Wednesday, 30 March 2016

5 Tasks that can be Performed on a GTB ATM

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Automated Teller Machine (ATM) was introduced to the banking sector to make banking operations and transactions easier for clients. As technology advances, more and more functionalities were added to these machines. GTBank is at the forefront of providing customers in Nigeria with improved ATM services. However ATM users are not keeping up with the technological advancement that made these services possible and lack the basic technical know-how to exploit improvements. In this post I will discuss 7 tasks that can be performed on a Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB) ATM apart from withdrawing and checking account balance.

Below is a brief summary of 7 basic tasks that can be performed on a GTBank ATM. 

Transfer of Funds to other Banks: Instead of walking into the banking hall just for the purpose of sending money to someone, you can make use of the ATM to transfer money and help reduce the long queues inside the hall. An alternative to this (if the amount to be transferred is not more than 20,000 naira) is the new GTB transfer service that can be accessed through your phone with the phone number linked with your BVN. To use this service dial *737*1*AMOUNT*NUBAN ACCOUNT NUMBER# for transfer to GTBank accounts or *737*2*AMOUNT*NUBAN ACCOUNT NUMBER# for transfers to other banks. The transaction is then completed using the last four digits of your Naira MasterCard.

Account Statement: Statement of account at a glance can be provided at the ATM. This saves you the hassle of waiting to be attended to by a customer care representative inside the banking hall.

Western Union Collection: Yes money sent to you through western union from your loved ones or business associates abroad can be received through the ATM. 

BVN Linking: Linking BVN with your phone number is needed to be able to use the phone transfer service. The good news is that this can be done on the GTB ATM too. Give it a try.

Airtime Top-up: You cannot be short of airtime when you have money in your account and a GTB ATM is close to you. All you have to do is slot in your ATM and top that phone line up with some call credit. This service is also available on phone.
Other things that can be done are card-less withdrawal, getting update on customer information, generation of pin retrieval and so on.

Like I said GTB is at the forefront of embracing new generation banking methods characterized by latest technology. It is a fact that many people don’t know that the tasks discussed above can be performed on the GTB ATM. All most people know how to do is withdraw and check account balance. Making people know about ATM services that can make their banking operations easier is what gave birth to this post. I implore readers in Nigeria to embrace them and I hope this post has been educative. Thanks for reading and keep checking back for more posts.
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Tuesday, 29 March 2016

A Dissection of Uniform Resource Locator (URL)

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The internet is accessed many times daily by even non techies, to get one or more information, upload or download files among other goals. The locations of these resources are accessed through the Uniform Resource Locators (URL). Most of the time, users of a website are not aware of the changes in URL in the address bar of their browsers as they surf it. They don’t know the exact address of a particular file or service they are using and even those that know have little or no knowledge of what it really entails. I am going to properly explain what a URL is by defining it, explaining the different parts and briefly discussing associated security problems.

A Uniform Resource Locator is a string that completely describes the location of a resource on the internet. The string may be text (registered domain name), number (IP address) or a combination of both. Typically a URL without a domain name looks like this:
Now if the website is registered with a domain name (say, the URL looks like this:
Domain names are mainly used to make the website easy to remember and more readable. The IP address is the address assigned to the machine or network hosting the resource. Domain names will be discussed in future posts.

Components of A URL
In this section I am going to explain the different parts of a URL. Using the sample URL in the previous section, the different parts of a URL is indicated in the figure below.

  1. Protocol: Specifies the protocol in use such as http, ftp, https and so on. Thought the first portion, it is technically not part of the URL
  2. Host: This portion identifies the machine hosting the resource. This machine is known as the web server. With this portion in place the port number can be overridden since the port number is implied by the protocol.
  3. Directory Path: This is the path to the folder on the hosting machine containing the file to be accessed.
  4. File Name: File name indicates the name of the file containing the functionalities or scripts that delivers the requested service or information. In some cases the file name may be mistakenly omitted. In this case the file designated as the starting page (usually index.html or is displayed. If no page is designated as default then a list of files in the current directory are displayed.
  5. Query: This portion is a collection of named parameters defined by the application running on the web server.

Security Problem Associated With URL
Security issues in the URL of websites have plagued the World Wide Web for decades. The URL parameter of a query string can be used to exploit security vulnerabilities, especially when server side scripting languages such as PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor) and ASP (Active Server Pages) are used. The method of exploitation depends on the scripting technology. Hackers launch such attacks as SQL (Structured Query Language) injection and XSS (Cross-site Scripting) attacks on websites known to have URL manipulation flaws. Though solutions exist to counter these security issues, many web programmers are inexperienced and not security conscious and as a result are not aware of existing risk. Another reason why security solutions are not implemented in most cases is that software security budget of many organizations is usually low and implementation policy may conflict with business use case.

I have successfully dissected Uniform Resource Locator (URL) and its components as well as overviewed security risks associated with it. I hope this post has been educative and I’ll like to thank you for reading.
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Saturday, 26 March 2016

What to do when Files Turn to Shortcuts on Storage Devices

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There are times when you see all the files in your storage device (external hard drives, flash drives, memory cards, phone in-built memory and so on) turn to shortcuts when you connect them to a windows PC for file transfer or some other purpose. This is usually caused by some kind of viruses that changes the normal state of the storage device and makes it malfunction. More annoying is the fact that these shortcuts cannot be deleted. Fortunately the virus behind it does not delete the files but only deny you access them (the real files are still there). This post is concerned with how one can transform the device or system back to its normal state so that the files can be accessed. We can achieve this using some windows commands. Of major concern is the Attrib command.

The Attrib Command
The Attrib command is one of the windows commands that is used to display, sets, or remove attributes assigned to files or directories. It can be used with or without parameters. For instance to display the attributes of a file named femiFiles that is located in the current directory, the command can be used as follows:
attrib femiFiles
Also we can assign the Read-only attribute to the file named shef.docx as follows:
Attrib +r shef.docx
A lot can be achieved with this command but since we’re just briefly looking into it we shall not go further than this. For more details on the command visit attrib command.

How to Fix the Shortcut Issue with the Attrib Command
We now have an idea of what the Attrib command is, let us try to apply our knowledge to solving a problem. To fix this shortcut problem with the Attrib command, the steps below should be followed:
1.      Go to folder options in control panel to set hidden files to visible
2.      Open the command prompt by holding down the windows key and then pressing “R”. Type cmd and press enter
3.      Change to the drive you want to fix. For instance if you want to fix a flash drive denoted with the drive letter “D:” on your computer just type d: and the prompt will change to D:\> meaning you are now on the flash drive.
4.      Once in the right drive, type the command attrib /s /d -s -h *.* and press enter. That is all there is to the fix. Next all you have to do is open the flash drive and everything is back to normal as you can now access the original files.

That was an easy-to-implement fix when files on your storage device turn to shortcuts. This is a common problem and people tend to assume the device is damaged after trying to resolve the issue with even an updated antivirus with no success. There is a lot to gain by visiting technet library for further studies on windows commands. I hope this post has been of help to you. I implore you to keep checking back for more informative and educative posts on your ultimate tech zone. Thanks for reading.
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Thursday, 24 March 2016

An Overview of Encryption and Hashing Algorithms

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An algorithm is a sequence of instructions aimed at performing a specific task. It is independent of any programming language and as a result can be implemented using any language, be it Java, JavaScript, PHP, VBScript, C, C++ and so on. Algorithms provide programmers with a general approach to solving problems. Encryption and Hashing are a kind of solution to security issues involving access control and thus have different algorithms that aid their implementation. The most recent ones tend to be more effective than previous ones. In this post I’ll briefly discuss about some encryption and hashing algorithms.

According to Webopedia, an encryption algorithm is a mathematical procedure for performing encryption on data. Encryption is one of the common forms of security technologies that PC users know about. It comes in many forms. The major difference between them is key size and strength. Below are some of the most common Encryption algorithms arranged from the weakest to strongest:

Data Encryption Standard (DES): This is the first and the weakest encryption algorithm. It is a symmetric key algorithm for encryption of electronic data. Hackers were able to defeat it with relative ease not too long after its introduction into the security industry.

Triple DES: Designed to replace DES and used to be the most widely used symmetric algorithm before it was phased out. The total key length for triple DES is 168 bits. 

RSA: This is an asymmetric algorithm that uses a pair of keys – a public key for encryption and private key for decryption. RSA is a standard for encrypting data over the internet as it is so complex that it takes attackers quite a bit of time and processing power to break. PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) and GPG (Gnu Privacy Guard) programs also use it as their encryption method.

Blowfish: Blowfish is a fast and very effective symmetric cipher that splits messages into 64 bits block and individually encrypts them. It is widely believed that this encryption algorithm has never been broken.
Twofish: This is an open source standard regarded as one of the fastest of its kind and ideal for both hardware and software environments. As a symmetric technique, only one key which may be 256 bits in length is needed.

Advance Encryption Standard (AES): Uses 128, 192 and 256 bits depending on the purpose of encryption. It is widely believed that only brute force attack can break it. However, security experts still believe that AES will eventually be hailed the de facto standard for encrypting data in the private sector.

Hashing algorithms are mostly used for authentication systems. Hashes are used in verifying file integrity, hashing passwords and in digitally signed documents. The popular hash algorithms from weakest to strongest are as follows:
1.      MD4: A 128 bits hash algorithm that is now obsolete.
2.      MD5: An industrial-strength hash algorithm that is also 128 bits.
3.      RIPEMD – 160 (160 bits)
4.      SHA – 1 (160 bits)
5.      SHA-256, SHA-384, and SHA-512 are most recent and stronger versions of SHA-1 

You have just read a brief note on encryption and hashing algorithms that can give you a good start in case you desire to go in-depth. One thing to keep in mind when studying these algorithms is that the stronger the algorithm, the more processing power needed to run them. This is why the ones that are less secure are faster as they need lesser processing power. Thanks for reading and don’t forget to keep checking back for more posts.
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