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FUNDAMENTALS OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY ITEC1104 LECTURE NOTES © Copyright 2007 Mrs. G. Campbell 1.1.4. 1.1.3. 1


© Copyright 2007

Mrs. G. Campbell




FUNDAMENTALS OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY ITEC1104 LECTURE NOTES © Copyright 2007 Mrs. G. Campbell 1.1.4. 1.1.3. 1
FUNDAMENTALS OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY ITEC1104 LECTURE NOTES © Copyright 2007 Mrs. G. Campbell 1.1.4. 1.1.3. 1


1. Module 1 – Introduction to computers and information technology



Definition of Information Technology


Purpose of Information Technology


Functions of Information Technology


Benefits of Information Technology


Application of Information Technology



Definition of computer system


What is a computer?


What is a computer system?


1.3. Functions of computer systems


1.4. Components of computer systems


Memory (RAM & ROM, Cache)


Central Processing Unit (CPU) – parts and their functions



Control Unit





Units of storage


Magnetic tape unit


Magnetic disk


Optical disk unit


MicroFiche /Film


Smart Card


Flash Card/Picture Card


Flash Drive



Other peripheral devices






2. Module Two - Software



Definition of software



System Software


Operating systems





Application software


Productivity tools/business


Graphic design/multimedia






Programming languages/program development software


3. Module Three - Data and Information



Definitions of data and information







Desired characteristics of information



Information systems


Information requirements and information systems used in the functional units of an



4. Module 4 – Telecommunication and Computer Networks


4.1. Definition of networks


4.2. Uses of networks/Role in business








4.3. Advantages and Disadvantages of Networks


4.4. Network classifications


4.5. Network Topologies








4.6. Network components


4.7. Software: Network Operating Systems


4.8. Transmission Media: wireless, wired


Wired Transmission Media (Physical /Guided)


Wireless Transmission Media (Unguided)


5. Module 5 – Network Security


5.1. Define Computer security


5.2. What is a computer security risk?


5.3. Categories of risk and their effects


5.4. Risk Management Solutions


Backup is the key – the ultimate safeguard


6. Module 6 – Database Management Systems


6.1. Traditional/File Processing Approach versus Database Approach


6.2. What is a Database?


6.3. What is a DataBase Management System (DBMS)?


6.4. Examples of DBMS’s


6.5. Common examples of databases in society


6.6. Sample Payroll Database Structure (Single example)


6.7. The languages used in database systems (Data definition and Data



6.8. Functions/features common to most DBMS’s


6.9. Database Administration


6.10. Types of databases/Database models


Hierarchical Model


Network Model








6.11. The advantages of databases


6.12. The disadvantages of databases


6.13. Data Warehousing



Module 7 – Information Technology in the business office



Definition and purpose of office automation



Features of office automation




Voice mail


Voice messaging








Electronic fund transfer




Electronic mail





Application of computers in various fields


1. Module 1 – Introduction to computers and information technology

1.1. Definition of Information Technology

Information Technology (IT) entails all aspects of managing and processing information. IT includes any and all hardware, software, and data used to create, store, process, and communicate information electronically as well as services that are utilized to maintain operations of resources.

Purpose of Information Technology

There are many purposes of IT.

IT is used:

To improve operations of any organization/individual by utilizing technology as the underling tool to improve the processing and dissemination of information.

in helping organizations achieve profitable results and keep competitive forces in check.

in optimizing effectiveness and efficiency of processes within the industry it is used, whether education, business, science etc.

to solve problems .

Functions of Information Technology

1. Provide supporting information to assist managers in making strategic decisions

2. Provide effective communication

3. Allows the effective Management of Information – capturing, generation, storage, retrieval and transmission of information

Benefits of Information Technology

1. Speed: The processing of transactions is carried out at high speeds. The ability of computers to perform information processing in fractions of a second primarily facilitates high processing speed. For example computers are able to perform complex mathematical calculation within milliseconds.

2. Consistency: Once a computer has been given the correct instructions to execute a specific command, that command will be executed consistently without variation each time. For example the addition of the two numbers one (1) and five (5) will result in the answer six (6) each time the addition is carried out.

3. Storage: A computer can transfer data quickly from storage to memory process it and then store it again for future use.

4. Reliability: Computer systems provide reliability by ensuring consistency, speed and precision in the execution of tasks. Additionally, computers can carry out human related tasks with greater efficiency and minimized error.

5. Communications: Most Computers to day can communicate with other computers often wirelessly.

Application of Information Technology

Tourism Industry







Personal computing etc.

1.2. Definition of computer system

What is a computer? A computer is an electronic (no moving parts) device that can accept instructions and input data and can manipulate that data to produce meaningful output.

The functions of a computer are therefore:





What is a computer system?

A contemporary computer system consists of a central processing unit (CPU), primary storage,

secondary storage, input devices, output devices, and communications devices.

2. System Unit: A case that contains the electronic "brain" of the computer and the main computational components of the computer that is used to process data.

3. Storage Devices: Stores and hold data, instructions & information for future use.

4. Input devices: computer hardware that allows a user to enter data and instructions.

5. Output devices: computer hardware that allows a user to receive information.

a computer to send &

6. Communications devices: hardware components that enables

receive data, instructions & information to or from one or more computers.

1.3. Functions of computer systems Computers are used to speed up the work/functions carried out

1.3. Functions of computer systems

Computers are used to speed up the work/functions carried out in a business. The vast number of transactions that exist today could not possibly be processed at the desired speed and as accurately as possible. Computers also allow for easier retrieval of files, and saves on physical storage space. Computers reduce the amount of paperwork and remove boring, repetitive tasks. Computers also allow persons in different locations to effectively communicate with each other. Computer systems provide supporting information to assist managers in making strategic decisions. Computer systems allow the effective Management of Information – capturing, generation, storage, retrieval and transmission of information.

1.4. Components of computer systems

Memory (RAM & ROM, Cache) Primary - also called IAS (immediate access storage), main storage, main memory. To hold data and instructions after input until needed. Hold info awaiting output. Fast data instantly accessible. Close proximity to the processor. Data must be transferred here before it can be processed. Expensive - contained in a semi- conductor chip. Part of O/S remains resident in memory.

conductor chip. Part of O/S remains resident in memory.  Instructions awaiting to be obeyed, Instructions

Instructions awaiting to be obeyed, Instructions currently being obeyed

Data awaiting processing

Data currently being processed, Data awaiting output.

Made up of silicon and galium (semiconductors) on the motherboard. The motherboard is the main circuit board, on it are mounted the microprocessor,

memory chips, slots for adding other circuit boards.

RAM - random access memory - another name for main storage. Arranged like series of boxes, numbered from 0, so know location. Once data placed in each box it remains until replaced by more. Each location has a 0 or 1. Volatile - info lost if power switched off. There are different types of RAM eg. DRAM (dynamic RAM – needs to be reenergized constantly). SRAM (static RAM), SIMM, DIMM (dual inline memory module – pins are on opposite side of circuit board). SDRAM – synchronous because synchronized to system clock).

ROM - read only memory. Permanently written during manufacture. Non-volatile - info kept even if power switched off. Firmware - software instructions held in ROM (contents hard wired into device). Controls the function of the machine. ROM extends computer instruction set, O/S, control S/W for peripherals.

CMOS – Complementary Metal-Oxide semiconductor. A chip that holds computer settings/configuration. Eg. Date, start up info, keyboard. A battery is used to keep the information.

PROM - programmable read only memory. able to have data and programs written in them after manufacture, but once written become permanently fixed. Used to provide permanent instruction capability to microprocessor on functions to perform each time it is used. Does not lose data when power turned off.

EPROM - erasable PROM - PROMS which may be erased by a special process (e.g. thru exposure to ultra violet light) and written again as a new PROM.

EAPROM - electrically alterable ROM - a variant of EPROM.

RAM disk - RAM used as if it were hard disk. (e.g. palm top, data bank). Also called silicon disks. Advantage is fast performance.

Cache – a special high speed memory that operates at the speed of the processor. It holds data or instructions that were recently used in anticipation that it will be required in the near future.

Central Processing Unit (CPU) – parts and their functions vb The system unit houses the electronic components of the computer that are used to process the data. The CPU is a chip. A chip is a small piece of semi- conducting material usually no larger than a ½” square on which one or more integrated circuits are placed. An integrated circuit is a microscopic pathway capable of carrying electrical current. Each IC can contain millions of elements such as transistors which act as electronic switches or gates that open or close the circuit for electronic signals. The motherboard contains many types of chips, one of which is the CPU.

contains many types of chips, one of which is the CPU. The CPU is where the

The CPU is where the processing of the information takes place. It is the brain of the computer system. It carries out the basic instructions that operate the computer. It consists of electronic components called chips. It is the fastest of all the devices. Some large computers have more than 1 CPU. The CPU has 3 parts that are integrated by wiring (bus). The 3 parts are control unit, arithmetic and logic unit (ALU) and primary memory. Each storage location has an address so that the computer knows where to find it. The CPU is located on the motherboard or system board.

Control Unit Arithmetic and Logic Unit Memory
Control Unit
and Logic

A.L.U. Composed of miniature solid state components. This is where calculations are done (add, subtract etc.). It is also where decisions are made based on comparisons. Uses logic operators eg >, <, =, AND, OR etc. The ALU has a space called accumulator where data items can be stored during processing. (same concept as scrap paper).

Control Unit

Also composed of miniature solid state components. Controls order in which program instructions are carried out. Determines priority of services. Also responsible for timing of all the operations done in CPU. Coordination and control of all hardware operations. It contains the system clock to synchronize or control timing. Instructions are sent here, interpreted then executed by sending command signals to the appropriate hardware. (Tells computer what to do). Instructions in a form which can be used directly by control unit are called machine instructions, and programs written in the form of machine instructions are written in machine language.

The CU is sometimes referred to as Traffic cop. It interprets instructions issued by a program then initiates the appropriate action to carry out the instruction.



Units of storage

bit - 0 or 1 (binary digit) byte - 8 bits, one character. by combination of bits represented by binary codes (e.g. ASCII codes). 32 bit machine - instructions take up 32 bits, i.e. 4 bytes. nibble - 1/2 byte KB - Kilobyte 1024 bytes (call it 1000) 2 10 =1024 MB - megabyte 1 million bytes (1000KB) 2 20 = 1048576 GB - gigabyte billion bytes (1000 MB) 2 30 bytes TB terabyte trillion bytes (1000 GB) 2 40

Storage devices Secondary - Also called auxiliary, backing storage, mass storage. Supplements main/primary storage. For mass storage of programs and files (those not currently being operated on but which will be transferred to the main storage when required. Less expensive compared to primary storage. NB. Data in secondary storage cannot be directly addressed by CPU, so must be transferred to main memory before they can be processed by CPU. They are divided into online and offline storage.

Magnetic tape unit A serial access device. Data records stored from start to end. Storage locations cannot be addressed. Read in order stored on medium. Aluminium strip - load point marker marks beginning of the tape for recording. Plastic base coated with metal oxide film. Header label is at start of tape - has filename etc. To record data you magnetise various spots on the tape (each spot is a bit). Tapes has variable size, length. Tape divided into tracks (channels) 7-9 tracks. A char is recorded across the tracks in a row called a frame. Data is read one block at a time. A block is a group of records treated as a single unit during transfer of data. Density = bpi (bytes/chars per inch). Between 200-6250 bpi (800-1600 most common). About 40 million chars per reel. Tape is known as offline storage. Can only write to tape if have "write-permit" ring attached.

write to tape if have "write-permit" ring attached. 1/2" wide, 2400ft long typically. cassette tape -

1/2" wide, 2400ft long typically. cassette tape - similar to audio cassette - 1 track. 1/8"

cassette - 280 ft long, 340 KB cartridge tape - (1/4", 1/2", 8mm). 8mm store up to 10GB Quarter inch cartridge – 40MB-5GB digital audio tape (DAT). 4mm DAT store up to 2-49GB.

Magnetic disk


Direct Access Storage Device (DASD). Have addressable storage locations. So


know address can go straight to it. Records can be retrieved without having to

process other records. Coated with magnetic material (e.g. ferrous oxide). Data recorded as magnetized spots on tracks which run as concentric circles. A track is

a narrow recording band that forms a full circle on the surface of the disk.

Floppy disk/Diskette Made of thin circular flexible plastic disk with a magnetic coating enclosed in a square shaped plastic shell. Drive A 8" original - now less common


1/4" - 360KB -DD, 1.2MB - HD


1/2" - 720KB - DD, 1.44MB - HD

-DD, 1.2MB - HD 3 1/2" - 720KB - DD, 1.44MB - HD Hard disk Enclosed
-DD, 1.2MB - HD 3 1/2" - 720KB - DD, 1.44MB - HD Hard disk Enclosed

Hard disk Enclosed in air tight case Made of several inflexible circular disks called platters. It is made

of aluminium, glass or ceramic and is coated with magnetic

material. The first partition is always drive C. fixed disk - disks not removable from disk drive fixed head disk - fixed disk which has one read/write head per track

exchangeable disk - disk may be removed from the disk unit. (A disk pack is a set

of exchangeable disks on one spindle).

winchester disk - fixed disk unit is sealed and has robust mechanical features. Intended for use in adverse environments (e.g. dusty, humid).

Zip disk/drive

A higher capacity floppy disk that can store the equivalent of about 70 standard

floppy disks. It was developed by Iomega Corporation. It stores about 250MB.

SuperDisk drive Developed by Imation and holds 120MB.

High-Capacity FD (HiFD) Developed by Sony Electronics and holds 200MB.

Optical disk unit Drive D or E. Made up of a thin metal polymer compound. Data recorded by laser burns. Read by another laser of lower intensity detecting the pattern of light

reflected from beam by surface of disk. More storage capacity than magnetic disks and less susceptible to damage. Access to data slower than magnetic. Used for video, audio.

Access to data slower than magnetic. Used for video, audio. CDs store items using microscopic pits

CDs store items using microscopic pits (indentation=0) and land (flat areas =1) in a single spiral track. A high powered laser beam creates the pits and a lower powered laser reads items by reflecting light through the disk. The reflected light is converted into a series of bits that the computer can process. The speed of the drive measured as multiple of X where X is the speed of the original CD-ROM eg. 40X, 75X. X = 150KB per second.

CD-ROM (compact disc - read only memory) - 4 1/2" 700MB/80 min. Kept in Jewel Box. CD-R (recordable – can record to it only once), therefore it is a WORM. CD-RW (rewritable) DVD-ROM (Digital video/versatile disk – read only memory). An advancement on CD-ROM technology and can store greater amounts of data e.g. an entire move (4.7GB – 17GB). The pits are placed closer together or there are two layers of pits or can be double sided. DVD-R DVD-RAM – can erase and record multiple times WORM (write once, read many) EO (erasable optical) - magnetic molecules in disk surface aligned when heated by a laser beam. PhotoCD or PictureCD – holds pictures

MicroFiche /Film COM recorder used. COM - computer output on microfilm. Page of print may be photographically reduced and produced on reels of film. Alternatively the print may be output on small sheets of film called microfiche. Used to reduce filing space for paper. Used in libraries etc. For high volume of docs. Typical microfiche measuring 105mm x 148mm will hold 98 pages reduced in size about 24 times. Film - 16mm roll. 100-215 foot. COM recorder speed 10000 to 60000 lines per minute. Easily distributed, lightweight and compact. Microfiche can be duplicated up to 1000 copies per hour.

Smart Card Similar in size to a credit card, stores data on a thin microprocessor embedded in the card. Electronic money/Digital cash.

Flash Card/Picture Card Stores pictures from 2MB to 256MB.

Flash Drive A flash drive is a small removable data storage device that uses flash memory and a USB connector. Flash drives are also known as keydrive keychain drive, micro hard drive, pen drive, pocket drive, thumb drive, jump drive, USB flash drive, USB flash memory drive, USB key, USB memory key, USB stick, Piripicho (primarily in Spanish), and Kikinou (primarily in French)


Flash drive

key, USB stick, Piripicho (primarily in Spanish), and Kikinou (primarily in French) 1.6. Flash drive 1.1.4.

Other peripheral devices

Input Input is data or instructions that you enter into the memory of the computer. Once input is in memory, the CPU can access it and process the input into output. Input devices are used to load input data or programs or commands and user responses into a computer. Most computers have several input devices.


The most common. User enters info by typing/pressing the appropriate keys. Most desktops have 101 to 105 keys, while laptops etc have fewer keys.Data entered into computer in this way is either sent directly to processor or first stored (for processing in future) on a magnetic tape in a key-to-tape system or on a disk in a key-to-disk system. Types of keyboards

alphanumeric - like in lab, letters, numbers, special keys (func, ctrl, alt etc.)

QWERTY – due to the layout of the letter keys

DVORAK – has an alternative layout designed to improve typing speed. The most frequently used keys are placed in the middle (not very widely used)

Enhanced – have 12 function keys along the top, 2 CTRL keys, 2 ALT keys and a set of arrow and additional keys.

special func - e.g. in a fast food restaurant.

Wireless – transmit data via infrared light waves

Ergonomic – designed to reduce repetitive strain injuries



pointing device allows you to control a pointer on the screen. This allows you


move or select items on a screen.

The mouse is the most common point and draw device (joystick, trackball). Used

in computer systems with graphical user interfaces (GUI) alongside keyboard.

Mechanical mouse – the ball is at the bottom

Optical mouse – has no moving parts inside, it emits and senses light to detect movement. No need for a mouse pad.

Cordless/wireless – uses infrared or radio waves

Trackerball - a variation of mouse, ball is on top side so mouse stays stationery

Touchpad/track pad – an area on a laptop where the finger is used. It is sensitive to pressure and motion.


A vertical lever (like gear stick in a car) mounted on a base. Moves graphics cursor/pointer in direction stick is pushed. Commonly used for video games. Has buttons called triggers to activate certain events.

Trackpoint/Pointing stick

Looks like a miniature joystick. Operated with tip of finger. Used for same purpose as traditional mouse. (looks like a pencil eraser)

Touch screen

This is a monitor that has a touch sensitive panel. You interact by touching the screen with your finger. Due to the arm movement they are not used to enter large amounts of data. These are often used in ATMs, kiosks, hotels, stores, airports.

Pads and Tablets

These are able to recognise neat handwriting by means of a sensitive pad on which the source doc can be filled in by hand using ball point pen or pencil.

Digitizer Tablet and Pen

Consists of a flat, rectangular plastic board used to input drawings. Tablet has flat surface on which you can draw using a special pen. Pressure on surface is detected. Popular for people who draw maps (draughtsmen, architects etc.). Some people also use a puck which looks like a mouse but allows you to look through it to the tablet.

Scanners, Digitizers/Graphics Tablet

A light sensitive device that converts images into digital data that the computer can understand and represent on the screen.

Bar code readers

Bar codes readable by light pen, light wand, laser scanner. Bar codes are read optically or magnetically.

Light Pens, Magnetic Pens, Stylus

These resemble pens. More bulky hand held alternatives are sometimes called wands (used in point of sale systems). They can read specially coded data in form of either optical marks/chars, or magnetic codes, which have been previously recorded on strips of suitable material. A common version is called the bar code reader. Light pens can emit or detect light. Some require a special monitor while others work on the standard monitor.

The pen, also called a stylus looks like a ball point pen but uses an electronic head instead of ink. Pen computers use handwriting recognition software that translates the letters and symbols used in handwriting into character data that the computer can use.

Key-Tape, Key-Disk

Data entered, most errors filtered out by an edit program then stored on disk/tape. Verification then done by another operator, who keys in the data a second time. This is compared with data already stored and differences can be examined and corrected. Advantage is that reduces load on main computer (input is handled offline).

Document Readers

To enable data to be read directly from source documents (forms). Falls into 2 main categories a) mark readers b) card readers.

Mark Readers

Mark sensing (Old method) - Detect pencil marks by using electrical contacts which brushed the paper surface. Pencil mark between the contacts conduct electricity therefore detected. (Marks multiple choice exams e.g. CXC) Medium - mark sense sheets.

Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) (New method) - Direct thin light beams onto paper which reflect or absorb depending on pencil mark.

Character Readers

Optical Character Readers (OCR) Used extensively in connection with billing, e.g. prepare bill, payment returned with bill, document is evidence of payment. (E.g. of turnaround technique). No typing required. Read typed data. Letters recognised based on shape of letters.

Magnetic Ink Character Readers (MICR) Documents passed thru strong magnetic field causing the iron oxide in the ink encoded chars to be magnetised. Doc then passed under read head when a current flows. These chars appear on most cheques. Quality of print has to be very high.

Badge Readers

These read data from small rectangular plastic cards. This is done in several ways:- a) magnetized marks – a short stripe or magnetic tape sealed in to the card’s surface. Eg. Credit cards, ATM cards. Used to open doors when an employee swipes his id badge. B) optical marks, c) punched holes.

Smart Card Readers

Normally a badge holds static data, however some types of badge readers may also change the data held on badges. Such a badge or smart card may be used as a form of electronic money. As the customer purchases an item, the reader may deduct units from the card. Eg. Phone cards, satellite disk/decoder cards.

Digital camera

Allows you to take pictures and store the photographed images digitally instead of traditional film. You then download or transfer a copy of the picture to your computer. A digital camera is therefore known as a data collection device instead of an input device.

Microphone - Voice/Speech Recognition (Voice Data Entry)

An eg of a biometric device. Still in early stage of development. Need microphone, speakers, software. Needs to be trained to recognise speech pattern of user. A good speech recognition system never stops learning new words. Spoken word translated to digital form. Mostly used by doctors, lawyers, journalists, physically disabled. Used for security and access control.

Biometric input devices

These devices, such as retinal scanner, fingerprint scanner read bodily features. They are mostly used in high security areas such as airports and embassies.

Output An output device gives information to a user. Output can either be softcopy or hardcopy.

Video/Visual Display Unit (VDU)/ Monitor

The VDU is also called screen, monitor. Screens have a _ or [] call cursor which indicates where the next character will be entered. You can adjust brightness.

A typical screen is 24 lines by 80 chars per line.

Produces soft copy – because it exists electronically and is displayed for a temporary period of time.

Input - Output

It is an Input - Output device.

Types of monitors

CRT (cathode ray tube) similar to a tv screen. The screen is coated with tiny dots of phosphor material that glows when it is electrically charged. Flat panel display – consumes less power than CRT. Lightweight Liquid crystal display (LCD) commonly on laptops, handheld, watches, calculators. It has special molecules deposited between two sheets of material. When an electronic current passes through them, the molecules twist, causing some light waves to be blocked and allowing others to pass thru, which creates the image. Gas plasma – instead of liquid crystal there is a layer of gas. When current is applied, the gas glows.

Resolution - Pixels

The resolution or sharpness/clarity is measured in pixels (picture elements). [similar to dot matrix] A pixel is a dot that is on or off with attributes of color and intensity. Resolution can be either (typically) :-

* high - 640 x 400 pixels (across then down) 1280x1024

* medium - 640 x 200

* low - 320 x 200

Lower resolutions show less detail. High resolutions needed in graphics software such as CAD, Coreldraw etc.

Dot pitch – the vertical distance between each pixel. Refresh rate – speed at which image is redrawn on the screen (if slow then will flicker and give headaches).

Interlacing – odd number lines drawn first in one pass, then even numbered lines drawn. It is better when non-interlaced as less flicker.

Graphics - VGA, EGA, SVGA

The monitor rating is set by a graphics adaptor rating. Graphics adaptor put into an expansion slot and has a monitor port. Graphics adaptor is a device responsible for converting digital signals sent by computer to monitor to analog form which is required by monitor to display info. Monitor cable is plugged into this adaptor at back of computer in order to link it with computer’s processor.

VGA - video graphics array - Supports 320 x 200 pixels in 256 colors OR 640 x 480 pixels in 16 colors. In straight text mode, characters are generated in 9 x 16 pixel grids. But in graphics mode can set it to any size.

EGA - enhanced graphics adaptor - This low grade adaptor supports 16 colors at a time, chosen from 64 and a resolution of 640 x 350 pixels. Chars are generated in 8 x 14 pixel grids.

XGA – extended graphics array – 1024x768 with 256 colors OR 640x480 with 65,536 colors.

CGA - color graphics adaptor - Original adaptor provided and is now obsolete. Supported 4 colors at a time chosen from 16. Resolution of 640 x 200 pixels. Chars generated in 8 x 8 pixel grids.

MDA – monochrome graphics adapter – 720x350 – 1 color.

SVGA - Super VGA - 1024 x 768 pixels (800x600 to 1280x1024), 16 million colors. Chars in 12x30 pixel grid.

Graphics adaptors have their own primary storage called Video RAM (VRAM) which is used to store info while it is being prepared for display. Size of VRAM basically determines the number of colors, resolution, speed.

Colour vs Monochrome

Monochrome - a single color (white,green,amber/orange) and black Color - At back of computer are a number of connectors and switches. One of these connectors provides signals for using a color monitor using RGB (red,green,blue) color signals. Another connector provides the signal for operating a monochrome monitor.

Advantages of Monitors

Faster than a printer, Less noisy than printer, Paper not wasted Allow you to correct/edit data before it is saved on computer.

Disadvantages of Monitors

Eye strain, No permanent hardcopy (gives temporary/soft copy)


The printed page is the most common type of computer output (despite the desire for a paperless office). Printed copy = hard copy.

Paperless - use microfiche and film, send email instead of memo.

Questions to ask when buying a printer. Price, Speed, color, cost to print, multiple copies, graphics, photographic quality, types of paper, size of paper, amt of paper in tray, compatible with existing, ink and paper cost, reliability, envelopes and transparencies, budget, what will I be printing. How much am I printing now and in 2 yrs. Availability of ink cartridge, noise factor

Impact vs Non-Impact

Printers grouped in 2 functional categories:-

a) Impact - This is the most widely used. The print mechanism

strikes the paper thru an ink ribbon which makes char impression on the page. Impact printers use solid font mechanisms or dot matrix mechanisms.

b) Non-impact - Uses thermal (heat), photographic (xerographic),

electrostatic, light to print. Does not require physical contact with

the paper and generally results in very high speeds. These are quieter. Tend to be more expensive. Do not have multiple copy facilities.


Printers are also classified by their print quality.

Letter quality

Near letter quality (NLQ)


Draft is fastest speed.

Line vs Page vs Character

A character printer prints on character at a time. (80-200 chars per sec).

Dot matrix - impact

Daisy wheel - impact

Thermal - non impact

Ink jet - non impact

A line printer prints one line at a time. (up to 3000 lines per minute

- lpm)

Typically used with mainframes and use 11x17” paper (speedigreen)

Drum - impact

Chain, train - impact

Band - impact

A page printer prints one page at a time. (up to 200 pages per min).

All page printers are non impact.

Laser - non impact

Dot Matrix Printer

These are the most popular and widely used low speed printers in use today. Relatively inexpensive. Limited by speed, noise, quality. Wide range of character sets. Prints a pattern of dots in shape of desired char.

Print head is a matrix of steel pins. The higher the number of pins the better the quality print.




pin heads produce NLQ. (slower because each letter printed


80-300 chars per sec in draft mode. 50-100 chars per sec in NLQ.

*…* The letter X.







5x7 dot matrix.

Color ribbons are available. Colors cannot be blended for new colors.

Wire matrix

Similar to dot matrix. Chars formed by the selection of a series of small wires formed in

a 5 x 7 matrix. By selecting certain wires and pressing them

against an inked fabric ribbon different chars can be formed.

500-1000 lines per minute.

Daisy Wheel

No longer very common. High quality print. Impact. Line printer. Slow speed (15-50cps). Noisy. Relatively expensive. Cannot produce graphics only what on tip of spokes.

Wheel rotated to print each char. The appropriate spoke is struck against an inked ribbon. Some can print left to right on one line and right to left on next line so printing is faster.

line and right to left on next line so printing is faster. Drum, Chain, Band Printers

Drum, Chain, Band Printers

These are Line printers. High speed. Used mainly for mainframes.

The drums, chains, or bands rotate at constant speed and are struck by hammers as the required chars pass the print positions. Up to 7 copies can be done at a time using paper with carbon.

Chain and Train printers - Use a continuous chain (like bicycle chain) with 5 sections and 48 chars per sec. Chain rotates behind a continuous form paper. In front of page is an ink ribbon and a set of 32 magnetically activated hammers. As the char to be printed comes to the print position the hammer is activated, driving paper against ribbon and char on the chain. Train - 2000 lines per min.

ribbon and char on the chain. Train - 2000 lines per min. Drum revolves Band made

Drum revolves

Band made of steel and can be exchanged to provide variety of char sets.

Bar printer

Operates similar to chain. String of bars oscillate back and forth at high speed in front of paper. Char printed when it comes to the correct print position. 200-600 lines per min.


Tend to be most expensive non impact. Very high quality. Non impact. Page printer. 146 pages per minute. 7890-20000 line per min. 600-1200 dpi Uses electrostatic or optical methods. Uses toner powder (dried ink) which sticks to charged parts (on drum) traced by laser beam. (Rotating mirror deflects the laser beam across the surface of the drum). Paper pressed against drum. Images permanently fused to the paper using a heating unit. Image of whole page represented by series of minute dots, dots are so close together that print looks like a shaped char (so high quality). Can print combination of text and diagrams so used with word processors, desktop publishing. Cannot print on continuous paper.

Photocopiers and lasers are similar except that Data source for laser is digital then translated to pattern to be traced Data source for photocopier is optical (analog) which may be translated to digital If want n copies it scans images n times. Typically image is not stored.


A character printer. Non impact. Low speed (160 cps). Uses heated print

head. Quiet. Inexpensive. Electrically heated pins are pushed against heat-sensitive paper Low print quality and images fade over time.

Ink Jet

Developed due to search for low-cost quality printing. It is non-impact.

Page printer. Quieter. Low speed (540 chars per sec - draft, 180 chars per sec - letter quality). Or measured in ppm – pages per minute. Eg. 1-12ppm.


uses a matrix of ink dots sprayed on paper to form a character.


uses a matrix of ink dots sprayed on paper to form a character from 50

nozzles. It uses small ink drops so more drops are needed to form a character so the resolution of the character is greater than a dot matrix. (300-600 dpi - dots per inch). Able to change the size and style of type/font almost instantaneously. Some models have color. Cartridges exist with different colors. Colors can be blended. Does not use continuous paper.


Also called graph plotter.

A plotter is a device that uses pens moving in various directions to produce text and graphics on paper. It differs from a printer in that it can produce continuous lines. Printers generate lines by printing a series of closely spaced dots.

Electrostatic plotters use a row of charged wires (styli) to draw electrostatic patterns on specially coated paper and then fuses toner to the pattern.

These are used in graphics, earthquake detection, lie detectors, heart monitors, for graphs, maps, CAD - computer aided design.


a) Flat bed - most common. Pen moves up (to not draw), down (to draw),

across, side to side. Paper does not move.

b) Drum - pen moves up, down, across. Paper moves side to side using


Drum Flatbed

Methods of receiving signals

a) Digital plotter - receives digital input which specifies the position to

which pen should move.

b) Incremental plotter - receives input which specifies changes in position

based on current position. Eg. Move 2 mm left.

Many plotters have multiple pens of different colors.

Some plotters use electrostatic printing rather than pen and ink.

Voice/Audio Output

Uses speakers/headset


1. Book reading machine for blind (Text to speech translators). Machine

uses an OCR type scan on each page of book.

2. Over Telephone - If you want so and so press “1”. Used in account

queries. Pre-recorded speech stored in EPROM (erasable programmable

ROM) chips, each word has a specific address, so specify combination of addresses to get a sentence. (Interactive Voice Response Systems)

3. Used in games

4. Used in cars - “Petrol is low message”.

5. Printers - “Printing started”.

Data Projectors

Takes the image on screen and projects it onto a larger screen.

2. Module Two - Software

2.1. Definition of software

Software - programs/instructions which drive the hardware. Collection of machine interpretable instructions that define the activities related to performing a specific task by computer. (i.e. tell computer what to do).

2.2. System Software

System software consists of the programs that control or maintain the operations of the computer and its devices.

Operating systems An operating system (O/S), affects the control and performance of a computer system. Controls hardware. Tells computer what to do and how to do it. Provides the user interface between user and computer hardware (h/w). The operating system is a set of programs residing in main memory (RAM) which directs all computer operations.

Functions of an operating system

Control/Co-ordinate/configure the various devices. (i.e. To Make sure that fast devices do not have to wait for slow ones and that the computer as a whole works efficiently).

Control the allocation and utilisation of shared resources (e.g. CPU time, storage space, I/O devices).

Start up or boot up the computer. (IPL – initial program load or booting)

Protect the hardware and software from improper use. Maintain system integrity.

Deal with errors. (e.g. hardware failures, deadlocks, etc.)

Keep records/statistics of programs run - date, time, cost, use of resources etc. (Monitor performance)

Send and receive messages

Provide an interface between the hardware and the user that is more convenient than that presented by the bare machine.

Provide for the management, scheduling and interaction of tasks. (Manage programs), schedule jobs)

Administer security

Control a network

Establish an internet connection

Provide file management and other utilities


These programs provide a useful service to the user by providing facilities for performing common tasks. Examples are:-

File viewer – Displays the contents of a file. E.g. Quickview in Windows.

File compression – Reduces the size of a file usually to a ZIP extension. E.g. PKZIP, WinZip.

Diagnostic utility – Compiles technical information about your computer hardware and reports physical and logical problems. Physical – scratch on disk, Logical – corrupted file. E.g. Scandisk, Norton disk doctor.

Defragmenter – Reorganizes files and unused space on a disk so that data can be accessed quickly and programs run faster. E.g. defrag in Windows

Backup – Copies selected files to another disk/tape. It alerts you if an additional disk is needed. The opposite RESTORE utility should also exist. E.g. MSBACKUP, NovaBACKUP

Anti-virus – Prevents, detects, removes viruses from a computer system. E.g. Norton Anti-virus, Mcaffee, Trend Micro PC-cillin.

Screen saver – Causes the screen to display an image or blank screen if no keyboard or mouse activity occurs for a specified period of time. This prevented ghosting in the past. Ghosting is where images are permanently etched in the screen. You can also put a password on the screen saver to prevent access.

2.3. Application software

Application software (A/S) are defined to fulfil a specific set of activities. E.g. Accounting, word processing, banking

Productivity tools/business


Allow easy creation, edit, correction, printing of documents. Features include:- Bold, underline, margins, spell check, print, page number, justify, footnotes, table of contents, font size and type, mail merge, save. E.g. Word, WordPerfect


Designed to manipulate numeric data in a tabular form.

Electronic equivalent to accountant’s ledger - a large piece of paper divided into columns and rows into a grid of cells. User can enter numbers, formulas, text in each cell. Each cell referred to by its co-ordinates, e.g. D10.

You can copy formulas.

Can do “What If” analysis, e.g. If increase sales by 10%, just type 10 & automatically recalcs.

Can change data to be represented graphically (pie, bar, line etc.) E.g. Lotus, Excel, Quattro Pro

Database Management

Information is vital to business. A database is a collection of organized of information stored in a way that makes it easy to find and present. Database management software allows you to create and maintain a database.

Field, fieldtype, keys, fieldsize. E.g. Foxpro, Oracle, Dbase

Can sort, query.

Desktop Publishing

To produce documents, newsletters, posters. Combine word processing and graphics packages. E.g. Page Maker, Microsoft Publisher

Integrated Packages

Collections of packages which have been designed to be used together. E.g. Spreadsheet data might be easily fed into a database or displayed in a diagrammatic form using a graphics package. E.g. Microsoft Office, Lotus Smartsuite, Corel Wordperfect Suite.

Graphic design/multimedia


Provide facilities that allow user to do various kinds of computer graphics. Require a lot of main memory and usually special circuit board (graphics card) and a high resolution screen. Classified into:-

a) business graphics - generate charts and diagrams eg. Bar charts from

existing figures.

b) computer- aided design (CAD)

Used by graphics designers, architect, engineer to design things e.g. Buildings, cars etc. Use light pen or mouse or digitiser pad. Have large colour palette. Can rotate, flip (invert), colour, move, delete, resize E.g. Corel Draw

Presentation graphics

This allows you to create a slide show. The slide show is a multimedia presentation because it contains text, graphics, video and sound. (E.g PowerPoint)


An application that combines text, sound, graphics, motion video and animation. (e.g Windows Media Player).

Education/personal/home Word processing Encyclopedia – Compton etc. Internet – for shopping, research, sending email Games

Entertainment software

These software include games, software that allows you to listen to music of watch movies. E.g. Windows Media Player, Chess, Monopoly, Solitaire etc.

Communication Communication software is any program that a) helps users establish a connection to another computer or network or b) manage the transmission of data, instructions, and information or c) provide an interface for users to communicate with one another. Communication software allows users to send messages and files from one location to another. E.g. Network Operating Systems (NOS), Web Browsers (Internet Explorer, Netscape Navigator), Outlook (Email), etc.

Programming languages/program development software Used to create programs. People called programmers use programming languages to tell the computer what to do. Hundreds of programming languages or language variants exist today. Most were developed for

writing specific types of applications. However, many companies insist on using the most common languages so they can take advantage of programs written elsewhere and to ensure that their programs are

portable, which means that they will run on different computers. foxpro, C, C++, Pascal, Visual Basic, COBOL etc.


3. Module Three - Data and Information

3.1. Definitions of data and information

Input - operation of supplying data to a computer. Output - operation of displaying/printing information that has been processed.

Data - information which computers use. Means nothing e.g. 0, 1, 5, F, G. Can be information to another person.

Information - means something. The meaning is what makes it information. Used to make decisions.

3.2. Desired characteristics of information

Accurate, clear, timely, complete yet concise

receiver has confidence in it

appropriate channel, given to right person, should not be excessive

cost effective

must have a purpose, relevant for the purpose (user related)

3.3. Information systems

An information system may include a computer program and all of the users or it may refer to a single application including those data items, programs and hardware resources devoted to it. Another way of saying it is, An information system is a set of hardware, software, data, people, and procedures that works together to produce information They are developed for different purposes, depending on the needs of the business.

Some general purpose information systems, called enterprise-wide systems, are used throughout an


ongoing activities. Customer relationship management (CRM) systems manage information about customers. A content management system (CMS) organizes and allows access to various forms of documents and files.

Enterprise Resource planning (ERP) provides applications to help manage and coordinate

The types of information systems are:- An office information system (OIS) enables employees to perform tasks using computers and other electronic devices.

Management information system (MIS) (strategic level) - Outputs information that will be used for decision making. Performs queries on data produced by data processing systems. MIS generates accurate, timely, and organized information, so users can make decisions, solve problems, and track progress.

Expert systems (strategic level) -. It is given rules to solve problems and uses these rules to come up with solutions. E.g. playing chess, making medical diagnoses. (Also called knowledge based system or Heuristic system or An artificially intelligent system).

This is a step further in AI technology. An expert system is a computer program that represents and reasons with the knowledge of some specialist subject area with a view to solving problems or giving

advice. (e.g. doctor, lawyer, engineer, finance expert, stock broker). It stores the knowledge of human

experts and then imitates human reasoning and decision making.

This technology allows us to for example, broaden the scope for medical diagnosis by computer (no need for doctor, or to help to doctor to make him more productive).

An example of a medical expert system is MYCIN, which was developed at Stanford University, which makes judgments on the diagnosis of bacterial infection and proposes courses of therapy with antibiotics. MYCIN operates as a consultant by interacting with a doctor who knows the history of the patient.

Features of an expert system:

An organized base of knowledge that contains facts and rules

An interactive user interface to support diagnostic discussion with user. (e.g. able to pose medical problems and get an initial diagnosis)

Holds details of status of current consultation. (so that consultation can be continued at a later date from where you left off)

Inference engine - software which can use the knowledge and current status of consultation to either formulate further questions for the user or to draw conclusions and make recommendations.

Knowledge acquisition system- a facility to update the knowledge base (i.e. to learn from experience).

Decision support system (DSS) (Tactical level) - Similar to management information systems. They allow users to do queries and perform "What if' analysis. A DSS helps users analyze data and make decisions.

Transaction processing system (TPS) (Operational level) – (aka Data Processing System) – Captures and processes large amounts of data for routine (day-to-day) business transactions such as payroll and inventory. It relieves the tedium of performing repetitive tasks.

Information requirements and information systems used in the functional units of an enterprise

The Special Information Requirements of an Enterprise-Sized Corporation

A large organization, or enterprise, requires special computing solutions because of its size and

geographical extent. Enterprise computing uses computers in networks or series of interconnected networks to satisfy the information needs of an enterprise. The types of information employees require depend on their level in the company. Executive management needs information to make strategic decisions that center on a company’s overall goals and objectives. Middle management needs information to make tactical decisions that apply specific programs and plans to meet stated objectives. Operational management needs information to make an operational decision that involves day-to-day activities. Non-management employees also need information to perform their jobs and make on-the-job decisions.

It is important to know the different levels of management in an organization and be able to provide each with the level of information that they require.

The Information Systems used in the functional units of an enterprise

In an enterprise, the individual operating entities, called functional units, have specialized

requirements for their information systems. Human Resources Information Systems (HRIS) manage one or more human resources functions. Accounting and financial systems manage everyday transactions and help budget. Computer-aided design (CAD) assists engineers in product design, and computer-aided engineering (CAE) tests product designs. Computer- aided manufacturing (CAM) controls production equipment, and computer-integrated manufacturing (CIM) integrates operations in the manufacturing process. A marketing information system serves as a central repository for marketing tasks. Salesforce automation (SFA) software equips salespeople with the tools they need. Distribution systems control inventory and manage shipping. Customer interaction management (CIM) software manages interactions with customers. The information technology (IT) department makes technology decisions for an enterprise and maintains hardware and software applications.

More on the levels of management

Operations (day to day) This level makes decisions using predetermined rules that have predictable outcomes when implemented correctly. They make decisions that affect work scheduling, inventory control, control of processes such as production. Decisions are repetitive/certain. The information needed is repetitive, low level in nature. Dependent on information that captures current performance. Need online, realtime information. E.g. total sales by salesman for a particular day. They use data processing or transaction processing systems – process large amounts of data for routine business transactions such as payroll. They relieve the tedium of performing operational transactions. Require little decision making to set up.

Middle/Managerial/Tactical (Year to year) Make short term planning and control decisions about how resources should be allocated to best meet organization objectives. They experience very little certainty in their

decision making environment. Their decisions range from forecasting future resource requirements to solving employee problems that threaten productivity. They require short term to long term information. They need information on current performance against set standards. There is a high need for historical information along with information that allows prediction of future events and simulation of possible scenarios. E.g. total sales vs budgeted sales for the quarter. They use management information systems. The output is used to make decisions

Strategic (5-10 years) These solve non-routine problems. They look outwards from the organization to the future, making decisions that will guide middle and operations management in the months and years ahead. They work in highly uncertain decision making environments. They look at the broad picture (organization as a whole). E.g. to develop a new product line, divest itself of unprofitable ventures. They are dependent on information from external sources that supply news of market trends and the strategy of competing corporations. They need general summarized information rather than highly detailed raw data required by low level managers. Information may be older and estimated. They use decision support systems and knowledge based or expert systems. DSS similar to MIS and allow querying and what if analysis (e.g. crystal reports). Expert systems capture and use the knowledge of an expert for solving a particular problem experienced by the organization. E.g. total sales vs sales of another company or other product.

4. Module 4 – Telecommunication and Computer Networks

4.1. Definition of networks

Network – A collection of computers and devices connected together via communications devices and transmission media, allowing computers to share resources. The purpose of a network is

that of routing, managing, and storing rapidly changing data.

Communications – this describes a process in which one computer transfers data, instructions, information to another computer. (also known as data communication/transmission). This is done by means of a communication channel or medium.

Components required for successful communications

or medium. Components required for successful communications  A sending device (sender or encoder) initiates an
or medium. Components required for successful communications  A sending device (sender or encoder) initiates an

A sending device (sender or encoder) initiates an instruction to transmit data, instructions or information

A communication channel – path over which signals are sent (aka path, medium, line). Signals can be in analog or digital form.

A communication device – that receives the signals from the communication channel and converts them to a form understood by the receiving device. It connects the sending device to a communication channel. It also connects the communication channel to a receiving device.

A receiving device (receiver or decoder) that accepts the data, instructions, information

4.2. Uses of networks/Role in business

Facilitating communications - Sending e-mail, voice mail, fax (facsimile), doing research on internet, chat rooms, instant messaging

Telecommuting, video conferencing, making a phone call

Transferring Funds (Electronic Fund Transfer, EFT) - Inter-branch banking, multilink – checking debit card balance.

Western union – wiring money to another location.

Sharing a hardware resource such as a printer.

Sharing data (EDI – electronic data interchange), information,

Sharing software

Verifying blue cross card. Etc.

Intranet International network that uses Internet technologies. An Intranet is a network based on the


International network that uses Internet technologies.

An Intranet is a network based on the internet TCP/IP open standard. An intranet belongs to an organization, and is designed to be accessible only by the organization's members, employees, or others with authorization. An intranet's Web site looks and act just like other Web sites, but has a firewall surrounding it to fend off unauthorized users. Intranets are used to share information. Secure intranets are much less expensive to build and manage than private, proprietary-standard networks.

An intranet is a private network that is contained within an enterprise. It may consist of many interlinked local area networks and also use leased lines in the wide area network. Typically, an intranet includes connections through one or more gateway computers to the outside Internet. The main purpose of an intranet is to share company information and computing resources among employees. An intranet can also be used to facilitate working in groups and for teleconferences.

An intranet uses TCP/IP, HTTP, and other Internet protocols and in general looks like a private version of the Internet. With tunneling, companies can send private messages through the public network, using the public network with special encryption/decryption and other security safeguards to connect one part of their intranet to another.

Typically, larger enterprises allow users within their intranet to access the public Internet through firewall servers that have the ability to screen messages in both directions so that company security is maintained. When part of an intranet is made accessible to customers, partners, suppliers, or others outside the company, that part becomes part of an extranet.


An extranet is a private network that uses Internet technology and the public telecommunication system to securely share part of a business's information or operations with suppliers, vendors, partners, customers, or other businesses. It is a portion of a company’s network that allows customers or suppliers to access parts of an enterprise’s intranet. An extranet can be viewed as part of a company's intranet that is extended to users outside the company. It has also been

described as a "state of mind" in which the Internet is perceived as a way to do business with other companies as well as to sell products to customers.

An extranet requires security and privacy. These can include firewall server management, the issuance and use of digital certificates or similar means of user authentication, encryption of messages, and the use of virtual private networks (VPNs) that tunnel through the public network.

Companies can use an extranet to:

Exchange large volumes of data using Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)

Share product catalogs exclusively with wholesalers or those "in the trade"

Collaborate with other companies on joint development efforts

Jointly develop and use training programs with other companies

Provide or access services provided by one company to a group of other companies, such as an online banking application managed by one company on behalf of affiliated banks

Share news of common interest exclusively with partner companies


The Internet is a large, international computer network linking millions of users around the world that use the TCP/IP protocols. It is used daily by many individuals for the main purposes of sending and receiving electronic mail (e-mail), obtaining information on almost any subject, or to communicate with others around the world. Access to the Internet is obtained by subscription, and an Internet address is needed to receive or to send a message. Such addresses have a specific format that specifies the name of the user, the machine they are working on, and where that machine is located.

Many people use the terms Internet and World Wide Web (a.k.a. the Web) interchangeably, but in fact the two terms are not synonymous. The Internet and the Web are two separate but related things.

The Internet is a massive network of networks, a networking infrastructure. It connects millions of computers together globally, forming a network in which any computer can communicate with any other computer as long as they are both connected to the Internet. Information that travels over the Internet does so via a variety of languages known as protocols.

The World Wide Web, or simply Web, is a way of accessing information over the medium of the Internet. The web is a subset of the Internet and consists of web pages that can be accessed with a Web browser. It is an information-sharing model that is built on top of the Internet. The Web uses the HTTP protocol, only one of the languages spoken over the Internet, to transmit data. Web services, which use HTTP to allow applications to communicate in order to exchange business logic, use the Web to share information. The Web also utilizes browsers, such as Internet Explorer or Netscape, to access Web documents called Web pages that are linked to each other via hyperlinks. Web documents also contain graphics, sounds, text and video. The Web is just one of the ways that information can be disseminated over the Internet. The Internet, not the Web, is also used for e-mail, which relies on SMTP, Usenet news groups, instant messaging and FTP. So the Web is just a portion of the Internet, albeit a large portion, but the two terms are not synonymous and should not be confused.


Advantages and Disadvantages of Networks

Advantages Faster and easier access to information Better communication Ability to have a worldwide audience (able to advertise and market your product) E-commerce /E-business

Disadvantages Children have access to pornography, harmful information, pedofiles etc. Easier to plagiarise information as able to copy and paste.

4.4. Network classifications

Computer Networks are classified according to the distance between individual

computers that are attached to the network. The classification includes the following:

1. Local Area Network (LAN)

2. Wide Area Network (WAN)

3. Metropolitan Network (MAN)

Local Area Network (LAN)

A Local Area Network (LAN) is a network that connects computers and devices in a

limited geographical area such as a house, school laboratory or an office building. Each computer or device on the network is called a node, often shares resources such

as printers, large hard disks, and programs. Generally LANs use wires (physical

cables) for connectivity between the devices. It is however possible to connect the

devices via wireless means giving rise to what is known as a WLAN (wireless LAN).

Wide Area Network (WAN) A Wide Area Network (WAN) is a network that covers a large geographic area such as a city, country or the world. Using communications channel that combines many types of media such as telephone lines, cables, and radio waves. A WAN can be one large network or can consist of two or more LANs connected together. For example, the campus spanning network that connects different departments in any University or larger company is called a WAN. The Internet is the world’s largest WAN.

Metropolitan Network (MAN)

A Metropolitan Area Network (MAN) is a network that spans a whole metropolitan

area. It is referred to as a high speed-network that covers a city. MANs use similar technology to LANs but cover a much wider geographic region. A consortium of users or a single network provider that sells the service to the other users usually

manages a MAN.

Types of LANs (Network Architecture)

There are two (2) main types of network architectures. These include

1. Client/Server

2. Peer to Peer

Client/server – one or more computers designated the server (host) and others the clients. The client is the requesting machine and the server is the supplying machine. In other words, the client requests services and the server provides the service. The server controls access to the hardware and software on the network and provides a centralized storage area for data. Clients rely on the server for resources such as files, processing power, storage. Server software generally runs on powerful computers dedicated for exclusive use to running the business application. Client software on the other hand generally runs on common PCs or workstations. Clients rely on the application server for things such as configuration files, business application programs, or to offload compute-intensive application tasks back to the server in order to keep the client computer (and client computer user) free to perform other tasks.

(and client computer user) free to perform other tasks.  Peer-to-peer Network (P2P) – simple, inexpensive

Peer-to-peer Network (P2P) – simple, inexpensive that connects less than 10 computers using twisted pair or coaxial cables. Each computer (called a peer), can share the hardware located on any other computer. Each computer has equal responsibilities and capabilities. The Network Operating System (NOS) must be installed on each computer. Ideal for small businesses and home offices. A communications environment that allows all computers in the network to act as servers and share their files with other users on the network. Peer-to-peer networks are quite common in small offices that do not use a dedicated file server, and client versions of the Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems allow files to be shared. Peers act as clients and server. Peer-to-peer networks allow you to connect two or more computers in order to pool their resources. Individual resources such as disk drives, CD-ROM drives, scanners and even printers are transformed into shared resources that are accessible from each of the computers.

resources that are accessible from each of the computers.  Internet Peer-to Peer is a different

Internet Peer-to

Peer is a different

kind of peer-to-peer network exists on the Internet that allows users to share files on their

hard disks, essentially creating global peer-to-peer networks. It is used mostly for music files e.g. Napster, KaZaa

It is used mostly for music files e.g. Napster, KaZaa 4.5. Network Topologies Network Topology is

4.5. Network Topologies

Network Topology is the configuration or physical arrangement of the devices or nodes. i.e. The layout of the computers and devices on a network. The 3 main topologies are ring, star and bus.


A bus network is a network architecture in which there is a single central cable to which all devices are attached. The central cable is called a bus. The bus transmits data in both directions. Only one device can transmit at a time. When a sending device transmits data, the address of the receiving device is included with the transmission so that the data is routed to the appropriate receiving device. It is easy to add/remove devices from a bus network. It is also an inexpensive topology. Failure of one device does not affect another device. The network will fail if the bus (central cable) fails.

The network will fail if the bus (central cable) fails. Advantages of a Bus Topology include:

Advantages of a Bus Topology include:

Easy to connect a computer or peripheral to a linear bus.

Typically the cheapest topology to implement

Failure of one station does not affect others

Disadvantages of a Bus Topology

Entire network shuts down if there is a break in the main cable.

Terminators are required at both ends of the backbone cable.

Difficulty in identifying the problem if the entire network shuts down

Performance degrades as additional computers are added



ring network is a topology where each device is connected to two others, so as to create a ring


closed loop. Data transmitted on a ring network travels in one direction on the ring from device


device until it reaches its destination. If a device fails, devices before it are not affected, it is

the devices after it that are affected.

not affected, it is the devices after it that are affected. Advantages of Ring Network 

Advantages of Ring Network

Growth of the system has minimal impact on performance

All stations have equal access

Each node on the ring acts as a repeater (booster of the signal), allowing ring networks to span greater distances than other physical topologies.

Because data travels in one-direction high speeds of transmission of data are possible.

Disadvantages of Ring Network

Often the most expensive topology

Failure of one computer may impact others


A star network topology, in its simplest form, consists of one central, or hub computer, which acts as a router to transmit messages. All devices are connected to the central computer (hub). All data passes through the hub. If a device fails, there is no effect on the network, only if the hub fails will the network be affected.

network, only if the hub fails will the network be affected. Advantages of Star Network 

Advantages of Star Network

Easy to implement and extend, even in large networks

Well suited for temporary networks (quick setup)

The failure of a non-central node will not have major effects on the functionality of the network.

Disadvantages of Star Network

Limited cable length and number of stations

Maintenance costs may be higher in the long run

Failure of the central node (hub) can disable the entire network

Central hub can be a bottleneck.

4.6. Network components

Networking hardware includes all computers, peripherals, interface cards and other equipment needed to perform data-processing and communications within the network. Below are descriptions of commonly used networking hardware.

Modem – Short for modulator-demodulator. This device enables a computer to transmit data over telephone or cable lines. It converts digital signals to analog signals and vice versa. (modulation/de-modulation). Computer information is stored digitally whereas information transmitted over telephone lines is transmitted in the form of analog waves. The device converts between the two forms. These devices can be internal or external. The internal ones come as an expansion board that you can insert into a vacant expansion slot. External ones are connected to the computers through an RS-232 interface.

The following characteristics distinguish one from another:

a) Bps (bits per second) – how fast the device can transmit and receive data (baud rate). The fastest ones are about 57600bps.

b) Voice/data – many support a switch to change between voice and data modes.

c) Auto-answer – enables your computer to receive calls in your absence.

d) Data compression – enables the device to send data at a faster rate. (The receiving device must be able to decompress the data using the same compression technique.

e) Flash memory – some devices have flash memory instead of the conventional ROM, which means that the communications protocols can be easily updated if necessary.

f) Fax capability – most modern ones are fax modems, which means that they can send and receive faxes.

Cable modem (DSL modem – Digital Subscriber Line) – sends and receives data over a cable television (CATV) network, which consists largely of coaxial cable. It can transmit up to 2Mbps. Because the coaxial cable used by cable tv provides much greater bandwidth than telephone lines, the device can be used to achieve extremely fast access to the world wide web.

ADSL modem (asymmetric digital subscriber line). A new technology that allows more data to be sent over existing copper telephone lines (POTS – plain old telephone service). ADSL supports data rates from 1.5 to 9Mbps when receiving data (downstream rate) and from 16 to 640 Kbps when sending data (upstream rate).

Multiplexer – combines 2 or more input signals from various devices into a single stream of data then transmits it over a single transmission medium. (sometimes called mux). The advantage is that it saves on cabling costs.

Network interface card (NIC) – expansion card that is inserted into the computer to connect it to a network. Also call LAN adapter. Most are designed for a particular type of network, protocol and media, although some can serve multiple networks.

Hub – (concentrator, multi-station access unit (MAU)) is a device that provides a central point for cables in a network. It usually has ports for 8 –12 devices. It is a common connection point for devices in a network. They are commonly used to connect segments of a LAN. When a packet arrives at a port, it is copied to the other ports so that all segments of the LAN can see all packets. A passive hub serves simply as a conduit for the data, enabling it to go from one device or segment to another. Intelligent hubs include additional features that enable an administrator to monitor the traffic passing through the hub and to configure each port in the hub. Switching hubs read the destination address of each packet and then forwards the packet to the correct port.

Switch – A device that filters and forwards packets between LAN segments. (A packet is

a piece of a message transmitted over a packet switching network. The packet contains the destination address in addition to the data). Most switches are active, that is they electrically amplify the signal as it moves from one device to another. Switches no longer broadcast network packets as hubs did in the past, they memorize addressing of computers and send the information to the correct location directly. Switches are:

Usually configured with 8, 12, or 24 RJ-45 ports

Often used in a star topology

Sold with specialized software for port management

Also called hubs

Usually installed in a standardized metal rack that also may store netmodems, bridges, or routers

Repeater – a device that accepts a signal from a medium, amplifies it, retransmits it.

Solves the problem of attenuation (weakening of a signal due to distance). It regenerates

or replicates the signal. It can also relay messages between sub-networks that use

different protocols or cable types. Hubs can operate as this device by relaying messages

to all connected computers. The device cannot do the intelligent routing performed by

bridges and routers. Repeaters can be separate devices or they can be incorporated into a

hub. They are used when the total length of your network cable exceeds the standards set for the type of cable being used.

Bridge – a device that connects 2 LANs or 2 segments of the same LAN that use the same protocol such as Ethernet. A bridge is a device that allows you to segment a large network into two smaller, more efficient networks. If you are adding to an older wiring scheme and want the new network to be up-to-date, a bridge can connect the two. A bridge monitors the information traffic on both sides of the network so that it can pass packets of information to the correct location. Most bridges can "listen" to the network and automatically figure out the address of each computer on both sides of the bridge. The bridge can inspect each message and, if necessary, broadcast it on the other side of the network. The bridge manages the traffic to maintain optimum performance on both sides of the network. You might say that the bridge is like a traffic cop at a busy intersection during rush hour. It keeps information flowing on both sides of the network, but it does not allow unnecessary traffic through.

Gateway – a) A combination of hardware and software that connects networks that use different protocols. b) A node on a network that serves as an entrance to another network. c) An earlier term for router. The gateway node often acts as a proxy server and firewall. The proxy server sits between the client application and the real server and intercepts all messages entering and leaving the network and checks if it can fulfil the requests itself, if not, then it forwards the request to the real server. It also hides the true network addresses. The purpose of the proxy server is to improve performance and to filter requests (e.g. prevent users from accessing a specific set of websites. The firewall prevents unauthorized access to or from a private network. The gateway is also associated with both a router, which use headers and forwarding tables to determine where packets are sent, and a switch, which provides the actual path for the packet in and out of the gateway.

Router – A device that connects multiple networks, routes traffic to appropriate network

using the fastest available path. It forwards data packets along networks. It is connected

to at least 2 networks. They are located at gateways, the places where 2 or more networks

connect. Routers use headers (part of the data packet and has information about the file or

the transmission) and forwarding tables to determine the best path for forwarding the packets, and they use protocols such as ICMP (Internet Control Message Protocol – an extension to the Internet Protocol – IP) to communicate with each other and configure the

best route between any 2 hosts. Very little filtering of data is done through these devices.

A router translates information from one network to another; it is similar to a

superintelligent bridge. Routers select the best path to route a message, based on the destination address and origin. The router can direct traffic to prevent head-on collisions,

and is smart enough to know when to direct traffic along back roads and shortcuts. While bridges know the addresses of all computers on each side of the network, routers know the addresses of computers, bridges, and other routers on the network. Routers can even "listen" to the entire network to determine which sections are busiest -- they can then

redirect data around those sections until they clear up. If you have a school LAN that you want to connect to the Internet, you will need to purchase a router. In this case, the router serves as the translator between the information on your LAN and the Internet. It also determines the best route to send the data over the Internet. Routers can:

Direct signal traffic efficiently

Route messages between any two protocols

Route messages between bus and star topologies

Route messages across fiber optic, coaxial, and twisted-pair cabling.

Client - The client is the requesting machine. In other words, the client requests services. Clients rely on the server for resources such as files, processing power, storage. Client software generally runs on common PCs or workstations. Clients rely on the application server for things such as configuration files, business application programs, or to offload compute-intensive application tasks back to the server in order to keep the client computer (and client computer user) free to perform other tasks.

Server – The server is the supplying machine. In other words, the server provides service to the client. The server controls access to the hardware and software on the network and provides a centralized storage area for data. Server software generally runs on powerful computers dedicated for exclusive use to running the business application.

4.7. Software: Network Operating Systems

The similarities and differences between a single-user operating system and a network operating system


Controls/manages the computer hardware (e.g. memory)

Provides a user interface

Allows more than one program to run at the same time.

Schedules jobs and configures devices

Manages programs

Provides file management and other utilities

Starts the computer


A network operating system (NOS) is an operating system that organizes and coordinates how multiple users access and share resources on a network. A single user operating system allows only one user to run one or more programs at a time.

An NOS has more security control features. It also controls a network, establish internet connection and allows more than one computers to talk to each other.

An NOS allows for the management of files on other computers.

NOS typically resides on a server.


Transmission Media: wireless, wired


transmission medium or communication channel is also referred to as a circuit, line or path. It


a pathway over which data are transferred between remote devices.

Wired Transmission Media (Physical /Guided) Wired media are identified by a physical cable on which the data travels. This cable can be seen and touched.

Twisted Pair Cable

A thin-diameter copper wire (22 to 26 gauge) commonly used for telephone and network cabling.

The two insulated copper wires are twisted around each other to minimize interference (electrical disturbance or noise) from other twisted pairs in the cable. The noise can degrade communication. These pairs are then bundled together.

There are two main types: Shielded Twisted Pair (STP) and Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP). The STP has a metal wrapper around each twisted pair wire, which further reduces noise. The UTP does not have this shield, it is inexpensive and easy to install. The categories of UTP cable are:

Category 1 Voice Only (Telephone Wire) Category 2 Data to 4 Mbps (LocalTalk) Category 3 Data to 10 Mbps (Ethernet) Category 4 Data to 20 Mbps (16 Mbps Token Ring) Category 5 Data to 100 Mbps (Fast Ethernet)

The standard connector for UTP cable is an RJ-45 connector, which looks like a large telephone modular connector.

It is easy to tap into (i.e. persons can listen on the line).

It is a low frequency transmission medium.

It is relatively inexpensive. (Cheapest)

It is small in size and easy to install.

Generally for analog transmission.

It covers limited distance, usually less than 100 meters.

It is the most popular medium for LANs and is generally the best option for school networks.

 It is the most popular medium for LANs and is generally the best option for
 It is the most popular medium for LANs and is generally the best option for

Coaxial Cable (Coax for short)

A cable consisting of a conducting outer metal tube enclosing and insulated from a central conducting core, used for high-frequency transmission of telephone, telegraph, and television signals. Consists of single aluminium or copper wire surrounded by 3 layers a) insulating material, b) woven or braided metal mesh, c) plastic outer coating.

It is common in cable television applications.

The cable is designed to carry a high-frequency or broadband signal. (In other words, it can carry many signals at the same time). The bandwidth can be up to 400 Mhz.

It can carry signals for longer distances than Twisted Pair. (300-600 meters)

It is less susceptible to electromagnetic interference than Twisted Pair because it is more heavily insulated.

Commonly used in harsh environments. (e.g. factories where there are chemicals etc.)

It is quite bulky and sometimes difficult to install.

The most common type of connector used with coaxial cables is the BNC (Bayone-Neill-Concelman) connector.

cables is the BNC (Bayone-Neill-Concelman) connector.  There are two types of coaxial cable: Thin coaxial
cables is the BNC (Bayone-Neill-Concelman) connector.  There are two types of coaxial cable: Thin coaxial

There are two types of coaxial cable:

Thin coaxial cable


refered to as thinnet


10Base2 is the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) standard for

Ethernet running on thin coaxial cable


the 2 refers to the approximate maximum segment length being 200 meters


is popular in school networks, especially linear bus networks

Thick coaxial cable

refered to as thicknet

10Base5 is the IEEE standard for Ethernet running on thick coaxial cable

the 5 refers to the approximate maximum segment length being 500 meters

has an extra protective plastic cover that helps keep moisture away from the center conductor

difficult to bend and install

used for long distance bus networks

Fiber Optic Cable

A thin glass strand designed for light transmission. A single hair-thin fiber is capable of transmitting trillions of bits per second. The core consists of dozens or hundreds of thin strands of glass or plastic that use light to transmit signals. Inside the cable is an insulating glass cladding and a protective coating.

Optical fibers offer many advantages over electricity and copper wire.

Optical fibers transmit data at a faster rate. They are also able to carry more signals. (Broad bandwidth). (bandwidth of up to 2 Gbps)

Fibers allow longer distances to be spanned before the signal has to be regenerated by expensive "repeaters." (Repeaters boost a signal that has become weakened due to distance.) E.g. used for distances up to 100 kilometers.

Fibers are more secure, because taps in the line can be detected.

There are lower error rates. (i.e. the message that is sent is the message that is received).

Less susceptible to noise from other devices such as copy machine.

Smaller size (thinner, lighter)

Fiber optic cable is very expensive.

It is hard to install and modify, and requires highly skilled installers.

10BaseF refers to the specifications for fiber optic cable carrying Ethernet signals.

 10BaseF refers to the specifications for fiber optic cable carrying Ethernet signals. 1.1.4. 1.1.3. 47

Wireless Transmission Media (Unguided)

Wireless media transmit data through high frequency radio signals or infrared light beams. The medium cannot be seen with the naked eye. Wireless media is used when it is inconvenient, impractical or impossible to install physical cables.

Broadcast radio

Distributes radio signals through the air over long distances.

It is used with AM, FM radio, television stations, CB (citizens band) radio (i.e. walkie-talkie).

Each station has a different frequency (E.g. FAME FM is 95.5MHz, LOVE is 101MHz etc.).

Broadcast radio is slower and more susceptible to noise than physical transmission media but it provides flexibility and portability.

Bluetooth, HomeRF and 802.11 technologies use broadcast radio signals

Speeds range from 1Mbps to 54Mbps depending on the technology.

Cellular radio

1Mbps to 54Mbps depending on the technology. Cellular radio  Form of broadcast radio used for
1Mbps to 54Mbps depending on the technology. Cellular radio  Form of broadcast radio used for

Form of broadcast radio used for mobile communication. (Handheld computers, Phones etc.)

Transmission speeds range from 9.6Kbps to 2Mbps depending on the generation.

range from 9.6Kbps to 2Mbps depending on the generation. Microwaves (also called Fixed-Point Wireless)  High

Microwaves (also called Fixed-Point Wireless)

High frequency radio waves that provide high-speed transmission. (up to


Signals are sent from one microwave station to another.

Limited to line-of-sight transmission, which means that the microwave must be transmitted in a straight line with no obstructions between antennas.

This means that microwave antennae are placed in high places (tall building, hill etc.)


Satellites  A satellite is a space station that receives microwave signals from an earth based

A satellite is a space station that receives microwave signals from an earth based station (downlink), amplifies the signals then broadcasts the signals back over a wide area (uplink).

Satellites are usually placed about 22,300 miles above the equator. They are considered geosynchronous because they orbit at the same rate as the earth, therefore maintaining its position over the earth’s surface.

VSAT – very small aperture terminal) – a small communications satellite.

Transmission speed is up to 1Gbps

More expensive/harder to fix problems.

Affected by bad weather (e.g. you lose certain channels whenever it is raining).

Infrared (IR)

lose certain channels whenever it is raining). Infrared (IR)  Sends signals using infrared light waves.
lose certain channels whenever it is raining). Infrared (IR)  Sends signals using infrared light waves.

Sends signals using infrared light waves.

Also uses line-of-sight transmission.

Signals only travel for short distances.

Used by remote controls, wireless devices such as mouse/ printer/ digital camera

distances.  Used by remote controls, wireless devices such as mouse/ printer/ digital camera 1.1.4. 1.1.3.

5. Module 5 – Network Security

5.1. Define Computer security

In the computer industry, computer security refers to techniques for ensuring that data

stored in a computer cannot be read or compromised by any individuals without authorization. Most security measures involve data encryption and passwords. Data encryption is the translation of data into a form that is unintelligible without a deciphering mechanism. A password is a secret word or phrase that gives a user access to a particular program or system.

5.2. What is a computer security risk?

A computer security risk is any event or action that could cause a loss of or damage to

computer hardware, software, data, information, or processing capability. A computer security plan is a summary in writing of all the safeguards that are in place to protect a company’s information assets.

5.3. Categories of risk and their effects



Human error – e.g. delete a file by accident, adding data twice, entering incorrect data, not adequately trained/experienced (e.g. young child)

Loss of data, less data integrity (incorrect data) therefore incorrect information will be retrieved. Damage to computer due to improper use.

Technical error – system failure e.g. hard disk crash, booting file missing/corrupted

Loss of data, loss of time in having to re-enter data.

Virus – program that causes damage to files or computer.

Loss of files/data, loss of time. May need to re-install software.

Disasters (Natural or otherwise) – earthquake, hurricane, fire, flood, lightening, power surges, low voltage, insects

Physical damage to computer. Loss of data. Loss of computer. Huge repair bill.

Unauthorized use and access – hacker/cracker gets access illegally. This can lead to things like software piracy.

Competing entity could use data against your company. Identity theft. Loss of sales due to piracy. Also leads to theft of intellectual property, theft of marketing information (e.g., customer lists, pricing data, or marketing plans), or blackmail based on information gained from computerized files (e.g., medical information, personal history, or sexual preference). Employees do things to deliberately modify the data.

Theft, vandalism, civil disorder

Loss of computer and data. Illegal access to files. Loss of time. Loss of income due to software piracy.

Who is a Hacker?

A slang term for a computer enthusiast, i.e., a person who enjoys learning programming languages and computer systems and can often be considered an expert on the subject(s). Among professional programmers, depending on how it used, the term can be either complimentary or derogatory, although it is developing an increasingly derogatory connotation. The pejorative sense of hacker is becoming more prominent largely because the popular press has co-opted the term to refer to individuals who gain unauthorized access to computer systems for the purpose of stealing and corrupting data. Hackers, themselves, maintain that the proper term for such individuals is cracker.

What is software piracy?

Software piracy is the unauthorized copying of software.

A software license is a type of proprietary or unwarranted license as well as a memorandum of contract between a producer and a user of computer software sometimes called an End User License Agreement (EULA) — that specifies the perimeters of the permission granted by the owner to the user.

By buying the software, a user becomes a licensed user rather than an owner. Users are allowed to make copies of the program for backup purposes, but it is against the law to give copies to friends and colleagues. Software licenses are

primarily written to deal with issues of copyright law.

Copying software is an act of copyright infringement, and is subject to civil and criminal penalties. Copyright is exclusive rights given to authors and artists to duplicate, publish, and sell their materials. A copyright provides its holder the right

to restrict unauthorized copying and reproduction of an original expression (i.e. literary work, movie, music, painting, software, etc.)

Software copyright stands in contrast to other forms of intellectual property, such as patents, which grant a monopoly right to the use of an invention or software, because it is not a monopoly right to do something, merely a right to prevent others doing it.

It is illegal whether you use pirated software yourself, give it away, or sell it. In addition, it is illegal to provide unauthorized access to software or to serial numbers used to register software.

The Internet allows products to move from computer to another computer, with no hard media transaction and little risk of detection. The most used method of piracy and illegal use of downloading is Internet piracy.

Computer Crime

Computer crime is defined as deliberate actions to steal, damage, or destroy computer data without authorization, as well as accessing a computer system and/or account without authorization.

Criminals or perpetrators may be employees, outside users, hackers and crackers, and organized crime members.

What is Intellectual Property? Intellectual property refers to the category of intangible (non-physical) property comprising primarily copyright, moral rights related to copyrighted materials, trademark, patent and industrial design.

Other threats

The following allows someone to gain illegal/unauthorized access to data which leads to unauthorized use:

Spoofing - Getting one computer on a network to pretend to have the identity of another computer, usually one with special access privileges, so as to obtain access to the other computers on the network.

Masquerade - Accessing a computer by pretending to have an authorized user identity.

Scanning - Sequentially testing/ scanning passwords/ authentication codes until one is successful.

Snooping (Eavesdropping) - Electronic monitoring of digital networks to uncover passwords or other data.

Shoulder Surfing - Direct visual observation of monitor displays to obtain access.

Scavenging/Dumpster Diving - Accessing discarded trash to obtain passwords and other data.

The following causes problems on a network:

Spamming - Overloading a system with incoming message or other traffic to cause system crashes.

What is Malware?

Malware is a program that performs unexpected or unauthorized, but always malicious, actions. It is a general term used to refer to viruses, Trojans, and worms. Malware, depending on their type, may or may not include replicating and non-replicating malicious code.

What is a computer virus?

A computer program that is designed to replicate itself by copying itself into the other programs stored in a computer. It may be benign or have a negative effect, such as causing a program to operate incorrectly or corrupting a computer's memory.

Viruses are the colds and flues of computer security: Ubiquitous (ever-present), at times impossible to avoid despite the best efforts and often very costly to an organization's

productivity. Computer viruses are called viruses because they share some of the traits of biological viruses. A computer virus passes from computer to computer like a biological virus passes from person to person.

There are similarities at a deeper level, as well. A biological virus is not a living thing. A virus is a fragment of DNA inside a protective jacket. Unlike a cell, a virus has no way to do anything or to reproduce by itself -- it is not alive. Instead, a biological virus must

inject its DNA into a cell. The viral DNA then uses the cell's existing machinery to reproduce itself. In some cases, the cell fills with new viral particles until it bursts, releasing the virus. In other cases, the new virus particles bud off the cell one at a time, and the cell remains alive.

A computer virus shares some of these traits. A computer virus must piggyback on some

other program or document in order to get executed. Once it is running, it is then able to

infect other programs or documents. Obviously, the analogy between computer and biological viruses stretches things a bit, but there are enough similarities that the name sticks.

What is a payload?

In addition to replication, some computer viruses share another commonality: a damage

routine that delivers the virus payload. A virus” payload is an action it performs on the infected computer. While payloads may only display messages or images, they can also

destroy files, reformat your hard drive, or cause other damage. If the virus does not contain a damage routine, it can cause trouble by consuming storage space and memory, and degrading the overall performance of your computer.

Types of viruses

Several thousand viruses have been recorded by authorities. Most of them are variations

of two main types:


File viruses, including macro viruses


Boot sector (or system sector) viruses.

There are however, other types of viruses. The following describes the various types of viruses:

Worms: A worm is a small piece of software that uses computer networks and security holes to replicate itself. A copy of the worm scans the network for another machine that has a specific security hole. It copies itself to the new machine using the security hole, and then starts replicating from there, as well.

itself to the new machine using the security hole, and then starts replicating from there, as

Trojans: A Trojan appears to be something that it is not so that you give out certain information. Example: a fake login screen will allow you to put in your id and password, thereby allowing it to be read by unscrupulous persons. Another example is a fake web site on which you give out your credit card information. The program also claims to do one thing (it may claim to be a game) but instead does damage when you run it (it may erase your hard disk). Trojan horses have no way to replicate automatically.

Boot sector (or system sector) viruses: These viruses infect floppy disk boot records or master boot records in hard disks. The boot sector of your hard disk contains the programs used to boot (or start) your computer. These system sectors are vital for proper operation of your computer. When you switch on your computer, the hardware automatically finds and runs the system sector program. This program then loads your operating system. The viruses replace the boot record program (which is responsible for loading the operating system in memory) copying it elsewhere on the disk or overwriting it. Boot viruses load into memory if the computer tries to read the disk while it is booting. In the past, boot sector viruses were spread mainly by infected bootable floppy disks. Today any disk can cause infection if it is in the drive when the computer boots up. Boot sector viruses can also be spread across a network and by e-mail attachments. These viruses usually remain active on your computer, and can infect any floppy disk you access. Examples: Form, Disk Killer, Michelangelo, and Stone virus

Program/File viruses: These infect executable program files, such as those with extensions like .BIN, .COM, .EXE, .OVL, .DRV (driver) and .SYS (device driver). These programs are loaded in memory during execution, taking the virus with them. The virus becomes active in memory, making copies of itself and infecting files on the disk. Examples: Sunday, Cascade

and infecting files on the disk. Examples: Sunday, Cascade Multipartite viruses: A hybrid of Boot and

Multipartite viruses: A hybrid of Boot and Program viruses. This sophisticated type of virus infects program files and when the infected program is executed, this virus infects the boot record. When you boot the computer next time the virus from the boot record loads in memory and then starts infecting other program files on disk. Egs: Invader, Flip, and Tequila

Stealth viruses: These viruses use certain techniques to avoid detection. They may either redirect the disk head to read another sector instead of the one in which they reside or they may alter the reading of the infected file’s size shown in the directory listing. For

instance, the Whale virus adds 9216 bytes to an infected file; then the virus subtracts the same number of bytes (9216) from the size given in the directory. A stealth virus can conceal its presence in many ways and some go undetected for years. Egs: Frodo, Joshi, Whale

Polymorphic viruses: A virus that can encrypt its code in different ways so that it appears differently in each infection. These viruses are more difficult to detect. Egs:

Involuntary, Stimulate, Cascade, Phoenix, Evil, Proud, Virus 101

Macro Viruses: A macro virus is a new type of computer virus that infects the macros within a document or template. A macro is an automated series of program commands, such as a list of formatting commands for a word processing program. Many applications use macros, including popular spreadsheet and word processing programs. When you open a word processing or spreadsheet document, the macro virus is activated and it infects the Normal template ( general purpose file that stores default document formatting settings. Every document you open refers to the Normal template, and hence gets infected with the macro virus. Since this virus attaches itself to documents, the infection can spread if such documents are opened on other computers. Examples: DMV, Nuclear, Word Concept.

E-mail viruses - An e-mail virus moves around in e-mail messages, and usually replicates itself by automatically mailing itself to dozens of people in the victim's e-mail address book.

Active X: ActiveX and Java controls will soon be the scourge of computing. Most people do not know how to control their web browser to enable or disable the various functions like playing sound or video and so, by default, leave a nice big hole in the security by allowing applets free run into their machine. There has been a lot of commotion behind this and with the amount of power that JAVA imparts, things from the security angle seem a bit gloom.

Time and logic bombs: Viruses can also be categorized by what activates them. Some viruses were written to activate on a particular date such as Friday the 13 th . These viruses are called Time bombs. Other viruses were written to activate when the user carries out a certain action, such as open a particular file. These viruses are called Logic bombs.

How are computers infected?

It's important to realize that viruses can't infect email messages or Web pages, since these are both based solely on text, and plain text cannot contain computer viruses.

The two ways viruses are most commonly spread are through e-mail attachments and by floppy

The two ways viruses are most commonly spread are through e-mail attachments and by floppy disk.

1. E-mail attachments

You won't get a virus just from reading text e-mails. Viruses are spread through e- mail as executable file attachments (files ending in ".EXE", ".VBS" or ".COM" for example) or messages containing embedded executable code (such as JavaScript code embedded in an html e-mail). You won't get a virus from opening image files, audio files, text files or pure data files.

However, some viruses such as the "Anna Kournakova" virus make themselves look like an innocent picture - the file name was anna.jpg.vbs. The .jpg component of the filename made many computer users think that the file was a picture and distracted them from the .vbs ending which identifies the file as an executable file.

Macro viruses are commonly distributed by e-mail. These are dangerous because they often use common file formats such as Microsoft Word. Users recognize the file extension and assume the file contains only data. However, when macro- enabled files are opened they actually execute a program, which could be infected with a virus. Some viruses and worms, such as the famous "I Love You" virus, gain broad distribution by targeting the infected host's e-mail contact listings. The virus will send copies of itself to their contacts using their name. The recipient often recognizes and trusts the sender, not realizing that the message was not sent unknowingly.

2. Floppy Disk

Many viruses are spread by sharing an infected disk. These viruses will usually reside in your computer's memory and infect any floppy disk you place in your drive. Both file viruses and system sector viruses can be spread by floppy disk. Your best line of defence is common sense. If you are in doubt about the source of the file or attachment, don't open it.

When a software application is infected, the virus will attempt to infect any documents accessed by that program. If the infected computer is on a network, the infection can rapidly spread to other networked computers that share files. If a copy of the infected file is transferred to another computer through e-mail or

floppy disk, the virus can spread to that computer. The virus will continue until it's found and eradicated.

Obviously, a virus can't do any harm if it is caught before it gets a chance to start. You can use anti-virus (or virus protection) software to check (or "scan") the files on your hard drive to detect if any of them contain known viruses. If an infected file is found, most anti-virus programs give you the option of deleting the infected file or attempting to remove the virus and leave the uninfected version of the file on your computer.

What damage can computer viruses do?

It's important to remember that most viruses aren't programmed with destructive intentions. Most simply reproduce without any destructive attack. However, these viruses can cause damage to your files, particularly since many of the viruses are poorly written programs that can cause unintended software conflicts. At the very least, viruses are intrusive applications that steal storage and CPU cycles without your permission.

Most people's worst virus fear is having their hard drive erased, but those who regularly create back-up versions of important data could recover within a few hours. Viruses that subtly corrupt data are potentially much more destructive - computer users may not notice their presence until a great deal of data has been ruined. Some viruses insert random numbers in spreadsheet applications or system files, or add typos to word processing documents. One particularly nasty virus posted confidential documents in the user's name to Internet newsgroups.

documents in the user's name to Internet newsgroups. All viruses will attempt to infect other files,

All viruses will attempt to infect other files, and some will launch some form of attack, but it's not obvious when these events will occur. Viruses are programmed to perform these actions upon certain conditions, or triggers. Triggers can be anything from a set day or time, a counter within the virus, the specific number of times executed, or even a specific event such as the deletion of an employee's payroll file. Some viruses will lay dormant for years, ensuring that many computers can be infected before initiating the attack phase.

Despite the claims of some hoax e-mails that have been widely circulated, viruses usually won't do direct damage to your hardware. In a few rare cases viruses can manipulate your

software configurations in a way that renders some hardware components useless, but the vast majority of virus attacks affect applications or operating systems and not the underlying hardware.


Risk Management Solutions

What is risk management (risk management solution)?

Risk management is an action taken to either prevent a risk from happening or to reduce its effects. The following table shows the various categories of risks and solutions to either prevent or reduce the effects of the risks. The solutions either protect the physical computer (hardware), or protect the data /information/software (files) on the computer.

Category of Risk


Human error– e.g. delete a file by accident, adding data twice, entering incorrect data

Data validation (validation rules)

Reduction of human interaction (because humans make mistakes). In other words, automate as many processes as possible. For example, use a bar code reader to scan in the items rather than have the cashier typing in the item code.


Training of the user

Password protection

Authority levels (to limit access)

Supervision of children and inexperienced users.

Separation of duties (e.g. can enter data but not change)

Technical error– system failure e.g. hard disk crash, booting file missing/corrupted

Buy quality hardware from a reputable dealer

Get a warranty period when purchase a computer

Backup just in case the hardware fails you


Air conditioning – to keep computer cool

Plastic dust covers to keep dust out of diskette drives etc.

Proper (sturdy) desk on which to store computer

No magnets/sunlight/don’t open shutter and other proper diskette care procedures

Proper maintenance (care) – e.g. defrag, cleaning computer

Regular testing of hardware and software.

Virus – program that causes damage to files or computer

Antivirus software (e.g. McAfee, Norton Antivirus,

Trend Micro-PCcillin). This must be updated



Firewall - A firewall is (a program and/or hardware that filters the data coming through the internet to prevent unauthorized access. Some firewalls protect systems from viruses, junk email (spam). (e.g. Black Ice, Zone Alarm

Limit connectivity, such as staying off a network if it is not necessary. Visit trusted sites only when on the internet.

Limit software downloads since viruses can be caught by downloading music, games etc.

Use only authorized media for loading data and software

Category of Risk



Not opening unknown email and attachments

Enforce mandatory access controls. Viruses generally cannot run unless host application is running.

Write protecting diskettes when opening files on another computer

Backup files regularly

Natural disasters etc. – earthquake, hurricane, fire, flood, power surges, insects

Offsite Backup (located elsewhere such as another branch or another country)

Good location (e.g. not on a hillside or near the sea)


Strong, weatherproof facilities (no windows, fireproof)

No food/drink around the computer – no insects, spills on keyboard etc

Raised (false) floors – Similar to a false ceiling except this is below your feet. It is used for earthquake protection as it works as a shock absorber. Raised floors also allow you to hide cables below.

UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) – This has a battery which charges will there is power. It gives you time to shut down the computer properly when there is a power cut.

Generator – Used during a power cut and runs on gas. It allows you to continue using the computer for as long as there is gas.

Surge protectors to protect against low voltage, power surge/spike, lightening etc.

Lightening rod to protect the building and all electrical devices within the building from lightening storms.

Fire extinguishers – specially made for computers (foam). These will not damage the computers whereas water would cause damage.

Insurance of equipment in order to re-purchase if your computer is destroyed.

Unauthorized use and access – e.g. hacker/cracker gets access illegally

Physical security – e.g. locks, guards, grills etc.

Access codes and passwords – passwords should not be easy to guess (e.g. do not use your birthday).


Biometric devices – e.g. Retinal scan, finger print scan, voice activated

Require frequent password changes. By the time a hacker goes through a listing of the possible passwords, it would have changed.

Sign off when you leave your desk, even for a moment.

Authority levels – so that only certain users can perform certain tasks.

Firewall - (a program and/or hardware that filters the information coming through the internet to prevent unauthorized access. Some firewalls also protect systems

Category of Risk



from viruses and junk email (spam). (e.g.s of firewalls include: Black Ice, Zone Alarm).

Encryption of data - encoding data so that it means nothing to hackers if they get into the system.

Audit trails – keeps track of what a user does when he is on the system

Log systems – keeps track of user sign on/off

Intrusion detection software – e.g. detects if put in wrong password more than 3 times and kicks you off. (e.g. try to put in a false telephone card number, or the wrong PIN for your debit card at the ATM)

Time and Location controls - User can only use system at certain times and in certain locations (can’t hide and do wrong things)

Separation of duties (e.g. one person enters and another person is needed to change the data such as a cashier). This is in order to prevent employees from committing fraud or stealing from the company.

Restrict report distribution, shred reports – e.g. do not throw away credit card statements (prevents persons from going in your garbage and getting your private information).

Go to reputable web sites so that will not steal credit card number. Go to secure sites (lock at the bottom of the screen).

Secrecy Act in Jamaica – so that employees do not give out company information.

Copyright and License agreements – so that you have the right to sue persons who steal your software/data.

Auditing the programs that are written in case an unscrupulous employee deliberately put in code for his benefit.

Callback systems – the user can connect to the computer only after the computer calls the user back at a previously established telephone number.

Theft and vandalism

Physical security – locks, guard, dogs, biometrics

Metal detectors to prevent hardware theft


Lock the computer to the desk

Low profile facilities (no overt disclosure of high-value nature of site, in other words do not display a sign to let persons know where your computer facilities are)

Mark your computers in a secret place so that you can identify it if the police finds it

Backup is the key – the ultimate safeguard

Regardless of the precautions that you take, things can still go wrong. Backup is therefore the main risk management solution. A backup is a duplicate of a file, or disk that can beused if the original is lost, damaged, or destroyed. If your computer fails you can restore from the backup. The following describes the different types of backup.

Full – backup that copies all of the files in a computer (also called archival backup)

Incremental – backup that copies only the files that have changed since the last full or last incremental backup

Differential – backup that copies only the files that have changed since the last full backup

Selective – backup that allows a user to choose specific files to back up, regardless of whether or not the files have changed since the last backup

Grandfather, Father, Son (or Three-generation backup) – backup method in which you recycle 3 sets of backups. The oldest backup is called the grandfather, the middle backup is the father and the latest backup is called the son. Each time that you backup you reuse the oldest backup medium. The father then becomes the grandfather, the son becomes the father and the new backup becomes the son. This method allows you to have the last 3 backups at all times.

6. Module 6 – Database Management Systems

A database system is essentially nothing more than a computerized record-keeping system similar to that of a filing cabinet. The users will have the following facilities: add new files, insert new data, retrieve data, update data, delete data, and delete files.

6.1. Traditional/File Processing Approach versus Database Approach

Almost all application programs use either the file processing approach or the database approach to store and manage data.

1. Traditional/File Processing Approach This is an approach to storing and managing data where each department within an organization typically has its own set of files.

within an organization typically has its own set of files.  Files are often designed specifically

Files are often designed specifically for their particular application

Files are designed to meet the needs of a given program (e.g. Prog 1 uses the employee file only).

The focus is on procedures (what needs to be done by the programs Prog 1 and Prog 2)

The records in a file may not relate to records in any other file. (e.g. the employee file in no way related to the Warehouse file).

Companies have usually been using file processing for many years

Major weaknesses of the traditional approach

Data Redundancy – Each department has its own files, therefore:


The same fields are stored multiple times causing wasted resources


The chance for errors is increased (e.g. different spelling in different locations causing inconsistency)

Isolated data – Resulting in difficulty to access data stored in different files. (e.g. Prog 1 cannot access directly those files designed for Prog 2)

Poor data control – with no centralized control at the data element level it is common for the same data element to have multiple names

Data had to be kept sorted (e.g. in order to locate a particular item)

File structure changes severely impact existing programs.

Exercise: Find the employees making less than $23000 who a) work in warehouse with floor area larger than 30000 square feet. b) have issued an order to supplier “S6”. This would not be possible in the traditional approach if the files are separate.

2. The Database Approach

In this approach many programs and users share the data in the database. Users access

data using software called a Database Management System (DBMS).

using software called a Database Management System (DBMS). The focus is on the data and not

The focus is on the data and not on procedures or programs that use the data. The data resource is separate from the programs.

6.2. What is a Database?

A database is an organized collection of data. The data is organized in a manner to allow

access, retrieval and use of that data.


A database is a single organized collection of structured data, stored with minimum of

duplication of data items so as to provide a consistent and controlled pool of data. This

data is common to all users of the system but is independent of programs, which use the data.


What is a DataBase Management System (DBMS)?

A DBMS is an item of complex software, which constructs and maintains a database in a controlled way. It allows us to use the computer to create a database to which we can change, add and delete data in the database. It also allows us to sort and retrieve data and create forms, queries and reports using the data in the database.


A DBMS is application software that allows creation, access, and management of a database. It consists of a collection of interrelated data and a collection of programs to access that data. A DBMS is usually purchased from a software vendor and is the means by which an application programmer or end-user views and manipulates data in a database.

6.4. Examples of DBMS’s

Microsoft Access Oracle


Visual Foxpro





SQL Server











6.5. Common examples of databases in society

Payroll Employee data Inventory management/Stock Sales Customer data Supplier data Library book management Banking Student record keeping


Sample Payroll Database Structure (Single example)

6.6. Sample Payroll Database Structure (Single example) Character A number, letter, punctuation mark, or other symbol


A number, letter, punctuation mark, or other symbol that is represented by a single byte

in the ASCII and EBCDIC coding schemes.


A field (also known as attribute), contains a specific piece of information within a record. A field

name uniquely identifies each field. In the example employee table above the “lastname” field would contain all of the last names of the employees in the table. It is an attribute or characteristic

of an entity. (An entity is an object or event about which someone chooses to collect data. It may

be a person, place, event or thing. E.g. Student, car, library book, employee, bank account etc.)


A record is a group of related fields. It is a collection of data items. A record contains

information about a given person, place, event or thing. A record in an employee table would contain specific information about a particular employee.


A table is a group of related records. It captures all of the records of a particular type of entity.

E.g. the employee table has all of the employee records. The structure of the table is described by the fields, that is, the type of data that will be held in the table.


The languages used in database systems (Data definition and Data manipulation)

Some databases have their own computer languages associated with them, which allow the user to access and retrieve data. Other databases are only accessed via languages such as COBOL.

Data descriptions must be standardized, for this reason Data Description/Definition Language (DDL) is provided which must be used to specify the data in the database. Similarly, a Data Manipulation Language (DML) is provided which must be used to access the data. The combination of the DDL and DML is often called a Data Sub-Language (DSL) or a query language.

Data Definition Language - The DDL is that portion of the DBMS, which allows

us to create and modify the structure of the database and the database tables. The functions of a DDL may therefore include:

Creating Database structures

Creating table structures

Associating fields with table structures

Associating data types with field structures etc.

Data Manipulation Language - The DML is that portion of the DBMS, which allows us to store, modify, and retrieve data from the database. There are two types of DMLs: procedural DML and the nonprocedural DML.

Procedural DMLs require that the user specify the data that is needed from the database and how to obtain it

Procedural DMLs are more difficult to use since they require that the user be proficient in using the language commands to manipulate the structure and the contents of the data file. On the other hand they are more flexible since they allow the user to determine the method that is used for accessing and manipulating the structure and contents of a file.

·Nonprocedural DMLs require that the user specify the data that is needed from the database, but it does not allow the user to tell how to obtain it

Nonprocedural DMLs are easier to use since they do not require a detailed knowledge of the language commands, which are needed to manipulate the

structure and the contents of a data file. On the

flexibility since the programmer has no way of determining the method for accessing and manipulating the contents of the data file. Please note that it is the nonprocedural DML of a 4th Generational Language that allows it to exhibit structural and data independence.

other hand they lack

Query Language

The implementation of a query language is very vital for a DBMS. The query language allows the end user to generate adhoc queries, which are immediately answered. In most languages the DML and the query language are one and the same. Today, many DBMS also provide support for a standardized query language that may be different from the DML of the language. This is known as the Structured Query Language (SQL).

6.8. Functions/features common to most DBMS’s

Data Dictionary/ Repository


Contains data about each field and table in the database (data about data is called metadata)


Should only be updated by skilled personnel


Is used to perform validation checks


Allows users to specify a default field value

File retrieval and maintenance


Many tools provided


Involves adding new records, updating existing records and deleting unwanted records


It also provides the interface between the user and the data

Query Language

o Allows users to specify data to be displayed, printed or stored

o Consists of simple English-like statements

o Each has its own grammar and vocabulary

o Usually quickly learned by a non-programmer


o A window used to enter and change data

o When well designed validates data as entered, thus reducing data entry errors

Report Generator/Writer



Allows users to design a report on the screen

Normally used only to retrieve data

Data Security

Normally used only to retrieve data  Data Security o o A DBMS provides means to



A DBMS provides means to ensure that only authorized users access users at permitted times

Most DBMSs allow different levels of access privileges

Backup and Recovery


A DBMS provides a variety of techniques to restore a damaged or destroyed database to usable form.


A Backup or copy of the entire database should be made on a regular basis


Some DBMSs maintain a log of activities


Database Administration

Managing a company’s database requires a lot of coordination.

These database activities are performed by:

Database Analyst (DA)


Focuses on meaning and usage of data.


Decides the placements of fields and defines relationships among data

Database Administrator (DBA)


Creates and maintains data dictionary


Manages DB security


Monitors performance


Performs backup and security

A database administrator (DBA) is a person who is responsible for the environmental aspects of a database. Managing a company’s database requires a great deal of coordination. The role of coordinating the use of the database belongs to the database administrator (DBA). The duty of a database administrator varies depending on job description, corporate and IT policies and the technical features and capabilities of the database management system’s (DBMS’s) being administered. They nearly always include disaster recovery (backups and testing of backups), performance analysis and tuning, and some database design or assistance thereof.

Database administrators work with database management systems software and determine ways to organize and store data. They identify user requirements, set up computer databases, and test and coordinate modifications to the computer database systems. An organization’s database administrator ensures the performance of the system, understands the platform on which the database runs, and adds new users to the system. Because they also may design and implement system security, database administrators often plan and coordinate security measures. With the volume of sensitive data generated every second growing rapidly, data integrity, backup systems, and database security have become increasingly important aspects of the job of database administrators. Their salaries range from $65,000US to $86,000US depending on qualifications and experience.

The administrative and other controls carried out by the DBA therefore include the following:

Select and implement the DBMS

Develop database models (e.g. Entity relationship diagrams)

Create and maintain the data dictionary 1 . This includes documentation of the data dictionary.

Ensures that the database structure is documented

Supervise the addition of new data

1 A data dictionary (also called repository) is a DBMS element that contains data about each table in a database and each field within those tables.

Provides manuals describing the facilities the database offers and how to make use of these facilities. Provides the facilities for retrieving data and for structuring reports are appropriate to the needs of organization.

Ensures that the data in the database meets the information requirements of the organization (designs the database)

Manages security of the database. (Includes backup and recovery)

Recoverability - Checks backup and recovery/restore procedures

Perform archiving (backup and remove historical data from current files)

Availability – ensures that the database is running when necessary

Use query languages to obtain reports of the information in the database

Periodic appraisal of the data to ensure it is complete, accurate and not duplicated. (Monitor performance).

Verifies database integrity

Appraise the performance of the database and takes corrective actions if performance degrades.

Although not strictly part of a database administrator's duties, logical and physical design

of databases is sometimes part of the job. These functions are traditionally thought of as

being the duties of a database analyst or database designer.

6.10. Types of databases/Database models

Every database and DBMS is based on a specific data model. The data model consists of

the rules that define how the database organizes data and how users view the organization

of data.

Databases are classified according to the approaches taken to database organization. The classes are: