Computer Architecture, Software and Firmware, and the CISSP Exam
Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) is an independent information security
certification granted by the International Information System Security Certification Consortium.
CISSP is a standardized, vendor-neutral certification program that provided structure and demonstrated
competence relevant to information security professionals.
Firmware is a program or set of computer instructions stored in the physical circuitry
of ROM memory. These types of programs are typically changed infrequently or not at all. In
servers and user workstations, firmware usually stores the initial computer instructions that
are executed when the server or workstation is powered on; the firmware starts the CPU and
other onboard chips, and establishes communications by using the keyboard, monitor, network
adaptor, and hard drive. The firmware retrieves blocks of data from the hard drive that are
then used to load and start the operating system.
A computer's BIOS is a common example of firmware. BIOS, or Basic Input-Output System,
contains instructions needed to start a computer when it's first powered on, initialize devices,
and load the operating system from secondary storage (such as a hard drive).
Firmware is also found in devices such as smartphones, tablets, DSL/cable modems, and
practically every other type of Internet-connected device, such as automobiles, thermostats,
and even your refrigerator.
Firmware is typically stored on one or more ROM chips on a computer's motherboard (the
main circuit board containing the CPU(s), memory, and other circuitry).
Software includes the operating system and programs or applications that are installed
on a computer system.
A computer operating system (OS) is the software that controls the workings of a computer,
enabling the computer to be used. The operating system can be thought of as a logical platform,
through which other programs can be run to perform work.
The main components of an operating system are:
• Kernel: The core component of the operating system that allows processes, control
of hardware devices, and communications to external devices and systems to run.
• Device drivers: Software modules used by the kernel to communicate with internal
and external devices that may be connected to the computer.
• Tools: Independent programs that perform specific maintenance functions, such
as filesystem repair or network testing. Tools can be run automatically or manually.
The operating system controls a computer's resources. The main functions of the operating system are:
• Process management: Sets up an environment in which multiple independent
processes (programs) can run.
• Resource management: Controls access to all available resources, using
schemes that may be based on priority or efficiency.
• I/O device management: Controls communication to all devices that are connected
to the computer, including hard drives, printers, monitors, keyboard, mouse, and so on.
• Memory management: Controls the allocation and access to main memory (RAM),
allocating it to processes, as well as general uses such as disk caching.
• File management: Controls the file systems that are present on hard drives
and other types of devices and performs all file operations on behalf of individual processes.
• Communications management: Controls communications on all available communications
media on behalf of processes.Process management: Sets up an environment in which multiple independent
processes (programs) can run.
This is an excerpt from:
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• How to prepare for the CISSP examination
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More Windows Administration Information:
• Turn On Your Browser's Phishing Filter
• Fundamentals of Windows Security
• Tips to Protect Windows Vista Operating System
• How Many Spyware Items Are Slowing Down Your Computer?
• Firefox Security Options
• The Seven Most Common Methods of Cyber Attacks
• Beginner's Guide to Computer Forensics
• Five Critical Steps to Protect Your Personal Information and Computer
• The Windows Bootup Process
• Botnets - What Are They?