The dedication and skill of system administrator heroes and heroines often goes unsung. But this Tuesday, they'll be under the microscope. Microsoft is to release 17 security bulletins to address 64 vulnerabilities in the monthly Patch Tuesday security update on 12 April.
Nine bulletins are rated as critical and the remaining eight are rated as important. The vulnerabilities affect Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer, Visual Studio, the .NET Framework and GDI+.
Sysadmins toil away in the background to ensure that network connections remain open, safe and working. They worry about not only spam, viruses, spyware, but also power outages, fires and floods.
When the email server goes down at 2am on a Sunday, it’s the sysadmin who is paged, wakes up, and goes to work. Check more insights:
• A sysadmin installs the routers, lays the cables, configures the networks, sets up the firewalls, and watches and guides the traffic for each hop of the network that runs over copper, fibre optic glass, and even the air itself to bring the internet to your computer. All to make sure the webpage found its way from the server to your computer.
• A sysadmin makes sure your computer is working in a healthy way on a healthy network.
• A sysadmin takes backups to guard against disaster both human and otherwise, holds the gates against security threats and crackers, and keeps the printers going no matter how many copies of the tax code someone from accounting prints out.
• A sysadmin is a professional, who plans, worries, hacks, fixes, pushes, advocates, protects and creates good computer networks, to get your data, to help you do work -- to bring the potential of computing ever closer to reality.
• A sysadmin installs updates to software, and keeps backups in case anything goes wrong.
Don’t believe the logs
The League of Professional System Administrators (LOPSA) is lobbying for better recognition and to spread best practice in all IT departments, and has the following words of wisdom for fellow professionals including this anecdote about treating logs with a pinch of salt.
“I had a problem where our gateway mail server couldn’t deliver mail to a peer. The receiving mail server kept bouncing the email address with a 550 even though the mailbox being delivered to was real and active. Gmail, Yahoo, and MSN would all accept email from our gateway, but this one provider would not accept email.
“The first thing I did was go to the logs. The problem was the logs were wrong!” You can read the full story here. But the moral of the story is, only trust your logs so much: they are only an approximation of reality.
For these reasons, and many more, the System Administration Appreciation Day has been established. On the last Friday in July, sysadmins around the world will take a collective bow – and maybe even leave work early – but don’t hold your breath.
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