04 Jan 2008

Dedicated Linux Server Checklist for the New Year. 

By - Linux, Quick Tip No Comments

If you have a dedicated Linux server, this list is for you. Below are a few items you need to do, to ensure your 2008 will be a bit brighter.  This list is by no means comprehensive, but hopefully gets you started in the right direction this year.

  • Check your backups and perform a full system backup (or setup a backup routine! Now!).

If you have backups configured, validate they are actually being run. Check the last date / time of the backups to ensure they are running as expected. If possible, test the restore process.

Perform a full system backup and copy this backup offsite, to a provider like rsync.net

  • Apply updates, or check for available updates.

Software manufacturers are constantly releasing updates to close security holes that have been discovered. You should update the key software components (the Web server, email server, firewall, SSH server, languages like PHP and Perl…) on each new server. Don’t assume your host has provided you with the latest packages.

You should apply at a minimum the security patches for your server / control panel. For Red Hat based machines, you can run ‘yum check-update’ or ‘up2date –dry-run’ (depending on your version) to see available updates.

Run ‘yum update’ or ‘up2date’ to update your servers to the latest patch levels.

  • Run a security scan against your own server.

I suggest installing nessus (www.nessus.org) and nitko (http://www.cirt.net/code/nikto.shtml), and running these tools against your server. The report these tools provide, will help you determine your current server security.

  • Setup a simple monitoring system, how do you know your server is actually available?

I had the experience of working with a few bad hosting companies, and the networks were down more often than I would have expected.

A number of services will ping your server regularly and alert you when it does not respond. Your host may offer such a service, or you can use an independent service like pingdom.com. Be sure you supply them with an email address on another server—or even on your mobile phone.

  • Change your passwords.

Don’t use the same password for your personal account and an administrative account. On Linux systems, be sure the root password is different from the regular account you use.

Choose long, complex passwords that are hard to guess. Combine letters, numbers, and punctuation, and avoid using words that are in the dictionary.

This is by no means a comprehensive list, but meant as a few quick tips for the beginners. All of these things need to be done more frequently than once per year, but starting to look at these things now will allow you to become more familiar with your system.

If you need help with your Linux server, contact MNX Solutions today. We provide dedicated administration services, and support for project related activities.

MNX Solutions – (888) 877-7118 – info@mnxsolutions.com

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