Five don’ts for sysadmins: bad habits that can decrease your system efficiency

Netwrix joins the madness of the forthcoming SysAdmin Day and offers some typical bad advice that no system administrator should ever follow

Irvine, CA, July 23, 2015

We all have to admit that everyone screws things up sometimes, regardless of their experience. Whether they are newbies or veterans, everyone has to learn their lessons through mistakes that occasionally happen. In honor of SysAdmin Day, Netwrix Corporation, the IT auditing company, providing software that maximizes visibility of IT infrastructure changes and data access, decided to shortlist most of the typical bad habits of system administrators and the ways of dealing with their consequences:

  1. Work under the root when it is not required. Your system has only one root account that is very likely to be targeted by hackers and viruses. By logging in under the root, you let all running applications get elevated privileges and access to any corner of your system – even possible viruses or Trojans – and then any security failures will have access to your entire system. Therefore, just remember the simple rule to leave administrative tasks to the root user when necessary and let your applications run on a user level.
  2. Forgetting about backups is the most common bad habit you could possibly fall into. If you think that you will never need to restore a database and get your system running, you are absolutely wrong. Maybe all of those sad stories from other sysadmins are just a silly joke. They aren’t. Unpleasant experiences show that disasters do happen, so make a comprehensive backup plan and store server, network and security device backups in safe places.
  3. Testing on live systems is a bad habit that has the greatest potential for service downtime. When you install new software on your work computer (or even on a server) just to check if the program runs properly, be ready to apologize to your colleagues for “some unexpected downtime” or to spend a night trying to run a couple of crashed servers. How can you avoid this? Never test on a working system unless you have a backup on hand.
  4. Ignore the principle of least privilege. Although this term is familiar to most administrators, it does not mean that the environment’s configuration supports it, in most cases. This hidden threat often results in abuses of privileges and internal security incidents. The risk of security breaches can be minimized by using a domain account with minimum required privileges instead. In addition to following the principle of least privilege, make sure to monitor activity for unusual behavior during legitimate access and revoke permissions when they are no longer needed.
  5. Forget to document changes in system configurations and files, and be among the 70% of IT pros who put their systems at risk, according to the 2015 State of IT Changes Survey. Knowing who did what, when and where can save you a lot of time and nerves when you need to find a root cause of an incident and roll back changes to configuration files, security settings and business-critical content, in case of any surprises. Continuously auditing all changes made almost becomes the main and most important task in your daily routine.

"There’s hardly any professional that has never faced some small disasters in their work. Pitfalls are vital by nature, as they give us good lessons along the way and take us to higher levels, from newbies to professionals," said Michael Fimin, CEO and co-founder of Netwrix. "Now, as you have saved time searching for top tips for sysadmins, use this time wisely and remember: never roll out updates on Friday."

Do you have your own bad experience? Share it with us and support the worldwide #Power2ITGuyz movement, please visit http://start.netwrix.com/sysadmin_day_2015.html

About Netwrix Corporation

Netwrix Corporation is the IT auditing company, providing software that maximizes visibility into who changed what, when, and where and who has access to what. Over 6,000 customers worldwide rely on Netwrix to audit IT infrastructure changes and data access, prepare reports required for passing compliance audits, and increase the efficiency of IT operations. Founded in 2006, Netwrix has more than 70 industry awards and was named to the Inc. 5000 list and Deloitte Technology Fast 500. For more information, visit www.netwrix.com

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Erin Jones
E.S. Jones Public Relations
Phone: 704.664.2170

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