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CHAPTER 1: OVERVIEW OF E-LEARNING AND FAQs .....................................................................

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PART 1: OVERVIEW OF ONLINE LEARNING ..................................................................................... 2
1.1 Introduction.............................................................................................................................. 2
1.2 Components of IT Infrastructure ............................................................................................ 2
1.2.1 Hardware................................................................................................................................. 2
1.2.2 Software .............................................................................................................................. 3
1.2.3 Database Management Systems ...................................................................................... 3
1.3 Deployment of IT Infrastructure ............................................................................................. 4
1.4 Computer Networks ................................................................................................................ 5
1.5 Network Standards ................................................................................................................. 5
1.6 IP Networks ............................................................................................................................. 6
1.7 Securing Networks .................................................................................................................. 7
1.7.1 Firewalls .................................................................................................................................. 7
1.7.2 Personal Firewalls .................................................................................................................. 7
1.7.3 Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) ........................................................................................ 8
1.8 Cryptography........................................................................................................................... 8
Cryptographic Applications .............................................................................................................. 8
1.9 Summary ................................................................................................................................. 9

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CHAPTER 1: OVERVIEW OF E-LEARNING AND


FAQS
PART 1: OVERVIEW OF ONLINE LEARNING

1.1 Introduction
The eLearning module covered 12% and is expected to have been completed before studying this
section of facilitated eLearning. The objective of this section is to ensure that DISA can “demonstrate
understanding of functioning of key components of existing and emerging Information
Technologies and their practical deployment”. This section has 4 chapters with each chapter
dived into 2 parts. The first part of the first chapter covers overview of eLearning and the second part
covers FAQs related to eLearning. The objective of this chapter is to supplement the self-study of
eLearning contents and help clarify any doubts on any of these topics. The chapters 2 to 4 cover
various topics relating to existing and emerging technology which have critical impact on chartered
accountants. The coverage of this module is 6% and will be covered in one day of classroom
teaching. The objective of this section is to provide good understanding of Information Technology
concepts which is very essential for providing consulting and assurance services in IT driven
business processes.

1.2 Components of IT Infrastructure


1.2.1 Hardware
Information technology is an integral part of a modern enterprise. For any enterprise to survive and
grow adoption of Information Systems (IS) is essential. The basic infrastructure of Information
Systems is provided by Information Technology components such as hardware, system software,
Database Management systems (DBMS), networking, application Software and office automation
software.
Hardware is one of the most important components of IT. This includes input, output, processing and
storage devices. Input and output devices also known as peripherals help in input and output
functions, CPU or Central Processing Unit comprising of CU, ALU and registers aid in processing of
computer instructions catering to the needs of the users. Programs and data can be stored on
storage devices. Secondary storage differs from primary storage in that it is not directly accessible
by the CPU. It is important to understand hardware since it performs the important role of managing
capacities for effective and efficient working of an enterprise. The monitoring of computing capacity
is also essential to ensure that the business requirements are appropriately met. Capacity planning

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also ensures that the expansion or reduction of resources takes place in tune with the overall
organisational growth or reduction. Hardware asset management is an important function in in any
organisation using hardware for meeting its goals. It includes management of all the phases such as
hardware asset acquisition, hardware maintenance, hardware monitoring and retirement.
1.2.2 Software
Computer hardware constitutes the physical components. It works based on the instruction input
given by the users and other programs. Such a set of instruction input is actually its software. The
term software in its broad sense refers to the program that the machine executes. Software is the
intangible portion whereas hardware is the tangible portion, something we can touch and see. The
cost and complexity of software have been increasing over the years and it is critical to effectively
manage this as it is both a major investment and major expenditure. Two important types of software
are system software and application software. System software includes both operating systems and
utility programs. System software controls how various technology tools work with application
software. System software is a collection of computer programs used in design, processing and
control of application software. System software coordinates instructions between applications and
hardware.
Operating system (OS) is one of the important system software that controls how hardware devices
work together and interfaces with applications software. Operating system is a set of programs
implemented in software, hardware and firmware which permits sharing and use of resources. It
enables users to interact with the machine and takes care of technical aspects of a computer’s
operation. Some important functions of OS are
• Processor management
• Memory management
• Device management
• File Management
• Secondary storage management
• Networking
• Application programme interface
• User interfaces with system
Utility Software provides additional functionality to operating systems. Application software fulfils the
specific information processing needs of an organisation. Software is crucial for the success of
organisations and hence has to be effectively managed. Operating systems are secured through
access controls, hardening of systems and application of patches. Understanding software helps us
in optimally managing our software assets through their lifecycle. Software acquisition procedures,
licensing, version controls and digital rights management are some important issues which have to
be considered.
1.2.3 Database Management Systems

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Any organisation has to manage the important resource, information. At the very heart of most of
management information systems are databases and database management systems. A database
maintains information about various entities and a database management system (DBMS) is
software through which users and application programs interact with a database. Databases and
DBMS is the foundation of Information Economy. DBMS is a software system for creation and control
of a database and manipulation of the data in the database. It provides the facility to create and
maintain a well-organized database. Applications access the DBMS, which then accesses the data.
The advantages of DBMS are
• Permitting data sharing
• Minimizing data redundancy
• Maintaining data integrity
• Program and file consistency
• User-friendliness
• Improved security
• Achieving program/data independence
• Faster application development
A database should be designed to store all data relevant to business to facilitate quick and easy
modifications. The Relational Database Model is one of the most widely used models and is very
simple and elegant. A relational database is a collection of one or more relations, where each relation
is a table with rows and columns which is a logical equivalent of files. It permits the use of simple,
high-level languages to query the data. Since databases allow access to one of the most critical
resource of an organisation, i.e. data, the controls in it are implemented through:
• Database roles and permissions- for segregation of duties
• Concurrency control
• Views
• Stored procedures
• Triggers
DBMS is crucial for any organisation and it has to be controlled, monitored and assessed.

1.3 Deployment of IT Infrastructure


After making an IT plan it is imperative to implement the plan, the term which is used more often for
this implementation is “Deployment”. Deployment in this background involves having the hardware
and software up and running that includes Installation, Configuration, testing, necessary
customisations, modifications and running. Some approaches like hardening of systems and
configuration management are important concepts relating to deployment of IS infrastructure.
Configuration Management is one such approach which assists in control of IS assets. Configuration
Management refers to relative management of parts or elements of IT components. It covers the
identification of all significant components within the IT Infrastructure and recording the details of

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these components in the Configuration Management Database. The Configuration Management


system also records relationships between these components. It provides comprehensive
information about all components in the infrastructure that enable all other processes to function
more effectively and efficiently.

1.4 Computer Networks


Effective and efficient communication is very vital to the management in achieving its objectives. This
communication is facilitated with communication networks. Computer network is a collection of
computers (servers / nodes), communication medium, software that help them to communicate and
the transmission methods used in such communication, software and communication protocols.
Where at least one process in one device is able to send/receive data to/from at least one process
residing in another device, then the two devices are said to be in a network. A network is a group of
devices connected to each other. Each component, namely the computer, printer, etc. in a computer
network is called a node. Computer networks are used for exchange of data among different
computers and also to share the resources.
These networks can be categorized as LAN, WANs and MANs. To have these networks up and
running network devices have to be connected through some kind of media and there has to be
some arrangement or physical layout of computers, cables, and other components on the network
which are called topologies. Some prominent topologies are:
• Bus Topology
• Star topology
• Ring topology
• Mesh topology
Physical topology refers to the placement of the network's various components, including device
location and cable installation, while logical topology shows how data flows within a network,
regardless of its physical design. Knowledge of these technologies helps us in selecting a suitable
Network Topology to achieve organisational objectives.

1.5 Network Standards


Different networks could have different technologies, but when we have to network these networks;
problem is compounded. Understanding of these complicated systems was made easier by splitting
the communication process to small portions via a reference model called OSI. The Open Systems
Interconnection (OSI) model enables easy integration of various technologies and provides solutions
for managing the Internetworking environment. The Open System Interconnection (OSI) Reference
Model describes the concepts involved when the message or data or instruction from the sender’s

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computer or device moves over a range of network environments and reaches the receiver’s
computer or device, as the sender sent it.
A practical model or more appropriate a suite of specific network protocols is TCP/IP, around which
Internet has been built. The practical model or the protocol suite which comes into play in data
communication between Devices on a network is TCP/IP. TCP/IP is a set of protocols developed to
allow cooperating computers to share resources across the networks. It establishes the standards
and rules by which messages are sent through the networks. This model splits the job of moving
information between networked computers into five smaller stages called layers; in each of these
phases or layers some tasks are done. These tasks are based on certain standards or rules called
protocols. TCP/IP protocol suite is a bundle of protocols that are segmented into five layers.
5. Application Layer
4. Transport layer
3. Internetworking Layer
2. Data link layer
1. Physical layer

1.6 IP Networks
IP Networks is the main strength behind Internet. An IP network is a communication network that
uses Internet Protocol (IP) to send and receive messages between one or more computers. An IP
network is implemented in Internet networks, local area networks (LAN) and enterprise networks. All
hosts or network nodes must be configured with the TCP/IP suite and must have an IP address. A
logical address is given to all hosts connected to Internet and this logical address is called Internet
Protocol Address (IP Address). IP Address (IPv4) is an address which is 32-bits in length written in
form of 4 Octets or Bytes separated by a dot. Example: xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx or 117.149.29.234. There
are 5 Classes of IP addresses in IPv4 Class A to Class E. IP address contains information of three
fields: class type, netid, and hostid.
Every IP address that is exposed to the public Internet is unique and is called Public IP Address. In
contrast, IP addresses within a local network can use the same private addresses. IP addresses
could again be Static or dynamic IP addresses. Ports are a 16 bit number assigned to user sessions
and server applications in an IP network. Domain Name Systems help in mapping generic names of
sites, like www.yahoo.com into IP addresses. Understanding of these concepts is essential today
since networks like Internet are being used extensively and no enterprise can hope to exist without
networks.

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1.7 Securing Networks

1.7.1 Firewalls
Firewalls are an effective means of protecting a local system or network of systems from network-
based security threats while at the same time affording access to the outside world via wide area
networks and the Internet. Firewall may be a hardware device or a software program running on a
secure host computer, or a combination of hardware and software deployed at the perimeter of the
network. It enforces the security policy between an organisation’s secured network and the
unsecured environment and works for both inbound and outbound traffic.
The primary functions of a firewall are:
• Manage and control network traffic
• Authenticate access
• Act as an intermediary
• Protect resources
• Record and report on events
Firewalls could be based on hardware or software and they work as per following configurations:
• Packet filtering firewall
• Stateful inspection packet filtering firewall
• Circuit level firewall
• Application level firewall
For a firewall to be able to successfully protect resources, it is critical to implement a design that
lends itself to protecting those resources in the most efficient manner. Although a single firewall will
do an adequate job of protecting most resources, certain high security environments may warrant
using multi-firewall architecture to minimize exposure and risk. From a simple packet filtering to the
screened sub-netting implementations, there are various implementation strategies, as follows,
• Single homed firewalls
• Dual Homed firewalls
• Screened subnet firewalls
Like any other security device firewalls have to be properly configured and monitored.
1.7.2 Personal Firewalls
Personal firewalls are software installed in a user's computer that offers protection against unwanted
intrusion and attacks coming from the Internet. A personal firewall controls network traffic to and from
a computer, permitting or denying communications based on a security policy. Personal firewalls are
available from numerous security vendors, and many of the operating systems include their own
Firewall. In addition to blocking unwanted incoming traffic, these firewalls can be configured to block
specific types of outgoing traffic as well.
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1.7.3 Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS)


IDS monitors network traffic and host logs for signs of intrusion and by providing Alerts bring potential
intrusions to the attention of administrators. It only monitors and lets us know when an event has
happened, but does not itself react. It has no ability to prevent any intrusions. There are broadly two
types of IDS, network based (NIDS) and host based (HIDS) intrusion detection systems. Detection
methods, that an IDS uses, could be Signature Based or Statistical Anomaly Based (Behaviour
Based) techniques. These concepts are important to understand from the perspective of securing
our networks.

1.8 Cryptography
Cryptography has gained prominence because of the need to safeguard information from falling into
wrong hands. It provides solutions to problems related to protection of data and identity with regard
to data in transit. Some of the issues which have to be addressed for all communications taking place
over network relate to:
• Confidentiality
• Integrity
• Authentication
• Non-repudiation
Cryptography helps in addressing confidentiality related issues. Cryptography when used as an
element of PKI also addresses Integrity, Authentication and non-repudiation related issues. There
are in general, three types of cryptographic schemes to accomplish these goals:
• Secret Key or Symmetric Cryptography (SKC)
• Public Key or Asymmetric Cryptography (PKC)
• Message Hash Functions
PKI is a comprehensive system that provides public-key encryption and digital signature services to
ensure confidentiality, access control, data integrity, authentication and non-repudiation. The basic
purpose of PKI is to help in maintaining the attributes of trust in any electronic transaction. PKI
includes the following elements:
• Public/private key pair
• Digital certificate
• Certifying authority
Cryptographic Applications
Cryptographic systems are techniques which use one or more forms of cryptography and/or PKI to
secure electronic transmissions from threats relating to confidentiality, integrity, authentication and
non-repudiation.
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Some cryptographic applications are:


• SSL/TLS are essentially protocols that provide a secure channel between two
machines operating over the Internet or an internal network.
HTTPS allows secure ecommerce transactions, such as online banking. HTTPS provides
authentication of the web site and associated web server that one is communicating with. It also
provides bidirectional encryption of communications between a client and server.
• IPsec is useful for implementing virtual private networks and for remote user access
through dial-up connection to private networks.
• S/MIME is a secure method of sending e-mail and attachments that uses the RSA
encryption system.
Enterprise networks are subject to a number of risks in terms of loss of privacy, confidentiality,
integrity, availability and breaches of statutory or regulatory compliances. These risks have to be
controlled. To help in building these controls we have to understand the above concepts relating to
network security.

1.9 Summary
Understanding Information Technology areas is important for us to use in our working as well as
providing consulting and assurance services in IT driven business processes. We have provided an
overview of Information Technology Infrastructure, introduction to networks and securing networks.
The key concepts covered in chapter 1 to 3 of elearning have been summarised in this chapter.