Are you a good administrator or a great administrator?
Great administrators typically move up in the organization quickly. Good administrators are valued but often have to escalate problems that they can’t solve simply because they don’t have the skill set to solve complex problems.
I have frequently told students that the difference between a good administrator and a great administrator is the ability to script. In the past, this has primarily translated into mastering the command line and creating batch files. However, it has increasingly included Linux commands too.
Windows commands are fairly easy to master because the Windows Command Prompt is readily available to anyone with a Windows system. If anyone wants to master them, they can launch the Command Prompt and dig in. The CompTIA Security+ Get Certified Get Ahead: SY0-501 Study Guide includes several labs using the command prompt.
In the past, it’s been difficult to get your hands on a Linux system to master those commands. However, it’s become much easier.
How to Get Linux
The simplest way to get Linux is to buy a bootable USB on Amazon. I wrote about that here providing more details. Once you have the USB, you can simply plug it into almost any computer and boot into Linux.
If you’re more adventurous and you have a USB at least 3 GB in size that you can format, you can also create your own. One way to do so is with Rufus, a free open source utility. Some people want detailed steps to follow so I included a detailed lab with the Linux+ study package. This lab will help you create a bootable USB with Kali Linux.
Linux and Security Certifications
Security certifications are increasingly requiring test takers to understand Linux and terminal commands.
As an example, the Security+ and CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP+) certifications both list Linux distributions in the Proposed Hardware and Software List. More, both of these lists mention Kali Linux.
Why Kali Linux?
The reason is simple.
Kali Linux is a Linux distribution that includes a wealth of penetration testing and forensic applications. Security professionals use these to assess security in network environments and investigate security incidents. Attackers often use the same tools during attacks.
Kali Linux was developed by Offensive Security. The kali.org web site mentions that the organization “was born out of the belief that the only real way to achieve sound defensive security is through an offensive mindset and approach.” In other words, learning how to use these tools with a mindset related to attacking, security professionals learn how to defend against attackers using the same tools.
It’s important to realize that Kali wasn’t created to help criminals launch attacks. Instead, it’s understood that the criminals have all of these tools and are using many of them aggressively. Kali gives security administrators the same tools in an easily accessible operating system.
Great administrators are familiar with Kali Linux and have mastered at least some of its tools.
Linux Commands For Great Administrators
What commands should you master after you get your bootable USB? Some basic commands include:
- ls (short for list)
- cp (short for copy)
- mv (short for move)
- man (short for manual)
- passwd (used to change the password)
- cat (concatenate or read and display file)
- grep (short for global-regular-expression-print)
It’s also important to understand many of the operators such as:
- Pipe (|)
- Input (<)
- Replace (>)
- Append (>>)
- Background (&)
- And (&&)
- Or (||)
The following list shows many of the more advanced commands worth investigating.
- curl (copy URL)
- dd (disk duplication)
- du (show disk usage)
- df (show disk space usage)
- chmod (change permissions)
- netstat (show network statistics)
- fsck (file system consistency check)
- route (show/change IP routing table)
- traceroute (trace a route between two hosts)
- watch (periodically repeat a command automatically)
- mtr (combines the functionality of ping and traceroute)
The Linux+ study package mentions all of the above listed commands. You can also use Google to look up any of the commands and learn them.
Linux and Great Administrators
So the question now is, do you want to be a good administrator or a great administrator? Good administrators are valuable to any organization. However, great administrators often move up in an organization quicker. More, great administrators have learned at least some of the commands in both Windows and Linux.