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With stiff penalties for being caught and the whiff of secretive underground or even nefarious acts, computer hacking can be seen as a somewhat dubious pursuit. Not all hackers operate with the motive of emptying your Paypal account, however; there are many hackers who utilize their skills to aid companies in locating security flaws ("penetration testing") or engage in hacking with the goal of becoming cyber-freedom-fighters that champion simple human freedoms, such as the right to free speech.

Computer hacking is as much an art as it is a skill. At its simplest distillation, hacking is the systematic search for chinks in programming armor. While advanced problem-solving, intuition and sophisticated understanding of programming languages are a distinct advantage, there does exist a number of push-button programs that computing wizards have written allowing those less sophisticated in the art of hacking to break into remote computers in a variety of ways. Because of this new ubiquity, today's hackers no longer need to be a programming Wunderkind; they simply need to know where to download software and be able to turn on a computer. It really is that simple and the implications can be disturbing.

Phishing, Push-Button Programs and Brute Force Tactics

There's no need to crack a company's firewall if you have direct physical access to their computers. One aspect of hacking is the impersonation of an employee or service worker with the goal of gaining access to a company's database, where the hacker can then unleash whatever havoc he or she has planned into the system. Another is to engage in simple phishing techniques, such as impersonating an employee who forgot their password and needs help logging into the system.

Because such impersonations often fail thanks to companies becoming more security-conscious, taking over operations of a computer remotely is often the preferred method of gaining access. Such attempts can be facilitated in a variety of ways. One is the brute-force method, in which a program such as SQLmap, Nmap or Burpsuite is used; running one of these programs is analogous to trying every doorknob in a neighborhood to see which house is unlocked. Using a variety of different parameters, these programs can find access to a vulnerable computer or network in less than a minute.

Hackers can also attempt to gain access with a program like Metasploit. With literally a few clicks of a mouse, access to a remote and vulnerable computer can be achieved by a relative newbie. With a related hacking aid, called Meterpreter, a backdoor is created that allows access into an operating system. It does not install itself onto the remote computer, running instead using the computer's memory; in fact, Meterpreter can hide itself inside the operations of a perfectly valid program, so it cannot be detected even by sophisticated programmers. Once engaged, it allows a remote user carte blanche access to the system in question.

Where to Learn the Art of Hacking

Of course, for those who wish to learn the actual skills rather than download someone else's hack, there are a number of practice sites that pose an increasingly difficult set of challenges intended to train neophytes in the art of hacking. For example, Hack This Site starts beginners with the goal of cracking simple flaws in coding scripts or software such as HTML, Unix, Javascript and Apache. Their structured series of tests increase in complexity, incorporating real-word scenarios and even old-fashioned "phone phreaking" challenges that recall the bygone golden age of hacking skills displayed by Matthew Broderick in "WarGames."

Using just these simple tools and free practice sites, beginners have a powerful array of hacking resources just a simple mouse click away.

As much as we love to assume free Wi-Fi is secure, this is far from the truth. Because you are attaching to a service many others are connected to as well, without security measures, your device can be hacked, especially if the network is unencrypted. Because this encryption involves handing out a 26-character hexadecimal key to every individual wanting to use that network, most places opt for ease of access over security. And even with a secure network, your information is vulnerable to everyone else who has the password and is on the network.

This may not seem like such a big deal and many people don’t believe they have anything to hide on their personal devices, but remember what you use on those devices. Chances are your e-mail is attached as well as all other social media sites. You may have apps that track your finances or private messages to certain others that you would never want anyone else to see. Luckily, there are steps that can be taken to reduce and prevent any unwanted information grabbers from accessing your personal information.

To start, go through your computer’s settings in order to verify your operating system’s security functions are all set to offer the highest protection. Open up the Control Panel and double check that your Firewall is enabled for both private and public networks. Then, go to Network and Sharing to open Change advanced sharing settings. In here, you can turn off file and printer sharing and network discovery for public networks.

One of the most important things to watch for is HTTPS. Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure ensures secure communication across the web. Many of the major email systems use this when you log in (as another layer of password protection) but drop the security as soon as the login is complete. To keep this going, HTTPS Everywhere is a browser extension that gives you a secure connection when browsing some of the more popular sites. It can also be programmed for other sites you like to visit that don’t use HTTPS.

Not every place on the internet provides the choice of HTTPS, and VPNs are there to fill in the security gap. Virtual Private Networks allows data to be sent and received through public access points as if it were directly connected to a secure network. Many businesses offer this for company devices, but if you are an individual looking for that kind of security, ProXPN is a free version that can be upgraded. Unfortunately, it limits your speed, but other choices include VPNBook, OpenVPN Shield Exchange, and OkayFreedom.

With these three steps implemented, secure public Wi-Fi can be achieved. No longer will you have to worry about connecting in an unsure environment with strangers, never knowing if your information is being stolen. With all of the options free of charge, it is also an affordable means of protecting yourself that only takes a little time and effort to implement and guarantee safety.

 

In Demand IT Skills

Password Management Tools

Net Neutrality for the Layperson

What are a few unique pieces of career advice that nobody ever mentions?

On March 6 of this year, Microsoft's .NET Foundation released its third preview release of .NET Core 3 — which is its free and open-source framework for developing apps on Windows, MacOS and Linux — with an official release scheduled for later this year. This release brings a wealth of new features and enhancements. This includes the following: 
 
1. Windows Desktop Support
 
One of the biggest additions to version 3.0 of the framework is the ability to develop Windows desktop applications. The new Windows Desktop component lets you build applications using either the Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) graphical subsystem or the Windows Forms graphical class library. You can also use Windows UI XAML Library (WinUI) controls in your applications. 
 
The Windows Desktop component is only supported and included on Windows installs. 
 
2. Support for C# 8
 
The new framework has support for C# 8, which includes not only the ability to create asynchronous steams but features such as: 
 
Index and Range data types
Using declarations
Switch expressions
 
The Index and Range data types make array manipulation easier, while Using declarations ensure that your objects get disposed once they are out of scope. Finally, Switch expressions extend Switch statements by allowing you to return a value. 
 
3. IEEE Floating-Point Improvements
 
The new framework includes floating point APIs that comply with IEEE 754-2008. This includes fixes to both formatting and parsing as well as new Math APIs such as: 
 
BitIncrement/BitDecrement
MaxMagnitude/MinMagnitude
ILogB
ScaleB
Log2
FusedMultiplyAdd
CopySign
 
4. Support for Performance-Oriented CPU Instructions
 
The new framework includes support for both SIMD and Bit Manipulation instruction sets, which can create significant performance boosts in certain situations, such as when you are processing data in parallel. 
 
5. Default Executables
 
With the new framework, you can now produce framework-dependent executables by default without having to use self-contained deployments. 
 
6. Local dotnet Tools
 
In the previous version of the framework, there was support for global dotnet tools. But the current version adds support for local tools as well. These tools are associated with a specific disk location, and this allows you to enable per-repository and per-project tooling. 
 
7. Support for MSIX Deployments
 
The new framework supports MSIX, which is a Windows app package format that you can use when deploying Windows desktop applications. 
 
8. Built-In and Fast JSON Support
 
In prior versions of the framework, you had to use Json.NET if you wanted JSON support in your application. The framework, though, now has built-in support that is not only fast but also has low allocation requirements. It also adds 3 new JSON types, which include: 
 
Utf8JsonReader
Utf8JsonWriter
JsonDocument
 
9. Cryptography Support
 
The new framework supports AES-GCM and AES-CCM ciphers. It also supports the importing and exporting of asymmetric public and private keys from a variety of formats without the need of an X.509 certificate. 
 
Platform Support
 
.NET Core 3 supports the following operating systems: 
 
Alpine: 3.8+
Debian: 9+
Fedora: 26+
macOS: 10.12+
openSUSE: 42.3+
RHEL: 6+
SLES: 12+
Ubuntu: 16.04+
Windows Clients: 7, 8.1, 10 (1607+)
Windows Servers: 2012 R2 SP1+
 
The framework further supports the following chips: 
 
x64 (Windows, macOS and Linux)
x86 (Windows)
ARM32 (Windows and Linux)
ARM64 (Linux)
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Let's face it, IT roles have evolved and are no longer meant for the IT department alone. Most departments tend to have a technical person that can help make sense of data. These days, businesses encourage data democratization, meaning that everyone in the business is responsible for the information that the organization receives. Departments no longer have to wait for data to pass through IT before they receive it. The departments get information as it comes. Then, they make decisions based on that data. 

IT Job Roles and Responsibilities

1. Project Manager

A project manager, in this case, is someone that plays a managerial role in a company’s project. In fact, this is one of the most important IT job roles. The manager is responsible for his or her team. He or she makes sure that deadlines are met, and the project proceeds as planned. It mainly includes planning, design, initiation, monitoring, execution, and control. 


2. IT Director

In most cases, the term director is associated with big positions in a company, and is often associated with a board role. As one of the top IT job roles, the IT director is responsible for planning, managing and executing the core-infrastructure of a company. The primary role of the IT director is to oversee all the technology operations within the firm. The director then evaluates what his or her team does to make sure that the activities are in line with firm’s main objectives. On top of that, the IT director makes sure that all departments have their technology needs met by his or her team. 

3. IT Manager

The rank of an IT manager is definitely lower than that of a director, however, the role is still very crucial for any IT department. Every IT department has staff members that are meant to deliver results at the end of the day. The IT manager supervises most of the workers in the IT department. He or she is in charge of motivating them and making sure that they do what they are supposed to do. The IT manager’s roles include monitoring, planning, coaching, disciplining employees, and counseling.

4. Software Engineer

This position can also be referred to as a software architect, system engineer or application programmer. The main work typically involves creating and programming system-level software such as database systems, operating systems, and embedded systems. Their primary role is to ensure that they understand how both software and hardware work and to use them appropriately. However, the responsibilities don’t stop there. The software engineer is also required to interact with both colleagues and clients to explain which system or solution is going to be more suitable for use. 

5. Systems Analyst

A systems analyst can also be called a solutions specialist, product specialist or a systems engineer. Their primary work mainly involves identifying, analyzing, and coming up with new information systems that will provide a viable solution. This is mostly done as a response to the requests of customers or just for the business. They also have to make sure that they determine the costs and total time required to bring the information systems into effect. 

6. Helpdesk Support

There are times when your team could encounter system problems. Perhaps, a piece of hardware or software has malfunctioned. You need helpdesk support to deal with such issues. This is a professional that knows about common computer problems. Without them, business operations could stall because an employee can be stranded, and there’s no one to help. 

7. Network Designer

As much as helpdesk support can solve most IT problems, there are other issues that they can’t solve. You may experience system shutdowns or slow internet. In that case, you need an expert in maintaining communication systems. These professionals will also be responsible for setting up cyber security systems for the organization. 


IT involves many job roles and responsibilities that all work hand-in-hand to deliver results. As you begin your business, you should know about these roles so that you can know which ones are going to be the most suitable for your firm. 

Tech Life in California

Largely influenced by several immigrant populations California has experienced several technological, entertainment and economic booms over the years. As for technology, Silicon Valley, in the southern part of San Francisco is an integral part of the world?s innovators, high-tech businesses and a myriad of techie start-ups. It also accounts for 1/3rd of all venture capital investments.
As we acquire more knowledge, things do not become more comprehensible, but more mysterious.  - Albert Schweitze
other Learning Options
Software developers near Ventura have ample opportunities to meet like minded techie individuals, collaborate and expend their career choices by participating in Meet-Up Groups. The following is a list of Technology Groups in the area.
Fortune 500 and 1000 companies in California that offer opportunities for IBM developers
Company Name City Industry Secondary Industry
Mattel, Inc. El Segundo Retail Sporting Goods, Hobby, Book, and Music Stores
Spectrum Group International, Inc. Irvine Retail Retail Other
Chevron Corp San Ramon Energy and Utilities Gasoline and Oil Refineries
Jacobs Engineering Group, Inc. Pasadena Real Estate and Construction Construction and Remodeling
eBay Inc. San Jose Software and Internet E-commerce and Internet Businesses
Broadcom Corporation Irvine Computers and Electronics Semiconductor and Microchip Manufacturing
Franklin Templeton Investments San Mateo Financial Services Investment Banking and Venture Capital
Pacific Life Insurance Company Newport Beach Financial Services Insurance and Risk Management
Tutor Perini Corporation Sylmar Real Estate and Construction Construction and Remodeling
SYNNEX Corporation Fremont Software and Internet Data Analytics, Management and Storage
Core-Mark International Inc South San Francisco Manufacturing Food and Dairy Product Manufacturing and Packaging
Occidental Petroleum Corporation Los Angeles Manufacturing Chemicals and Petrochemicals
Yahoo!, Inc. Sunnyvale Software and Internet Software and Internet Other
Edison International Rosemead Energy and Utilities Gas and Electric Utilities
Ingram Micro, Inc. Santa Ana Computers and Electronics Consumer Electronics, Parts and Repair
Safeway, Inc. Pleasanton Retail Grocery and Specialty Food Stores
Gilead Sciences, Inc. San Mateo Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals and Biotech Pharmaceuticals
AECOM Technology Corporation Los Angeles Real Estate and Construction Architecture,Engineering and Design
Reliance Steel and Aluminum Los Angeles Manufacturing Metals Manufacturing
Live Nation, Inc. Beverly Hills Media and Entertainment Performing Arts
Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. Sunnyvale Computers and Electronics Semiconductor and Microchip Manufacturing
Pacific Gas and Electric Corp San Francisco Energy and Utilities Gas and Electric Utilities
Electronic Arts Inc. Redwood City Software and Internet Games and Gaming
Oracle Corporation Redwood City Software and Internet Software and Internet Other
Symantec Corporation Mountain View Software and Internet Data Analytics, Management and Storage
Dole Food Company, Inc. Thousand Oaks Manufacturing Food and Dairy Product Manufacturing and Packaging
CBRE Group, Inc. Los Angeles Real Estate and Construction Real Estate Investment and Development
First American Financial Corporation Santa Ana Financial Services Financial Services Other
The Gap, Inc. San Francisco Retail Clothing and Shoes Stores
Ross Stores, Inc. Pleasanton Retail Clothing and Shoes Stores
Qualcomm Incorporated San Diego Telecommunications Wireless and Mobile
Charles Schwab Corporation San Francisco Financial Services Securities Agents and Brokers
Sempra Energy San Diego Energy and Utilities Gas and Electric Utilities
Western Digital Corporation Irvine Computers and Electronics Consumer Electronics, Parts and Repair
Health Net, Inc. Woodland Hills Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals and Biotech Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals, and Biotech Other
Allergan, Inc. Irvine Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals and Biotech Biotechnology
The Walt Disney Company Burbank Media and Entertainment Motion Picture and Recording Producers
Hewlett-Packard Company Palo Alto Computers and Electronics Consumer Electronics, Parts and Repair
URS Corporation San Francisco Real Estate and Construction Architecture,Engineering and Design
Cisco Systems, Inc. San Jose Computers and Electronics Networking Equipment and Systems
Wells Fargo and Company San Francisco Financial Services Banks
Intel Corporation Santa Clara Computers and Electronics Semiconductor and Microchip Manufacturing
Applied Materials, Inc. Santa Clara Computers and Electronics Semiconductor and Microchip Manufacturing
Sanmina Corporation San Jose Computers and Electronics Semiconductor and Microchip Manufacturing
Agilent Technologies, Inc. Santa Clara Telecommunications Telecommunications Equipment and Accessories
Avery Dennison Corporation Pasadena Manufacturing Paper and Paper Products
The Clorox Company Oakland Manufacturing Chemicals and Petrochemicals
Apple Inc. Cupertino Computers and Electronics Consumer Electronics, Parts and Repair
Amgen Inc Thousand Oaks Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals and Biotech Biotechnology
McKesson Corporation San Francisco Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals and Biotech Pharmaceuticals
DIRECTV El Segundo Telecommunications Cable Television Providers
Visa, Inc. San Mateo Financial Services Credit Cards and Related Services
Google, Inc. Mountain View Software and Internet E-commerce and Internet Businesses

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the hartmann software group advantage
A successful career as a software developer or other IT professional requires a solid understanding of software development processes, design patterns, enterprise application architectures, web services, security, networking and much more. The progression from novice to expert can be a daunting endeavor; this is especially true when traversing the learning curve without expert guidance. A common experience is that too much time and money is wasted on a career plan or application due to misinformation.

The Hartmann Software Group understands these issues and addresses them and others during any training engagement. Although no IT educational institution can guarantee career or application development success, HSG can get you closer to your goals at a far faster rate than self paced learning and, arguably, than the competition. Here are the reasons why we are so successful at teaching:

  • Learn from the experts.
    1. We have provided software development and other IT related training to many major corporations in California since 2002.
    2. Our educators have years of consulting and training experience; moreover, we require each trainer to have cross-discipline expertise i.e. be Java and .NET experts so that you get a broad understanding of how industry wide experts work and think.
  • Discover tips and tricks about IBM programming
  • Get your questions answered by easy to follow, organized IBM experts
  • Get up to speed with vital IBM programming tools
  • Save on travel expenses by learning right from your desk or home office. Enroll in an online instructor led class. Nearly all of our classes are offered in this way.
  • Prepare to hit the ground running for a new job or a new position
  • See the big picture and have the instructor fill in the gaps
  • We teach with sophisticated learning tools and provide excellent supporting course material
  • Books and course material are provided in advance
  • Get a book of your choice from the HSG Store as a gift from us when you register for a class
  • Gain a lot of practical skills in a short amount of time
  • We teach what we know…software
  • We care…
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