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Security

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System Administration

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So You Want To Be A Systems Administrator…

Managing your own server is an important responsibility.
Below is a list of 10 best practices to be a successful systems administrator.

Physically secure your server

No matter how good your passwords are, if you do not physically secure your server, it is vulnerable to intrusion. Remember, you are responsible for any damage caused to BSU network resources originating from your server.

Secure your passwords

The safest place for your password is in your head NOT on a post-it under your keyboard. A lot of damage can be done, not only to your server, but also to the BSU network. You are responsible for the security of your server-even if it is "hacked." Don’t forget to pick a good password.

Passwords are important-have many

Make sure you secure your server with a boot password, a bios password, and an OS password.

Control access

Be sure to give users of your server only the access they need and make sure they choose good passwords for their accounts. Passwords should be at least 6 characters and contain at least one number.

Know your OS

Always check the manufacturer's website for your operating system to be sure you aren't missing important security patches or fixes. If your OS manufacturer offers automatic update, we recommend that you turn it on.

Anti-Virus program

Make sure you keep your antivirus program up to date to ensure it does not become infected.

Close the doors

Ports on a server allow people to access to your server's resources. However, they can also represent a vulnerability if they are open and do not need to be open for the services which are running on your server. Be sure to close all inbound and outbound ports that you aren't using.
Some common ports include
  • 80 - Web
  • 25 - SMTP (mail)
  • 24 - telnet
  • 21 - FTP
The process for closing ports depends on your operating system. Please refer to your user manual for instructions.

Join some mailing lists

Email lists are an excellent way to stay ahead of the curve and get technical tips. We recommend you join a mailing list for your operating system as well as your AV announcement list if they have one. Educause is an amazing resource and has a mailing list for everything! Check out Educause listserv​.

Keep the phone number for tech support handy

Post the number for tech support in an easily accessible place. Do not store it on your server.

Backup

Keep a regular backup schedule of your data and your OS configuration. This will save time later if anything happens to the server, and you need to rebuild.
Remember, managing your own server is a lot of work. But if you adhere to these 10 best practices, you can minimize your exposure to risk.