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CHAPTER SIX

COMPUTER HANDLING AND MAINTENANCE


6.0 Computer Care and Safety
Introduction.
Computer care and safety involves rules, measures and guidelines regarding the proper use
of computers. Computers like any other piece of electronic equipments, need special care
and attention in order to perform properly and safely;- This is done in the computer
laboratory in observation of computer ethics and Integrity;-

6.1 The Ethics and Integrity in computer use


Computer Ethics; Refers to the human values and moral conducts for computer use.
Alternatively, it refers to the right or wrong behavior exercised when using computers.
Computer Integrity; Refers to the loyalty or faithfulness to a principled set of laws regarding
computer use.

In 1991, the computer ethics Institute (CEI) held its first National Computer Ethics conference
in Washington DC. The ten commandments of computer Ethics were first published in Dr.
Ramon C. Barquin’s Paper prepared for the conference “IN PURSUIT OF A TEN
COMMANDMENT FOR COMPUTER ETHICS”.
1. Thou shall not use computer to harm other people.
2. Thou shall not interfere with other people’s computer work.
3. Thou shall not snoop around in other people’s computer files.
4. Thou shall not use a computer to steal.
5. Thou shall not use a computer to bear false witness.
6. Thou shall not copy or use proprietary software for which you have not paid.
7. Thou shall not use other people’s computer resources without authorization or proper
compensation.
8. Thou shall not appropriate other people’s intellectual output.
9. Thou shall think about the social consequences of the programs you are writing or the
system you are designing.
10. Thou shall always use a computer in ways that ensure consideration and respect for
fellow humans.

6.2 COMPUTER LAB MANAGEMENT


6.2.1 What is computer lab management?
This refers to taking proper care of all hardware and software installations in the computer
lab. It consists of taking charge of the school laboratory so as to provide and maintain
efficient service delivery of all hardware/software facilities.

Computer Laboratory
A computer laboratory is a room or building where computers are stored and used for;
learning purposes e.g. teaching and learning practical skills, internet surfing etc.
COMPUTER LABORATORY RULES AND REGULATIONS
i. Computer components should be dust free. Avoid smoking and exposing
computers to dust.
ii. Never try to remove the cover of the computer system unit.
iii. Keep all; liquids and food items away from computer. Liquid and food crumbs can
cause rusting. Also mixing liquid and electronic components can cause serious
electrical shock.\
iv. Never use your computer during storm. The computer is connected to electricity
and that means that lightening can be conducted to the computer.
v. Physically, be careful, avoid knocking and dropping any hardware to the ground
as this could cause any of the delicate components to break or be damaged and
stop working.
vi. Proper shut down of computers should be followed to avoid disks and system
failures (avoid abrupt switching off).
vii. Be careful when using the internet. Do not accept downloads from internet sites
you do not trust.
viii. Never open an email attachment unless you know and trusts the person who sent
it.
ix. Avoid making any hardware connections to the system unit mother board when
the computer is on e.g. keyboard, monitor and mouse connections.
x. Don’t bring magnetic devices to the lab. The computer has magnetic disks which
can be spoilt if they come near other magnetic fields.
xi. Handle delicate storage devices with care. Don’t touch the inner surface of
compact disks and floppy disks. Safely remove flash disks from the system.
xii. Avoid excessive bright and flickering computer monitors. The brightness of
computer monitors should be adjusted to avoid eye strain.
xiii. Always sit upright to avoid muscles pain and back aches caused by poor sitting
postures.

6.3 SERVICING AND MAINTENANCE OF COMPUTERS


Computer Maintenance is the practice of keeping computers and related components in a
good working state. Servicing and maintenance basically involves the following
components;-
i. Keeping it physically clean
ii. Keeping it safe from malware
iii. Backing up your important files
iv. Installing and updating software.
v. Upgrading software.
vi. Fine tuning the computer system.

i) Keeping it physically clean; when dealing with computer system, dust is not
physically attractive. It can potentially destroy some parts of the computer
system.
 Usually computers are cleaned using an electric blower to remove the
dusts.
 Use dust covers to cover computer systems when not in use. if you are
using ploythene covers, then don not cover the computer immediately
after switching off as it will trap heat.
 Employ an expert for cleaning.
ii) Safeguarding against malware; Malware is any type of software which is
designed to damage a computer or gaining unauthorized access to information
stored in it. It includes;- Viruses, worms, Trojan horses, spyware and others. Most
malware is distributed by flash disk, floppy disks, internet and other storage
devices.
The best way to guard against malware is to install antivirus software such as
Avast, Norton, Bitdefender, Kaspersky etc. Antivirus software helps to prevent
malware from running on a computer by detecting and removing it. Update the
antivirus regularly.
iii) Backing up important files; A back up is an external copy of important files on the
computer. This saves you the tragedy of losing your precious information in case
your computer breaks down. Backups can be created on CDs, DVDs, external hard
drives or even online backup.
iv) Installing and updating software; We can get the best out of our computers by
installing software for specific purposes. Installing means setting up and
preparing software for use. New versions of soft wares are being released every
day, it is important that existing programs are updated to get the best out of our
computers.
v) Upgrading hardware and software; Upgrading is a term used to describe adding
new and better features that improve the performance of the computer.
Hardware upgrade means adding or replacing components of the computer like
adding a hard disk with bigger memory, adding more RAM. Software upgrade
refers to significant improvement to a computer software/program for example
using an earlier version of the operating system.
vi) Fine-tuning a computer system; You can fine-tune your computer system through
many ways including disk defragmentation, disk clean-up. Disk defragmentation
scans files on the hard disk and rearranges them so that they can be read faster
by the computer. Disk clean-up is a window utility program that scans the
computer for temporary files and other files that can be deleted.

6.4 SYSTEM SECURITY


Basically, system security covers a wide range of issues related to ICT including;-
i. Physical data security.
ii. Data and information security
The system protects the information stored on it from being lost, changed maliciously or
accidentally or read and modified by those not authorized to access it.

6.4.1 COMMON COMPUTER SECURITY RISKS AND THREATS


Some of the most common computer risks include;-
 System failure
 Threat to data privacy
 Computer viruses
 Unauthorized access and use of computer system
 Hardware theft and software theft
 Information theft and information privacy.
 Hackers
 Cracker

6.4.2 Physical Security of the computer system


Physical computer security describes security measures designed to deny unauthorized
access to facilities, equipments and resources from damage or harm and theft.

HARDWARE THREATS/ THREATS TO COMPUTER SYSTEM.


i. Power fluctuation; One of the worst threats to computer system in East Africa is abrupt
power black-outs.
ii. Deliberate theft; Computer hardware components are open to thieves especially in public
places like school labs, internet cafes. This can move out with components like mice, Ram
chips, and Hard disk drives or keyboards.
iii. Improper shut down. Turning of a computer at the power plug or by holding the power
button can corrupt internal components like hard drives and may cause it to lose data.
iv. Dusts; This is one biggest problem for our computer hardware. Dust creates a layer over
the system components which cause extra heat, block vents and prevent fans from
working properly.
v. Environment Conditions; Extreme temperatures are disastrous and can permanently
affect the functioning of computers.
vi. Theft and burglary; Computer systems can be stolen wholly from labs, offices, or homes.

MEASURES TO ENSURE SAFETY OF COMPUTER SYSTEM.


i. Avoid direct sunlight and high temperatures that may damage hardware components.
ii. Always use surge protectors, Uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) or voltage stabilizers
to ensure steady power supply to safeguard their system.
iii. Protection against fire. A computer lab should have fire extinguishers of carbon dioxide
not powder or water.
iv. Proper cable installation and placement. Cables should be preferably along walls.
Avoiding dangers of exposing the user to electrical shock.
v. Burglar proofing avoids unauthorized access to the computer room.
vi. Fit strong locks, doors, windows and roofing. Security should be good around computer
room to avoid thefts.
vii. Overcrowding of either machines or people should be avoided.
viii. Always install lightening conductors to the computer laboratory to protect the
machines and the user of the computer.
ix. Ventilation should be good. Good aeration enables the computers to cool and hence
avoids overheating.
x. Dust control. When setting up the computer laboratory, consider a location away from
excessive dust. The room should have special curtains and computers should remain
covered using dust covers when not in use.
xi. Standard furniture; the table on which computers are placed must be strong and wide
enough to bear the weight and accommodate all the peripherals devices.

DATA AND INFORMATION SECURITY


THREATS TO DATA AND INFORMATION
The followings are the most common data security threats;-
i. Virus; A virus is software which can replicate itself and infect a computer without the
permission or knowledge of the user. This ends up corrupting and deleting files.
ii. Spam; Spam is electronic junk email. These are unwanted messages that are sent to your
inbox. They in most cases carries virus with them. Once opened, the virus in them may
delete useful files.
iii. Spoofing, Phishing and Pharming; Spoofing is an attack in which a person or program
masquerades as another. A common tactic is to spoof a URL or websites. Phishing
(pronounced “fishing”) is a common form of spoofing in which a sham web page is
produced that looks like a legitimate web page. This is created by criminals to get user
names, passwords and other sensitive information.
iv. Spyware; Is software that is secretly installed on a computer without the user’s consent
to monitor user’s activity or interfere with user control. It collects various types of
personal information such as websites visited, credit card details, usernames and
passwords etc.
v. Keystroke logging; A key logger is a software program that is installed on a computer,
often by a Trojan horse or virus to capture and record keystrokes. The data captured is
then transmitted to a remote computer. Key logger does not damage computer system
but captures and record user’s passwords, credit card numbers and sensitive data.
vi. BOTNET (Zombie); is a collection of program that runs automated tasks over the
internet. These zombies typically run programs like worms, Trojan horse or back doors.
vii. Worm; A computer worm is a self replicating, malicious software program. Unlike a virus,
it does not need to attach itself to an existing program or requires users’ intervention to
spread. It uses network to send copies of itself to other computers on the network.
viii.Trojan horse; A Trojan horse is a piece of software which place illegal and destructive
instructions in the middle of the legitimate program or file.
ix. Hackers; Hacking is any technical effort to manipulate the normal behavior of the
network connections and connected systems. A hacker is a person engaged in hacking.
Hackers use technical weaknesses to break into computer system to steal
information/data.

MEASURES TO ENSURE DATA AND INFORMATION SECURITY ON A COMPUTER SYSTEM


The following are some of the major security measures that should be enforced to ensure
data and information security on a computer system.
 Save as you work; You should always save your work while working and learn how to use
‘auto-save’
 Make a back-up; Before you make changes to critical data always make a duplicate.
 Keep a copy of your data off-site; Keep your data away from your working area. In any
case there is a disaster e.g. fire, you may still have the back up.
 Never trust disk from other people; Any time you receive a file on any type of media,
scan it first for viruses.
 Install and regularly update your antivirus software; Make it a habit to regularly check
for updates and check for automatic update of anti-virus software.
 Protect your passwords; Your User ID is your identity. The key to your identity is the
password. Remember not to write your password anywhere and you should change your
password regularly.
 Always use power back-up; Use Uninterruptible power supply (UPS) to guard against
fluctuations in power supply. Information stored in RAM will be lost if computers goes
off abruptly.
 Keep intruders from opening the case; computer system should be protected from
thieves who can open the case and grab your hard drives with your useful data and
information. May computers come with case locks to prevent opening the case without
a key.
 Disable the drives; If you do not want people to copy information to removable media,
you can disable or remove floppy drives, USB ports, and other means of connecting
external drives.
 Protect your printers; Printers of these days store document contents of what they
printed on their on-board memory. If a hacker steals the printer and access the memory,
he can still be able to make copies of recently printed.
 Shred unwanted documents; Do not abandon/ throw papers which are not properly
printed in a trash. Instead, cut them to pieces so that your data and information are not
leaked out.

FACTORS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING A COMPUTER SYSTEM


1. Processing power; This is the how fast a computer can accomplish a given tasks. There is
need to select a processor with high processing speed and should be compatible with
the motherboard in terms of their memory support.
2. System Memory; System memory includes the primary memory of the physical RAM and
Cache. These have to be balanced well since it is almost useless to have a huge amount
of physical RAM with no cache.
3. Hard disk space; free hard disk space also acts as virtual memory. Buy a computer with
adequate hard disk space to cater for installation of applications and windows.
4. Display device; when choosing whether to buy CRT monitor or LCD Monitor,
considerations should be made based on space, technology, display and type of work for
which the computer is being purchased for. When considering a monitor for gaming
function, the monitors with better refresh rates should be considered.
5. Removable storage; When considering a choice of computer system, consider whether
the system unit has the appropriate removable storage drives i.e. where to plug flask
disk, where to insert optical medias etc.
6. Expansion slots; When considering a choice of computer system, Consider whether a
computer system has an expansion slot. Expansion slot provides space for the expansion
cards that might have ports for additional peripheral components.
7. Video Cards; Video cards are responsible for the maximum number of colors that can be
available on the screen. When working with high resolution graphics or games, then a
choice of faster graphics cards should be sought. In addition, consider the amount of
memory available on the card.
8. Sound cards; Sound cards determine the quality of sound produced from the computer.
When planning to work with multimedia packages especially sound, an appropriate card
has to be sought. For example, if the computer is going to be used for video edititing and
sound recording, then professional sound cards should be installed.
9. Keyboard and Mouse; Keyboard and mouse are of different shapes and designs.
Consider buying a computer system with an ergonomic mouse and keyboard to reduce
on the strain at the hands.
10. Bundled software; Most computers comes with pre-installed software e.g. Windows and
Microsoft office. This saves the additional costs of purchasing that software and can
provide clear pictures of what kind of software can be installed on such system.
11. Documentation and support; When buying a computer system, consider buying a
systems supplied along with documented information. This provides instructions on how
to operate the device, the recommended power rating, license information, product
keys, terms of use and other vital information.
12. PC Casing; There are two types of PC casing namely;- Tower version and desktop type.
The casing type determines the number of drive bay that are available on that computer.
Extra drive bay offer convenience of adding more media drives.
13. Computer plat form; Consider the type of microcomputer to obtain. A choice could be
made to obtain either IBM compatible computers or Macintosh computers. This choice
should be made in consideration of factors like easy availability of compatible software
and services. IBM computers are manufactured by various companies like IBM, HP,
Compaq, DELL, Acer etc whereas Macintosh are specifically manufactured by Apple
computers.
COMPUTER VIRUSES:
A computer virus is a deviant program that attaches its self to the computer system
and destroys or corrupts data. Viruses are developed through love for Adventure,
Malice and sabotage.

Or. A Computer Virus is a program designed to alter the way your computer functions
without your knowledge or consent.

SOURCESOF VIRUS/ WAYS THROUGH WHICH VIRUSES ARE SPREAD;


i. Opening an infected file. When an infected file is opened in a healthy computer,
it spreads and hides itself in the computer and in turns keeps on spreading the
virus.
ii. Running an infected program. This is common on pirated software that is copied
from one computer to another without proper license. If the system from which
the software is being copied has a virus, then the receiving system will also be
infected.
iii. Starting up the computer with an infected floppy disk. Floppy disks can have a
virus in the boot sector.
iv. Through email/internet. Email attachments may include infected attachments.
Double clicking on an infected attachment can infect a machine.
v. Use of infected storage devices; Storage devices can hold infected programs or
files which when opened start spreading.
vi. Through freeware/shareware; Free and shareware software requires no license
for use. Since they are distributed free of charge for use over the internet, it
becomes a good ground for distributing virus as everybody is likely to get a copy.
vii. Fake games; Virus programmers may design fake games and attach viruses on
them. These games keep on infecting computers as they are installed from one
computer to another.
VIRUS SYMPTOMS
 Computer May freeze or not start at all (or boot)/ Boot failure.
 Computer may display Annoying or irritating messages e.g. Your Pc is stormed,
not secure or infected.
 Unusual sound or music plays randomly on the computer without the user
opening such music.
 Computer switching its self off and on.
 Unnecessary variations in computer processing speeds. The computer may
operate much slower than usual.
 Unprecedented screen color changes.
 Hard disk crash; the hard disk may fail to work.
 Deletion of saved file or obliteration of the functioning of the computer system
or software.
 Corrupted files. The files in a computer do not work properly and may not be
opened.
 A computer may fail to solve or access a file to save.
 The available system memory becomes less than what should be available.
TYPES OF VIRUSES
a. Boot Sector viruses (BSU)
This type of virus targets the computer’s start up files. They generally propagate
from an infected diskette placed in the disk drive of a computer while it starts. E.g.
Joshi and Michelangelo virus.
b. File viruses
These are viruses which attaches themselves to program files. The next time an
infected program file is run, the virus executes and infects the computer.
c. Multipartite virus
These are able to infect multiple types of targets, such as both program files and the
boot sector files.
d. Polymorphic virus It actually change its code as it infects the computer
e. Stealth virus it disguises itself by hiding in fake code sections, which inserts within
working code in a file.
f. Macro viruses.
This type of virus hides in a macro, which is a standard feature of many productivity
applications such as word processing and spreadsheet programs. Examples Melissa
g. Logic bomb
Is a virus which activates when it detects a specific condition (say, a name deleted
from the employee lists.
h. A time bomb; this type of virus activates on a particular date or time.
i. Trojan horse
Viruses which place illegal and destructive instructions in the middle of the legitimate
program or file. Once the program is run, the Trojan horse is also activated to begin
havoc. E.g. Format C Virus.
j. Retro Viruses; These are designed to attack antivirus software by deleting the files
that contains virus descriptions or corrupting the main antivirus program.

3.3.4 PROTECTING THE COMPUTER SYSTEM AGAINST VIRUSES


- Ensure that your computer has the latest antivirus software installed and that the
virus definitions are up to date. Ensure that your antivirus program is actually
switched on.
- When you use floppy discs or CD-ROMs from friends make sure you first scan them
with your anti-virus program.
- Ensure that the email is from a trusted source before opening or executing any e-mail
attachment.
- Never start up a computer with a floppy disk in the floppy drive.
- Scan all floppy disks, flash disk and files for possible virus infection before opening
them.
- Scanning all downloads with updated anti-virus. Before downloading any file or
document, make sure that it is first scanned using anti-virus software.
- Back up important files regularly. Creating back up will not directly prevent virus
infections but may speed up the recovery process.

3.3.5 ANTI-VIRUS PROGRAMS


Are utility programs used to scan files and programs in order to detect, destroy or
quarantine virus-infected files.
EXAMPLES OF ANTI-VIRUS PROGRAMS
 McAfee Antivirus  Avira Antivirus
 AVG Antivirus  Bit defender
 Avast Antivirus  Microsoft Security
 Smadav Antivirus essential
 Kespersky Antivirus  Malware bytes.
 Norton Antivirus  Panda Cloud antivirus.