What are some of the most important issues facing sys admins today? Is it ‘the cloud’? Or is it ‘Advanced Persistent Threat’? Maybe it’s the surge in BYOD and the commoditization of IT? What other buzzwords do you hear thrown around by managers? Are any of those the most important issues facing sys admins? No. Architects, managers and CIOs can worry about those things. Sys admins have real work to do, and they have to get it done each and every day of the week. Let’s review those key tasks.
Yes, it sounds like a catch phrase your boss used during your last annual review, but that doesn’t make it less relevant. You need to move from being strictly reactive, to being more proactive. Tend to things before they become problems. Automate repetitive tasks with scripts or software. Use your time wisely and prioritize. Gather up and review event logs so that you can respond to issues before they become problems.
Patching is a regular part of IT. Each workstation, server and piece of network gear you have will require multiple patches during its time in service. Whether that is a workstation that may need multiple patches per month, servers that need monthly patches, or routers that need maybe one patch a year, you cannot let this one slide. Don’t forget that it’s not just Microsoft that issues patch updates – all third party applications must be kept up-to-date and secure too.
There are new threats every day, and it is critical that all systems are protected all the time, with frequent updates and nothing overlooked. Downloads, USB drives, emails, and even network shares need to be scanned. Definitions must always be up-to-date, and no system should be connected to the network that doesn’t have working antivirus software running.
Anti-spam and anti-phishing
Malware is just one problem to protect users against through email. Spam and phishing threats are ever-present, and email sys admins must constantly tune their protections to keep the junk and the threats out of their users’ inboxes.
The bad guys on the Internet are scanning your systems every day. Malicious or bored users may be doing the same thing from the inside. Your only hope is to find the vulnerabilities in your systems before someone else does, and then remediate them before they can be exploited. It’s a never-ending task, and failure is just not an option.
It may sound like an impossible set of tasks, but with the right tools for the job, and allies to help you along, you too can become an IT superhero. If you want to do more, have a greater impact and leave a lasting legacy, read our eBook about SHEATH and its unsung heroes, and be part of a group where you really can make a difference. Administrators, AGGREGATE!