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What Are the Prerequisites for the CCNA?

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The CCNA is a Cisco certification required for most IT professionals. There are actually a few versions of the exam, but the most common is the CCNA Routing and Switching certification. This exam can be taken at the Associate level, so there aren’t many concerns as far as prerequisites go.

The only real limitations are that a person under 13 years will not be permitted to take it, and a person between 13 and 17 must have parental consent. For those 18 and older, there are no restrictions, as Cisco does not require any previous exams to become eligible for the CCNA.

Still, just because there are no real prerequisites, this doesn’t mean the exam isn’t challenging. It’s a 90-minute test consisting of both multiple-choice and performance-based questions. Anyone taking the exam will have to thoroughly prove their knowledge and problem-solving skills in a limited time. It can be stressful, and it’s recommended to have both theoretical knowledge as well as practical networking experience before taking the test. The following are the best ways to prepare for the CCNA.

Study materials

There are plenty of study materials that can get you started. These range from official study guides, video courses, labs, and more. There is a list of Cisco approved materials for those wishing to follow that path, though there are a variety of options from other vendors as well. Regardless of whether you pursue free or paid options, you’ll need to do your best to cover all of the content that could appear on the exam. The methods you choose will likely depend on your learning style.

In general, it’s recommended to take a self-paced video course, regardless of your knowledge level. These will generally measure your knowledge at the start of the course to ensure you aren’t bored with concepts you already know nor overwhelmed at the beginning with unfamiliar ideas. You’ll likely need some additional materials, however, as it can be easy to miss some ideas when watching videos.

There’s an official Cisco Certification Guide available in ebook and hardcopy forms which many argue to be the best study guide available. It’s also impossible to replace hands-on experience through any number of study guides or lab courses. Luckily, modern simulation tools like GNS3 can let you practice the majority of performance-based content you’ll see on the exam.

Practice tests

To get a better idea of what the real exam will be like, you’ll need to take some practice tests. While no practice test can show the same questions that will appear on the current exam, there are many tutoring packages out there that include a CCNA practice test with real questions from past exams. These questions are obtained directly from Cisco and Pearson and can give you a good idea as to the structure of the exam. If you’re able to complete these in the allotted time, you should stand a better chance at the real thing.

Additional preparation

No matter how you decide to prepare for the exam, you’ll likely be doing some combination of self-study and seeking outside help. External training options like expert boot camps and live courses may be just what you need if you require a more personal touch. These options generally include several hours of live instruction, and boot camps will let you schedule appointments with an expert instructor.

The real key is that you need to understand your own learning style and pace, something you’ll hopefully have good experience with from previous classwork. Luckily, you can have a combination of everything you think will work for you before you attempt your exam.

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Tech

5 Tech Jobs Guaranteed to Last

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With the rise of automation, not to mention artificial intelligence, the future of tech jobs from a human perspective can be a little uncertain. That being said, there are certain jobs in the tech sector that will not be going away, not until the machines rise up that is.

1. Database Administrator

DBAs (database administrators) take care of a company’s data. They make sure that their databases run efficiently and that they are secure from people that shouldn’t have access. A DBA will also be responsible for organising that data and storing it effectively. This role does generally require a degree in MIS (Management Information Systems) or in a related field.

Database administrators also need to have an understanding of database languages, the most common of which is SQL (Structured Query Language). Whichever programming language a company may use, the database administrator will have to be able to navigate it effectively.

2. Software Developer

The creatives behind a computer program are called software developers. Some will create applications, such as circuit board software, for example, while others will build systems. Software developers will usually work alongside computer programmers.

A bachelor’s degree in computer science is generally required of a software developer, that or in software engineering or another related field. In some cases, a degree in mathematics is acceptable too.

In addition to the above, a traditional academic education is not necessarily required due to ‘online coding boot camps’ that are often available free of charge.

 3. Web Developer

Developers that specialise in web applications will use various programming languages in order to create online software to client specifications. A web developer will normally be proficient in the use of multiple programming languages as well as operating systems.

An employer will look for computer-related education as well as relevant experience in the field. With these skills being in high demand, formal degrees are not usually required.

4. Computer Systems Analysts

A computer systems analyst is responsible for investigating an organisation’s systems and procedures. Following this, they will revamp or design these to help a company operate more efficiently. An analyst needs to have an understanding of both IT and business needs and their limitations. Responsibilities include liaising with managers to determine their IT related needs.

The majority of systems analysts have a bachelor’s degree in a computer related field, but they may also be required to have a business background.

5. Mobile Application Developers

Mobile application developers are responsible for creating or adapting existing applications for use on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Video game studios, advertising companies and marketing companies recognise that mobile is an effective content distribution channel. Mobile application developers are in demand from other sectors too such as financial institutions, government agencies and those industries that require products to help their operations run more efficiently.

Many mobile application developers will have a background in either computer science or software engineering. There are now colleges that offer degrees in mobile application development so that’s another option to look at.

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IT Security

Take These Steps And Protect Your Business From A Cybercrime

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You might have read the news story surrounding the events that happened at Mal A Largo. The prestigious club favoured by the president was recently breached by a woman who claimed she was a member. She wasn’t. When she was inside, she suggested she was there for a conference.

There was no conference taking place and the woman entered the club with multiple pieces of tech. One of which contained malware data. The president was in the club at the time and it is not currently known what the woman’s intentions were. It is however clear, that she almost succeeded.

This shouldn’t come as a massive shock. After all, recent reports have suggested that by 2021 there will be a cyber attack on a business every twenty seconds. That’s crazy and it won’t just be big businesses that are exposed either.

Indeed, experts suggest that smaller companies will be targeted because criminals won’t expect them to have the latest protection measures in place.

This leaves an important question: Is your business secure and prepared for the threat of a cyber attack?

Truthfully, the answer is probably no. But you can take steps and make changes to ensure that your business is protected.

Let’s look at some of the ways you can do this, plus here’s a quick recap on what you need to know about cyber crime and malware.

What is Malware?

You don’t need to know the history of malware but it’s kind of interesting so here’s a short summary.  Its beginnings are thought to be in 1949, with  computer scientist John von Neumann, however the first documented viruses were in the 1970s.

There was the creeper worm by Bob Thomas and in the eighties the man credited as the father of viruses, Fred Cohen really developed the computer virus as we know it today.

Not all viruses are bad, though malware is and it’s thought that a third of all computers world-wide have been infected at some time.

Hard-hitting viruses

There have been some very hard hitting computer viruses over the years including:

  • 2013 – Cyptolocker. This is one of the early ramsonware programs. Ramsonware in itself is interesting insofar as it denies the user access to their computer with threats to publish the users’ data unless a ransom is paid.
  • 2014 – Backoff. Known for hitting the Point of Sale (POS) machines to steal credit card data.
  • 2016 – Cerber. One of the most infective viruses according to Microsoft.
  • 2017 – WannaCry Ransomware. Appropriately named as many companies attacked by it did ‘want to cry’.

Source – a brief history of malware

What is Cybercrime?

Simply put, cybercrime is the term given to describe any criminal activity online, i.e. uses the Internet. It’s far-reaching, insofar as it includes everything from ramsonware and other viruses, to hacking, phishing and spamming.

So, what can you do to make sure your business is protected?

Installed And Up To Date

It’s important to make sure that you are installing anti-virus software. Once it is installed, make sure that you are updating it regularly. Many people think that once you have installed anti-virus software on your tech, your issues are over. This just isn’t the case. Indeed, it’s instead possible and even likely that you fall behind on updates and suddenly there’s basically no protection for your business.

This is usually because people are relying on free antivirus software. Free software is better than nothing, but it’s definitely not the ideal solution. If you want the highest level of protection, then you need to invest in the best software on the market. This isn’t free but it does provide fantastic value for your company.

Choose Strong Passwords

Passwords are incredibly dangerous if they are easy to guess or if they include information that people could quickly access. As such, there should be no personal information used to create your passwords. It should be a random string of numbers and letters. These are almost impossible to guess or hack and as such will keep your sensitive data secure.

The Latest Tech

Do make sure that you are investing in the latest technology and equipment. The latest tech will usually have preventive measures in place to ensure that software is protected. Particularly if they are running the latest programs and systems.

You should be careful of methods for saving money as well such as BYOD initiatives. While this can cut costs down, you can’t guarantee that the devices that employees are as secure as they need to be. Investing in the latest technology yourself will always be the best option.

We hope this helps you understand how to secure your business from a potential cybercrime.

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Innovation

How Is AI Being Used In Business?

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Artificial Intelligence is bandied around the office, and there’s plenty of information online but is your business using it and if not yet, where could it be using it, sometime soon?

Machine Learning, Biometrics, and Robotic Process Automation are in use right now and growing in popularity, not just with the big businesses but also startups, SMEs and everything in between.

Adext’s report includes 19 AI Technologies to look for in 2019 and it’s well worth a read. In this article, we consider three types that mainstream business can no longer live without.

Listed in no particular order, you may have heard of these AL technologies, but you’re not aware of what they do, or how businesses use them.

Where Business Is Using AI

Digital marketing & advertising, research and administration, are key areas of business that are seeing massive change with AI, and specifically these AI techs: RPA, Biometrics and ML.

Machine Learning

A branch of AI, this tech has been around for a while.

Machine Learning (ML) develops techniques so computers can automatically learn and improve from experience. It’s used right now to predict and classify data; hence it’s been a game changer for advertising platforms like Google Ads.

Analysis of vast quantities of data, in quick smart time, all the while delivering accuracy has relieved many of us from jobs that involving mundane, repetitive tasks.

ML gets its data from APIs, algorithms, of course, other machines as well as big data tools; to name a few sources; but not all machine learning algorithms are the same.

Machine learning algorithms:

  • Supervised – can apply what’s been learned to new data
  • Unsupervised – explores data and describes hidden structures within datasets
  • Semi-supervised – somewhere between the two mentioned above
  • Reinforcement – allows software and machines to pick the optimum response within specific context to improve performance.

More detail found here: ML algorithms definitions

There are many platforms available now, and you’ll know many of the companies in this space: Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and a few you may not know that well including Adext, and Skytree.

Biometrics

This AL tech is focused on improving communication and understanding between us and machines. It uses measurements and analyses human behaviour. Interactions, such as touch, speech, images and even body language are in its sights.

Just like ML, this is a big field of AI with huge potential, particularly in the area of market research.

Robotic Process Automation

Think AI workers, that’s this technology. Robotic process automation (RPA) is another area of AI that’s a game changer for employment, and many of the jobs we used to do, still do and will no longer do. Already RPA has found its way into many industries, and AI workers (machines) have replaced humans in the workforce.

The prosaic and repetitive tasks, humans used to do, are now done in part or in full by machines. In areas of the business such as accounting, administration, customer support and help desks but also on websites, AI has found its place.

Chat Bot

The ‘chatbot’ is now ubiquitous on websites for products and services and online sales support. Here is a good read on how using a chatbot could benefit business and change the customer experience.

Live Chat is a more human form of the chatbot, and when you’ve experienced it, as a customer, your level of appreciation goes up a notch or two.

There is a flip side for businesses using live chat and chatbot tech. Customers now used to it will expect your business to delivery immediacy and efficiency every time.

With RPA, businesses see lots of upsides, with reduced overheads and improve productivity.

There have been some clever marketing for it, mainly to dissuade negative reaction from workers fearful of job displacement. Business and workers are encouraged to see it as a solution that promotes better use of human workers; though new roles that are infinitely more interesting, and fulfilling, while also doing wonders to the company’s bottom line.

Summary

AI is everywhere and depending on how you view your business, career and life; the future is either exhilarating or maybe a bit scary.

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