|Get Your Free Zip and Security Monitoring Tools|
|Security - IBM i (OS/400, i5/OS)|
|Written by Chris Smith|
|Friday, 30 March 2012 00:00|
This simple zipping tool supports multiple encryption formats seen as essential today for safe file transfers.
Ever since IBM began providing native support to the Linux kernel in a logical partition (LPAR) on the iSeries back in 2000, the option of running open-source software has been a powerful testament to the increasingly open nature of what had been a proprietary platform. The trend toward open-source applications has accelerated since then, but the journey has not been without challenges.
While locking down an application running on Linux is quite possible, configuring security on a Linux server is a different matter from doing so on IBM i, says Richard Brown, CEO of Arpeggio Software.
"When you introduce open source, you may introduce some holes that you didn't expect," says Brown. "The problem people have is they are so used to configuring security one way that when they are dealing with a different operating system they wind up configuring the new one incorrectly, and that's when holes emerge," says Brown. "It's not that there's a problem with the operating system; it's just that it's configured incorrectly."
With Power Systems machines having the capability of running IBM i, AIX, and Linux, the need to know exactly how to configure security on each of the three OSes presents system managers with a significant challenge. Arpeggio Software is working on a number of tools to make configuring security on Power Systems a little simpler, yet still effective.
"When software companies scale up, they wind up taking away individual modules and instead try to sell you a big enterprise-type product. What we're doing is going back to what we did before, which is, if you have a specific problem, like a need for Secure FTP [SFTP] with a trading partner, then we will have a tool that will allow you to do that without having to buy a lot of extra software," says Brown. A new Arpeggio product automates moving files via SFTP and supports SCP and SSH key management for multiple trading partners, Brown says. The product will be released within the next two months, at which time its name will be announced.
"What we're finding is that even though you can try to build a lot of your own tools using some of the APIs that are available, there are a lot of limitations with those APIs, and it's a lot of work to manage multiple trading partners or manage different types of scripts with a single partner," says Brown. "So we're going to introduce affordable tools that IBM i users will be able to purchase to do things like SFTP—as opposed to traditional FTP—that provide FTP over Secure Shell (SSH) or Secure Copy (SCP). A lot of people are moving to SFTP because it's easier to configure between external companies than traditional FTP since everything is done over one [encrypted] tunnel."
To garner some attention to the upcoming SFTP product, Arpeggio decided to give away free its ARP-ZIP tool, which is a secure zipping tool that can be useful to any organization running IBM i. Formerly provided as a utility to all Arpeggio customers, ARP-ZIP is now available as a free download to anyone running IBM i on Power Systems, iSeries, or System i models.
"We realized that even though ARP-ZIP is a simple tool, it could be quite useful to any organization running the System i," says Brown. "And unlike other free tools, ARP-ZIP has a native interface and supports various encryptions," he says. These include ZIP, GZIP, TAR, JAR, and BZIP2. JAR files typically are used to package open-source software. It also supports several encryption methods including ZIP (password) and AES (128, 192, and 256). The tool's native command line interface makes integrating it into any IBM i process quite easy, Brown notes.
"We haven't found anyone that has a tool that can actually open up a file that has been AES encrypted," says Brown. "It's very hard to crack. On the other hand, if you are moving files to and from the IBM i with a ZIP password, it's not safe. There are code crackers that will crack the password, and it doesn't take long at all."
ARP-ZIP is a simple tool with zip and unzip features. However, it has all the parameters built into it and, since it's CL-based, provides users with a natural command-line interface rather than a more complicated RPG program using IBM APIs. For those individuals or companies that may have questions about secure file transfers, Arpeggio sells support for ARP-ZIP, which isn't offered under the free version.
Another free download that Arpeggio offers is a light version of its flagship product, SIFT-IT. Both the free and enterprise versions of SIFT-IT offer real-time detection of security threats and events. It can detect specific events logged in QAUDJRN in real-time through a rules-based SIFTER engine that allows the user to integrate the specific event into a security information and event management (SIEM) server or syslog server. SIFT-IT can also send exception alerts or trigger a remediation process when it senses a threat or specific event. Arpeggio has more than 50 examples of specific monitoring SIFT-IT configurations on its Web site.
Says Brown: "We have some people who monitor when someone is accessing their machine outside of regular business hours or weekends, and we have people who monitor whether a super user is creating or deleting objects after business hours. There are many different kinds of things that can be defined as a threat or an event of interest."
The enterprise version of SIFT-IT has more APIs that the user can invoke than does the free edition and is limitless as far as automating the remediation steps. There still are APIs you can run and processes to trigger with the free edition; it's just not quite as robust as the enterprise edition. The enterprise version comes with support so you can ask questions when you need help. The pricing for the enterprise SIFT-IT ranges from $1200–$2400 per machine annually with volume discounts. Users of more than one machine probably will want the enterprise edition just for the support, even though there is no restriction on multiple versions of the free version.
Arpeggio Software is an emerging company that believes if its products get into the hands of users, the value of those products will be understood and appreciated. Once that happens, paid conversions will follow. That approach marks the type of company that is giving more than its fair share to help keep the IBM i platform alive and growing now and well into the future.
|Last Updated on Friday, 30 March 2012 00:00|