What is the internet of things?

There are now computers in everything, or put another way, everything is now a computer. That’s how cybersecurity expert Bruce Schneier described the internet of things (IoT) at a House hearing last year following a major cyberattack on DNS provider Dyn.

As Schneier further explained in the same hearing, a phone is a computer that makes phone calls; a refrigerator is a computer that keeps things cold; an ATM machine is a computer with money inside; a car is not a mechanical device with computers, but a computer with four wheels and an engine.

And all of those computers are connected to the internet, thus the name internet of things. In a nutshell, the internet of things is the world wide web reaching beyond the virtual world of desktop and laptop computers and becoming integrated into the physical world. Continue reading

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What is machine learning?

This article is part of Demystifying AI, a series of posts that (try) to disambiguate the jargon and myths surrounding AI.

I was nine years old when I had my first taste of programming, and fell in love with the art (yes, I believe programming is as much art as it is science). I quickly became fascinated with how I could control the flow of my programs by setting logical rules and conditions, if…else statements, switches, loops and more.

In later years, I learned to remove clutter from my code by creating modules and abstracting pieces of code into functions and classes. I enhanced my software development skills with object oriented analysis and design (OOA/D). I learned code reuse and design patterns. I learned to express my program in UML charts and diagrams. And I learned to apply those principles in nearly a dozen programming languages.

But the rule of thumb of programming remained the same: Defining the rules and logic. The rest were just tricks that helped facilitate the implementation and maintenance of those rules. Continue reading

What is net neutrality?

Should it make a difference for your Internet Service Provider whether you’re browsing your timeline on Facebook, reading your emails in Gmail, or reading the latest post on TechTalks? According to net neutrality, it shouldn’t.

Net neutrality is the principle that rules ISPs should treat all internet traffic equally and avoid playing favorites, throttling, blocking or providing paid prioritizations. What does that all mean? We’ll get there in a minute.

In the past years, as the internet has transformed from being a luxury to a vital commodity, net neutrality, which is also referred to as “open internet” and “internet freedom,” has become a thorny issue in the U.S. The debate has pitted several broadband and telecom giants such as AT&T and Comcast against huge content corporations such as Google and Facebook.

While the battle is currently being played out in the U.S., the outcome can set a precedent that will propagate to other countries and regions. Here’s what you need to know and why you should care. Continue reading

What’s the difference between VR, AR and MR?

 

Are we living in a simulation? This laughed-at notion is becoming increasingly acceptable as technological advances are blurring the boundaries between reality and illusion. There is now not one but three different flavors of synthetic reality: Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR).

But there’s a lot of confusion about what each version of reality is. This is something that is akin to evolving technologies. For instance, after decades, there’s still debate over what is artificial intelligence (AI). Continue reading

What is Narrow, General and Super Artificial Intelligence

This article is part of Demystifying AI, a series of posts that (try) to disambiguate the jargon and myths surrounding AI.

If you’re living on this planet, you probably hear a lot about Artificial Intelligence these days. It’s conquering every industry and domain, performing tasks more efficiently than humans, will put humans out of work, and may one day force humans into slavery. You might have also heard about narrow, general and super artificial intelligence, or about machine learning, deep learning, reinforced learning, supervised and unsupervised learning, neural networks, Bayesian networks and a whole lot of other confusing terms.

That’s a lot of jargon to cover in one post, and we’ll leave the learning stuff for another day. In this post, we’ll try to define what AI is (and isn’t maybe) and what are the three main known flavors of AI. Continue reading

What is phishing and spear phishing?

One of the most basic practices every cybersecurity guide will recommend is not to click on links and attachments contained in emails coming from unknown sources, and to think twice even if they come from seemingly trustworthy sources.

You think it’s unnecessary caution? Ask John Podesta, chairman of Hillary Clinton’s presidential elections campaign. This is exactly how he (or the operator of his email account) gave away his accounts credentials to hackers. The breach led to a series of damaging and embarrassing leaks which might have cost his boss her chance of becoming president. Continue reading

What is encryption?

The main takeaway from the buildup of developments in the cybersecurity landscape is that privacy is becoming a commodity. The CIA is spying on your phone. Hackers are breaking into your home. Your documents, emails, messages, can be intercepted. And Congress is empowering ISPs to pry into your communications.

Long story short, nothing remains secret.

Under such circumstances, encryption becomes your best friend, your last line of defense in protecting your information. Continue reading