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The obvious topic for a January column is New Year's resolutions, so I'm resolving to answer all my email within 12 hours, organize my paperwork in color-coded binders, label the shelves of my linen closet and pantry with brass-edged nameplates, and bake fresh bread every morning -- no wait, that's not me. I have no desire to regiment my life to such a painful degree. I'm fairly content to sift semi-regularly through the piles of paper that accumulate on the floor of my office and occasionally order takeout rather than cook.

Some areas of our professional lives, however, must be strictly regulated. For example, systems administrators must conscientiously maintain scheduled backups of critical information, enforce rigorous security measures, and perform frequent security checks. Aside from those responsibilities that are spelled out in job descriptions, however, systems administrators are also bound by a firm code of ethics. The System Administrators Guild (SAGE) has detailed this code of ethics (in Portuguese and French along with English) on its Web site at: If you've not read it, I highly recommend you do so. Its goals, as stated on the site, are:

  • To provide a set of codified guidelines for ethical directions that system administrators must pursue;
  • To act as a reference for construction of local site-acceptable use policies;
  • To enhance the professionalism and image of the Guild and of its individual members by promoting ethical behavior;
  • To act as an "industry standard" reference of behavior in difficult situations, as well as in common ones;
  • To establish a baseline for addressing more complex issues.

You don't have to be a member of SAGE to find value in these recommended practices. The code of ethics serves as a reminder that the "golden rule" applies to systems administration as much as to any other profession. We are reminded that, athough systems administrators are in a position to access vast amounts of confidential information, they must not misuse this information for any personal gain. The beginning of a new year naturally leads to consideration of past and present courses of action, and this code of ethics may serve as a helpful guide for determining future direction.

With this January issue, we offer a poster/calendar along with the magazine. I'm grateful to Zonker Brockmeier for providing the poster text on intrusion detection and to the art and production staff for working so hard to put it all together. Let me know what you think by emailing me at: I value your comments.

Sincerely yours,

Amber Ankerholz
Editor in Chief