06Jun

The answer is: C, Java, Python, C++, C#, JavaScript, PHP and R. What’s the question?

This should be simple for every software developer worthy of being called a professional: What are the most popular programming languages in the world?

TechRepublic selected these eight from among the monthly popularity lists compiled by TIOBE. The company, which specializes in assessing and tracking software quality, named Python programming language of the year, based on its year over year change. It’s the fourth time Python earned the honor, a record.

Like some other organizations that produce software popularity lists, TIOBE ranks software based on the number of searches conducted monthly. The January PYPL list on GitHub has Python in the top position again. Also unchanged from the year before are Java (2), JavaScript (3), C#(4) and, moving up is C/C++ (5).

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Over the summer, when the IEEE’s Spectrum it issued its top languages list, Python too, was at the top. Java, C, C++ and JavaScript followed in descending order. What’s especially useful about the IEEE’s list is its interactivity. Besides seeing how the organization ranked languages, a user can choose to rank them by the language most requested in CareerBuilder job ads or by what languages are trending or in several other ways.

Though the ranking of a specific language may go up and down, the eight TechRepublic selected, and a handful of others like PHP and Visual Basic have dominated the top of popularity lists for years.

“According to TIOBE’s list,” says TechRepublic, “C, Java, C++ and Python have been the most popular languages since 2002. C#, Visual Basic and JavaScript have also battled for top spots.”

As Benjamin Goldberg, an associate computer science professor at New York University told TechRepublic, “There are a number of different ways to measure popularity, such as the languages that are used for programs that run in the largest number of devices, the languages in which the most programs are written, the languages in which the most lines of code are written.”

What’s the most enduringly popular languages?

“In terms of the language that is used for programs on the largest number of devices, certainly it’s JavaScript,” Goldberg says. Counting its use on webpages, “By a substantial margin, JavaScript is used to write the largest number of programs.”

Photo by Chris Ried on Unsplash

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Researchers Hack Computer Fan. Seriously!

doesn’t involve exploiting bugs or vulnerabilities in software. Instead, they found a way to do it by controlling a computer’s cooling fan.

Amazingly, they found hackers could encode stored data into fan vibrations by imperceptibly slowing down or speeding up the fan’s rotation. The fan causes the computer itself and the surface it’s on to vibrate and these vibrations can be picked up by a smartphone and then retrieved by a hacker.

“We observe that computers vibrate at a frequency correlated to the rotation speed of their internal fans,” lead researcher Mordechai Guri told Tech Xplore. “These inaudible vibrations affect the entire structure on which the computer is placed.”

“The malware in question doesn’t exfiltrate data by cracking encryption standards or breaking through a network firewall,” he said. “Instead, it encodes data in vibrations and transmits it to the accelerometer of a smartphone.”

While the process of transmitting the data is extremely slow, and therefore not likely to be adopted by hackers (spy services maybe?) it is yet another demonstration of how it is possible to access a computer that is air-gapped, meaning it is isolated and not connected to the internet.

Guri is head of R&D at the univerity’s Cyber-Security Research Center. He and his team specialize in finding ways to access data from highly secure systems and devising methods of protecting against the threats.

In the case of the fan vibration hack, a simple method of protecting against it is to make the fan speed unchangeable.

Photo by Florian Olivo on Unsplash

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Get Ready for the Cybersecurity Games

What’s the No. 1 ranked college in the National Cyber League?

Hint: It’s not a school you’ve likely heard of unless you live in California or you’ve competed in the NCL competition.

It’s Chico State, officially, California State University – Chico. For three semesters – the last two consecutive — the university in the far northern part of the state has come in at the top of the Cyber Power Rankings.

To achieve that distinction, Chico’s student team had to trump teams from more than 450 other colleges and universities in performing real-world cybersecurity tasks. Annually, some 10,000 students (including some still in high school) enter the National Cyber League competition, testing their skill at identifying hackers from forensic data, pentesting and auditing vulnerable websites, recovering from ransomware attacks and more.

Registration for the Fall 2020 competition is now open. Practice sessions begin Sept. 14 with the individual games starting Oct. 23 and the team competition set to begin Nov. 6th.

Besides the competitive aspect of the games, it’s a learning experience for the participants who are assigned a coach to advise them and help them through the tough practices. Competitors become part of a community lead by Cyber League “Ambassadors” who are experienced players. Some are working professionals; others are students.

Of special value are the scouting reports each player gets. These reports are detailed metrics of a participant’s performance in the competition, listing their national rank and percentile, bracket rank and percentile, performance score, accuracy and completions in each of the 9 categories, as well as the national and bracket averages.

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Job candidates often include these reports and rankings in their resume and applications. Employers can also source candidates from these reports. As one of the Ambassadors explained in a blog post, “Companies pay NCL to produce these scoring reports so that they can scout the best of the best collegiate cyber-athletes.”

The Cyber League was born in 2011 when a group of cybersecurity professionals and academics from several public agencies came together to create “an innovative way for students to apply what they were learning in class.” So they designed the competition to be both an exciting “game-meets-edutainment” and a learning opportunity.

Individuals can participate in the competition even if they don’t have a team. This is how many of the high school students are involved. In the preseason part their fundamental skills are tested so they get placed in the appropriate bracket. In the individual games, participants compete against others of the same skill level. The team game follows.

The power rankings are developed from the individual competition and team competition scores.

Photo by FLY:D on Unsplash

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