Tag: information technology

Cybersecurity Professionals: Modern Day Heroes

Just in the past six months, the term cybersecurity has become a household word in the United States. Related words like hacker, bot, and even ransomware have also made it into the current lexicon. However, none of this learning has come easily to us. In fact, you might say, that most of what we’ve learned has come from very difficult lessons. In the fall of 2016, hackers and bots used emails and fake news to destroy the reputations of political candidates and compromised the U.S. presidential election. In the spring, cyberattacks around the world made all of us want...

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Cybersecurity: Keeping your WordPress Website Safe

WordPress is a fantastic, open-source website design tool that is popular among blogging and website-related Content Management Systems (CMS). WordPress provides a free and easy-to-use platform for users of all levels of expertise to create and design a website. WordPress even offers website hosting for free using their platform (with limited features). To use the full features of WordPress, users will need to host their website themselves or reach out to a hosting company to keep the lights on. With WordPress’s increasing popularity, the question of security rises. Popular, open-sourced platforms like WordPress are easy targets for hackers to...

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21st Century ICT Learning: Making it Work

Students hunch over their seats in rows, furiously copying notes, furtively glancing up as a teacher writes on a blackboard. The subject? Using secured digital resources to support collaboration in the workplace. What’s Wrong With This Picture? Teaching Information Communications Technology (it is now ICT) in the 21st century comes with built-in challenges. Students arrive already digitally adept. The old “stand and deliver” lecture does not meet the high expectations of this audience. However, one of the core responsibilities of the instructor still pertains: to help students use their skills to grow and mature in understanding. How does a...

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Visualizing Work Flows

In any business environment employees have different ways of solving problems. Defining clear processes will document each step in solving those problems, saving both valuable time and money. Process documentation can take many forms, including data flow diagrams and process modeling. Through data flow diagrams (DFD), they provide a visual view of how information flows through a system or process. Through process modeling, the company’s AS-IS (or current) and TO-BE (or future) processes are documented in easy to understand language. What does all of this mean? and Which model should I use? Which Model is Right for My Problem ? The first step is to define the problem. Are your current processes slowing down output? If the answer is “yes,” then a Process Model should be created to document the sequence of steps/processes that occur to produce the product or service. If the answer to the question is about wanting to know how data flows, then the Data Flow Diagram is the correct tool. Choosing A Process Model The second step is to choose between In the AS-IS model, you are documenting how the process currently flows. Sometimes this is useful to see how the process may have evolved over time. Each area within the process may have made individual changes and that change is only known at the lower level. Documenting the AS-IS process may reveal a different process...

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Evolution of the 3-Cert IT Course

When we first started running foundation IT classes in 2011, it was only a ‘2-Cert’ program offering CompTIA A+ and Network+. These first few 2-Cert program courses were well received by our students and provided them with a solid fundamental background to quickly enter the IT workforce. It wasn’t long after we launched our first 2-Cert program, that many of our graduates wanted to explore the world of information technology further, receiving even higher level training. It was at this point we decided to expand our program. CCENT Focus The question we then faced was, “What is the next...

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Taking Information Technology Professional Development to the Next Level

When is “professional development” truly “development”?  What aspect of a professional should it develop?  In evaluating the worth of professional development, what outcomes indicate that it hit the mark? Most of us have experienced professional development that developed only an active desire to flee the room.  The classic picture of professional development consists of rows of seats, a podium, and a presentation.  We can do better, and for Cisco Networking Academy instructors, we are doing better. Six years ago, the Maryland State Department of Education identified Towson University as the Affiliate University supporting educational programs within the IT Career...

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Choosing the Right IT Certification

Selecting the right IT certification really depends on where you ideally want to end up. Knowing the role or position you would ultimately like to land will greatly determine the path you need to take to get there. The world of information technology is quite vast and a crucial part of all of our daily lives. Information technology is now comprised of an ever-expanding list of subfields and specialty niches within the industry. Some of the primary subfields of information technology focus on databases, networking, security, internet applications, software development and information systems management. It is also important to note that none of these subfields operate in a silo. Anyone studying or working in any one of these areas will face concepts or scenarios affecting all other areas to some degree. Therefore, being competent in any of the aforementioned IT subfields, means you have at least a basic understanding of matters in other areas. Where Do I Go From Here? For someone entering into information technology this may be a daunting question, but this is where knowing yourself and your basic technical skill set comes into consideration. Knowing your personality, your strengths and your weaknesses, and the type of work environment you thrive in, will help you determine what type of certification you need. Do you see yourself configuring firewalls and routers, or setting network wide accessibility permissions and...

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The Project Initiation Phase of the Product Life Cycle

As a consultant working with many clients in developing an information technology system or software application, there is a critical phase in the product life cycle that is almost always overlooked. The process of project initiation. Project initiation is the process of defining the who, what, where, when, and why.  It provides the business a high level road map defining what the system or application is to accomplish. It  defines who will be the leaders of the project, why the organization is doing the project and when in the life cycle of the business do they wish to have this project completed. This phase provides the information in making a decision to proceed or stop the project before resources are allocated. By bringing all stakeholders together, this ensures that the project will meet the business needs and be aligned with the business strategy. More importantly, this phase of a project is the opportunity for the business to align its strategic objectives with the right tools. Technology for most businesses is a tool. An like all tools, you need the right tool to complete the job. Implementing a new system without the strategic view of the business, could result in a negative return on investment and failing to deliver a good, product or service. During this phase it is a great time to document the following: How the business flows. Where data...

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Developing a Disaster Recovery Plan and Site

It’s a new year and it is time to start working on those resolutions. I am terrible about completing mine, I start off great but by mid-February they sort of drop off the radar; unless, I have a plan. The Division’s Applied Research and Technical Services group has been working closely with several clients in developing their Disaster Recovery (DR) plan and site. If one of your organization’s New Year’s resolutions is to establish a DR site, here is information about developing your DR plan and how to get started with building a DR site. What is a Disaster Recovery site? Disaster Recovery is the policies and procedures that enable recovery or continuation of vital technology infrastructures and systems following a disaster and where and how those vital systems and data are maintained. DR is basically an insurance policy based on the probability a disaster will occur. A DR site is the physical location of the data, systems, etc., your organization needs to be functional. How do I get started? Many of the decisions you will need to make when developing a DR plan and setting up a DR site begin with answering the following questions: What data/systems are essential to your organization? What can your organization live without? (data? applications? both?) If a disaster were to occur, how long after will the organization need to be up and...

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Going from Requirements to Test Plan

If you have been following along with some of my blogs, you will notice a recurring topic: REQUIREMENTS (Are Requirements Necessary When Purchasing IT Products , What Does Your System Require?).  I know I have written this before, but having good requirements is the foundation of any successful system. If you write really good requirements at the beginning of a project, you will have useful Test Plan by the end of it. Requirements Development and Testing In the System Development Life Cycle (SDLC), there are two areas that tend to be short changed, in both the time needed and details required:  requirements development and testing. These are the same two areas that cause the greatest issues if there is no commitment. If well written and easily understandable requirements are created at the beginning of the project, then the developers can build a system that meets those requirements and then those same requirements can become a clear and concise Test Plan. This will result in a Test Plan that thoroughly evaluates the requirements, thereby providing the client with a fully tested system that meets their needs. Elements of a Test Plan A Test Plan, in its simplest form, is a chart. Applied Research and Technical Services (ARTS) uses an Excel spreadsheet that includes the requirements, arranged in numerical order, and incorporates columns that let the Tester denote whether or not the...

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