Introduction keyboard, mouse, or webcam; the outputs including

Introduction

Numerous complex components create the foundation for any
and every computer system operating throughout the world.  These components can be divided into two main
categories, computer hardware and computer peripherals.  Both are crucial to the functionality and
operation of computer systems.

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Computer hardware is most commonly the motherboard, hard
drive, random access memory, and processor. 
These components are generally the “brains” of a system, being the core
required to initiate and execute functions. 

Working in conjunction with the hardware are the computer
peripherals.  These peripherals provide
the inputs and outputs to the system, allowing the system to be used in the
desired manner and to produce or display results as the user desires.  The inputs of peripherals are the keyboard,
mouse, or webcam; the outputs including the display or monitor, a printer, or
speakers. 

All these components work in conjunction to make effective
computer systems.  These components are
vital to the operation of the system, and can be indicative of the use of the
system and the user.

Objective

The ability to identify and describe computer hardware and
peripherals is a crucial foundational skill for any computing background.  This skill can be especially useful in cybersecurity,
determining what use an individual has for their computer system based on what
components they have in their computer system. 
Obtaining a system profile, in this case by using a program called
Belarc Advisor, this lab will identify and describe key computer components in
one specific computer system. 

Lab Setup

See Figure 1 for lab setup. 

Figure 1. System
Information. Source: Screenshot provided by author.

Results and Analysis

Figure 1.1. System
Information. Source: Screenshot provided by author.

Type of Processor:

Intel Pentium N3540, 2.15GHz quad-core. (Figure 1)

Installed Memory:

2x 4096 MB DIMM RAM (2x 4GB; 8GB RAM) (Figure 1)

            The
operating system is Windows 10 Home, 64 bit. 
With the minimum required memory for this specific operating system is 2
GB (Microsoft, 2018), the amount of installed memory is not restrictive to the
OS.

Manufacturers of Hardware:

Motherboard:
ASUSTek Computer Inc. (Commonly ASUS) (Figure 1)

Processor: Intel
Corporation (Figure 1)

Hard Drive: Seagate
Technology PLC (Figure 1)

Peripherals Installed:

Display: Generic
PnP Monitor 17.1 inch with Intel HD Graphics display adapter.  (Figure 1.1) Display is one of the more
interesting peripherals since being an indicator of the main use of the
computer.  Combined with whether the
computer is a laptop or a desktop, screen size can be a major tip off as to
portability, smaller being more portable and a larger screen possibly being
used as a replacement for a desktop computer. A dedicated graphics card might
be seen in a computer system used for more of a gaming role whereas integrated
graphics such as seen here could indicate an everyday usage such as for
internet browsing or word processing.  

Speakers: Realtek
high definition audio integrated speakers. (Figure 1.1) Output for sound can
also be a gauge of main use of the computer, higher quality speakers or
aftermarket speakers would generally be used by individuals or companies in
music or soundtrack editing, gaming, or if they were to use their computer in
lieu of a television sound system. 

WebCam: USB 2.0
VGA UVC WebCam. (Figure 1.1) WebCams are decidedly one of the more vulnerable
peripherals of a computer system. Commonly exploited by hackers or used for
national security by homeland agencies, even the FBI director recommends
disabling or covering a user’s webcam (Boult, 2016).  As more networking, distance learning or
working, and retina verifications increase, the use of the modern-day webcam
has increased as well.  While something
as simple as tape or a sticker over the webcam can deter potential
vulnerabilities, the act of covering them or disabling them is commonly
forgotten. 

Additional Results:

One piece of interesting data is with the date of the
operating system install.  For this
specific computer, the OS was installed September 29th, 2017 (Figure
1).  Date of operating system install
creates a huge vulnerability, specifically for computer systems bought off the
shelf or pre-made vice custom made computers. 
Computers purchased pre-assembled or off the shelf, may sit for a
prolonged period, creating a vulnerability due to the lapse in time between
security updates for a specific operating system.  One of the most vulnerable times for a
computer is during BIOS startup (Menn, 2014). 
This gap in time without providing necessary security updates or
software updates to an operating system can give hackers an opportunity to
breach their way into the system.  While
in most cases this does not pose a huge concern as the computer won’t have much
data on it being brand new, it can be exploited even further if the computer is
connected to a network, now creating a passageway into the network to be
exploited as well.  This is less common
in custom made systems, since the operating system will be installed more
recently. 

CPU cached memory was also intriguing to see.  The interesting part with the cached memory
is just how small it is in comparison to any of the other memories of the
computer system.  Even with only having
the capacity of a small world document, this extremely fast memory acting as a
buffer between the RAM and CPU can control the processor functions despite its
small size.  

Figure 2. Basic
Computer Diagram

Figure 2 shows a basic
motherboard set up for a desktop computer. 
All the components indicated add to the functionality of the PC, each of
these adding an easily removable or upgradeable part to allow for different
applications to run well or to change the goal use of the system.

Conclusion

            In
summation, understanding and identifying computer hardware and peripherals is
the foundation for comprehending computer systems.  With the upgradeability and ability to
interchange components between different systems to make each computer exactly
what the user wants and how to function in the manner that an individual
desires, computers have an infinite number of possibilities in their makeup.  As such, the computer profile is extremely
important.  Knowing what components are in
a computer system, using programs such as Belarc Advisor, are vital in the cybersecurity
world.