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TechTip: Secure Your Reports in a New Way with DB2 Web Query DBA

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Learn how a recent enhancement to DB2 Web Query provides a way to customize a granular yet secure reporting environment.

 

V1R1M2 of IBM DB2 Web Query for i was a significant version, one that offered new features such as the InfoAssist development tool as well as the Oracle JD Edwards Application Adapter. One feature that has flown a bit under the radar is a security enhancement named DBA (short for Database Administrator). This new feature is found in the synonym editor in DB2 Web Query Developer Workbench. It provides a way to configure a secure reporting environment that is both granular and flexible.

 

So how might you be able to leverage this new feature? First some background: For years, many shops secured their data by employing a technique often referred to as "application-level" security. This simply meant that access to the data was governed by rules defined in the both the program code and storage objects, such as database tables (files) and data areas. These rules were enforced by one or more programs that were part of an application. When a user profile logged into the IBM i, the initial program (application) was called and was in complete control of what information was provided to the user. Based on the rules defined in the database and the application, the user was presented only specific menu options and data. Since users were effectively fenced by the application, no other access to the data was available, and consequently, setting up object-level security was often deemed as unnecessary.

 

This implementation worked splendidly for 5250-only access (and still does), but times have changed, and those same customers need other interfaces to access their data (such as Web applications and tools like DB2 Web Query) without compromising data security. While setting up object-level security would certainly secure the data, such a venture often requires much time in planning, testing, and implementation and is fraught with risk as it could introduce problems in a production environment. If not implemented correctly, it could disable applications that rely exclusively on application-level security and prevent "authorized" users from accessing their data. Therefore, from purely a DB2 Web Query reporting perspective, what is needed is a similar approach: application-level security. And that's exactly what DBA is.

 

Using DBA, a DB2 Web Query administrator can define DB2 Web Query metadata access/restrictions on a per-user basis at the following levels:

  • Segment (File)
  • Field
  • Value (Row)
  • No Print (Column)

Each of these options provides a different level of access control. To give you more clarity on each of these levels, we'll later go through each one in detail. But first, let's review how to set up DBA.

Setting Up DBA

DBA works by securing different elements in the DB2 Web Query synonym. This means its rules are enforced for all reports, graphs, and dashboards that are based on that synonym. This centralization of business logic is yet another shining example of the benefits of having a metadata layer!


To illustrate this, let's go through an example. For this example, we have a basic set of reports that are based on a synonym over the ORDERS table. This synonym contains join segments to the tables INVENTORY, STORES, and PLANT. A sample report looks something like the example shown in Figure 1.

 

100711CobbFig1

Figure 1: A typical, non-secured report looks like this.

 

Assuming that there are no specific object-level permissions defined over those tables, all users that have access to the domain (in which the report resides) would see the same reports and would see the same results in each of those reports. This may be fine and dandy in most cases, but what if you would like a little more granular control over which users see what in those reports? You guessed it: Set up DBA!

 

To do this, open DB2 Web Query Developer Workbench, find your synonym, and open it. In the synonym editor, click on the DBA icon located in the toolbar, as shown in Figure 2.

 

100711CobbFig2

Figure 2: Launch the DBA interface. (Click images to enlarge.)

 

The DBA palette will be displayed on the right side. Right-mouse click on the segment name and select Insert>DBA, as shown in Figure 3.

 

100711CobbFig3

Figure 3: Insert a DBA into the synonym.

 

By default, your user profile (in my case, COBBG) will be the synonym's "DBA" as shown in Figure 4.

 

100711CobbFig4

Figure 4: The synonym's DBA has been defined.

 

This simply means that user profile COBBG is the DBA for this synonym, and as such, has full control over the synonym's security. This profile can assign access rights to other users. Once a DBA has been assigned and the synonym saved, no other user can run reports based on the synonym unless explicitly granted access by the DBA. So let's do that.

 

In our example, we want only four users to be able to run reports over this particular synonym. We would also like to restrict each of those four users in different ways. To add users to the synonym's access list, right-mouse click on the DBA name and select Insert>User, as shown in Figure 5.

 

100711CobbFig5

Figure 5: Provide synonym access to other users.

 

By default, a placeholder user profile name (USER0001) is inserted. We don't have any user profiles with that name, so rename it by selecting Rename from the right-click menu (Figure 6).

 

100711CobbFig6

Figure 6: Rename the user.

 

The first user we want to add is KATHY, so rename the user to that profile name (Figure 7).

 

100711CobbFig7

Figure 7: KATHY is now the user.

 

Next, we grant user KATHY read access to the synonym by selecting Insert>Read Access from the right-click menu (Figure 8).

 

100711CobbFig8

Figure 8: Provide read access to KATHY.

 

The result is shown in Figure 9.

 

100711CobbFig9

Figure 9: KATHY now has access to the synonym.

 

Follow the above steps to grant read access to user profiles DOUG, ROBERT, and SIMON. When finished, it should look like Figure 10.

  

100711CobbFig10

Figure 10: Four users have read access to the synonym.

 

Once the synonym is saved, only those four users (and the DBA) can run any report, graph, or dashboard based on the synonym. Such an attempt from any other user would result in the following error:

 

(FOC047) THE USER DOES NOT HAVE SUFFICIENT ACCESS RIGHTS TO THE FILE:

 DBA2011_ORDERS

 

Note: Reports based on other synonyms are not affected by these changes.

Segment Restriction

This is a good start, but we have security requirements that require more granularity. The INVENTORY file has fields that contain sensitive data that we do not want to expose to user profile KATHY. So we would like to prevent KATHY from running reports that contain any field from that particular join segment. To do this, we set up a DBA Segment Restriction.

 

Under KATHY, select Read, right-mouse click, and select Insert>Segment Restriction, as shown in Figure 11.

 

100711CobbFig11

Figure 11: Insert a Segment Restriction.

 

By default, the primary segment (T1_ORDERS) is selected. To change this to the INVENTORY segment, first make sure the Properties palette is displayed (above the DBA dialog). If it's not, click on the Properties icon in the toolbar, as shown in Figure 12.

 

100711CobbFig12

Figure 12: Open the Properties palette.

 

In the Properties dialog, click on the drop-down list for segment NAME and select T2_INVENTORY, as shown in Figure 13.

 

100711CobbFig13

Figure 13: The Properties palette offers options.

 

Once you're done, you see the new Segment Restriction under KATHY (Figure 14):

 

100711CobbFig14

Figure 14: KATHY now has a segment restriction in the synonym.

 

Save the synonym. Now, when KATHY tries to run our sample report (which contains the field PRODUCTTYPE in the INVENTORY segment), the request fails and she sees the following errror:

 

(FOC052) THE USER DOES NOT HAVE ACCESS TO THE FIELD: PRODUCTTYPE

Field Resriction

A Segment Restriction is great if you want to block all of the fields in a particular file/join segment from a specific user profile. But what if there are just one or two fields in the segment you want to restrict access to? The Field Restriction is just the ticket!

 

The process is similar to the Segment Restriction: Simply select Read under the user profile and select Insert>Field Restriction, as shown for user profile DOUG in Figure 15.

 

100711CobbFig15

Figure 15: Insert a Field Restriction.

 

Next, go the the Properties dialog to select the specific field you want to restrict. In our example below, we select the LINETOTAL field (Figure 16).

 

100711CobbFig16

Figure 16: Select the field to restrict.

 

Now DOUG has field restriction for LINETOTAL (Figure 17).

 

100711CobbFig17

Figure 17: DOUG now has a Field Restriction.

 

After saving this change, user profile DOUG sees the following error when attempting to run a report that contains LINETOTAL column.

 

(FOC052) THE USER DOES NOT HAVE ACCESS TO THE FIELD: LINETOTAL

Value Restriction (Row-Level Security)

Segment and Field Restrictions are quite handy, but as you can see, they're both "all or nothing" types of implementations. That means that once the restriction is in effect for a user, that user cannot run the report at all. Wouldn't it be nice if you could allow the report to run but hide only certain rows and/or certain columns from those users? Both can be accomplished! A DBA Value Restriction is a way to implement row-level security for that synonym.

 

In our case, we would like user profile ROBERT to be able to successfully run the report and see all of the fields in the report, but restrict him to only see rows in the tables that meet certain selection criteria: where the PRODUCTTYPE field equals Audio, Office, or Video.

 

To set up a Value Restriction, select Read under ROBERT and select Insert>Value Restriction from the right-click menu. This is demonstrated in Figure 18.

 

100711CobbFig18

Figure 18: Insert a Value Restriction.

 

Next, from the Properties dialog, select the name of the segment that contains the field you want to restrict and then click on the VALUE ellipsis icon as shown in Figure 19.

 

100711CobbFig19

Figure 19: View the Value Restriction properties.

 

The Value Selection dialog is displayed. From the list of Fields/Variables on the right, find and double-click the PRODUCTTYPE field as shown in Figure 20.

 

100711CobbFig20

Figure 20: Select the field of the Value Restriction.

 

This action bring the PRODUCTTYPE column over in the the Relational Expression tab on the left.

 

Next, specify the values (for PRODUCTTYPE) that you want to match on by clicking on the ellipsis button. This is demonstrated in Figure 21.

 

100711CobbFig21

Figure 21: Specify the value of the Value Restriction.

 

A list of valid values for PRODUCTTYPE is dynamically pulled from the INVENTORY table and displayed. Select the values you want to reveal to the user and click on the Add New Value arrow, as shown in Figure 22.

 

100711CobbFig22

Figure 22: Add a new value.

 

You'll see the values on the right side, as shown in Figure 23. Click OK.

 

100711CobbFig23

Figure 23: Values have been added.

 

As you can see in Figure 24, the three values are in place. Click OK again.

 

100711CobbFig24

Figure 24: Value Restriction is ready to be saved.

 

Now Robert has a Value Restriction in place (Figure 25). Save the synonym.

 

100711CobbFig25

Figure 25: ROBERT now has a Value Restriction.

 

When ROBERT runs the sample report, he sees all of the report columns, but based on the defined Value Restriciton, he only sees data for Audio, Office, and Video (Figure 26). Row-level security has been achieved!

 

100711CobbFig26

Figure 26: Value Restriction success!

Noprint (Column)

In addition, the administrator can impose column-level restrictions for certain users. This form of column-level security it referred to as "Noprint" and allows a report to be successfully run, while the value of specific columns in the report are hidden from the user. For our final example, we set up a Noprint restriction for user profile SIMON so that he can run a report and see all of the data except the values for the LINETOTAL column.

 

To set up a Noprint Restriction, select Read under SIMON and select Insert>Noprint Restriction from the right-click menu (Figure 27).

 

100711CobbFig27 

Figure 27: Insert a Noprint Restriction.

 

From the Properties palette, find and select LINETOTAL from the NAME drop-down list. This is demonstrated in Figure 28.

 

100711CobbFig28

Figure 28: These are the Noprint properties.

 

That's it! The Noprint Restriction for SIMON (Figure 29) is ready to be saved.

 

100711CobbFig29

Figure 29: SIMON now has a Noprint Restriction for LINETOTAL.

 

Once the synonym has been saved and SIMON runs the report, notice that the the LINTETOTAL column contains zeroes (Figure 30).

 

100711CobbFig30

Figure 30: SIMON cannot see the LINETOTAL column!

Same

Last but not least, a very handy restriction type is one that is called "Same." This simply means you can set up a specific set of DBA restrictions for one user and then assign that same set of restrictions to other users. This can be a big time-saver if you have a group of identical restrictions that you want to apply to multiple users, because you will not be forced to redefine those same restrictions over and over again for each user. Simply set up a "Same" restriction and select the user whose set of restrictions you want to inherit. In the example below, user ROBERT not only has an explicit value restriction in place, but is also inheriting the same set of restrictions that were set up for SIMON.

 

100711CobbFig31

Figure 31: ROBERT has a Same restriction. 

A Lock to One of the Castle's Doors, Not a Moat!

While DBA is a very handy addition to your toolbox, bear in mind that DB2 Web Query is an application and DBA is simply another form of application-level security. Consequently, DBA should never be considered the technique to completely lock down your database. If your security requirements dictate that you must completely secure the data and provide access to only specific users or groups for all interfaces to the database, choose object-level authority, and further complement that with database features such as such as row- and column-level security (using SQL views, functions, and encryption), or even the Database Open Exit Point. If you're not employing these techniques, wily and nefarious users with bad intentions can potentially access data that they should not see!

as/400, os/400, iseries, system i, i5/os, ibm i, power systems, 6.1, 7.1, V7, V6R1 

Gene Cobb

Gene Cobb is a DB2 for i5/OS Technology Specialist in IBM's ISV Business Strategy & Enablement for System i group. He has worked on IBM midrange systems since 1988, including over 10 years in the IBM Client Technology Center (now known as IBM Systems and Technology Group Lab Services). While in Lab Services, he assisted customers with application design and development using RPG, DB2 for i5/OS, CallPath/400, and Lotus Domino. His current responsibilities include providing consulting services to System i developers, with a special emphasis in application and database modernization. He can be reached at cobbg@us.ibm.com.

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    • Manage
    • And distribute documents digitally

     

  • IBM i: It’s Not Just AS/400

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_Generic

    IBM’s Steve Will talks AS/400, POWER9, cognitive systems, and everything in between

    Are there still companies that use AS400? Of course!

    IBM i was built on the same foundation.
    Watch this recorded webinar with IBM i Chief Architect Steve Will and IBM Power Champion Tom Huntington to gain a unique perspective on the direction of this platform, including:

    • IBM i development strategies in progress at IBM
    • Ways that Watson will shake hands with IBM i
    • Key takeaways from the AS/400 days

     

  • Ask the RDi Experts

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericWatch this recording where Jim Buck, Susan Gantner, and Charlie Guarino answered your questions, including:

    • What are the “hidden gems” in RDi that can make me more productive?
    • What makes RDi Debug better than the STRDBG green screen debugger?
    • How can RDi help me find out if I’ve tested all lines of a program?
    • What’s the best way to transition from PDM to RDi?
    • How do I convince my long-term developers to use RDi?

    This is a unique, online opportunity to hear how you can get more out of RDi.

     

  • Node.js on IBM i Webinar Series Pt. 2: Setting Up Your Development Tools

    Profound Logic Software, Inc.Have you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application. In Part 2, Brian May teaches you the different tooling options available for writing code, debugging, and using Git for version control. Attend this webinar to learn:

    • Different tools to develop Node.js applications on IBM i
    • Debugging Node.js
    • The basics of Git and tools to help those new to it
    • Using NodeRun.com as a pre-built development environment

     

     

  • Inside the Integrated File System (IFS)

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericDuring this webinar, you’ll learn basic tips, helpful tools, and integrated file system commands—including WRKLNK—for managing your IFS directories and Access Client Solutions (ACS). We’ll answer your most pressing IFS questions, including:

    • What is stored inside my IFS directories?
    • How do I monitor the IFS?
    • How do I replicate the IFS or back it up?
    • How do I secure the IFS?

    Understanding what the integrated file system is and how to work with it must be a critical part of your systems management plans for IBM i.

     

  • Expert Tips for IBM i Security: Beyond the Basics

    SB PowerTech WC GenericIn this session, IBM i security expert Robin Tatam provides a quick recap of IBM i security basics and guides you through some advanced cybersecurity techniques that can help you take data protection to the next level. Robin will cover:

    • Reducing the risk posed by special authorities
    • Establishing object-level security
    • Overseeing user actions and data access

    Don't miss this chance to take your knowledge of IBM i security beyond the basics.

     

     

  • 5 IBM i Security Quick Wins

    SB PowerTech WC GenericIn today’s threat landscape, upper management is laser-focused on cybersecurity. You need to make progress in securing your systems—and make it fast.
    There’s no shortage of actions you could take, but what tactics will actually deliver the results you need? And how can you find a security strategy that fits your budget and time constraints?
    Join top IBM i security expert Robin Tatam as he outlines the five fastest and most impactful changes you can make to strengthen IBM i security this year.
    Your system didn’t become unsecure overnight and you won’t be able to turn it around overnight either. But quick wins are possible with IBM i security, and Robin Tatam will show you how to achieve them.

  • How to Meet the Newest Encryption Requirements on IBM i

    SB PowerTech WC GenericA growing number of compliance mandates require sensitive data to be encrypted. But what kind of encryption solution will satisfy an auditor and how can you implement encryption on IBM i? Watch this on-demand webinar to find out how to meet today’s most common encryption requirements on IBM i. You’ll also learn:

    • Why disk encryption isn’t enough
    • What sets strong encryption apart from other solutions
    • Important considerations before implementing encryption

     

     

  • Security Bulletin: Malware Infection Discovered on IBM i Server!

    SB PowerTech WC GenericMalicious programs can bring entire businesses to their knees—and IBM i shops are not immune. It’s critical to grasp the true impact malware can have on IBM i and the network that connects to it. Attend this webinar to gain a thorough understanding of the relationships between:

    • Viruses, native objects, and the integrated file system (IFS)
    • Power Systems and Windows-based viruses and malware
    • PC-based anti-virus scanning versus native IBM i scanning

    There are a number of ways you can minimize your exposure to viruses. IBM i security expert Sandi Moore explains the facts, including how to ensure you're fully protected and compliant with regulations such as PCI.

     

     

  • Fight Cyber Threats with IBM i Encryption

    SB PowerTech WC GenericCyber attacks often target mission-critical servers, and those attack strategies are constantly changing. To stay on top of these threats, your cybersecurity strategies must evolve, too. In this session, IBM i security expert Robin Tatam provides a quick recap of IBM i security basics and guides you through some advanced cybersecurity techniques that can help you take data protection to the next level. Robin will cover:

    • Reducing the risk posed by special authorities
    • Establishing object-level security
    • Overseeing user actions and data access

     

     

     

  • 10 Practical IBM i Security Tips for Surviving Covid-19 and Working From Home

    SB PowerTech WC GenericNow that many organizations have moved to a work from home model, security concerns have risen.

    During this session Carol Woodbury will discuss the issues that the world is currently seeing such as increased malware attacks and then provide practical actions you can take to both monitor and protect your IBM i during this challenging time.

     

  • How to Transfer IBM i Data to Microsoft Excel

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_Generic3 easy ways to get IBM i data into Excel every time
    There’s an easy, more reliable way to import your IBM i data to Excel? It’s called Sequel. During this webinar, our data access experts demonstrate how you can simplify the process of getting data from multiple sources—including Db2 for i—into Excel. Watch to learn how to:

    • Download your IBM i data to Excel in a single step
    • Deliver data to business users in Excel via email or a scheduled job
    • Access IBM i data directly using the Excel add-in in Sequel

    Make 2020 the year you finally see your data clearly, quickly, and securely. Start by giving business users the ability to access crucial business data from IBM i the way they want it—in Microsoft Excel.

     

     

  • HA Alternatives: MIMIX Is Not Your Only Option on IBM i

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericIn this recorded webinar, our experts introduce you to the new HA transition technology available with our Robot HA software. You’ll learn how to:

    • Transition your rules from MIMIX (if you’re happy with them)
    • Simplify your day-to-day activities around high availability
    • Gain back time in your work week
    • Make your CEO happy about reducing IT costs

    Don’t stick with a legacy high availability solution that makes you uncomfortable when transitioning to something better can be simple, safe, and cost-effective.

     

     

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  • Backup and Recovery on IBM i: Your Strategy for the Unexpected

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Robot automates the routine tasks of iSeries backup and recovery, saving you time and money and making the process safer and more reliable. Automate your backups with the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution. Key features include:
    - Simplified backup procedures
    - Easy data encryption
    - Save media management
    - Guided restoration
    - Seamless product integration
    Make sure your data survives when catastrophe hits. Try the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Manage IBM i Messages by Exception with Robot

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Managing messages on your IBM i can be more than a full-time job if you have to do it manually. How can you be sure you won’t miss important system events?
    Automate your message center with the Robot Message Management Solution. Key features include:
    - Automated message management
    - Tailored notifications and automatic escalation
    - System-wide control of your IBM i partitions
    - Two-way system notifications from your mobile device
    - Seamless product integration
    Try the Robot Message Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Easiest Way to Save Money? Stop Printing IBM i Reports

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Robot automates report bursting, distribution, bundling, and archiving, and offers secure, selective online report viewing.
    Manage your reports with the Robot Report Management Solution. Key features include:

    - Automated report distribution
    - View online without delay
    - Browser interface to make notes
    - Custom retention capabilities
    - Seamless product integration
    Rerun another report? Never again. Try the Robot Report Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Hassle-Free IBM i Operations around the Clock

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413For over 30 years, Robot has been a leader in systems management for IBM i.
    Manage your job schedule with the Robot Job Scheduling Solution. Key features include:
    - Automated batch, interactive, and cross-platform scheduling
    - Event-driven dependency processing
    - Centralized monitoring and reporting
    - Audit log and ready-to-use reports
    - Seamless product integration
    Scale your software, not your staff. Try the Robot Job Scheduling Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • ACO MONITOR Manages your IBM i 24/7 and Notifies You When Your IBM i Needs Assistance!

    SB DDL Systems 5429More than a paging system - ACO MONITOR is a complete systems management solution for your Power Systems running IBM i. ACO MONITOR manages your Power System 24/7, uses advanced technology (like two-way messaging) to notify on-duty support personnel, and responds to complex problems before they reach critical status.

    ACO MONITOR is proven technology and is capable of processing thousands of mission-critical events daily. The software is pre-configured, easy to install, scalable, and greatly improves data center efficiency.