India, she was finally at home in her new home in College station, TX. Life decently settled down after a while and  she had to master a few things before being more

  • Security policies

    ‘Security policies’ are yet another aspect of Information security that is all around us – but we are hardly aware of it. We will see the meaning of security policy, the reasons for having security policies and some examples of security policies in this post.

    A security policy in a nut shell is a document that lays out in detail how an organization is planning to safeguard its business and technological assets.

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  • Biometrics

    ‘Biometrics’ is gaining more recognition in today’s world – thanks be to popular organizations embracing it. What is ‘Biometrics’ and what are the different types of biometrics? Read on to find out:

    Biometrics – Definition:

    Biometrics is uniquely used to identify a person by making use of the distinct characteristics of a person. According to the Michigan State University Biometrics research group, “The field of biometrics examines the unique physical or behavioral traits that can be used to determine a person’s identity”.  These unique traits can be fingerprints, palm scan, hand geometry, retina scan, iris scan, keyboard scan to name a few of them.

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  • Security trends for 2018!

    With the New Year upon us, it is but natural to write about my thoughts on the security trends that might shape 2018! 🙂 So, here goes:

    1. Overall, security trends will closely follow technical trends for a particular year. If AI(Artificial intelligence) , ‘Data analytics’ and IoT(Internet of things) are said to be game changers in the technical industry for 2018 – Infosec trends will definitely exploit the security issues with the mentioned concepts. 
    2. ‘Expect the unexpected’

    This might be life’s greatest quote but it holds good for the Infosec industry as well. Equifax, eBay, Uber, University of  Oklahoma, Washington State University were all victims of data breaches of 2017.

    These data breaches compromised personal data and 2018 will be yet another year, which steals more personal data. More organizations will lose their precious data or the data will be at the mercy of yet another ingenious way to grab it!

    3. ‘Bitcoin’ and other cryptocurrencies:

    Will ‘Bitcoin’ hold its sway and continue its meteoric rise? From a humble value of 1000$(for 1 Bitcoin) in the beginning of 2017 to a massive rise of 15,000$(for 1 Bitcoin) by the end of 2017, Bitcoin sure did raise a few eyebrows.  It is quite a possibility that the rise will continue and ‘Bitcoin’ and other cryptocurrencies will be a game changer in the Infosec industry in 2018.

    4. Ransomware, fileless malware… what next?

    Viruses,phishing emails,Trojan horse were already on the prowl than, that new attacks came to the fore in 2017. We heard new security jargon like ‘ransomware’ and ‘fileless malware’ in 2017 and were scrambling to read all about it , understand it and see if were affected by it in any way. 

    2018 will continue to see newer types of attacks and newer security lingo thrown around as hackers get smarter. The more a technology or product is used – the higher the possibility it will be exploited in a novel manner for personal gains. 

    5. Data privacy 

    Data privacy continues to be a lost issue with every new device monitoring our conversation, location, likes, dislikes. There is a huge electronic virtual  dictionary being built on us with the digital footprint that we are constantly leaving. This will continue into 2018 and beyond!

    These are the five points that I think might shake the InfoSec world in 2018!

     

  • Role of Computer Simulations in Design

     

    Introduction – reasons for good design:

    When we buy a new car, we may have a number of expectations. e.g. We would like the car to be fuel efficient, comfortable in the cabin, be able to ride well in all kinds of roads, provide us a safe ride. When an airline buys an aircraft, they have expectations. e.g. Trouble free operation with minimal down time, integrity of the structure of the airplane, comfort of passengers in the cabin, reliable operation of the engine (from taxi, take off, ascent, cruise, descent and landing). When the government has a power plant commissioned, they would like to ensure that the plant delivers the required power, has the infrastructure to meet environmental emission standards and has good efficiency (conversion of energy into electricity). When an appliance manufacturer designs a washing machine, they would like to ensure that the system ensures good mixing of the water and detergent, proper agitation to remove dirt from the clothes and good ability to remove water from the clothes during the spin cycle.

    All these examples show that a good design is needed for efficient functioning of the appliance/airplane/power plant etc

    Methods of good design:

    There are two principal methods for ensuring a good design:

    a) Testing of Prototypes and the Final Product
    b) Performing virtual simulations using a computer.

    a. Testing:

    The traditional method of design predominantly involved testing. Testing was considered to be the only fool proof method of ensuring a good design. However testing is expensive, time consuming, sometimes not possible in hazardous environments, and has difficulty to replicate all real-world operating scenarios.

    b. Virtual simulations

    Computer Simulations (also known as Virtual Simulations or Numerical Simulations) provide an attractive alternative. Instead of performing a physical test in a lab, one can perform a virtual test on a computer. The virtual test of course needs to be validated against physical tests (or experiments) to build confidence in the computer simulation. The cost involved for performing Virtual Simulations (typically computer hardware, software license and a trained engineer) is a lot cheaper than the cost involved for performing a physical test.
    With the ever increasing power of computing, virtual simulations have become a cheaper and time efficient alternative to physical testing.

    Now, there are two classes of problems. A) Problems that have an analytical solution b) Problems that do not have an analytical solution. The second class of problems involve modelling assumptions, and the results need to be interpreted carefully, keeping in mind the modelling assumptions. For both class of problems mentioned above, companies have been making a conscious shift from Physical Testing towards Virtual Simulations over the last 15 years.

    Companies and design:

    Most companies rely heavily on computer simulations at a very early stage of the design cycle to select a group of good designs. During the final stages of design, they test the good designs predicted by simulations. On successful confirmation of the designs, the product is released to the market. This approach enables companies to keep costs reasonable and also shorten the design cycle resulting in valuable time savings. In an evolving, demanding and competitive market environment, Virtual Simulations play a very important role.

    Types of simulations:

    Simulations themselves could either be 1D or 3D. 1D simulations are faster to run and enable system level simulations (e.g. Entire Powertrain of a Vehicle). 3D simulations take longer to run, but can provide three dimensional information about the system being analyzed (e.g. The temperature and pressure at every location within an Internal combustion engine). Companies typically use a combination of 1D and 3D simulation tools during the product design phase.

    Both domestic and multi-national automotive manufactures have traditionally used Wind Tunnels for drag reduction of their vehicles. Reducing drag improves the fuel economy of the car. The manufacturers now use computer simulations to simulate both wind tunnel as well as on-road driving conditions. A computer simulation can provide the manufacturer detailed pressure, temperature and flow distribution around the car (to the tune of several million locations). It would be prohibitively expensive to get the same information from a wind tunnel test (since pressure and temperature transducers and data collection systems are expensive). The computed data can be visualized on a computer.

    Conclusion:

    As the expectations from the market keep rising every year, Virtual Simulations are now playing a very important role to help companies to come up with designs meeting customer requirements.

  • Digital Detox

    With most of us(or is it ‘all’ of us?!) being being plugged onto electronic devices like cell phones, laptops, tablets, IPads all the time, it is but necessary that we need a ‘digital detox’ from time to time.  It will be one of my New Year resolutions for sure! What is a ‘Digital Detox’ you may ask…well, read on to find out more…

     

    What is ‘Digital detox’?

    ‘Digital Detox’ is when we divorce all our digital assets and keep away from it at least for a day in a month.

    Is anything even possible without our smartphone and the countless apps that are on it? From bill payments, to booking tickets and ordering groceries – there is an app for everything and we are completely dependent on them.

    Considering that social media rules our life, and we are always in a crouched position at any place in life(it maybe the grocery store, in the car, in India – we are in a crouched position even in our scooters!) it could also mean keeping away from Facebook, Whatsapp,Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter etc.

    It will also mean keeping away from emails and not responding to the millions of emails that clutter our office work space. 

    What are its simple advantages?

    Giving our self a ‘digital detox’ will definitely help us in the following ways:

    1. To sleep better
    2. To connect with people the old fashioned way
    3. The compulsive urge to ‘like’ and respond to queries immediately will diminish
    4. Kids will imitate their parents and they will be less digitally dependent too
    5. One will lead a much more healthier life without an app tracking every step of theirs
    6. Others will get used to the ‘digital detox’ routine too!

    How do we do it?

    1. Keep the smartphones away for a day
    2. Do not check messages or update statuses on any social media platforms
    3. Keep the laptops, tablets, iPads away for a day too
    4. Do not check email messages or respond to them under any circumstances

    Why not try it today? Happy New ‘digitally detoxified‘ Year, 2018!! 🙂

     

     

     

     

     

  • Best technical posts of 2017!

    As the year draws to a close, here are my best technical posts of 2017:

    1. Bitcoin and Blockchain: What next?

    2. Cyber diplomacy:

    3. What is ‘Deep web’?

    4. Conflict Resolution at the Work place:

    5. Java 8:

     

    Warm wishes for a great New Year!