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A conceptual framework illustrates the expected relationship between your variables. It defines the relevant objectives for your research process and maps out how they come together to draw coherent conclusions.

TipYou should construct your conceptual framework before you begin collecting your data. Conceptual frameworks are often represented in a visual format and illustrate cause-and-effect relationships. You can start conceptualizing this as you determine your relevant paper, thesis, or dissertation topic.

Keep reading for a step-by-step guide to help you construct your own conceptual framework.

Developing a conceptual framework in research

A conceptual framework is a representation of the relationship you expect to see between your variables, or the characteristics or properties that you want to study.

Conceptual frameworks can be written or visual and are generally developed based on a literature review of existing studies about your topic.

Step 1: Choose your research question

Your research question guides your work by determining exactly what you want to find out, giving your research process a clear focus.

Example: Research questionLet’s say you want to study whether students who study more hours get higher exam scores. To investigate this question, you can use methods such as an experiment or a survey to test the relationship between variables.

However, before you start collecting your data, consider constructing a conceptual framework. This will help you map out which variables you will measure and how you expect them to relate to one another.

Step 2: Select your independent and dependent variables

In order to move forward with your research question and test a cause-and-effect relationship, you must first identify at least two key variables: your independent and dependent variables.

Example: VariablesFollowing our example:

The expected cause, “hours of study,” is the independent variable (the predictor, or explanatory variable)

The expected effect, “exam score,” is the dependent variable (the response, or outcome variable).

In other words, you suspect that “exam score” depends on “hours of study.” Thus, your hypothesis will be that the more hours a student studies, the better they will do on the exam.

Note that causal relationships often involve several independent variables that affect the dependent variable. For the purpose of this example, we’ll work with just one independent variable (“hours of study”).

Step 3: Visualize your cause-and-effect relationship

Now that you’ve figured out your research question and variables, the first step in designing your conceptual framework is visualizing your expected cause-and-effect relationship.

We demonstrate this using basic design components of boxes and arrows. Here, each variable appears in a box. To indicate a causal relationship, each arrow should start from the independent variable (the cause) and point to the dependent variable (the effect).

Step 4: Identify other influencing variables

It’s crucial to identify other variables that can influence the relationship between your independent and dependent variables early in your research process.

Some common variables to include are moderating, mediating, and control variables.

Moderating variables

Moderating variable (or moderators) alter the effect that an independent variable has on a dependent variable. In other words, moderators change the “effect” component of the cause-and-effect relationship.

Example: ModeratorWe expect that the number of hours a student studies is related to their exam score—i.e., the more you prepare, the higher your score will be.

Let’s add the moderator “IQ.” Here, a student’s IQ level can change the effect that the variable “hours of study” has on the exam score. The higher the IQ, the fewer hours of study are needed to do well on the exam.

We expect that the “IQ” moderator moderates the effect that the number of study hours has on the exam score.

Let’s take a look at how this might work. The graph below shows how the number of hours spent studying affects exam score. As expected, the more hours you study, the better your results. Here, a student who studies for 20 hours will get a perfect score.

But the graph looks different when we add our “IQ” moderator of 120. A student with this IQ will achieve a perfect score after just 15 hours of study.

Below, the value of the “IQ” moderator has been increased to 150. A student with this IQ will only need to invest five hours of study in order to get a perfect score.

Here, we see that a moderating variable does indeed change the cause-and-effect relationship between two variables.

Mediating variables

Now we’ll expand the framework by adding a mediating variable. Mediating variables link the independent and dependent variables, allowing the relationship between them to be better explained.

Example: MediatorThe mediating variable of “number of practice problems completed” comes between the independent and dependent variables.

Hours of study impacts the number of practice problems, which in turn impacts the exam score.

Here’s how the conceptual framework might look if a mediator variable were involved:

NoteKeep in mind that mediating variables can be difficult to interpret. Take care when drawing conclusions from them.

Moderator vs. mediator

It’s important not to confuse moderating and mediating variables. To remember the difference, you can think of them in relation to the independent variable:

A moderating variable is not affected by the independent variable, even though it affects the dependent variable. For example, no matter how many hours you study (the independent variable), your IQ will not get higher.

A mediating variable is affected by the independent variable. In turn, it also affects the dependent variable. Therefore, it links the two variables and helps explain the relationship between them.

Control variables

Lastly, control variables must also be taken into account. These are variables that are held constant so that they don’t interfere with the results. Even though you aren’t interested in measuring them for your study, it’s crucial to be aware of as many of them as you can be.

Example: Control variableIt is very possible that if a student feels ill, they will get a lower score on the exam. However, we are not interested in measuring health outcomes a part of our research.

This makes “health” a good candidate for a control variable. It still impacts our results, but we aren’t interested in studying it.

Frequently asked questions about conceptual models Cite this Scribbr article

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Why Is Nist Cybersecurity Framework Important For Tech

blog / Cybersecurity Why is NIST Cybersecurity Framework Important for Tech-Era Businesses?

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According to Cybercrime magazine, cyber crimes will cost the world $10.6 trillion annually by 2025. Hence, an understanding of cybersecurity has become essential for both individuals and companies as the tools to fight attacks. One way of developing this awareness is through a cybersecurity framework. This provides a common language and set of norms that enable organizations to minimize the risks of attacks. That’s why multiple cybersecurity frameworks have been implemented to safeguard information. One such is the NIST Cybersecurity Framework. We’ll understand how it works and who should use it but, first, we’ll answer the question ‘what is NIST Cybersecurity Framework?’

What is NIST Cybersecurity Framework?

Created by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which operates under the US Department of Commerce, this framework helps set up and enhance cybersecurity strategy. It offers a set of standards and suggestions that help companies become better equipped to recognize and stop cyberattacks. Also, companies respond to, prevent, and recover from cyber disasters using NIST. Therefore, it is considered the benchmark standard in building a cybersecurity program. This framework has five core functionalities. 


Using this function, the company may build vital infrastructure for understanding and managing cybersecurity risks, threats, and vulnerabilities to system data and other resources.


This function describes necessary safeguards to guarantee the delivery of critical infrastructure services. Moreover, it also supports the capacity to restrict or control the consequences of a possible cybersecurity event. 


It is vital to detect possible cybersecurity issues, and this function outlines the required activities to note the development of a cybersecurity event in a timely way.


This function aids in mitigating the effects of a potential cyber disaster. It focuses on suitable activities in the event of a detected cybersecurity incident and helps limit the impact of a possible cybersecurity problem.


A prompt return to normal activities is required to mitigate the consequences of a cybersecurity event. Therefore, this function creates and carries out the necessary operations for resilience and restores any skills or services that were harmed due to a cybersecurity event. 

Who Should Use the NIST Cybersecurity Framework?

Initially created in 2014 under President Barack Obama’s executive orders, this framework is used across US government offices. These guidelines benefit the government and help other businesses and non-governmental organizations. As a result, anybody dealing with or being accountable for their organization’s cybersecurity should be familiar with the NIST Cybersecurity Framework. Simply put, any company that wants to strengthen its cybersecurity can use the NIST Cybersecurity Framework. 

ALSO READ: What is Cybersecurity and Why is it a Great Career Choice for You

How to Get Started with the NIST Cybersecurity Framework?

As mentioned earlier, the framework is divided into five significant functions: Identify, Protect, Detect, Respond, and Recover. When these five often-used phrases are viewed together, they give a complete picture of the lifecycle of managing cybersecurity over a period of time. As a result, the indicated functions are an appropriate place to start using this framework for your organization. 

What does NIST Stand for?

NIST in NIST Cybersecurity Framework stands for the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which comes under the US Department of Commerce. It is a non-regulatory government organization established to foster innovation and economic competitiveness in science, engineering, and technology. Therefore, NIST’s primary job is to develop the best standards for companies and government agencies. 

The downside of the digital world is the need for constant vigilance against cybercrimes, and the only way forward is knowing the tools to help deal with this reality. Learning about the NIST cybersecurity framework is a step in the right direction. Now, if you are keen on fortifying your knowledge further and becoming part of the solution, then explore Emeritus’ courses on cybersecurity to enhance your cybersecurity career. 

By Siddhesh Shinde

Write to us at [email protected]

A Free Drag And Drop WordPress Framework

Building a WordPress theme from scratch is a lot of work, and unless you are a developer, chances are you are getting a ready-made theme for your site. To make it easier for end users to create their own theme, many developers created theme frameworks which allow users to create nice functional themes with consistency and speed and without messing with the code. Unyson is one such theme framework with a drag and drop feature and some interesting feature sets and extensions.

Page Builder with Drag and Drop Support

Building visually appealing pages in WordPress is never an easy task. With Unyson’s visual drag and drop page builder, you can easily create your own fully customized page within minutes. The page builder itself contains a lot of elements like buttons, icons, tabs, sliders, layout options, media shortcodes, etc.


Built-in BackUp and Restore Feature

Miscellaneous Features

Detailed Documentation

It won’t be useful if it doesn’t come with any documentation. The good thing is that Unyson comes with a full online documentation where you can refer to master and customize it.


Unyson is relatively new and for a free WordPress framework, it delivers what it promises. But, I would personally like to see some quick official how-to guides on creating or building sites using Unyson as it is a bit difficult for any beginner to get around. Besides that, Unyson is a perfect choice if you want to create professional grade WordPress themes. So go ahead and give it a try. After all, it is free and open source.

Hopefully that helps, and do share your thoughts on this new free drag and drop WordPress framework.

Vamsi Krishna

Vamsi is a tech and WordPress geek who enjoys writing how-to guides and messing with his computer and software in general. When not writing for MTE, he writes for he shares tips, tricks, and lifehacks on his own blog Stugon.

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What Is A Refresh Cycle?

In your computer, there are likely two types of RAM class memory. Only one is referred to as RAM: the system memory or system RAM. This class of RAM is called DRAM. In this class, you may also have some SSDs with integrated DRAM. The VRAM on a graphics card is also a subset of DRAM. You’ll have a different type of RAM on the actual CPU and GPU dies themselves. SRAM is used for on-die caches.

SRAM is speedy. However, it is not particularly dense in terms of gigabytes per square centimeter, which also contributes to its high price. DRAM is slower. However, it has a much higher storage density and is much cheaper. For this reason, SRAM is used in small quantities on processor dies as high-speed memory, and DRAM is used for larger memory pools like the ones described above.

The distinction between SRAM and DRAM is evident in their actual structure. SRAM uses four to six transistors, while DRAM uses a single transistor and a capacitor. This is where the storage density comparison comes in. There are simply fewer parts in DRAM, making each memory cell smaller.

The design differences have another effect, however, one large enough to be the titular naming factor of the two. The S in SRAM stands for Static, while the D in DRAM stands for Dynamic. This represents that SRAM can retain its contents indefinitely, while DRAM needs to be regularly refreshed.

Note: This assumes that a constant power supply is available. SRAM is still volatile memory, and if power is lost, it will lose the data it holds. Just like DRAM.

What Is a Memory Refresh?

The circuit-level architecture of DRAM means that the charge of a memory cell decays over time. Each memory cell must be regularly refreshed to allow DRAM to store data for long periods. There are a couple of essential things to know about this. The first is that the memory can’t be accessed while refreshed. This also means that performance can be limited by how often the DRAM cells need refreshing.

Generally, DRAM cells are refreshed every 64 milliseconds, though this halves at high temperatures. Each row of cells is refreshed independently to prevent this from happening all at once, causing a significant hiccup every 64 milliseconds.

Cleverly the memory controller also times refresh cycles to occur while the RAM module does other things that prevent it from reading or writing memory, such as transmitting read data. Thankfully, the amount of time needed to refresh a cell is small, generally 75 or 120 nanoseconds. This means a DRAM chip spends roughly 0.4% to 5% of its time performing a refresh operation.

How to Refresh DRAM

All this happens automatically. The memory controller manages it all without the CPU being aware of it.


DRAM charge does decay, but research has shown that the rate varies wildly between DRAM cells, even on a single chip. The top percent or so may be able to hold their data for up to 50 seconds without needing a refresh at standard temperatures. 90% can store data for 10 seconds, 99% for three seconds, and 99.9% for one second.

Unfortunately, some outliers need to be refreshed much more often. To allow for even the worst-case scenarios, DRAM refresh times are low. This choice does ensure that no data is ever lost, but it also affects power usage and performance.

Some researchers have proposed alternative methods of analyzing and binning the RAM cells and prefer using the ones with better decay times. This would lead to improved power usage, especially useful on low-power battery-powered devices. It would also, however, lead to variable levels of RAM performance.

Additionally, the change in decay time based on temperature would have to be factored in. Even worse, some cells simply lose charge retention performance occasionally, meaning relying on this too much could sometimes result in a presumed good memory cell being bad, requiring regular rebinning.


The refresh cycle is the process in DRAM modules by which the memory cells are refreshed. This is necessary because the circuit design of DRAM results in charge decay. Regularly refreshing memory cells prevents data loss. SRAM doesn’t need to be refreshed as its circuit design does not result in a charge drain.

Note: Refresh cycle may also refer to a user or organization’s regular updating of hardware.

What Is A Replay Attack?

A replay attack is a type of network assault in which an attacker discovers and fraudulently delays or repeats a data transaction. The sender or a hostile actor intercepts the data and retransmits it, causing the data transfer to be delayed or repeated. In other terms, a replay attack is a security protocol attack that uses replays of data transmission from a different sender into the intended receiving system to deceive the participants into believing the data communication was successful. Attackers can use replay assaults to gain access to a network, obtain information that would otherwise be unavailable, or execute a duplicate transaction.

If the replay attack is not mitigated, networks and computers that are subjected to it will see the attack process as valid communications.

Replaying a message sent to a network by an attacker that was previously sent by an authorised user is an example of a replay attack.

Despite the fact that the communications are encrypted and the attacker does not have access to the real keys, retransmission of legitimate data or login messages might assist them in gaining adequate network access.

By replicating an authentication message, a replay attack can get access to resources while also confusing the destination host.

How Does a Replay Attack Work?

Take a look at this real-life assault scenario. By sending an encrypted message to the firm’s financial administrator, a corporate employee requests a money transfer. This communication is intercepted by an attacker, who captures it and may now resend it. The communication is already correctly encrypted and seems valid to the financial administrator since it is an authentic message that has merely been resend.

In this case, unless the financial administrator has cause to be suspicious, he or she is likely to react to the new request. A huge quantity of money might be sent to the attacker’s bank account as a retaliation.

How to Prevent a Replay Attack?

Preventing such an attack is all about using the proper encryption technology. Encrypted communications contain “keys” that, when decoded at the conclusion of the transmission, open the message.

It makes no difference in a replay assault whether the attacker who intercepted the initial transmission can read or interpret the key. All he or she needs to do is capture and transmit the full thing, message and key included.

To mitigate this risk, both the sender and the recipient should generate a fully random session key, which is a sort of code that is only valid for one transaction and cannot be used again.

Using timestamps on all communications is another protective strategy for this sort of attack. It stops hackers from resending communications transmitted more than a particular amount of time ago, so narrowing the window of opportunity for an attacker to listen, syphon off the message, and resent it.

Another way to prevent being a victim is to use a unique password for each transaction, which is only used once and then destroyed. This guarantees that even if an attacker records and resends the communication, the encryption code has expired and is no longer functional.

Hdg Explains : What Is A Computer Server?

“The server is down!”

“I can’t log into the server.”

Table of Contents

“The servers are at capacity.”

These are the sorts of phrases we hear on a daily basis when using the internet, but what exactly is a “server”. It’s one of those terms that everyone uses, but few people really know any details about. 

There’s a good chance you found this article by typing “What is a server?” into a search engine. It’s nothing to be ashamed of! It’s an essential piece of knowledge any internet user should know and you’re about to get all the essential info right here.

What the Internet ACTUALLY Is

The concept is actually pretty simple. The internet is simply a collection of computers connected together by communications hardware, such as routers and network cables.

Whenever you access a web page, watch a video or send an email, there’s another computer somewhere in the world that’s providing the content or acting as the go-between to help you communicate with someone else.

What Is a Server vs a Client

These computers, the ones providing the SERVices, are what we generally refer to as “servers”. The computers that receive those services are called “clients”. See? It’s a pretty simple concept. Servers serve content and services to clients. However, that doesn’t tell us much about the servers themselves. Just what are they exactly?

Servers are Just Computers

Any computer can be a server. Your home computer can be a server. Although your internet service provider probably prohibits the practice on home internet subscriptions. It’s not just traditional desktop computers either. Any network-connected computer can act as a server, client or both. 

Rather than being a description of a specific device, the concepts of “client” and “server” describe roles that computers have on a network. For example, if you have an IP security camera, those have server software installed on its tiny embedded computer. When you access the camera, you’re logging into a server that provides you with a video stream.

 That being said, not every computer is suitable to act as a server. So often when the word “server” is used, it refers to specialized computers that are built from the ground up to act specifically as servers. 

Server Hardware is Special

If you were to venture into the typical server room of a website hosting company, you’d see rows and rows of cabinets. Inside these cabinets, you’d see racks of servers stacked on top of each other. As seen in this picture.

Inside each of these racks, you’ll find a special server-grade motherboard, RAM, CPU and storage. In principle, these are the same components as the ones in your computer. Except, inside servers they’re far more powerful, reliable and energy efficient. After all, these computers are working 24/7, serving millions of requests from clients every day.

This is why server hardware is much more expensive than the stuff you find in a consumer PC. Every minute a server is down may cause thousands of dollars in losses. So it’s worth paying a premium to ensure that the internet services in question remain available.

We won’t go into deep details here, but server hardware stands out in the following main ways:

Server motherboards support large amounts of RAM. Terabytes worth in many cases!

Server motherboards often have multiple CPU sockets

Server CPUs tend to have many CPU cores and large amounts of cache

Server RAM is usually of a special error-correcting type to ensure stability

Server power supplies may be redundant, instantly switching over to a backup if the main unit fails

Rack servers also don’t have keyboards, mice, screens or speakers. Instead, they are accessed via the network through the command line or by using a remote desktop application. Although they usually do have the required ports to hook up these peripherals if needed.

Local Servers

A “local” server is one that runs on your local home network, rather than somewhere “out there” on the internet. 

There’s a good chance that you have some sort of server application running on one of your home computers and don’t even know it. The aforementioned IP camera embedded software is one example, but there are other applications that run on regular desktop and laptop systems that also fit the bill. 

For example, the popular Plex application runs a media server on your local machine. This is like Netflix running on your local network. Calibre acts as a local file server for ebooks and, of course, network-attached storage devices are also a sort of local network server. So, as you can see, servers are everywhere. Even in your home!

Common Server Types

While all servers have the same general job, there are clear subtypes of servers that specialize in different tasks.

Web servers are incredibly common. The website you are reading at this very moment was sent to you by a web server. Your web browser acts as the client and requests website data from the server. It then receives the HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) web page code and renders it to your screen. From there it enters your eyeballs and this information is now in your head. Neat, right?

File servers use the FTP or File Transfer Protocol standard rather than HTML and exist to move files from their own hard drives to yours.

Email servers handle the sending and receiving of email messages. Basically it’s an electronic post office.

The list goes on. There are servers that verify login details, servers that act as a proxy between company computers and the internet, media streaming servers at companies like Netflix and more. As more internet services are invented, we can expect new types of specialized server hardware and software to come along as time goes by.

“Mainframe” vs “Server”

One final point of confusion is the difference between a “mainframe” computer and a server. While a server is essentially a beefed-up desktop computer, mainframes are an entirely different beast.

These computers are much, much more powerful than server hardware. The emphasis on reliability and spare processing capacity is much higher and these computers are usually used for jobs that are mission critical.

Online banking is one example where mainframes may be a better choice. Especially since mainframe computers are built to zip through as many “transactions” as possible. These computers are usually about the size of a large fridge. Often, they’re as big as ten rack-mounted servers.

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