The Five Habits Of Highly Effective Sysadmins

Often, the best way to improve is to study people who’ve already got things figured out. So today, let’s do that – let’s take a look at what all the best sysadmins seem to have in common.

We can always be better, and we should always be looking to improve ourselves. One of the best ways to achieve that is by looking to our superiors – by looking at how some of the best people in our field conduct themselves. Because inevitably, they all have traits they share in common.

Sysadmins are no different. That is why today, we are going to go over some of the habits and practices that make the difference between a good administrator and a great one. How many of them do you follow?

1. They Are Cautious and Disciplined

Do you avoid using root privileges except when absolutely necessary? Do you bother to review what you have entered in the command line before executing it? Do you have a regimen of commands that you enter each time you login, and a set of statistics that you consistently examine each day?

The best sysadmins will answer ‘yes’ to all of the above.

2. They Are Masters Of Prioritization

As a sysadmin, you should eventually develop a sixth sense for whether or not a particular task is more urgent than what you are currently working on. But you should also learn to go beyond that. You should:

  • Automate all non-trivial processes and tasks, such as data backups.
  • Run as few processes and services as possible, disabling anything your systems do not use or need.
  • Develop effective workflow management techniques
  • Work in a way that allows them to immediately move from one task to a higher-priority one without losing progress.

3. They Monitor, Measure, Record, and Document

As a sysadmin, you should always have an ear to the ground where your business’s systems are concerned. Monitor everything, and maintain by-the-minute records of your data – though you should also prioritize the information that is most relevant to you, like disk space or CPU usage. I would highly recommend investing in a graphing tool that will allow you to visualize the data you are recording.

Additionally, document every task you perform, and read your logfiles.

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4. They Ask “What If?”

A skilled sysadmin knows that their job is never done. They know that even if everything seems to be working as intended, that is often simply the calm before the storm. Software will crash. Their business will suffer a cyberattack. Hardware will fail.

Alright, perhaps I am exaggerating. At the same time, good sysadmins have a plan in mind for every worst-case scenario.

They know exactly how to respond if their organization suffers a DDoS attack, and exactly what to do if one of their servers fails. They have installed security protections that include malware detection and a strong firewall.

And they are always considering – and planning for – new troubles their business’s infrastructure might encounter.

5. They Communicate

The days when the IT department stood as an island from the rest of their organization are long behind us. As an administrator, it is your job to manage your business’s people as much as its systems. You need to be able to work with the people around you, and the best way to do that is by learning how to effectively communicate.

 

Be Effective

So, were you already familiar with the best practices outlined here? If so, great – you are well on your way to becoming an incredible sysadmin. And if not, now you know what you need to do to improve.

Because at the end of the day, everyone should strive to be better at what they do.

Don’t Cry: How Liquid Web is Ensuring Your Security Against WannaCrypt And Other Ransomware

Recently, an unknown group equipped with a leaked CIA hacking tool launched one of the largest cyber attacks in history – here’s what we’re doing to ensure your security.

Several weeks ago, security experts across the world were left aghast at one of the largest ransomware attacks in history. A nasty piece of software called WannaCrypt (better known as WannaCry) surged across global networks, crippling 200,000 organizations in 150 countries.

“This attack was unique in that the ransomware was used in combination with a ‘worm functionality’ to spread the infection automatically,” said Europol Director Rob Wainwright on Peston on Sunday. “The global reach is unprecedented.”

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And it’s not just small businesses, either. Banks, government agencies, and even the British Healthcare Industry have all fallen victim to it. Here’s the problem, though – a lot of media outlets are focusing on the WannaCry worm, rather than the real threat.

WannaCry itself was not the issue. As ransomware goes, it’s fairly run of the mill (it can’t encrypt administrative shares, for example). No, what’s frightening is how it was delivered – EternalBlue, a leaked NSA cyberweapon.

EternalBlue uses a vulnerability present in the Server Message Block to gain access to a system. Once it’s done so, it installs a backdoor tool known as DoublePulsar, which then grants entry to the WannaCry worm. From there, you can probably guess how things proceed.

It gets worse. The agency responsible for leaking the weapon, The Shadow Brokers, has threatened to leak another set of hacking tools with similar capabilities. In other words, WannaCry is just the start.

There will be others.

More than anything else, this situation highlights the importance of continued diligence and why it’s essential that we follow security standards in all aspects of our work. At Liquid Web, we’ve done just that. Our security signatures have been updated to defend against the malware, so our office network is fully protected. Beyond this, our security team is constantly researching and updating to protect against new threats.

Additionally, we restrict remote access to our core infrastructure that would allow it to be impacted by ransomware. The Windows team has also verified our WSUS servers and have patched all supporting operating systems on our networks. We’ve pushed that patch to customers using our update policy who have automatic updates enabled as well.

We have confirmed that our managed antivirus solution has definitions specifically for WannaCry and have posted a notice to all Windows customers on an at-risk OS informing them of the ransomware – but also highlighting that as long as they’re using our default policy on updated servers, we’ve got their back. Customers on an EOL operating system can contact us immediately to install a manual patch.  

Attacks like WannaCry are only going to grow more common as time goes on. You need to do everything you can to protect yourself from them, including choosing a host that takes your security seriously. Liquid Web is (and will continue to be) that host – we’ve got your back, no matter what kind of threat your business faces.

Contact us today and we can discuss what we’re doing to protect our customers against existing and future security threats.

CEO Jim Geiger on the Impact of Web Hosting on Small Businesses

No matter the size of your business, having a strong web presence is necessary. That sentiment was repeated by nearly 80% of small and medium business owners in our recent study – and that makes choosing your web host even more critical. Liquid Web’s CEO, Jim Geiger, recently wrote an article for SmallBizTechnology.com that discussed the most important factors small and medium-sized businesses should take into account when choosing a web host.

“With an increasing number of businesses betting their success on their web presence and cloud reliant technologies, it is troubling to see the percentage that make this critical business decision based on price alone,” Geiger explained. “It can be a costly mistake, especially for businesses that can’t afford downtime, slow site performance or security breaches.”

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Modern Enterprise Networks Are Larger Than Ever – Here’s How You Can Keep Yours Secure

Modern Enterprise Networks Are Larger Than Ever - Here's How You Can Keep Yours Secure
In the past, it was very clear what you meant when talking about a business’s corporate network. A few servers and PCs, a laptop or two, maybe a VOIP solution, all protected by a firewall. Remote work, where it existed, was relatively rare, and subject to heavy authentication.

Then the smartphone was born. Continue reading “Modern Enterprise Networks Are Larger Than Ever – Here’s How You Can Keep Yours Secure”

Three New Attack Vectors That Will Be Born Out Of IoT

Three New Attack Vectors That Will Be Born Out Of IoT
Everything from your first cup of coffee & your commute to the office, to your afternoon snack & evening walk with your dog can now be connected and tracked. This is the kind of world we will soon live in – a world where every device or appliance we use in our day-to-day is connected to the Internet. Because of how widespread it has the potential to become, the Internet of Things could easily transform how we live, work, and play. The possibilities are limitless. … Unfortunately, so are the security risks. Continue reading “Three New Attack Vectors That Will Be Born Out Of IoT”

Three Ways DDoS Attacks Are Evolving In 2017

Three Ways DDoS Attacks Are Evolving in 2017
The distributed denial of service attack is one of the oldest criminal activities on the web, a distinction it shares with ransomware. In spite of its age, however, DDoS attacks have weathered the years surprisingly well .The reason for that is quite simple – even though at its core, every DDoS attack does the same thing (overwhelms a target with fraudulent requests), DDoS attacks as a whole have evolved significantly over the past decades.

And 2017 saw some of the most significant evolutions yet. Continue reading “Three Ways DDoS Attacks Are Evolving In 2017”

The Truth About DDoS Attacks

The Truth About DDoS AttacksIt starts with a bit of unusual traffic – a surge of access requests from seemingly-unrelated IPs. Slowly but surely, your servers are overwhelmed. Your network-facing infrastructure starts slowing down, until it eventually grinds to a halt altogether. With a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach, you realize what this means. You have been targeted by a distributed denial of service attack. And until such time as the attacker decides you are no longer a worthwhile target, all you can do is weather the storm. Continue reading “The Truth About DDoS Attacks”

Your Employees Are Working Remotely. Is Your Business Protected?

Your Employees Are Working Remotely. Is Your Business Protected?According to International Data Corporation (IDC), just three years from now mobile workers will make up almost 75% of the U.S. workforce. To anyone who has been paying attention, this should come as no surprise. It is increasingly rare to see anyone without a smartphone in this day and age – and just as rare to meet someone who has not used that device for working remotely on at least one occasion.

You have doubtless heard all the rhetoric by now. Mobile devices are to remote productivity what the automobile was to transportation. Thanks to smartphones and tablets, the time an employee spends on the train or in line at lunch is no longer wasted. Now, it can be spent dialing in to meetings, connecting with colleagues over corporate instant messaging, or replying to emails. With the right applications, it can even be spent editing documents.

It sounds incredible, right? There’s just one catch: security. While the fact that employees can connect from anywhere is a great strength of mobility, it is also its greatest weakness from a security standpoint. Continue reading “Your Employees Are Working Remotely. Is Your Business Protected?”

Backing Up Your Data is the First Step to Disaster Proofing Your Business

Backing Up Your Data is the First Step to Disaster Proofing Your BusinessHappy World Backup Day! On this day we’d like to take today to remind everyone why off-site backups are the best way to protect your mission-critical data. If something catastrophic occurs – whether it is a ransomware attack, a natural disaster, or simply a hardware failure – you do not want to lose anything essential. But you should also think a little more critically about your plan if disaster strikes. If you truly want to disaster-proof your organization, then you need to make sure you think of the following:
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Worst Case Scenario: Here’s What Can Happen If You Fail To Maintain A Backup

Worst Case Scenario: Here’s What Can Happen If You Fail To Maintain A Backup
Recently, a community site known as Myth Weavers suffered a catastrophic database failure. The site, which stores information for a variety of different board games, is – or perhaps I should say, was – widely-used in the tabletop community. Unfortunately, earlier this month, a routine prune by the site’s administrator went horribly wrong. Continue reading “Worst Case Scenario: Here’s What Can Happen If You Fail To Maintain A Backup”