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Quick-List: Articles in Server Administration

10 things to keep in mind when purchasing a new server

10 challenges facing IT

New Year's Tech Resolutions for Small Businesses

Axigen Free Mail Server - A Great Alternative to Open Source

10 year-end tasks for network administrators

Five cloud security trends experts see for 2011

6 tips for guarding against rogue sys admins

A list of hottest IT security certifications

Enterprises Ready to Turn to Cloud E-Mail

Choosing the right cloud platform

Companies count the cost of IT failure

A storage virtualization primer

The Virtualization Checklist

How to Integrate Data Loss Protection in Web 2.0 Security Strategies

5 Best Practices for Enterprise Security

10 ways to make sure your data doesn't walk out the door

What Are the Most Underrated Security Technologies?

10 things to consider before deploying a cloud

Top 10 tech skills for 2010

Security tips for large and small businesses

Security of virtualization, cloud computing divides IT and security pros

Greening the data center: Consolidate your servers

Green your data center by deploying shared storage with the right features

Storage best practices for virtual server environments

Optimizing server energy efficiency

10 iptables rules to help secure your Linux box

10 dumb things IT pros do that can mess up their networks

Articles in Server Administration

10 things to keep in mind when purchasing a new server

(Brien Posey, TechRepublic) If you’re in the market for a new server, you need to evaluate your choices carefully to make sure the one you buy will meet your needs.

A network server is a big investment and usually represents a long-term commitment, so it’s critically important to select one that will meet all your needs. Here are some things you should consider when you go shopping for a new server:
1. Drivers
2. Redundancy
3. Hot-swappable components
4. Form factor
5. Fault tolerant memory
6. Storage
7. CPU support
8. Connectivity
9. Memory capacity
10. Manageability
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10 challenges facing IT

(Alan Norton, TechRepublic) IT is always facing challenges. Some of these challenges have slowly changed over time, but many of them are perennial offenders. How will IT meet these challenges today and in the near future? Where do they rank in order of importance at the company where you work?

1. Customer service
Improve customer service by listening to and meeting the client’s needs. Make customer service job number one.
2. Human resources
Develop creative ways to minimize stress, satisfy employee needs, and match corporate needs to employee goals.
3. Productivity
Make the best use of new technologies like cloud and mobile computing but search out additional ways to increase productivity.
[...]
Read more by following the "full article" link.
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New Year's Tech Resolutions for Small Businesses

(Christopher Null, ComputerWorld) There's no telling what the future will bring, but one thing is sure: In the world of technology, nothing stays the same for very long. The year 2010 wasn't terribly turbulent for tech, but 2011 is shaping up to be more of a thrill than you might expect. From Android's scorched-earth march across the industry to malware threats that we have yet to wrap our arms around, it seems as if everything is about to change.

With that in mind, here are nine resolutions for the small business operator to think about for 2011:
1. Ignore Android at Your Peril
2. Start Prepping for Windows 8
3. Accept Tablets as Mainstream Devices
4. Make Mobile Security a Big Deal
5. Leave No Stone Unturned When It Comes to Security
6. Develop a Flash/HTML5 Strategy
7. Get Ready for Video
8. Put Your Social Media in Order
9. Figure Out the Cloud
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Axigen Free Mail Server - A Great Alternative to Open Source

Are you planning to jump on the “open source software” bandwagon? Or contemplating the idea of switching from an open source setup to a commercial solution? Here are a few considerations to keep in mind.

This article discusses the features and benefits that the Axigen Free Mail Server offers compared to open source solutions. It provides a comprehensive analysis of the factors that IT and Business managers should consider when choosing a messaging platform, particularly addressing the needs of small to medium sized businesses.
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10 year-end tasks for network administrators

(Rick Vanover, TechRepublic) With 2010 coming to a close, this is a great time to get things in shape for next year. Here are some tips to help you get ready for 2011.

1. Use up that remaining budget
2. Get your software and hardware maintenance up to date
3. Check for obsolete components
4. Check for powered off systems
5. Rearrange racks and servers
6. Updates BIOS, firmware, versions
7. Chase down the old operating systems
8. Organize workspace and tools
9. Organize software installations
10. Get connected
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Five cloud security trends experts see for 2011

(Bob Violino, CSO) What do CSOs and other IT security experts expect to be top-of-mind cloud security issues in 2011? Here are five things to watch for in the coming year:
1. Smart phone data slinging
2. Need for better access control and identity management
3. Ongoing compliance concerns
4. Risk of multiple cloud tenants
5. Emergence of cloud standards and certifications

Read more by following the "full article" link.
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6 tips for guarding against rogue sys admins

(Carolyn Duffy Marsan, NetworkWorld) One of the biggest threats that organizations face is losing sensitive data - such as payment card or personally identifiable information about customers or employees - to theft from their own employees. The threat is greatest from systems and network administrators, who have privileged access to vast amounts of corporate data and are responsible for most compromised records in insider cases.

Heather Wyson, vice president of the fraud program at the BITS Financial Services Roundtable, says there has been an increase in insider incidents among U.S. financial services firms.

We spoke with CISOs and IT security experts about what practical steps IT departments can take to minimize the insider threat. Here's their advice:
1. Restrict and monitor users with special privileges
2. Keep user access and privileges current, particularly during times of job changes or layoffs
3. Monitor employees found guilty of minor online misconduct
4. Use software to analyze your log files and alert you when anomalies occur
5. Consider deploying data-loss prevention technology
6. Educate your employees about the insider threat
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A list of hottest IT security certifications

(Carolyn Duffy Marsan, NetworkWorld) Interest in IT security certifications is booming, as more U.S. companies tighten up the protection surrounding their critical network infrastructure and as a growing number of employees view security expertise as recession proof.

Three of the top 10 IT certifications in terms of demand among U.S. employers are security related, according to Foote Partners, a consultancy that tracks IT employment trends. These include the Red Hat Certified Security Specialist – which ranks as No.2 on the Foote Partners list – as well as the CompTIA Security+ (No.3) and the GIAC Security Essentials Certificate (No.6).

Worries about security breaches are prompting companies to get more IT employees trained and certified in information security, says David Foote, CEO of Foote Partners. "Employees are looking at security certifications as career safety," he adds. "Security is a great long-term career move because there's a steady drumbeat of regulations and compliance."

Read more by following the "full article" link.
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Enterprises Ready to Turn to Cloud E-Mail

(Maxwell Cooter, CIO) The battle for email cloud is set to heat up as enterprises start to rethink their email strategies, that's according to Forrester chief analyst, Ted Schadler.

In a new Forrester report, Four Giants Compete For Your Cloud Email Business, Schadler explains how the advent of cloud services is going to shake up enterprises' spending on email.

Email is going to the first large-scale cloud application wrote Schadler. "The reasons are simple: Email in the cloud is cheaper; it will evolve faster; and it is a commodity application that an email provider can run." Not only that, it's a great test bed to master the issues of cloud computing providers. And we're not talking about being a little cheaper either. Cloud-based email is going to be a lot cheaper "unless you're a 50,000-person company with a highly centralised email platform or you run hardware and software until it's old and crusty and a decade behind the times." Schadler wrote.

But when it comes to deciding which company is going to dominate the market, the issue is not so clear cut. With four major companies offering similarly priced services, the differentiators are going to be the level of integration that they offer.
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Choosing the right cloud platform

(Phil Wainewright, ZDNet) The emergence of a number of self-proclaimed ‘open’ cloud platforms presents any would-be cloud adopter with a confusing plethora of choice. Taking the bigger picture into account, who are the winners likely to be?

For cloud adopters all these offerings, in their various ways, hold out the promise of pursuing a hybrid strategy. They’re attractive because they provide the option of putting some assets in the cloud while keeping others on trusted terra firma — or at the very least, a user can reserve the option of pulling their IT back off the provider’s cloud if they ever need to, avoiding lock-in to a single provider.

There are a number of reasons why you want to adopt a cloud platform that, at the same time as having all that cloud goodness, allows you to move your applications somewhere else should you wish to:
- That all-important comfort feeling
- Architectural portability
- Operational portability
- Service level flexibility
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Companies count the cost of IT failure

(Stephen Pritchard, ITPro) Companies are becoming more aware of the direct financial costs of computer downtime, according to a survey of IT managers. One in five businesses lose £10,000 an hour through systems downtime.

Almost one in four companies have suffered an outage that lasted more than one business day, even though IT failures are meant to be covered by their business continuity plans. “The fact that people are willing to state that it costs of £10,000 an hour, or even £1m per business day, means that businesses appear to be taking it seriously.” said Andrew Barnes from Neverfail.

Greater awareness of the costs to the business of failure does not appear to translate into more resilient systems. The survey found that the number of businesses affected by outages remains stubbornly high. A full 92.8% of companies said they had experienced a failure. Businesses are becoming more aware of the costs of downtime, because in a tough trading climate, retaining customers, and maintaining revenues, has become a higher priority.
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A storage virtualization primer

(Scott Lowe, TechRepublic) Storage is perhaps the least optimized component of the virtualized organization, but all of that can change with storage virtualization. Although the concept of storage virtualization can be difficult to grasp, the benefits are clear.

These days, it’s very likely that you’re doing something with virtualization. The most common virtualization use case is what is commonly known as server virtualization. In a server virtualization project, IT administrators take steps to separate the running workloads from physical hardware in an effort to make better use of overall IT resources and provide an organization with additional infrastructure resiliency.

There are, however, others forms of virtualization that can have major benefits to an organization. One such type of virtualization is known as storage virtualization and, like its server-based cousin, aims to provide IT administrators with even more infrastructure flexibility and resiliency.[...]
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The Virtualization Checklist

(Susan J. Aluise, Washington Technology) Virtualization could be the least sexy, most essential component of cloud computing – and that means whether it’s a top-down, government-wide initiative or a grass-roots, bottom-up project in a small office of a federal agency, it is going to happen.

In consultation with industry analysts, here’s FCW’s checklist on how to do it right:
  1. Take Stock Of What You’ve Already Got
  2. Clean House
  3. Add Virtualization To The Mix
  4. Not All IT Needs Are Created Equal
  5. Look At Bringing Legacy Systems Into The Future
  6. Manage Expectations
  7. Listen Closely To Business/Project Leaders
  8. Focus on Processes
  9. Seek Out Standards And Best Practices
  10. Check Out Private Sector Ideas
  11. Don’t Get Lost In Translation
  12. Get The Right Manager For The Virtual Job
  13. Train As You Fight
To learn more, please click on the "full article" link, or attend this free, live webinar on virtual messaging.
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How to Integrate Data Loss Protection in Web 2.0 Security Strategies

(Bob Hinden, eWeek) Businesses in all types of industries today are investing in data loss protection technology at increasingly higher rates because of the increase in corporate insider threats. As more employees utilize Web applications for real-time communications, data leak prevention has become even more complex.

The ease of sharing information, combined with real-time communications, makes many of these social networking tools very compelling. And such trends are expected to continue, with enterprise spending on Web 2.0 technologies projected to reach $4.6B globally by 2013. Businesses can't ignore the opportunity to increase productivity by leveraging these new tools.

But the Web 2.0 world has made security more complex, and organizations are looking for a comprehensive approach to security that reduces—not multiplies—the number of threats, as well as eases management and regulatory challenges faced by IT managers.[...] An effective Web 2.0 security strategy will complement network protection with comprehensive endpoint security, and allow organizations to easily integrate new security services on existing infrastructure without exhausting limited IT budgets.[...]
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5 Best Practices for Enterprise Security

(Jamey Heary, PCWorld) With today's limited security budgets you need to be sure that you've adequately covered your highest risk areas before moving on to other things. Take a look at the top 5 security solutions you can put in place today to cover the widest scope of current and emerging threats.

These 5 items working together will stop more cyber attacks on your data, network and users than any other 5 items in the marketplace today. There are lots of other very useful security solutions on the market but when it comes to picking the top five most effective and readily available ones, here are the choices:
  1. Firewall - without firewalls in place to drop unwanted flows, your job of protecting your assets increases exponentially;
  2. Secure Router - routers are chock full of security features, sometimes even more so than a modern firewall;
  3. Wireless WPA2 - if you aren't using WPA2 wireless security then stop what you are doing and form a plan to start doing so;
  4. Email Security - a good email security solution will get rid of the junk and filter out the malicious stuff as well;
  5. Web Security - web security needs more than just URL filtering.
Read the detailed description of these 5 items by following the "full article" link.
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10 ways to make sure your data doesn't walk out the door

(Debra Littlejohn Shinder, TechRepublic) Many organizations focus on protecting against external attacks but ignore a threat that might be even more destructive: data theft by someone inside the company. Here’s an up-to-date look at critical areas of concern.

Hacker attacks that bring down the network get a lot of attention, so companies concern themselves with protecting against those threats. In this article, we’ll take a look at what you should be doing to keep your data from walking out the door.
  1. Practice the principle of least privilege and put policies in writing
  2. Set restrictive permissions and audit access
  3. Use encryption
  4. Implement rights management
  5. Restrict use of removable media
  6. Keep laptops under control
  7. Set up outbound content rules
  8. Control wireless communications
  9. Control remote access
  10. Beware of creative data theft methods
Read more by following the "full article" link.
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What Are the Most Underrated Security Technologies?

(Bill Brenner, ComputerWorld) The security community has grown to depend on some basic technologies in the fight against cyber thieves. Here are four techniques and related technologies several cited as underrated in today's security fight.

1. Whitelisting
Application security is something companies increasingly worry about, as the number of business and personal apps proliferate. One of the more overlooked features of the technology is whitelisting - the art of allowing only traffic known to be valid to pass through the gate; thus providing an external input validation shield over the application.
2. Data encryptors and/or shredders
You need shredding machines to securely dispose of unnecessary or unscanned records and data encryption to protect the necessary scanned ones.
3. CPU stress testers
It seems that the current state of firmware security, even in case of such reputable vendors as Intel, is quite unsatisfying.
4. Firewalls and AV
Firewalls and AV may no longer get the glory, but many regard them as absolutely necessary parts of any network security posture.
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10 things to consider before deploying a cloud

(Jack Wallen, TechRepublic) If you’re planning to set up a cloud, be forewarned: The process could turn out to be time consuming, complicated, and expensive. Jack Wallen shares his cloud deployment experiences.

Are you thinking about setting up a cloud for deployment in your business or enterprise? Have you planned it out yet? If so, how far have you gotten with it? If you haven’t begun the setup process, check out this list of things to consider before you start deploying that cloud. It might confirm your belief that you’re on the right track — but it could persuade you otherwise.
  1. Time is always an issue
  2. Hardware needs are huge
  3. The process is difficult
  4. Network speed can be a pain
  5. Cost is a deal breaker
  6. Image(s) is(are) everything
  7. Reliability will bring you down
  8. Security is not on duty
  9. It’s not environmentally sound
  10. Platform agnosticism is not a religion
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Top 10 tech skills for 2010

(Jody Gilbert, TechRepublic) What areas should you focus on over the next year? This survey-based list highlights the 10 most sought-after IT skills.

At the end of last year, the Global Knowledge/TechRepublic 2010 Salary Survey asked, “What skill set will your company be looking to add in 2010?”. The skills listed by respondents include a mix of perennial favorites and cutting edge technologies. Here’s the complete list:
  1. Project management
  2. Security - It’s a never-ending game of cat and mouse for security professionals, and 2009 proved to be another fun-filled year. According to Symantec’s Security and Storage Trends to Watch report, the number of spam messages containing malware increased ninefold, to represent more than 2% of emails.
  3. Network administration - Networking administration skills never lose their luster.
  4. Virtualization — Cloud - With the cloud computing space now taking shape, it’s difficult for enterprises to find pros with substantial relevant experience.[...]
Read more by following the "full article" link.
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Security tips for large and small businesses

(Steven Andrés, PC World) Whether your business is a big fish or a small-fry home office, you can get hacked just the same, and the stakes are higher than a few canceled credit cards. Here are a few tips to protect your users and your networks - steps that even enterprise-class security specialists may slip up on.

Steps for small businesses and enterprise-class security specialists:
  1. Know Who Might Be Targeted - and How and Why
  2. Don't Take the Bait
  3. Use Unique Email Addresses to Keep Password Reset Emails at Bay
  4. Don't click on anything in email
  5. Patch Early, Patch Often
  6. Don't Let Bob Stop You From Running a Secure Network
  7. The P of P2P Is Personal, Not Business
  8. Nail Down Your Network
Read more by following the "full article" link.
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Security of virtualization, cloud computing divides IT and security pros


(Ellen Messmer, Network World) Is moving to virtualization  and cloud computing making network security easier or harder? When some 2,100 top IT and security managers in 27 countries were asked, the response revealed a profound lack of consensus, showing how divided attitudes are within the enterprise.

The "2010 State of Enterprise Security Survey - Global Data" report shows that about one-third believe virtualization and cloud computing make security "harder," while one-third said it was "more or less the same," and the remainder said it was "easier." [...]

The survey showed that the median annual budget for enterprise security in 2010 is $600,000, an 11% increase over 2009, with yet another 11% increase anticipated in 2011.[...]In fact, 40% of the respondents indicated their organizations were currently using applications in the cloud in some way -- yet 40% said it would be more difficult to prevent or react to data loss under their firm's cloud-computing strategy.[...]
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Greening the data center: Consolidate your servers

(Scott Lowe , TechRepublic) Energy usage in the data center has become a prime target in efforts to reduce the carbon footprint or overall energy usage for organizations. There are numerous ways that you can accomplish this green goal.

Server consolidation projects are being undertaken in many organizations for a variety of reasons. These kinds of projects generally have a number of aims, including:

  • Replacing older hardware with new equipment.
  • Achieving better overall utilization of equipment in the data center.
  • Lowering total costs related to purchasing equipment.

Consider this: Today’s multicore, multiprocessor systems are a far cry from yesterday’s single-core behemoths. Modern servers accomplish their workload goals using less power than their older counterparts, even when running at full bore. Further, consider the usage pattern: These days, migrating those old, single application servers to virtual machines running in a virtual machine on new hardware is far from uncommon. The result: A load that would have required 10, 20, and even 30 servers can now be affectively run on just two or three machines in many cases. With a ton of hypervisor solutions available out there and with many of them being free, virtualization is the quickest way to achieve server consolidation goals.

In many cases, even a one-for-one replacement of old hardware with new can reduce overall energy consumption. However, by combining the workload from so many servers onto a single unit, a massive energy savings can be realized.

Obviously, it’s not quite as simple as throwing in a new server, moving a bunch of workloads, and heading home for the weekend. In order to adequately support so many workloads on a single virtual host, significant storage space is often necessary. But even with the added power requirements of the SAN, most large server consolidation projects still realize major power savings.
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Green your data center by deploying shared storage with the right features

(Scott Lowe, TechRepublic) With companies doing everything possible to conserve cash, conserving power has quickly become an important part of the IT portfolio. No longer is physical server sprawl an option; in terms of both hardware acquisition costs and ongoing energy and cooling costs, the “throw hardware at the problem” crowd is being replaced by people that attempt to virtualize everything and do everything possible to keep that energy bill low.

The right storage solution in the data center works directly toward the green goal, particularly when the storage solution sports the right feature set. Allow me to explain.

The disk shelves themselves
Shared storage itself in the form of a SAN can help organizations reduce their carbon footprint by using less electricity. Consider this: Historically, before the days of virtualization, organizations often purchased physical servers that were built for long-term use. As such, that initial server configuration was more than likely to be overkill for the originally intended solution. That over-engineering generally included the number of disks housed in the server. After all, even though a server was being purchased for a specific task, who knew exactly what would be required in the future?

The result: In general, physical x86-based servers were horribly underutilized, both from a storage and processing perspective. Even though the server wasn’t running at full capacity, it still required power to run all of the processors originally specified as well as the disk spindles originally included with the unit.
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Storage best practices for virtual server environments

(Carol Sliwa, Features Writer, SearchStorage) Storage performance measurement (SPM) has always been a difficult proposition for IT organizations, and the job has become even more challenging now that virtual servers are so popular.

Take RiskMetrics Group Inc., for example. The New York City-based financial services firm has 30 VMware Inc. ESX Servers spread across six locations, including data centers in the U.S. and Switzerland. Each ESX Server typically runs 10 to 15 virtual machines (VMs).

Many of those virtual machines were formerly physical machines that ran on local disk, so they were of no concern to the storage team. Now the staff needs to not only ensure the VMs perform in the same way they would if they were physical servers, but plan for their potential exponential growth.

"The physical host is easy to analyze, and when a problem surfaces in a physical server environment, it's usually on the host or the storage," said Ed Delgado, storage architect at RiskMetrics. But virtual server environments mean the storage team can't depend only on the performance numbers on the host or the storage. That's because of the amount of other virtual machines on the same datastore.

"Has one VM gone haywire with writes and is it now throttling the other 14 VMs on that datastore? How do you know the other 14 VMs aren't doing the same thing?" wrote Delgado in an email. "On a physical host you can check the read and write MB/sec of a host and trust that number, but on VMware you basically have to add the numbers from the 15 VMs to see how you're actually performing."
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Optimizing server energy efficiency

(Julius Neudorfer, TechTarget) Data center energy efficiency is the hot topic of the day. IT operators are working to quantify and improve the efficiency of their data centers, and that means improving server energy efficiency as well. Of course we all want the fastest, most powerful servers for our data center. Although energy efficiency (green!) is the buzzword, it seems that historically we think about energy usage only when our power or cooling systems are maxed out and need to be upgraded.

In the rush to optimize, virtualize and consolidate in the name of making computing-related operations more effective and efficient (and, of course, green), we've heard many server manufacturers profess that their products provide the most computing power for the least energy. Only recently have server manufacturers begun to discuss or disclose the efficiency of their servers. Currently there are no real standards for overall server energy efficiency.

There are several key components that impact the total energy consumed by a typical server: 
- Power supply
- Fans
- CPU
- Memory
- Hard drives
- I/O cards and ports
- Other motherboard components - supporting chip sets

These components exist in both conventional servers and blade servers, but in the case of blade servers, some items - such as power supplies, fans and I/O ports - are shared on a common chassis, while the CPU and other related motherboard items are located on the individual blades. Depending on the design of the blade server, the hard drives can be located on either the chassis or the blades.

In addition to the components listed above, OS and virtualization software impacts the overall usable computing throughput of the hardware platform.
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10 iptables rules to help secure your Linux box

(Jack Wallen, TechRepublic) The iptables tool is a magnificent means of securing a Linux box. But it can be rather overwhelming. Even after you gain a solid understanding of the command structure and know what to lock down and how to lock it down, iptables can be confusing. But the nice thing about iptables is that it’s fairly universal in its protection. So having a few iptables rules to put together into a script can make this job much easier.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at 10 such commands. Some of these rules will be more server oriented, whereas some will be more desktop oriented.[...]

1: iptables -A INPUT -p tcp -syn -j DROP
This is a desktop-centric rule that will do two things: First it will allow you to actually work normally on your desktop. All network traffic going out of your machine will be allowed out, but all TCP/IP traffic coming into your machine will simply be dropped. This makes for a solid Linux desktop that does not need any incoming traffic. What if you want to allow specific networking traffic in — for example, ssh for remote management? To do this, you’ll need to add an iptables rule for the service and make sure that service rule is run before rule to drop all incoming traffic.

2: iptables -A INPUT -p tcp –syn –destination-port 22 -j ACCEPT
Let’s build on our first command. To allow traffic to reach port 22 (secure shell), you will add this line. Understand that this line will allow any incoming traffic into port 22. This is not the most secure setup alone. To make it more secure, you’ll want to limit which machines can actually connect to port 22 on the machine. Fortunately, you can do this with iptables as well. If you know the IP address of the source machine, you can add the -s SOURCE_ADDRESS option (Where SOURCE_ADDRESS is the actual address of the source machine) before the –destination-port portion of the line.
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10 dumb things IT pros do that can mess up their networks

(TechTepublic Blogs) End users aren’t the only ones whose misguided actions can bring a smooth-running network to a screeching halt. IT pros make their share of mistakes, too — from sliding on DR planning to stalling on repairs to ignoring the need for logs and documentation. 

[...] Let’s take a look at some of the most common dumb things IT pros do that can mess up their networks — and how you can avoid making such mistakes yourself.

#1: Don’t have a comprehensive backup and disaster recovery plan

It’s not that backing up is hard to do. The problem is that it sometimes gets lost in the shuffle, because most network administrators are overloaded already, and backups are something that seem like a waste of time and effort–until you need them. [...]

#2: Ignore warning signs
That UPS has been showing signs of giving up the ghost for weeks. Or the mail server is suddenly having to be rebooted several times per day. Users are complaining that their Web connectivity mysteriously drops for a few minutes and then comes back. But things are still working, sort of, so you put off investigating the problem until the day you come into work and network is down.
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