Society And IT Essay

Discuss the Threats and Causes of Failure, and Steps Taken to
Minimise it.

today’s world it is impossible to run a large organisation without the aid of
computers. Businesses hold massive amounts of important data, hospitals hold
large amounts of confidential patient information and large scientific research
projects hold important codes, formulae, and equations. The bottom line is that
loss or corruption of this information is sure to result in bankruptcy, a
substantial loss of customers, and even world-wide financial meltdown. A
dependency on technology is impossible to avoid ? even with its fatal
consequences. Companies face the worry of information lost through hacking,
virus corruption, and even physical threats such as fire and flood. Viruses are
the most common threat to companies they can corrupt large amounts of files and
data both kinds of virus, biological and electronic, take over the host
cell/program and clone their carrier genetic codes by instructing the hosts to
make replicas of the viruses. Neither kind of virus, however, can replicate
themselves independently; they are pieces of code that attach themselves to
other cells/programs, Just as biological viruses need a host cell, computer
viruses require a host program to activate them. Once such example of the damage
done by viruses occurred in 1988. A Cornell University hacker named Robert
Morris used the national network system Internet, which include the Pentagon’s
ARPAnet data exchange network. The nation’s high-tech ideologues and spin
doctors have been locked in debate since, trying to make ethical and economic
sense of the event. The virus rapidly infected an estimated six thousand
computers around the USA This created a scare that crowned an open season of
viral hysteria in the media, in the course of which, according to the Computer
Virus Industry Association in Santa Clara, the number of known viruses jumped
from seven to thirty during 1988, and from three thousand infections in the
first two months of that year to thirty thousand in the last two months. While
it caused little in the way of data damage (some richly inflated initial
estimates reckoned up to $100m in down time), the ramifications of the Internet
virus have helped to generate a moral panic that has all but transformed
everyday “computer culture.” Other worrying viruses include
“Pathogen” which was created by Christopher Pile. This fatal virus wiped
data from a computers hard drive, in 1995 he was convicted under the Computer
misuse attack. Stephen Fleming a BT employee gained access to a database that
contained hundreds of top secret phone numbers and addresses of government
installations. Police managed to catch him, and he was threatened to prosecution
under the first category of the computer misuse act. Meanwhile BT tightened
their security. One major bug that threatened to destroy all of our data was the
Millennium bug. It pursued the media for months; it was difficult not to have
heard of it. The problem was that many electrical items ? not just computers
held a chip that kept track of the date, it was feared that after 1999 the date
would switch to 0000 or 1900 and stop working all together. Millions of pounds
were spent trying to outsmart the bug; no computers were sold in the years
running up to 2000 without being “millennium compliant”. Fortunately the bug
did not strike, and now many anti-virus companies are being accused of conning
industries into buying new software to tackle a non-existent bug. Anti-virus
packages are now one of the best selling types of software. Many companies offer
bigger and better packages each year. “Norton” anti-virus software is one of
the best selling packages along with “Dr Solomon’s” anti-virus toolkits.

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It is very sensible for every computer owner to have an anti-virus package. And
it is vital for any company to have an advanced anti-virus package. Data is also
secured using a backup system. When processing information banks and businesses
produce huge amounts of backup. Looking at the amount of backup created you may
think that it is absurd. But for the business it secures information, any master
data that is lost can just be brought up from backup files. The problem is that
backup files need room to be stored, and protection. Fire and flood produce an
increasing threat to large backup files. To avoid these problems most companies
store there backup files in a different building to their master files. This
means that damage to one building forces the company to recall their backup
files from the other building which will not have sustained damage (unless the
company has very bad luck!) Companies taking these precautions spend a huge
amount of money on them. Updating anti-virus software, changing passwords and
changing the location of tons of information can prove severely expensive. That
is not to say that the companies are foolish, for the amount spent on prevention
is only a fraction of that which would be forfeited from loss. It is rather
scary to think that we risk so much money and even lives over the loss of simple
data. Space travel, vital medical care, stock markets, air traffic control, and
transport all rely heavily on I.T to keep them going. It is fearful to think of
the price we might pay if the I.T that we count on, failed.


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