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To what extent have advancements been made in regards to data storage security affecting both everyday users, and business enterprises?
Data storage is a concept that has been around since information was able to be written down. Data storage has been defined by the current level of technology available at the time, with early data storage being simple folders that contained papers with information, to modern hard drives and USBs to store digital data, to concept future data storage such as storing data in DNA. But with the rise of digital storage being alongside the rise of the internet, computers faced the problem of securing the data which was stored on them. Hence the creation of an industry, which revolved around the protection of data both on the device, and when exposed to the internet. But how have these advancements affected both everyday consumers and businesses?
What is a data storage device?
Data storage is the concept of being able to store data. There are many different ways of fulfilling this, and these will always change with the current technology. Modern technology uses a wide variety of different data storage devices for different uses. Hard Drives, Solid State Drives and USBs can be utilised for general data storage, such as storing pictures, files, videos and just about anything that can be used on a computer.
A Hard Disk Drive (HDD) is one of the most common and widely available data storage device, which functions as an average data storage device. It contains a magnetic metal disk, known as a platter which is used to store data, through the use of the read/write arm. When in use, the platter will spin anywhere from 3600 RPM to 10000RPM. The read/write arm will then magnetise the tip, which will write binary 0s and 1s to each sector that is allocated on the platter. Each sector on the platter is also contained in a track, which run the whole way around the disk.
An example of a platter, with a track shown in yellow, and a sector shown in blue.
A Solid State Drive (SSD), named due to its lack of moving parts unlike a Hard Drive, has the same function as a Hard Drive, to store data, but the way this is done is vastly different. An SSD uses a type of technology known as flash memory which is utilised in RAM. Unlike RAM, the data stored on an SSD is not lost when the device is powered down, allowing long term storage of data. Unlike a HDDs use of physical disks, an SSD utilises grids of electrical cells to send and receive data. Each grid is grouped with other grids into “pages”, which are used to store the data. Pages are also grouped together with other pages into a “block”.(MakeUseOf, 2018) The information is then written into these blank blocks and stored until needed. Due to the lack of moving parts, an SSD will tend to be much faster than a HDD.
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Although RAM is a type of data storage, it is not utilised the same as Hard Drives or USBs by the device. When the device is in use, it uses the RAM to stores data related to the programs and processes that are actively running.(MakeUseOf, 2018) The RAM functions using the same technology as SSDs, utilising flash memory, but once the device that the RAM is being used for is turned off, any data that was stored in the RAM will be instantly lost. This tends not to be a problem, as the information stored only pertains to programs being run, and those will get closed regardless as the devices turns off.
With all these different types of data storage devices, all being connected through their device to the internet, this leads computers to a massive vulnerability, hacking. But these can be stopped with data security software.
What potentially dangerous things can data security programs protect its users from?
When using the internet, there are a wide variety of helpful and useful websites or programs. But in-between, and sometimes hidden inside these are malicious pieces of software or code that were made with different intentions, but almost always bad intentions. From stealing credit card details, to just bricking a device, these programs can do a wide variety of damage. The term for a piece of malicious code is malware, but malware in itself can take many different forms. The six most common types of malware are Viruses, Adware, Spyware, Worms, Trojans and Ransomware, with each having its own method of infecting a device, and different capabilities once on an infected device.
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A virus, which is one of the most common out of the six, is a contagious piece of code that will run when on an infected device and will spread itself throughout other programs on the infected device. The code that the virus will run will always depend on the virus itself, and could run something as harmless as a popup window every 30 minutes saying hello, to slowly deleting every file written on the device, or stealing all data on the device, such as passwords or bank details.
Adware is a software, with its sole purpose to be generating revenue for the creator. Depending on the severity of the adware, it will periodically force advertisements onto the infected devices screen, based on previous search history of the user of the device.
Spyware spies on the user of the device which has been infected. It will gather information on search history, system specifications, or keystrokes, depending on the type of spyware, without the users consent, and will send the information back to the creator. While some information isn’t highly important, such as system specifications, other information such as keystrokes, can include passwords or bank details, and would allow the creator to then gain further access to the device, or to banking accounts or other online accounts.
Worms are a type of malware which replicates itself, and infects other computers through the host computer. As the worm replicates, more and more data is “eaten up” by the
What is data security, and what forms does it come in?
Forcepoint, a company that works heavily with data security software, gives a great explanation of what data security is. They stated, “Data security is a set of standards and technologies that protect data from intentional or accidental destruction, modification or disclosure. Data security can be applied using a range of techniques and technologies, including administrative controls, physical security, logical controls, organizational standards, and other safeguarding techniques that limit access to unauthorized or malicious users or processes.”(Forcepoint, 2018) These technologies and techniques take a wide variety of different appearances, with software such as anti-viruses, malware protection, to simple techniques people can utilise such as not disclosing important information on websites not encrypted with the HTTPS protocol. An anti-virus is used to protect a computer from directed attacks with malware and tojans.
- Brain, M. (2000). How Hard Disks Work?. [online] HowStuffWorks.com. Available at: https://computer.howstuffworks.com/hard-disk.htm
- Ontrack (2019). How do hard drives work?. [online] Ontrack.com. Available at: https://www.ontrack.com/uk/hard-drives/
- MakeUseOf. (2018). How Do Solid-State Drives Work?. [online] Available at: https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/solidstate-drives-work-makeuseof-explains/
- Hruska, J. (2019). How Do SSDs Work? – ExtremeTech. [online] ExtremeTech. Available at: https://www.extremetech.com/extreme/210492-extremetech-explains-how-do-ssds-work
- Forcepoint. (2018). What is Data Security?. [online] Available at: https://www.forcepoint.com/cyber-edu/data-security
- Comodo Antivirus Blogs | Anti-Virus Software Updates. (2018). Malware vs Viruses: What’s the Difference? – Comodo Antivirus Blogs | Anti-Virus Software Updates. [online] Available at: https://antivirus.comodo.com/blog/malware-vs-viruses-whats-difference/
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