If you are going to secure a computer or a network, you must have at least a basic knowledge of how they work. Every attack uses something that exists for perfectly valid reasons and misuses it in invalid malicious ways. To work in cyber security, you have to understand the valid functions to understand the potential for invalid misuse.
The day begins with a discussion of how computers work. We cover the numbering system of decimal, binary, and hexadecimal - vital to understanding computers and networks. We also cover ASCII (the American Standard Code for Information Interchange). We also discuss what an operating system is. We talk about the terms kilobyte, megabyte, gigabyte, and terabyte and what those terms mean. We cover the difference between the hard drive and Random Access Memory (RAM). In short, how a computer works.
From there, we move to a discussion of how information moves from point A to point B across a network without using any technical terminology of any kind. This discussion includes both Internet and Local Area Network (LAN) examples. As we move on through the day, we slowly add the technical aspects of those explanations, including the terms and acronyms of networking. We discuss the origins of the Internet and why that origin matters to modern-day cyber security. We explain what a protocol is, and what both the OSI and TCP/IP stacks are and why they matter. You learn about standard network hardware such as a network interface card, a switch, and a router. We progress to topics such as IP addresses, network masks, default gateways, and routing. We explain, compare, and contrast the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and the User Datagram Protocol (UDP) and why you might want to use one over the other. Eventually, we get to network protocols such as the Dynamic Host Control Protocol (DHCP), Domain Name System (DNS), and Network Address Translation (NAT).
While the above description sounds exceptionally technical, rest assured that we present the material in the most non-technical way possible. We cover each topic at a very high-level without getting into the nitty-gritty details.
- Lab - Computer Number Conversions: Apply the knowledge you learned to convert decimal numbers to binary, binary numbers to hexadecimal, binary and hexadecimal numbers to decimal values, and so on.
- Lab - Networking: Use a variety of built-in operating system commands to see your IP address, network mask, default gateway, ARP cache, DNS Cache, and see Network Address Translation in action. You will also perform simple network packet analysis with the Wireshark tool.