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Where to begin?

By lvnnthe80s ·
Good days people,

By the title, you can already see the opportunity. First, the background. I love computers, I've played around with Microsoft O/S's and home networks (currently playing around with wi-fi at the moment,) and have plans to get into the industry. However, just recently, I was asked to help out with a family owned business (non IT related) in regards to their network. When asked about hiring a "real" Net Admin, three factors came up. One, the business is scraping by. Two, it's a small network. And three, the family believes this would be an excellent opportunity for me to get my feet wet and see what I'm in for.
The problem is: They need me now to take a look at things. There really isn't a problem as of yet. However, the last Admin kinda, "left unexpectantly to higher places (hopefully)" without leaving much documentation. I like to do research and I like to read, however, time is an extreme factor. Where to begin is my question. I know the typical response is: books, net, classes and the like are all very valid points, but, what did you look for on your first day as a network administrator? The network consists of W2K Server with Tape back up and ArcServer software, Windows NT running MS Exchange 5.5, A WatchGuard Firebox Soho 6, an Anti-virus Machine, and a few more I have to see, with multiple workstations. Any suggestions would greatly be appreciated.
Thank you

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Scan away!

by Joseph Moore In reply to Where to begin?

Ok, if this were me, I would start by scanning everything. Scan for missing Windows patches (use Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzier for that).
Do a port scan against everything for reference inside the LAN (my favorite is NMAP).
Get a list of all user accounts on the domain (use Dameware NT Utiliies, IMHO, for that one).
Check out the firewall rules, and do a port scan on the outside of the firewall (looking for open ports in the firewall that allow traffic in From the Internet to your LAN).
Event Viewer: study them on all machines (including Exchange) to look for errors/faults.
Another Exchange thing is check if the server is flagged as an open relay (use http://www.ordb.org for that).
Check out the antivirus software running on the machines, if it's updated (or if they even have any).
See if the user workstations act "weird" or not. Weird could mean virii/spyware.
I think that is enough for one day!
Have fun!

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Start with

by TheChas In reply to Where to begin?

The first place to start is to make sure that backups are happening on schedule. And, that all critical data files are part of the backup.

Next, keep the anti-virus software up to date.

Followed closely by monitoring security logs and critical software updates.

Once you have that under control, you can start to look into other issues.

Exchange will likely be the next item you need to get your mind around.

From then, you should be deep enough in that you can begin to see upcoming issues and prioritize what needs to be next on your platter.

Never loose site of SECURITY, DATA RECOVERY, and Business Continuity.

You will find a number of resources here at TR in the email newsletters and the archived articles.

If you run into a specific issue that has you at a loss for what to do, post a question in the Technical Q&A forum.
Be as specific as possible to assure a fast and accurate answer.

Chas

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