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Unix How-To: Give Me That Old-Time Security!

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Even in the wild frontiers of today's Internet, good basic Unix system security provides extremely valuable protection against security breaches. In today's column, I'm going to rant about some basic security rules of thumb that every Unix sysadmin ought to consider.

The first basic security rule is to keep your consoles safe. Lock them up, eliminate them by replacing them with console servers (recovering rack space at the same time), and make sure that only a very select group of people have access to them. What's more, access to your data centers should be limited to just those who need to lay hands on the servers. If anyone can walk in and out, you're asking for a headache.

Data centers should be equipped with UPS or, better still, a generator to keep them up through significant power outages. Wait, you ask, is power to the data center security? You bet it is! Anything that threatens the productivity of your staff and the smooth running of your business is a security concern. UPS systems can often be configured to send low battery signals to systems and initiate auto-shutdown options, further preventing hardware loss. Check your UPS systems and make use of this feature if it's supported. If your AC is not also on the UPS or generator, auto-shutdown of systems might prevent them from being damaged through overheating.

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