What is a Security Systems Administrator?
When considering whether your organization should have your IT managed by an on-site security systems administrator (sysadmin) or a managed service provider (MSP), it is helpful to consider what tasks a sysadmin is expected to perform. It is also important to consider the costs and difficulties in retaining highly skilled sysadmins, who are trained to perform all of those tasks. The following explains some of the skills and responsibilities that associated with this role1,2:
- Qualifications. Examples of qualifications that sysadmins can be expected to have include Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE), Linux, Oracle Linux System Administrator (Oracle), Unix, Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE), CompTIA Server+, VMware Certified Professional 6- Data Center Virtualization. Sysadmins should have post-secondary education in computer science, but they can also work their way through entry-level positions.
- Monitoring and alerts. Sysadmins need to find the right monitoring and alerts solutions for your organization, as there are no one-size-fits-all solutions. They will need to consistently assess your organization’s changing needs by identifying vulnerabilities, collecting and analyzing metrics, and receiving actionable alerts.
- Single sign-on and password management. Sysadmins manage the authentication methods that enable users to security authenticate multiple applications and websites with a single set of trusted credentials.
- Permissions. Sysadmins are responsible for assigning access to specific roles, ensuring that only legitimate users who need to access particular resources are able to do so.
- System usage. Sysadmins are responsible for defining digital access and security best practices, policies, and procedures, and for training users.
- File management. Database management involves organizing files and file structures within the servers and monitoring access to digital assets.
- Software management. Sysadmins must manage the installation, updates, and maintenance of all software installed on all devices within the organization.
- Backup and recover. In order to maintain a robust security posture, sysadmins must be proactive about updating and having active plans for redundancies, rollovers, and incident recoveries. They will manage backups as well as restoration in the event of a disaster.
- Security. Security is a core function of the sysadmin role, as they are responsible for defending against unauthorized access from all kinds of threats.
- Documentation. Each system will have records including runbooks that detail the routine procedures performed by IT staff.
- Incident response. Sysadmins plan and execute incident response activities that include detection, response, remediation, and post-incident review.
- Troubleshooting. Sysadmins are relied upon to solve problems and prevent future problems, making this a critical skill in the position.
1 Okta, 2022, “What Is a Systems Administrator & What Do They Do?”
2 CareerExplorer, 2023, “What does a security systems administrator do?”