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    Society And IT Essay (809 words)

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    Discuss the Threats and Causes of Failure, and Steps Taken toMinimise it. Intoday’s world it is impossible to run a large organisation without the aid ofcomputers. Businesses hold massive amounts of important data, hospitals holdlarge amounts of confidential patient information and large scientific researchprojects hold important codes, formulae, and equations. The bottom line is thatloss or corruption of this information is sure to result in bankruptcy, asubstantial loss of customers, and even world-wide financial meltdown. Adependency on technology is impossible to avoid ? even with its fatalconsequences.

    Companies face the worry of information lost through hacking,virus corruption, and even physical threats such as fire and flood. Viruses arethe most common threat to companies they can corrupt large amounts of files anddata both kinds of virus, biological and electronic, take over the hostcell/program and clone their carrier genetic codes by instructing the hosts tomake replicas of the viruses. Neither kind of virus, however, can replicatethemselves independently; they are pieces of code that attach themselves toother cells/programs, Just as biological viruses need a host cell, computerviruses require a host program to activate them. Once such example of the damagedone by viruses occurred in 1988. A Cornell University hacker named RobertMorris used the national network system Internet, which include the Pentagon’sARPAnet data exchange network. The nation’s high-tech ideologues and spindoctors have been locked in debate since, trying to make ethical and economicsense of the event.

    The virus rapidly infected an estimated six thousandcomputers around the USA This created a scare that crowned an open season ofviral hysteria in the media, in the course of which, according to the ComputerVirus Industry Association in Santa Clara, the number of known viruses jumpedfrom seven to thirty during 1988, and from three thousand infections in thefirst two months of that year to thirty thousand in the last two months. Whileit caused little in the way of data damage (some richly inflated initialestimates reckoned up to $100m in down time), the ramifications of the Internetvirus have helped to generate a moral panic that has all but transformedeveryday “computer culture. ” Other worrying viruses include”Pathogen” which was created by Christopher Pile. This fatal virus wipeddata from a computers hard drive, in 1995 he was convicted under the Computermisuse attack.

    Stephen Fleming a BT employee gained access to a database thatcontained hundreds of top secret phone numbers and addresses of governmentinstallations. Police managed to catch him, and he was threatened to prosecutionunder the first category of the computer misuse act. Meanwhile BT tightenedtheir security. One major bug that threatened to destroy all of our data was theMillennium bug. It pursued the media for months; it was difficult not to haveheard of it. The problem was that many electrical items ? not just computersheld a chip that kept track of the date, it was feared that after 1999 the datewould switch to 0000 or 1900 and stop working all together.

    Millions of poundswere spent trying to outsmart the bug; no computers were sold in the yearsrunning up to 2000 without being “millennium compliant”. Fortunately the bugdid not strike, and now many anti-virus companies are being accused of conningindustries into buying new software to tackle a non-existent bug. Anti-viruspackages are now one of the best selling types of software. Many companies offerbigger and better packages each year. “Norton” anti-virus software is one ofthe best selling packages along with “Dr Solomon’s” anti-virus toolkits. It is very sensible for every computer owner to have an anti-virus package.

    Andit is vital for any company to have an advanced anti-virus package. Data is alsosecured using a backup system. When processing information banks and businessesproduce huge amounts of backup. Looking at the amount of backup created you maythink that it is absurd. But for the business it secures information, any masterdata that is lost can just be brought up from backup files.

    The problem is thatbackup files need room to be stored, and protection. Fire and flood produce anincreasing threat to large backup files. To avoid these problems most companiesstore there backup files in a different building to their master files. Thismeans that damage to one building forces the company to recall their backupfiles from the other building which will not have sustained damage (unless thecompany has very bad luck!) Companies taking these precautions spend a hugeamount of money on them. Updating anti-virus software, changing passwords andchanging the location of tons of information can prove severely expensive. Thatis not to say that the companies are foolish, for the amount spent on preventionis only a fraction of that which would be forfeited from loss.

    It is ratherscary to think that we risk so much money and even lives over the loss of simpledata. Space travel, vital medical care, stock markets, air traffic control, andtransport all rely heavily on I. T to keep them going. It is fearful to think ofthe price we might pay if the I. T that we count on, failed.

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