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Computer Networking

The amazing journey of data packets from a data center to your device forms the backbone of the Internet. This data flow is governed to make the most efficient transfer of the data.

DUTIES

Computer network architects design and build data communication networks, including local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), and Intranets. These networks range from small connections between two offices to next-generation networking capabilities such as a cloud infrastructure that serves multiple customers. Network architects must have extensive knowledge of an organization’s business plan to design a network that can help the organization achieve its goals. After deployment, they also may manage the networks and troubleshoot any issues as they arise. Network architects also predict future network needs by analyzing current data traffic and estimating how growth will affect the network.

Computer systems analysts, sometimes called systems architects, study an organization’s current computer systems and procedures and design improvements to them. In doing so, these analysts help the organization operate more efficiently. Most computer systems analysts specialize in computer systems that are specific to their organization type. For example, an analyst might work with financial computer systems or with engineering computer systems. Computer systems analysts work with other IT team members to help an organization’s business leaders understand how computer systems best serve the organization.

Computer systems analysts use a variety of techniques, such as data modeling, to design computer systems. Data modeling allows analysts to view processes and data flows. Analysts conduct indepth tests and analyze information and trends in the data to increase a system’s efficiency. Analysts calculate requirements for how much memory, storage, and computing power the computer system needs. They prepare diagrams for programmers or engineers to use when building the system. Analysts also work with these people to solve problems that arise after the initial system setup. Most analysts do some programming in the course of their work.

  • Create plans and layouts for data communication networks
  • Present plans to management and explain why they are in the organization’s best interest to pursue them
  • Analyze costs and benefits of IT systems and upgrades
  • Design new systems by configuring hardware and software applications
  • Consider information security when designing networks
  • Upgrade hardware, such as routers or adaptors, and software, such as network drivers, as needed to support computer networks
  • Test systems to ensure that they work as expected
  • Write instruction manuals and train the systems’ end users

EDUCATION

Computer network architects typically need at least a bachelor’s degree in computer and information technology, engineering, or a related field. Degree programs in a computer-related field give prospective network architects hands-on experience in classes such as network security or database design. These programs prepare network architects to be able to work with the wide array of technologies used in networks. Systems analysts may take continuing education courses throughout their careers to stay abreast of new technology. Technological advances are common in the computer field, and continual study is necessary to remain competitive.

Employers of network architects sometimes prefer applicants to have a master’s of business administration (MBA) in information systems. MBA programs generally require 2 years of study beyond the undergraduate level and include both business and computer-related courses. Network architects generally need to have at least 5 to 10 years of experience working with information technology (IT) systems. They often have experience as a network and computer system administrator but also may come from other computer-related occupations such as database administrator or computer systems analyst.

Systems analysts also must understand the industry they are working in. For example, an analyst working in a hospital may need a thorough understanding of healthcare plans and programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, and an analyst working for a bank may need to understand finance. Having industry-specific knowledge helps systems analysts communicate with managers to determine the role of the information technology (IT) systems in an organization.

CERTIFICATION

The Cisco Certified Technician (CCT) certification verifies your ability to diagnose, restore, repair and replace critical Cisco networking and system devices at customer sites. The CCT Data Center certification covers support and maintenance of Cisco Unified Computing systems and server. It’s targeted at field support engineers working with Cisco data center system devices and software. This certificate covers data center networking fundamentals, field servicing and equipment replacement and how to identify Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) component models, accessories cabling and interfaces.

The CCT Routing and Switching certification covers on-site support and maintenance of Cisco routers, switches and operating environments. It’s designed for on-site technical support and other support staff who work with Cisco Data Center Solutions. Before you can take the exam, you’ll need to take the course Supporting Cisco Routing and Switching Network Devices (RSTECH). The online self-paced course covers networking fundamentals, Cisco outer and switch models, Cisco IOS software operating modes and the Cisco command line interface (CLI).

Cisco certified network associate (CCNA certificate) packet routing and switching concentration is a systems engineering certification program that teaches how to manage servers, and ensure computer network integrity. The CCNA network administration certification is valid for three years, after which time systems administrators need to renew their qualifications to troubleshoot and configure switched and routed networks. This may also include implementation of data-communications software, via remote internet access using either WAN or WiFi networks.

The CBP Computer Technology Specialist Certification covers a wide range of computer technologies such as computer architecture, software applications, networking, Internet technologies, electronic commerce, computer health & safety, computer security and law. The Cisco CCIE Wireless certification assesses and validates wireless expertise. Candidates who pass the CCIE Wireless certification exams demonstrate broad theoretical knowledge of wireless networking and a solid understanding of wireless local area networking (WLAN) technologies from Cisco. Further, Cisco Certified Design Associate (CCDA) validates knowledge required to design a Cisco converged network.

SPECIALIZATION

Network Analyst, Network Engineer, sometimes referred to as a Network Support Engineer. The role sometimes overlaps with Network Architect roles. Typical responsibilities / skills: work with a variety of types of networks including LANs, WANs, GANs and MANs; determine network capacity requirements and ensure that the infrastructure can handle it; monitor and administrate the network; troubleshoot problems. Depending on the size of the organization, a person in this role might also setup, install and configure all types of hardware, from servers and printers to desktops and laptops, routers, switches, support internal network users. Non-standard work hours are a possibility.

Depending on the size of an organization, network architects may design internal and intra-office networks, including physical layout: LAN, WAN, Internet, VoIP, etc.; monitor network usage and performance, devise network tests and evaluate them; incorporate any new business requirements so as to upgrade overal network architecture; do any necessary cabling, routers, and install and configure hardware and software; follow or recommend a budget for projects; choose or recommend the appropriate network components; sometimes report to a CTO (Chief Technology Officer). Network Architects usually have five or more years of experience as a Network Engineer, and supervise various other engineers in implement a networking plan. Besides a Bachelor of Science degree, depending on the employer and the specific role, sometimes an MBA in Information Systems is required as well.

Network Security Engineers are responsible for network and server architecture; implementation, admin, upgrade of hardware and software, e.g., firewalls, etc.; enforcement of security policies set down by either the organization’s Network Architect, Network Security Administrator, or similar position; monitoring and analyzing network usage for security issues; troubleshooting network problems; contributing to the selection of new technology and/or upgrades; contributing to the documenting of systems and processes; providing technical support for IT coworkers. Certification may be required. Knowledge of computer telephony technologies such as VoIP may be required, along with an understanding of relevant compliance issues. May require some physical effort, for cabling and installation work.

Systems Analyst, Systems Engineer - This role is sometimes referred to as a Computer Systems Analyst, with duties that might overlap that of an IT Project Manager, if overseeing installation or upgrade of computer systems. This role typically analyzes an organization’s computer systems and procedures; makes recommendations for process improvement; interacts with partners/ vendors and with programmers or programmer / analysts. Educational background might be technical, though this is more of an analytical than technical role that is focused on the business aspects of technology, including: analyzing the cost of system changes; the impact on employees; potential project timelines. Needs to interact with department managers on IT requirements; incorporate feedback from both internal and external users into business requirements documents; incorporate feedback from designers; contribute technical requirements; advise technical teams on their and their technology’s role in the organization; provide guidance to programmer / developers with use cases.

QUALITIES FOR SUCCESS

Ask yourself if you can see yourself being a network engineer, working with technical concepts and complex equipment, which can be challenging. While engineering classes and internships will prepare you well, certain innate qualities that you bring to bear will help you succeed.


Computer Networking
Analysts design and implement computer systems or upgrade existing systems to meet an organization’s business goals. Analysts must have a thorough understanding of their organization’s business objectives in order to meet its needs.
These workers must work with different types of employees to successfully design and implement computer and information networks. Many computer network architects direct teams of engineers, such as computer hardware engineers, who build the networks they have designed.
Because analysts are tasked with finding innovative solutions to computer problems, they must be resourceful and use ingenuity in their work. Analysts must pay attention to minutiae, in order to find areas of inefficiency or error.
Computer network architects create comprehensive plans of the networks they are creating with precise information describing how the network parts will work together.
Analysts may coordinate work with different areas of an organization and must keep track of many tasks and deadlines to ensure that projects proceed according to plan.

Antennas


Antennas are widely used in the field of telecommunications and we have already seen many applications for them in this video series. Antennas receive an electromagnetic wave and convert it to an electric signal, or receive an electric signal and radiate it as an electromagnetic wave.

Understanding Spectrum


Use of the Internet on the go, or when making mobile phone calls, is made possible thanks to the invisible electromagnetic waves that mobile phones emit or receive. These parcels of electromagnetic frequency (EMF) range, or spectrum, have been allocated to telecom companies via auction.

Mobile Phone Routing


This animation explains how a mobile phone makes a call, and why there are different generations of mobile communications. Let’s explore the technology behind mobile communications.

Optical Fiber Cables


How is data routed, from any corner of the world, within a blink of an eye? This has been made possible by a network of cables laid under the ground and below the ocean. The cables, which carry most of the world’s data, are optical fiber trunk cables.

NETWORK SECURITY

Network security is a complex and constantly evolving field. Practitioners must stay on top of new threats and solutions and be proactive in assessing risk and protecting their networks. The first step to understanding network security is to become acquainted with the actual threats posed to a network. Without a realistic idea of what threats might affect your systems, you be unable to effectively protect them. It is also critical that you acquire basic understanding of the techniques used by both security professionals and those who would seek to compromise your network’s security.

The Security Architecture and Models domain of the Common Body of Knowledge embodies the study of formal models for design and evaluation of systems needed for the highest levels of information security, including those that protect national secrets and other government property. The trusted computing base, or TCB, is the portion of a computer system that contains all elements of the system responsible for supporting the security policy and supporting the isolation of objects on which the protection is based. Included are mechanisms, properties, and concepts that are required for a formal evaluation prior to being used to protect resources and information.

Several evolving models of evaluation and assurance cover various aspects of confidentiality, integrity, and availability. TCSEC, otherwise known as the Orange Book, is primarily concerned with confidentiality and is based on the Bell-LaPadula model. ITSEC adds concerns about integrity and availability. The Canadian Criteria (CTCPEC) advances the work of TCSEC and ITSEC.

Access controls differentiate between identifying users of a system and authenticating them. This is done using discretionary means where an information owner decides who obtains access rights, mandatory means where the system decides access rights based on classifications and clearance, and role-based means that group people with a similar need for access together and tie access rights to the role people are assigned. Problems with passwords have led to the development of alternatives, such as tokens using one-time passwords and smart cards that use cryptography to prove a person’s identity.

POTENTIAL THREATS

DoS attacks are among the most common attacks on the Internet. They are easy to perform, do not require a great deal of sophistication on the part of the perpetrator, and can have devastating effects on the target system. Only virus attacks are more common. (And, in some cases, the virus can be the source of the DoS attack.)

Clearly, there are a number of ways to attack a target system: by Denial of Service, virus/worm, Trojan horse, buffer overflow attacks, and spyware. Each type of attack comes in many distinct variations. It should be obvious by this point that securing your system is absolutely critical. In the upcoming exercises, you will try out the antivirus programs by Norton and McAffee. There are so many ways for a hacker to attack a system that securing your system can be a rather complex task. Chapter 6 will deal with specific methods whereby you can secure your system.

Both Trojan horses and spyware pose significant dangers to your network. Trojan horses and viruses frequently overlap (i.e., a virus may install a Trojan horse). Spyware can compromise security by revealing details of your system or confidential data on the system. Adware is mostly a nuisance rather than a direct security threat. However as your computer becomes infected with more adware, such programs can eventually drain your system’s resources until your system becomes completely unusable.

The MITM attack is more difficult to interdict, since the machine in use may be trusted or commonly known keys in operating system distributions are not changed. However, strong authentication methods can be successful defeating the MITM attack. Reverse DNS look-up is not totally foolproof in ensuring the validity of source IP addresses, and it may be time-consuming. Reverse path forwarding (“Source Address Validation” in the RFC 1812 terminology) is faster because it involves a check of the local forwarding and/or route tables. It is prone to errors, however, due to asymmetrical paths in internetworks, as well as the vast quantity of public IP addresses that will map to the default route of any route table.

VIRTUAL PRIVATE NETWORKS (VPN)

Virtual private networks (VPN) are secure connections over the Internet that enable remote users and sites to connect to a central network. You can use PPTP, L2TP, or IPSec to create a VPN. IPSec is considered the most secure of the three. Administrators creating a VPN protocol should consider how the packets are encrypted, what sort of authentication is used, and whether the current hardware and software supports that technology. The protocols used by many common attacks are ICMP, UDP, and TCP. IP address spoofing is a serious threat, and although there are various techniques for avoidance, including reverse path forwarding, route filtering, and reverse DNS look-up exist, none are foolproof by themselves. Used in combination with other firewall methods, such as ignoring ICMP echo requests sent to broadcast addresses, it may reduce the impact of DoS attacks in which IP address spoofing is prevalent.

Each category of firewall has its own unique set of features and functionality, and you must perform a careful analysis to determine which firewall is needed in your environment. Personal firewalls are needed even in an environment where an enterprise firewall is installed, since they protect a computer from internal attacks. One economical personal firewall is available on any Windows XP system. It provides incoming protection and should be used if no other firewall will be installed on the host computer. Other personal firewalls, such as Zone Alarm, provide enhanced functionality that goes beyond the capabilities of the Windows Firewall.

JOB OUTLOOK

Employment of computer systems analysts is projected to grow 9 percent annually to 2031, faster than the average for all occupations. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force. Demand for computer network architects will grow as firms continue to design and build new information technology (IT) networks and upgrade existing ones. Continued expansion of cloud computing will increase demand for these workers to ensure that networks are properly designed and that transition to the new network proceeds smoothly.

As organizations across the economy continue to rely on information technology (IT), computer systems analysts will be hired to design and install new computer systems. Small firms with minimal IT requirements will find it more cost effective to contract with outside firms for these services rather than to hire computer systems analysts directly. In addition, some computer network tasks, such as monitoring systems and troubleshooting network problems, continue to be automated and consolidated.

Engineering Organizations

Whether you’re working as a network engineer, systems analyst, or other technical position, there’s an industry trade group ready to offer training, networking opportunities and other specialized resources that can help you stay current in your field and manage your career.

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