[Techtalk] Administration, was Re: Hacked on Solaris

Magni Onsoien magnio+lc-techtalk at pvv.ntnu.no
Thu Aug 29 12:34:37 EST 2002

Caitlyn Martin:

> The key is to create the best, most secure environment possible with the
> least impact on users possible.  Still, users do not have the right to
> tell me that they don't want anti-virus signature downloads on their
> Windows box.  It's company policy to have an up to date AV program, and
> that policy is there for good reason.

My experience is that information is essensial. A user will usually
accept almost ANYTHING is s/he just knows WHY.

At uni I worked as systadmin on a 20k users system. The number of
complaints due to downtime dropped VERY much as soon as we started with
systematic information before taking down the system. Even the
information dept accepted that the mysql server (which was the base of
their bloody intranet system) was down for a couple of days if we just
told them why and gave them guesstimates of how long it would remain

My SO works at dept of computer science and has experienced that CS
staff are no better than non-CS staff when it comes to knowledge about
the computer systems. For sysadmins it may be obvious that any CS staff
has some basic knowledge, but out experience is that they are like
regular users when it comes to anything outside their speciality (there
are some exceptions, but they usually have so much knowledge or skills
that they insist on using their own solutions when it comes to OS or

They are now making a folder for new staff at the CS dept, it will be in
a special color (they will make sure no other part of the dept or
faculty use the same color for their info) and contain information about
how, why and who - how things work in the uni system, why they should
and should not do so and so and whom to contact if they have problems.
Then, if someone has problems and this problem is explained in the
folder, they can just say "but haven't you read the <YELLOW> folder you

My point is that without a proper explanation for why things are like
they are, people often won't accept them. this is both good and bad:
good because we need critical people and because sysadmins and PHPs
should make a little thinking AND explanation before they enforce a
policy, bad because this means more work for sysadmins et al. (which is 
good if you are a consultant hired on hourly basis, of course ;>).

Magni :)
sash is very good for you.

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