VPN For Beginners!

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Exploring CompTIA’s Additional Professional Certs Cyber Security For All

Website: apetech.me/social Voicemail: https://anchor.fm/apetech/message Email: letschat@apetech.me Twitter: @apetechda TikTok: @apetechda Show Notes https://apetech.blog/2021/10/17/comptias-additional-professional-certs/ — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/apetech/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/apetech/support
  1. Exploring CompTIA’s Additional Professional Certs
  2. Exploring CompTIA's Cybersecurity Certifications
  3. Exploring CompTIA's Infrastructure Certifications
  4. CompTia Core Certifications
  5. Interview with John Lunn Azure Cloud Expert

Introduction

Today we are talking about Virtual Private Networks or most commonly known as VPN.

VPN’s are a huge topic, so here’s what we are going to be discussing.  First, we’ll define a VPN and we’ll talk about the pros and then the cons.  We’ll look at how you can get a VPN and compare some of the more common options available. Finally, we’ll discuss why you should think about using a VPN.

Virtual Private Networks (VPN)

So, what exactly is a VPN?  A VPN is a virtual private network which basically means all of your internet traffic, whether you are doing online banking, using social media, or playing video games, all of that traffic becomes encrypted.  Imagine a tunnel, a secure tunnel where all of your internet traffic flows through.  This tunnel protects your internet traffic, and specifically sensitive information such as your banking information, social security numbers, and anything else you want to keep secure.  The VPN will make it so that anyone snooping around your network can’t see any of it. Companies or individuals that want to maximize their online safety tend to rely on VPN’s to hide and protect their data.  I think VPN’s are pretty cool.  I’ve used them before in the past and next, let’s discuss some pros and cons when it comes to using a VPN.  

Pros:

A VPN can keep you and your data safe when using the internet.  A VPN can also allow you to unlock content that is blocked to your region because you can basically be anywhere in the world.  A VPN keeps you anonymous as you can specify a different location to be online.  You can also save some money because websites that track your IP address will not be able to see your real IP.  This is perfect for websites with paywalls or airlines that like to increase prices on return visitors.  Some anti-virus service providers now offer VPN’s as part of their yearly payment.

Cons:

Not all things are glorious with VPN’s.  While they are safer, they are not 100% immune to cyber attacks.  Just this week, hackers started exploiting a zero-day bug on Pulse Secure VPN which allows hackers to bypass 2FA and breach defense contractors.  Some companies also block the use of certain VPN’s.  This means that you might not be able to access those services if using a VPN on the blocked list.  Some VPN’s are difficult to configure and might require some research and finer tweaking to get just right.  

How to Get Your Personal VPN?

Now that you know what VPN’s are and a few pro’s and con’s, let’s talk about how you can go about acquiring a VPN for personal use.  If you’ve been on YouTube recently, your favorite tech YouTuber might have mentioned NordVPN.  Nord has been actively trying to get folks to use their VPN service and even provide a 30 trial. I’m not sponsored by NordVPN yet, but feel free to check out any VPN service that your favorite tech YouTuber might be promoting.  Opera browser, an open source browser, also offers built in VPN right in the browser.  The VPN is free and you are not limited by how much or how long you can use the VPN service.  Finally, if you have Norton Antivirus and you have the Standard subscription or higher, you can get smart VPN through them.  Norton also offers other services as part of their standard package that go beyond just a virus scanner service.  Mcafee also provides you with secure VPN on all their subscription packages. If you do not want the total protection package, they also offer a standalone VPN service for a couple dollars a month.  As you can see, there are many different ways of getting a VPN service.  Do your research to see what works for you and your specific needs.  

Why Do You Need a VPN?

But, when do you need to use a VPN service?  If you are at home, you’ve probably never worried about using a VPN.  Unless you need to do something really private, your home network is usually private enough.  But, I can think of two major reasons why you would want to use a VPN.  First, if you are not at home, and you are on a public WiFi such as at a hotel or a coffee shop, you should really consider using a VPN then.  Public WiFi’s are prone to man in the middle attacks which could not only jeopardize your privacy, but also your data.  The next reason would be to bypass tracking on websites.  So, if you are not sure you want to make that trip and you are just window shopping, using that VPN is going to give you that peace of mind knowing that the website cannot track you.  I’m sure there are other good applications, but for most folks, these are the two that I think would apply to you.  If you are a business owner however, you might want to have all your employees VPN into your business network to ensure all traffic is encrypted regardless of where an employee might be connecting from. At work, your IT department can keep an eye out on your network for anomalies or intrusions. When your employees are working from home, you have no idea what is going on in their networks. As a peace of mind gesture, you should enable VPN for your employees. 

There you have it.  Your VPN 101 guide.  I hope you take my advice here and go protect yourself.  If you really want to make sure your internet traffic is protected, using a VPN is one of the better things you can do.  VPN’s also slow down your internet connection.  If you are wanting to do things quickly online, just know that things will slow down quite a bit when using a VPN.  

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you check out my podcast. I have dozens of cybersecurity related posts published and I really think you’ll find them useful. Make sure you follow me on social media as well! Help me grow this blog into a thriving place where anyone can come and learn about cybersecurity!!!

https://apetech.me/social

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Data Breach 101 – Everything You Need to Know.

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Exploring CompTIA’s Additional Professional Certs Cyber Security For All

Website: apetech.me/social Voicemail: https://anchor.fm/apetech/message Email: letschat@apetech.me Twitter: @apetechda TikTok: @apetechda Show Notes https://apetech.blog/2021/10/17/comptias-additional-professional-certs/ — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/apetech/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/apetech/support
  1. Exploring CompTIA’s Additional Professional Certs
  2. Exploring CompTIA's Cybersecurity Certifications
  3. Exploring CompTIA's Infrastructure Certifications

Introduction

Today we are going to be talking about data breaches?

Data breaches, we have all probably heard about them before in the news.  There have been some very significant breaches like the data breaches that occurred to Yahoo and Target.  These data breaches have cost millions of dollars.  They have exposed sensitive customer data such as emails, phone numbers, addresses, and in some severe cases, social security numbers, passport numbers, passwords and credit card information.  No data breach is ever a good one.  Big players such as Verizon, Sony, and even the U.S. Government have also been hit with major data breaches in the past decade.  But if data breaches are so bad, why do they keep happening and most importantly, how do they impact you?  Let’s take a deep dive into this topic and learn about data breaches and what you can do to protect yourself.

Data Breaches – A Primer

Let’s start off with defining a data breach.  A data breach is an incident that exposes confidential or protected information.  Data breaches could be intentional or accidental.  There have been instances where employees “accidentally” shared information on the internet without knowing they were doing it.  But most cases of data breaches are usually intentional and involve a hacker trying to obtain digital records that a company may be in possession of.  As you can see, a data breach can have a huge potential to inflict serious damage, not only on the company being hacked, but to the individuals whose private information gets leaked out on the internet.

At this point, you may be asking yourself, why do they continue to happen?  If you’ve been listening to my podcast (linked in this post) for a while now, then you know that there is no single solution in cybersecurity that will protect you and your business.  Hackers are clever and the threats change every day.  As more and more companies go digital (and thanks to the pandemic, many have had to do it in record time), hackers have even more companies to choose from.  Companies invest millions of dollars in protecting themselves from hackers.  But, not all companies have the luxury of spending all their money on cybersecurity.  Other companies do not believe it can happen to them, so they do the bare minimum to protect themselves.  Some companies know they must protect themselves, but hackers still manage to get in.  It almost seems like the fight against hackers is inevitable and people should just give up trying to stay safe. But, even though the war will never end, it is important to remain vigilant.  

There are so many things a company can do to lower their chances of getting hacked.  It requires two things for them to be more effective.  One, they need to know the threats that are out there.  By reading this post or listening to my podcast, you are taking a good first step!  Two, you actually need to implement cybersecurity best practices.  It’s not enough to read about them, you actually have to do the work.  And data breaches don’t just happen to businesses.  It can happen to you personally.  Your personal cloud, banking, and school accounts can be hacked if you are not careful.

How to Minimize a Data Breach

First thing you can do to protect yourself and your business is to train your people.  If someone has admin rights to a system, they should be up to date with all the latest social engineering tactics.  Next up, invest in some physical security.  Can anyone physically walk into your building and gain access to servers?  This is much easier now with so many using the cloud, but if you are still using on premise servers, how protected are they?  Same things for folks at home.  How easy is it for someone to get to your router?  Is your computer always on?  No lock screen?  How easy is it for someone to come in and get physical access to your hard drive? 

I can’t stress this enough, but every human being on this planet needs to be better trained on social engineering.  So many attacks happen because a person falls for a trick.  This trick will cause them to expose their confidential information such as their usernames and password.  They might also be tricked into downloading and installing something on their computers.  This malicious code could be spyware, keyloggers, and even ransomware.  So many breaches start because someone opens the door of opportunity for hackers.  What are you doing to protect yourself?  There are many more things you can do to protect yourself, but I believe if you invest in what I just spoke about, you can go a long way.  

Once a data breach happens, what happens to your information?  We all hear about it in the news, but has anyone actually seen first hand what can happen if their data gets exposed?  

What Happens to Exposed Data?

First, your data is often sold in the dark web.  This is a topic for a future episode, but just know it’s like a black market for just about anything.  Someone wanting to buy a valid credit card number can go on there and just buy one from someone that has millions.  They get these millions of card numbers from data breaches.  Next, now that all your information is out there, it is much easier to impersonate someone.  They have your number, social security, address, phone number, pretty much everything and anything that makes you unique.  Impersonating someone becomes trivial at that point.  

You’d think that with so many data breaches that have occurred, we would have figured out a system to not only protect our information better, but to also prevent others from impersonating one another.  I’m curious to see how the world of AI starts influencing this world.  Maybe it will be harder for hackers to break into systems because AI can more easily detect anomalies.  Maybe we develop a new digital identification for each individual using the blockchain.  If you want me to explore some of these areas, please feel free to let me know.  I think they are interesting and might be worth discussing in the future.

There you have it.  Your data breach 101 guide.  I hope you take my advice here and go protect yourself.  I know that I am constantly reviewing my accounts and updating passwords and enabling 2FA.  If you enjoyed this post, make sure you check out my podcast. I have dozens of cybersecurity related posts published and I really think you’ll find them useful. Make sure you follow me on social media as well! Help me grow this blog into a thriving place where anyone can come and learn about cybersecurity!!!

https://apetech.me/social

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Apetech Weekly (4/12 – 4/19) Digest – TLDR;

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I quit my job a couple weeks ago. I have been super busy building out 18 sources of income and I wanted to share with you some of the things I created this week. I’m posting things daily and I get it, you are busy. But here’s everything that happened this past week in case you missed it.

Podcast

Goal is to publish two episodes a week. This week I present:

  • Can your iCloud Account Be Hacked?
  • Will a Virus Scanner Keep You Safe Online?

Exploring CompTIA’s Additional Professional Certs Cyber Security For All

Website: apetech.me/social Voicemail: https://anchor.fm/apetech/message Email: letschat@apetech.me Twitter: @apetechda TikTok: @apetechda Show Notes https://apetech.blog/2021/10/17/comptias-additional-professional-certs/ — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/apetech/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/apetech/support
  1. Exploring CompTIA’s Additional Professional Certs
  2. Exploring CompTIA's Cybersecurity Certifications
  3. Exploring CompTIA's Infrastructure Certifications
  4. CompTia Core Certifications
  5. Interview with John Lunn Azure Cloud Expert

Personal Blog

As I’m building out my business, I share some of the things I’m interested in or my lessons learned. Follow along with this week’s posts.

Technical Blog

I’m trying to improve my technical writing. Here are my posts from this week:

TikTok

I’m posting a lot of videos on TikTok. My growth has been exponential and here are some of my better performing videos from this past week.

Live Stream

Streaming daily from 12 – 1 PM PST. Check out my streaming link to watch all the clips from last week!

https://twitch.tv/apetechda

Getting Started with Scratch 3.0

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What is Scratch?

Scratch is a programming language developed by the folks over at MIT. It is a great way to introduce students into computer programming. Scratch uses a graphical interface which makes it fun and simple to learn real programming concepts. The platform is well documented and there are hundreds of tutorials showcasing all the different things you can do in Scratch.

Audience:

Scratch is intended to be easy enough for anyone of any age to pick up. Anyone wanting to learn how to program can easily create an account and start learning how to code. Coding is such a powerful skill to learn, and for many software engineers, their first line of code is written in Scratch.

Scratch is ideal for the following individuals:

  • Parents
  • Educators
  • Students

Anyone can learn how to code. This tutorial is going to walk you through all the steps required to get your very own Scratch account.

What You Need Before Getting Started:

  • Working computer with internet access.
  • A parent or adult, if under the age of 13.

What you’ll learn:

How to create your personal Scratch Account.

Scratch 3.0 Account Creation

1. Go to Scratch.mit.edu to create your account.

2. Click on Join Scratch or Join.

3. Provide a Username and Password.

Click Next to go to the next page.

4. Provide the Country you live in.

5. Provide your birth month and year.

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6. Provide your Gender.

7. Finally, provide your email.

Welcome to Scratch!

And that’s it. you are now ready for the next part which is to create your first Scratch project!

For a full video tutorial, please check out our video below! Please consider subscribing and liking our video!! Don’t forget to share with your friends and family!

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Observe, Help and Report using micro:bit classroom

micro:bit

Today we are going to look into the Student code page and what it provides for the teacher/instructor hosting the micro:bit classroom. In this section you will be able to see all your student’s work in almost real time. What does it mean to look at the work “near real time?” Well this means you will be able to see your students making changes to their code AS they code.

 By clicking on the student’s name you will be able to see their progress. As you can see in the image above, Alex’s code is displayed in the area next to the list of students. The student whose code is being displayed is shown in solid magenta. Students that are active/online or finished have a green outline. Student who have submitted their work will also display a face emoji that represents how satisfied they were with the lessons. Students that are offline will have a gray outline and will display Offline under their name.

Please make sure to read the two paragraphs in the window.

Using the edit icon next to the student’s name gives you the ability to change the status of a student’s work from In progress to Finished or the other way around. This is helpful if you find out that the student still has some work that needs to be done. This icon also allows you to delete duplicates or students that have left the classroom all together. The image above will appear when the edit icon is clicked.

Now lets look into what the button Share student code offers for teachers. This button will allow you to share the code that is currently being viewed with any other student or yourself. This is primarily helpful if you have students working in groups or a student needs help with their code. I recommend you make a student session of your own, this way you can help students with code without having to change the original code you provide them.

The pop up window will allow you to select all the students or an individual student from the drop down that you will like to share the code with. Then simply just click on Send code.

Finally lets look into the big black button that says Download report for all students as Word document. A .docx Word file will be downloaded to your computer. It will be named like this: 20210224-1012-microbit-classroom-report.docx, where the number is “yearmonthdate – time”. You can rename this file and store it in another location if you want. This file can be opened with Microsoft Word Office or with Google docs.

So what is inside the file. Let go ahead and take a closer look.

Inside the document, you see the Activity name, the date the document was saved, and the number of students enrolled. You will also get the list of students that are taking the class, the status of attendance for that day for when the file was saved, and the status of their work. The names are links that link to the student’s specific code section.

If you scroll down to the next section, the teacher’s provided code will be shown. This is useful to show others what you had provided the students.

Note: the code may not appear right under the student’s information. It will be right after the student’s information with a lot of white space above.

The next pages will show the student’s name and code for the specific project. Depending on the size of your class the number of pages will be different. This shows how the students took the original code provided to them and what they modified it to make their own code.

With the tools provided, the teacher can observe what the students are doing and provide feedback whenever a student needs help. The details provided also show you how to generate a report that can be used for parent/teacher conference, or to show to other administrations, or simply for you to determine who needs more guidance and who needs to be challenge.

For a video tutorial of this post, please reference the video below. If you haven’t subscribed to your YouTube channel, please feel free to do so as well. Additionally, if you find value in our content, please share with your teacher friends or anyone else you think might be interested in learning more about micro:bit. Thanks and see you in the next post!

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Cyber Security Fundamentals

Introduction

This is the first article of our new getting started with cyber security fundamentals.  If you haven’t read my introduction post, you’ll want to go read that one first so you can get the big picture of what I’m trying to create here.  But to the TL;DR, I’m going back to the basics and will be showing you how to get started with cyber security in your life.  These posts will be geared towards 3 different audiences so you’ll want to find the section that is relevant to you.  Each post will have an introduction of the topic, answer a few questions, look at what’s happening in the news today, and then deep dive into specific steps or actions you can take.  The goal is to raise awareness, provide information, and help people on their cyber security journey. . . wherever that may be. 

What is Information Security / Cyber Security

There is a clear distinction between information security and cyber security.  Most folks usually bucket the two together, but in general, there are some differences between the two.  Information security, as the name implies, is simply securing information.  Information can be in many forms but most recently, it has evolved into a digital format.  But information security also includes protecting physical information that someone may have such as tax returns, accounting books, and any information physically written down.  Most of this information is moving to a digital format which is where cyber security starts to play an important role.

Cyber security is protecting digital assets against digital attacks.  This can usually be a lot more challenging as specific skill sets are required to protect against these attacks.  Failure to protect your information from cyber attacks will usually yield in some entity gaining unauthorized access to your digital information. 

Things that you should be worried about protecting

You ideally want to protect two different types of assets when dealing with security.  Data is probably the most important asset you want to protect.  As discussed in the previous section, data is created every day and whether it’s physical or digital, you want to take precautions to protect that data.  The value of data varies from person to person.  If you are a business owner, data is perhaps the most valuable thing you have.  This data can be customer records, inventory records, or billing information.  This data is of extreme value because without it, your business might not function.  For every day users of the internet, data might not have the same monetary value, but data should still be protected.  You’d want to know that your bank account information, pictures, and videos are all safe and kept away from unauthorized people.  And finally for students, data might be the least of your worries right now.  But, this is why I’m creating these posts.  As a student, you have a unique opportunity to gain a new appreciation for the data you create.  As all mediums of information go digital, students of all ages should be aware of the dangers of not protecting data.  Now is the time for you to increase your awareness and appreciation of how important it is to take protecting data seriously!

Another thing you want to protect are your resources.  These are usually going to be physical resources such as your computer, router, printers, etc.  These items are gateways to your digital data and thus, you should take every precaution you can to protect your resources.  

Why should you care about cyber security

Given the number of attacks and information leaks that have happened over the last few years, I’d say that more people need to care about information and cyber security.  Every person on the internet should be aware of the implications of utilizing the internet.  Failure to appreciate the dangers causes collateral damage to so many businesses.  As a business owner, you want to train your employees to be more aware of their responsibilities in handling your digital data.  As a user of the internet, you need to be aware that your actions you take while using the internet can have monetary impact to your employer or to you personally.  As students, not taking this stuff seriously will create bad habits in the future that are just going to allow this vicious cycle to repeat.  

We all need to do better.  There are simply too many stories about how hackers broke into companies, stole data, or held data up for ransom.  We can all do our part to be more aware of these dangers and actually make conscious decisions when using the internet.  We all play a part in making the internet a safer place and it starts by taking information and cyber security more seriously.  

What’s the cost if you ignore it? 

Depending on who you are and how much you rely on data to make money, ignoring information and cyber security can have various costs for you.  If you are a business owner, the highest cost can be losing your entire business.  This can come because customers lose confidence, your reputation is compromised, or because all your money goes away.  For every day users of the internet, the costs aren’t as high, but still in some cases it can involve getting your identity stolen, bankruptcy, and maybe even losing your job.  For students, it probably has the lost cost.  But, again, I firmly believe that raising awareness at this level is most important to minimize the impact of attacks years from now.  

News Roundup and Discussion

For this particular article, it’s difficult to find news articles on just the topic of cyber security fundamentals.  But I’ll say this, go look up articles relating to cyber security and you’ll see why this is so important.  Perhaps you’ll be inspired to really learn this stuff and hopefully you’ll be encouraged to come back here and really invest your time and grow with me on this journey.  

Actions for Small Business Owners

Action 1: You should evaluate how much you are currently investing into information and cyber security.  If you utilize the internet to perform any kind of business transaction or interaction, you should seriously be considering updating your awareness of info and cyber security. If you haven’t given info/cyber security any thought, it’s never too late to get started.  Feel free to reach out to me and I can help you turn your ship around!

Step 2: If you currently have some security policies in place, you should review them and make sure they make sense and that they are up to date.  You might not be protecting yourself against new threats and/or your employees might need a refresher on tried and true hacking attacks such as phishing attempts and other forms of social engineering based attacks.  If you need help updating your training, feel free to reach out to me and I can help you beef up your training.  Don’t have training, you seriously need to consider introducing some basic training if you have any human being working for you or your business.

Actions for every day users of the internet

Action 1: If you work for someone, you should start exploring what you can do to help do your part.  A business’s biggest vulnerability is its human workforce.  Being mindful and aware of attacks that can have serious consequences for your employer should be something you strive to improve.  

Action 2: Look around your home and see what is important to you.  What resources should you be protecting around your house?  What data are you creating that it would be bad or cost you money to replace should it get stolen or hacked?  Take inventory of these items and start formulating a plan to protect them.

Actions for students

This is the ground floor of a very exciting future!  You should open up your curiosity and research this topic as much as you can.  Compared to any other audience member, students have the most amount of time to research and learn as much as they possibly can about this topic.  Not only will it help you be a better user of the internet, but it will open up new career opportunities.  And for those with that entrepreneurial spirit, you might get inspired to create the next big breakthrough in the cyber security world.  

Conclusion

This is just the beginning of this journey.  I am trying to start out at the very beginning so that more challenging topics in the future make sense.  My goal is that if you follow along with me, you should be able to jump into the exciting field of cyber security and be able to actively make changes and participate in the community.  By the end of this journey, you should be much more prepared to not only be smarter, but also learn the skills necessary to be a confident cyber security practitioner.  

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micro:bit Student’s Perspective

Let look into detail at what students will see when they enter the URL you provide them. Remember to provide the students with the Classroom name and PIN as well. Note that the teacher/instructor session has to be active for the students to be able to enter the classroom.

The student will enter the details provided by the teacher/instructor in the designated fields for Colour, Animal, Transport, Object and PIN. Then click on Continue.

In the next page the student will be prompted to enter their name and then click on Continue.

The micro:bit code area will appear for the student. Here the student can move, pull and connect blocks to make a program. They can test using the simulated micro:bit on the screen or download it on the actual physical micro:bit by clicking on Download. When the student is done with the project/activity thy can go ahead an click on the I’ve finished button at the top right corner.

When the student clicks on I’ve finished the student will be prompted to rate their experience with the activity. This can be use for the teacher to understand how students are fining the activities.

Finally the student will see the page above, celebrating with them their accomplishment. The can go ahead and click on Sign out.

That is it, the student portal/view is more to the point as to not confuse them. All they have to do is join with the clues/information the teacher has provided and get to creating something fun.

Full Video Tutorial:

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Apetech Weekly Digest – TLDR;

Photo by Bich Tran on Pexels.com

YouTube Videos

Blog Posts

Raspberry Pi 4 VS Raspberry Pi 400

https://apetechda.medium.com/raspberry-pi-4-vs-raspberry-pi-400-b6e766a56e49

Pomodoro With Kids

https://apetechda.medium.com/pomodoro-with-kids-1c985056ea32

Setting up Micro:bit Classroom

https://apetech.blog/2021/02/26/microbit-build-your-classroom/

Cyber Security Podcast

Exploring CompTIA’s Additional Professional Certs Cyber Security For All

Website: apetech.me/social Voicemail: https://anchor.fm/apetech/message Email: letschat@apetech.me Twitter: @apetechda TikTok: @apetechda Show Notes https://apetech.blog/2021/10/17/comptias-additional-professional-certs/ — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/apetech/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/apetech/support
  1. Exploring CompTIA’s Additional Professional Certs
  2. Exploring CompTIA's Cybersecurity Certifications
  3. Exploring CompTIA's Infrastructure Certifications
  4. CompTia Core Certifications
  5. Interview with John Lunn Azure Cloud Expert

Tik Tok

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@apetechda

So many memories. I had my first job interview at a Frys. #fyp #frys

♬ What Other People Say – Sam Fischer & Demi Lovato

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micro:bit Build Your Classroom

If you are interested in teaching your students how to code using hardware or simulated hardware, you have come to the right place. Here, we are going to show you how to get started with building out your own micro:bit classroom. This classroom is going enable you to assign projects and code to your students. You’ll then be able to monitor student progress in near real time. If you’ve been thinking about wanting to use micro:bit in your personal class, but weren’t too sure on how to get started, then this article is just for you. Not only is utilizing micro:bit in your class a great idea, but it allows you to expand the learning potential of your students. Go to micro:bit classroom – Beta to start your classroom session.

Follow the steps below to get started.

Activity Name

Give your activity a name. Name it something fun!

Choose Your Language

Choose the programing language you will like your students to use. MakeCode uses blocks and Python is using the micro:bit python code.

Determine Your Storage Preference

Select whether your will be using micro:bit’s temporary local storage or opting out. I highly recommend you opt in to use micro:bit’s temporary storage as it will try to save your session in case you lose your internet connection or something goes wrong.

Launch Classroom

When you’re done with all three steps, simply click on the dark gray button that says Launch classroom.


Instructions Page

The next page that will display is for information only. It gives you instructions on what each of the top right menu bar selections are.

By clicking on the Show me the …. it will simply highlight one of the menu options to guide you on what it is described in the box.


Using the Coding Editor

To start with some code that you can provide to your students click on Editor on the top right menu bar.

To get started, you can drag blocks that you would like your students to use. You can also write a small program and test it to make sure it works, then you can pull the blocks apart. You can add a comment by right clicking on the work area and select Add Comment. The comment area can be a place for you to provide students with instructions. When you are done providing the code blocks and instructions make sure to click on Share code with students button. This is a very important step as this is what allows your students to see the code that they will be using to get started with. You will get the window below letting you know that you have shared the code.


Utilizing the Dashboard to get students in your micro:bit classroom

Now let us go to the Dashboard menu bar selection. Click on Dashboard and this is where you will find the information to share with your students so they can join the classroom.

Let us discuss what you will see in the Dashboard. The student will need the URL, Classroom name (Color, Animal, Transport, and Object), and the PIN to join the classroom. Make sure to prove the students with the details they will need to join the classroom. The URL listed is where your students need to go to enter the classroom. Micro:bit classrooms require a two factor authentication for students to join, one of them is the Classroom name and the second is the PIN. Note that the Classroom name and PIN are automatically provided to you by micro:bit. The values are choose at random and will change if you leave the classroom. If you need to resume your session just give your students the new values and they’ll be able to rejoin your classroom. Please note that as long as you diligently save your session, your students should be able to come back with new values and pin to resume their progress. Finally the last thing you will see is the number of students that have joined the class, this is for your own records, students do not need this.


Monitoring Student Progress

The next menu bar option is Student code, basically this is where you get to see the code your students are working on.

Please look at our article, “Observe, Help and Report using micro:bit classroom“, for more information on this page.


Saving Your Classroom

The final menu option, Save classroom, allows you to save the session and your students’ work. It is important to note that as the teacher/instructor running the classroom, it is important that you save often. Saving often will make copies of the work students are working on in case something goes wrong.

The classroom session will be saved as an html file that you can open by double-clicking. It is also important to note that the teacher/instructor should maintain their session active so that students can work on their activities/projects. When the class is over and it is time to move to something else, make sure to click on Download classroom html file and then End session. End session will terminate all students activities.

In this technical article, you learned how to start your own micro:bit classroom and got an overview of what it has to offer. Follow us to continue reading on more micro:bit classroom functionality and what it has to offer. Also look forward to reading more on other STEM tools, and projects that will be coming soon.

How I Became A Cyber Security Practitioner

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Introduction:

The field of cyber security is super interesting. It’s constantly growing and evolving and there’s always something new to learn. Cyber Security is a very technical field, but I believe that the barrier to entry is less than getting into programming or hardware engineering. There are many aspects to cyber security, like everything else in life. There are those that learn the theory and utilize theory to influence others. There are those that learn the application and actually utilize their skills to positively (or sometimes negatively) impact an organization. Regardless of which direction you take, the field of cyber security is a thrilling and exciting one. I’m going to share how I got started and share some possible next steps.

How I got Started

I started my career fresh out of college in the IT field. I joined an aerospace company working through an IT rotation program. This program was designed to expose folks fresh out of college to different areas within an IT organization. My first rotation wasn’t the best. I was working with SQL data and while I learned a lot, it didn’t really inspire me to wake up every morning. My second rotation exposed me to the wonderful world of Linux and I fell in love. I didn’t know much about Linux (an operating system similar to Mac OS and Windows), but the thought of doing everything over a command line made me feel like I was hacking. I didn’t jump straight into cyber security though. I would learn about managing servers, disaster recovery plans, and maintaining a service level agreement first. I learned all these things because of work, but then I realized there was so much more I could explore. In 2015, I enrolled to Washington University in St. Louis and began my journey as a cyber security specialist.

Formal Education

I took a 6 class certificate course study at my local university. There, I learned the fundamentals of cyber security, learned how to hack, and learned everything I know today. As part of my studies there, I took courses that trained me to take official cyber security certifications such as Security+, Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), and the highly coveted Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certifications. After a year of studying, I ended up getting two out of the 3 certifications mentioned above. I didn’t pass the CISSP, mainly because I wasn’t prepared to take the exam in the new format. I waited too long and they changed thing up and I wasn’t ready for that change.

Work Education

With a couple certifications under my belt and a graduate certificate, I was ready to take on the world professionally. I applied to roles that exposed me more to the world of cyber security. I worked with more servers, scripted more, and eventually even got a security clearance. Everything was going well except I wasn’t really working on things that mattered to me. I eventually left the field to pursue something that paid me a little better but my passion for cyber security never left.

Next Steps

My first recommendation is that if you want to get into this field is check out YouTube. There are so many free resources on this topic that there’s no reason why you can’t jump in. Be curious and find information. There’s so much of it out there and if you really want to learn this stuff, there’s no reason why you can’t. Additionally, if you really do want the formal education, then check out your local community college or Udemy for affordable training. But most importantly, join a community and learn together.

In a future post, I’ll be discussing more of my journey post formal and work education. I’m 100% committed to learning how to be a great cyber security practitioner and I want to bring you along my journey.