Your Journey to Secure IPP Printing

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Your journey to secure IPP printing begins with a digital certificate. Mine, on the other hand, began with a phone call. For almost nine years, I've worked as a printing specialist in the iSeries Support Center, and I've loved every minute of it. Educated to be an English teacher, I wound up at IBM supporting printers. And when a customer calls, the teacher in me kicks in. Guiding my students through to a resolution, I try to educate them along the way, often asking questions to make sure they follow the logic of what we are doing. In this way, we reach the solution to the problem together, and they go away better able to help themselves next time. The only part of my job that I dislike is saying "no." Whenever a customer runs up against a wall, I try to find a solution or alternate resolution to get them going. Usually, we can come up with something, but when I have to tell the customer something is impossible, I feel like I've failed.

Now, I have said "no" to secure printing for the last time. I met my match when I got a phone call from Gary Barnett at Arkansas Data Services (ADS).

ADS had recently purchased an IBM 1532 and wanted to print via Internet Printing Protocol (IPP). ADS has an ASP offering for its DOCS/400 medical practice management application. ADS customers use their personal computers and printers at their clinics, but they access the DOCS/400 application on the iSeries located at the ADS office. When ADS wanted to move its application to browser-based from green-screen, there was a need for secure remote printing. The HIPAA medical industry standards dictate that all data transmissions be encrypted because of confidential patient data. With the green-screen mode, secure printing can be accomplished with the SSL support in iSeries Access, but when ADS wanted to move to browser screens, they needed another simple way to send secure AS/400 print to the users' remote LAN printers, and Gary called me to find out about IPP.

In the wild world of iSeries print, IPP is its own animal. Typically, a laser printer is set up as a remote output queue or a PJL/SNMP device description. If the print job fails, a communications trace or joblog will show that it is either configured incorrectly or the printer doesn't support the desired protocol. There is almost always a way to get the printer working. But with an IPP device description, it's just not that easy. While the printer may support the initial IPP connection, it may not support the subsequent requests or the method in which the data is transmitted. But Gary was determined to get encrypted IPP working. In the end, I believe we did much more than get encrypted print data flowing to his printer. When we were done, we had transcended the defined IPP protocol and arrived at an elegant solution that can now be implemented by anyone with a need to print encrypted data and the luck to own the right printer.

The Dawn of iSeries IPP Support

When IPP was first announced at V5R1, Internet printing seemed very promising. The initial role of IPP on the iSeries was as a server, to allow clients to print to iSeries-attached printers through the Internet. Though I initially believed that many customers would call to get help implementing IPP, I was wrong. As with most products, the low call volumes could be attributed to ease of use or unpopularity. Though most likely the latter, the IPP server is easy to implement and could replace NetServer printing for many customers. (Perhaps that would be a good topic for another article.)

At V5R2, iSeries IPP support was enhanced to allow the iSeries to act as an IPP client and to print to IPP-capable printers. To do this, you need to make sure you have the latest IPP PTFs. These can be found in the Software Knowledge Base document 23383453: V5Rx PTF Listing for TCP/IP and LAN printing. After Gary said that he needed to set up an IPP printer, I made sure he had the latest PTFs applied and led him through the initial configuration, which failed. That didn't surprise me.

Chunking Leads to Clunking

While many customers with IPP-capable printers are able to get them to work, some fail to find a working solution. The reason for this is that many IPP-capable printers do not support IPP "chunking," even though RFC 2068: HTTP/1.1 states, "All HTTP/1.1 applications must be able to receive and decode the 'chunked' transfer-coding, and must ignore chunk-extension extensions they do not understand." Instead, many printers require that a byte-count of the expected data stream be sent in the initial IPP connection. This lack of chunking support may be due to the fact that most printers are made for the Microsoft Windows environment, which transforms print data completely before it is sent to the printer.

To improve speed and efficiency on the iSeries, as Host Print Transform converts a spooled file into the printer's required data stream, transformed portions are sent to the printer as they become available to the writer. Because we do not know how large the fully transformed spooled file will be, IPP servers (in this case, actual printers) that do not support chunking will fail to work on the iSeries. Usually, a printer that does not support the chunking transfer-coding will fail with the message CPD6F83 ("Could not establish Internet Print Protocol (IPP) communications with device") with a reason code of 2. This reason code means that the device didn't understand the IPP request.

If your printer does not provide chunking support, you need to contact the printer vendor and seek a firmware or microcode fix. Gary was able to get a microcode fix from IBM Boulder for his Infoprint 1532, and we were advised that the same patch could be applied to my 1552, as well as any other monochrome printer in the Infoprint 15xx series.

Once we had Gary's printer patched to enable IPP chunking, the configuration worked flawlessly, and I thought we were done. That was when he told me that he wanted to use the secure IPP connection provided by the SECURECNN parameter on the device configuration. I told him that we knew of no known printer that supported that option but that a couple of servers did: the iSeries IPP server and the UNIX Common UNIX Printing Solution (CUPS) server. My idea was that he could place a Linux server in each location and print through CUPS to his printers, but Gary didn't share my enthusiasm for that solution. It was cost-prohibitive and bulky. I agreed, but I didn't know what else to do. Here's why:

When the IPP driver was programmed, the iSeries developers chose to follow the guidelines of RFC 2910 - Internet Printing Protocol/1.1: Encoding and Transport, which describes the recommended method of secure IPP printing via an upgrade to TLS/SSL:

8.1.2 Transport Layer Security (TLS) IPP Printers should support Transport Layer Security (TLS) [RFC2246] for Server Authentication and Operation Privacy. IPP Printers may also support TLS for Client Authentication. If an IPP Printer supports TLS, it must support the TLS_DHE_DSS_WITH_3DES_EDE_CBC_SHA cipher suite as mandated by RFC 2246 [RFC2246]. All other cipher suites are optional. An IPP Printer may support Basic Authentication (described in HTTP/1.1 [RFC2617]) for Client Authentication if the channel is secure. TLS with the above mandated cipher suite can provide such a secure channel.

The iSeries IPP developers decided to follow the suggested secure upgrade method (TLS), as it seemed to be the one that the printer vendors would standardize on. In reality, we know of no printer vendors that did, and we were left with a secure connection that worked to other iSeries machines and CUPS, whose developers also chose to implement TLS, but not directly to a real printer. Traces taken to IPP-configured printers with the SECURECNN parameter set to *YES would inevitably fail with the message CPD6F84: "Could not establish secure connection with device." Up until now, each customer that had contacted me about secure IPP printing received the same answer: "It won't work."

In all honesty, if IBM's developers did choose to program to a non-standard IPP implementation—say, one favored by Hewlett-Packard or Microsoft—it could look like favoritism. And programming to a non-standard protocol means that we would have to adapt to any changes in that protocol and be subject to the whims of other programmers. It also would go against the ways we have chosen to support other printing protocols, such as LPR and PJL, where we stick to the standards and expect printer vendors to do the same.

Still, Gary was dissatisfied with my response, and he made a good point to back up his case. He pointed out that the help text for the SECURECNN parameter in the CRTDEVPRT command says, "Specifies whether a secure connection is established with the printer" and asked why the word "printer" was used if it had never actually worked to a real printer. He had us there. I contacted my developers and relayed Gary's concerns. They gave me the well-known story about lack of printer support for the recommended TLS/SSL upgrade method, which I knew already. Lucky for us, that developer shared the problem with a co-worker over lunch. That ingenious fellow suggested that, even though the IPP specification refers only to port 631, perhaps the printer manufacturers allowed secure IPP traffic over port 443, the default HTTPS port.

After hearing this, I quickly reconfigured my own printer device to use that port and address ( and traced the driver. It failed again, but this time I got a new message, CPD6F84: "Secure connection failed-6000-Certificate is not signed by a trusted certificate authority." It did not complain that the upgrade to TLS/SSL had failed, as I had bypassed that requirement. This was the first time I had seen a digital certificate error on the iSeries. I knew what they were but hadn't thought of them as having anything to do with print.

My Infoprint 1552 was IPP-capable, so I accessed the printer via its secure HTTPS URL. It prompted me to accept a digital certificate, which I did. Then, I could see the online configuration. The Links and Index>Certificate Management menu showed the available options, including Generate a New Private Key and Update The Certificate Signing Request. After talking to a digital certificate expert in our support center, I decided to download a trial certificate from Verisign and load it into the printer. Then, I exported the certificate from the printer and loaded it into the iSeries Digital Certificate Manager (DCM). The next time I sent a spooled file to the printer, it printed. That was the first successful test of secure IPP.

I decided to test out the printer's capability to generate its own self-signed certificate. After a cold reset and a reload of the microcode, I tried to export the digital certificate and load it into the iSeries. The process worked, but the printer writer failed because the shipped digital certificate had expired in 1972. I set the correct date and time on the printer and clicked Generate a New Private Key, followed by Update the Certificate Signing Request. This time, the certificate I imported into DCM worked fine, and my spooled file printed successfully. That proved that we could offer a complete solution to customers, without having to recommend third-party digital certificate providers. This is important because, although some customers may choose to purchase certificates from a third party, self-signed ones are free and equally secure.

I contacted Gary and led him though the steps to create and export a self-signed certificate into DCM and reconfigure his printer device description. It worked the first time, and Gary had a solution.

Making Secure IPP Work for You

System i customers that need to comply with regulations from HIPAA, Sarbanes-Oxley, or the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act may find secure IPP printing to be a useful and important tool for data transmission. If you want to take advantage of secure IPP, follow these simple steps:

Make sure you are at V5R2 or higher and have the latest IPP PTFs applied.

Ensure that the printer you choose is IPP-capable, supports chunking, and can export its digital certificate. On my 1532 and Gary's 1352, the certificate was exported as SystemCert.pem and then FTPed in ASCII mode to the IFS. The certificate, when displayed, will resemble the following:

A large, incomprehensible chunk of data
A large, incomprehensible chunk of data
A large, incomprehensible chunk of data

Import the certificate into DCM. This will be done via the System i Tasks page located at http://systemname:2001. You will open the DCM, click on Select a Certificate Store, and choose the *SYSTEM store. If you are prompted for a password, type default. Troubleshooting information for these types of problems is on the iSeries Information Center. Once you are in the Certificate Store, find the option to Work with CA Certificates and click on the Import button. Enter the IFS location of the certificate and provide a certificate label. The successfully imported certificate will appear at the top of the list of installed certificates.

Configure your IPP device description. Set the port number to 443 and the remote location name to https://printeraddress:443/. Interestingly enough, our testing showed that the SECURECNN parameter is ignored when the well-known HTTPS port 443 is specified. Vary the device on and start the writer.


If the configuration fails, troubleshoot it. Change the User Defined Options (USRDFTOPT) parameter on the device description to *IBMDEBUG *IBMHEX and recreate the problem. This will generate a trace that shows the IPP driver messages. You should also take a concurrent communications trace and gather the joblog for complete problem diagnosis. Finally, it is worth noting that any problem with printer output cannot be diagnosed over a secure connection, because the data sent to the printer is encrypted, making it unreadable!

Kurt Schroeder works as a System i printing specialist at IBM in Rochester, Minnesota, but the views expressed in this article are his own, not necessarily those of IBM. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and would appreciate feedback on this article, which can be provided directly via email or through the forums discussion associated with this article.

Kurt Schroeder has worked as a software support rep in the IBM i Global Support Center since 1998. His primary areas of expertise are printing and cloud software. Kurt encourages readers with additional questions to contact him at



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    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.



  • Node Webinar Series Pt. 1: The World of Node.js on IBM i

    SB Profound WC GenericHave 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.
    Part 1 will teach you what Node.js is, why it's a great option for IBM i shops, and how to take advantage of the ecosystem surrounding Node.
    In addition to background information, our Director of Product Development Scott Klement will demonstrate applications that take advantage of the Node Package Manager (npm).
    Watch Now.

  • The Biggest Mistakes in IBM i Security

    SB Profound WC Generic The Biggest Mistakes in IBM i Security
    Here’s the harsh reality: cybersecurity pros have to get their jobs right every single day, while an attacker only has to succeed once to do incredible damage.
    Whether that’s thousands of exposed records, millions of dollars in fines and legal fees, or diminished share value, it’s easy to judge organizations that fall victim. IBM i enjoys an enviable reputation for security, but no system is impervious to mistakes.
    Join this webinar to learn about the biggest errors made when securing a Power Systems server.
    This knowledge is critical for ensuring integrity of your application data and preventing you from becoming the next Equifax. It’s also essential for complying with all formal regulations, including SOX, PCI, GDPR, and HIPAA
    Watch Now.

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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.