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I have been instructed to administrate a linux server, running SLES out of the box. It’s a Typo3 web server, and there are running some web apps in Tomcat, too, but there is no sensitive contents on that server (no personal information, no credit card numbers or that like) wich would require special protection. The server is provided by a data center, which does

  • any hardware related stuff from disk redundancy to fire protection
  • run a firewall, restricted to the very most possible
  • backups of the data each night with
    • MySQL dumps right before backup starts

Besides the “user application”, I already set up & checked that

  • all services start up automatically after reboot
  • the server does neither run in, nor reboot into runlevel 5 by exident
  • measured values (memory, disk space, CPU) are being monitored
  • log file rotation for applications installed manually is configured
  • automatic OS updates are enabled
  • the system clock does synchronize with a time server

Being left alone this way, when and why do you think this installation will leave the service (let it be an internal error or broken by hackers) because something has been overlooked by the unaware? In your experience, what is strikingly missing in my list?

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closed as not a real question by MadHatter, SvW, Jenny D, splattne Apr 9 '13 at 11:11

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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This question is too generic and does not provide information about kind of server, what type of data, what security level, SLAs, hardware specs. Security, monitoring, automation or backup are too wide areas of expertise on their own. –  dawud Apr 9 '13 at 10:56
    
First, you need to know EXACTLY how the farm (or probably in your case, one server) is build. And what it does, and how, and with which programms. And all this information shell be writte here to. Otherwise we cant do anything other than give you down votes or very good looking guesses, that might create bottlenecks, or dont serve nothing, or other stuff. It's just to unspecific. Use google for a question like this. Or improove your question. –  zwarag Apr 9 '13 at 10:57
    
It is a generic question, but I think it is legitimate as this may well be a customer's only specification initially - the OP is asking for a general list of things that they should consider when asked by a customer to do something unspecific. –  dunxd Apr 9 '13 at 11:05
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This is a question that should not be answered by a checklist, but by a book. Or possibly several books. –  Jenny D Apr 9 '13 at 11:10
    
@dunxd The only thing you should do when asked to do something unspecific is quote back an unspecific rate. Yeah, that will cost you some hundreds of dollars an hour, depending on what I end up doing, and what kind of mood I'm in when I write up the bill. –  HopelessN00b Apr 9 '13 at 21:27

1 Answer 1

If I was asked to “take care of a customer’s server”, I'd probably ask if they mean it "Al Pacino" or "Julia Andrews" way of "take care of". (sarcasm)

Everything depends on what is running on the server. You can (and you should) monitor every important service like DB, RAM, webapp, ... (for example with Nagios).

The restrictive packet filtering is of course good idea.

You should evaluate necessity of remote logins (ssh, rdp, ...) and secure them accordingly.

You should secure services on the server by creating separate users, adjusting access rights, using selinx, whatever.

Sensitive data protection really depends on their sensitivity. But at least protection by access rights and eventually by encryption. But really depends on particular situation.

Letting the server handle (=install) updates automatically is, for me, really stupid idea. Since some updates may need restart of service or even reboot of whole machine, it can result in some funny moments when server "goes down" at 3 a.m. or (even better) when it should serve few hundreds of clients. Better approach is to turn updates off and do them manually like once a month. (In big networks this can be a painful process but I personally like servers "under my control").

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Which RAM parameter is sensible to look monitor? RAM size doesn’t change. Free memory gets filled up by disk cache, so this doesn’t make much sense, either, does it? What aspect of the webapp do you think should be monitored? Just that it is reachable? The number of users logged in? Session length? It’s interesting that you disagree to automatic updates. It raises another interesting point: It should be testet that all services should come up well after reboot automatically. –  Paramaeleon Apr 9 '13 at 11:31
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If you need a quick respondindg server which hosts, lets say, a database, the RAM consumption is good to watch. It provides you with data to build on and determine the hw upgrade when the time comes. Swap is slow when compared to RAM thus making server slow-responsive. Also if you run out of swap, the server will die. This can happen due to bug, attack, bad settings, ... and it is good to know if there is something likely-bad happening. For the autoupdate thing. You probably didn't get my point. It can be the restart itself what is unwanted. –  Fiisch Apr 9 '13 at 11:47
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Also service cannot be reliably tested for "update in the future" because you simply cannot say what will developers change. I've seen (few times) that update of httpd messed up configuration files. It happened because the configuration of webapp was poorly-written but this fact really doesn't matter at the time the customer calls you complaining that "it isn't working". –  Fiisch Apr 9 '13 at 11:50
    
Thanks so far, I try incorporating it into the question. I didn’t know linux servers do reboot automatically, too. “RAM consumtion of selected applications” is what you mean, isn’t it? Manually updating means to schedule a regularly date in your calender. –  Paramaeleon Apr 9 '13 at 11:56
    
Few distros will automatically reboot the server but most will restart services. And when you monitor free RAM you include unused and used for disk cache - both are available for apps when they need it. –  Grant Apr 9 '13 at 12:06

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