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My Top 10 virtual monopolies in Computing:
Microsoft Windows. Whether it's Windows 98 or Me or NT or 2000, Microsoft have a virtual monopoly on operating systems, both at home and at work. LONG LIVE UNIX!
Cisco-equipment. Cisco have a virtual monopolopy on the equipment which makes up the infrastructure of the Internet.
Microsoft Office. Office has eventually taken on everyone of its main compeditors, and after a short struggle, beaten them (Word v. AmiPro/ Word-Perfect/ Manuscript; Excel v. 123; etc).
Macromedia Director/Flash. Macromedia has almost single-handly broken the virtual monopoly that Microsoft have over application software with two of the most innovative products ever developed. Macromedia products are expensive to buy, but they are so good that its worth it.
Microsoft Outlook. E-mail is now one of the most used packages. Unfortunately the standards relating to e-mail have taken a long time to develop, thus e-mail have typically been incompatiable. With Outlook you are guarenteed a certain level of compatiabilty, as it supports all the major standard for protocol transmission (POP, SMTP, IMAP, and so on), and all the different content formats (HTML, RTF, and so on).
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Worms of the World

o what's the big problem with the Internet? Well it's a totally open system which connects computers around the world. At one time it was relatively easy to secure networks from external attack as the networks did not have any public connection. These days, with more people working from a mobile base or from home, there is a greater need for external connections into a network. Many companies also have several sites which connect to the Internet to make an Intranet. At one time the connection between the sites would have been achieved with a leased line. These days it is less expensive to use the Internet to create the connection. Thus organizations must try and make their systems secure for many reasons. One is that data which they hold on their databases must be secure and there are restrictions on who can view the data and who can edit it. They must also guard against malicious attacks where their systems can be damaged in some one.

External attacks can be reduced with strong firewalls, and data encryption, but internal attacks can be difficult to protect against as users already have access to the organization network. There have been several cases of employees doing damage to computer systems so that they could either cause the organization to lose business or to keep themselves in a job.

Legal laws on Internet access will take some time to catch-up with the growth in technology, so in many cases it is the moral responsibility of site managers and divisionleaders to try and reduce the amount of objectionable material. If users want to download objection material or set-up their own WWW server with offensive material, they should do this at home and not at work or within an educational establishment. Often commercial organizations are strongly protected sites, but in open-systems, such as Schools and Universities, it is often difficult to protect against these problems.

These days, viruses tend to be more annoying than dangerous. In fact, they tend to be more embarrassing than annoying, because a macro virus sent to a business colleague can often lead to a great deal of embarrassment (and a great deal of loss of business confidence).

A particularly-worrying source of viruses is the Internet, either through the running of programs over Internet, the spread of worms or the spreading of macro viruses in electronic mailattachments. The best way to avoid getting these viruses is to purchase an up-to-date virus scanner which checks all Internet programs and documents when they are loaded.

So, with viruses and worms, it is better to be safe than sorry. Let the flu be the only virus you catch, and the only worms you have to deal with are the ones in your garden.

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