CHMOD settings are something that you will learn about in information security classes, and while they can be very complex, we’re only going to cover a few simple aspects of them. The first thing that we would like to point out, is that Windows has an equivalent of the CHMOD setting, even if you don’t realize it. There are three important basics which include: “Read, Write, and Execute”. These are literally the only permissions that matter in most files, and if you are looking for them in Windows, they are typically sitting in the ‘properties’ menu on all of your files.
The only difference is that in Windows they are set through check boxes rather than a command line. In recent days, the introduction of WordPress has made it more important for CHMOD settings to become available and accessible to the average user and it is often set in the backend rather than on a terminal, but today we are going to talk about the command line settings.
The UNIX Command Line
If you happen to be using a standard UNIX GUI interface like Gnome, the terminal you use will most likely be ‘Bash’, but many servers do not use the GUI interface. For example if you are remoting into a shell using SSH you will only see the bash terminal which requires you to have a very good memory. That being said, let’s take a quick look at the most common permissions:
7- Read, Write, Execute (RWX)
6- Read, Write (RW-)
5- Read, Execute (R-X)
4- Read Only (R–)
3- Write, Execute (-WX)
2- Write Only (-W-)
1- Execute Only (–X)
UNIX systems have the option for multiple accounts, and just as in Windows, these permissions can change the user’s level of access to that system. The only difference between UNIX and Windows is the customizable nature provided by the command line interface. In information technology security careers, having access to this type of information and knowledge is going to be absolutely vital, even if you don’t know it yet. In addition to learning how it works, however, you’re going to need to know how to avoid making certain mistakes.
Okay, so here’s why it is important to make sure you keep a backup of your existing system. It is entirely possible to set the wrong permissions and lock yourself out of the UNIX system. This is not always possible in Windows, but UNIX systems assume that the user knows precisely what they are doing and provides them with complete ROOT access to the file system.
This is both a gift and a curse. The gift is the level of customization that you will be able to take advantage of. The curse, on the other hand, is the realization that you’re playing with fire. Let’s face it, if you’re working in a corporate environment the last thing you ever want to do is explain to your department or management team that you have to reformat and reinstall the entire server simply because you made a numerical mistake. Trust us, it doesn’t go over very well, and that is precisely why you are going to need good information security classes.
The UNIX Difference
While there are many people out there who still prefer Windows, they often do not realize that UNIX is far older and far more stable. Like we said before, the major benefit lies in the ability to customize the system to any specification that you wish. Over the years, the UNIX system has evolved into many different forms, from MINIX, to the Linux Kernel that was created by Linus Torvald many years ago.
Today there are a plethora of commercialized versions of Linux on the market, including Redhat which started out as a free version, eventually evolving into the enterprise edition that we see today. As you can see, plenty of things have changed over the years, but permissions still remain entirely relevant. If you’re going to work in the IT field, then this is something that you are absolutely, positively going to need to know. Don’t worry; we have you covered, and we offer plenty of financial aid!
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