Psst! Can You Keep a Secret?

  • Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times

Most applications have some form of password protection that keeps unauthorized personnel out of areas in which they do not belong. The problem with most of these security systems is that someone can usually defeat them if that someone is in possession of any real technical abilities. There should be some way for you to keep your company data secure without having to write your own encryption routines.

Cryptography has been around as long as mankind has had secrets to keep. It has been used to protect everything from military plans in wartime to credit card numbers when you make a purchase over the Internet. Cryptography is about keeping secrets. Well, we are going to let you in on a well-kept secret about the AS/400: OS/400 provides you with a suite of APIs to encrypt data. What this means to you is that encryption is not just for Big Brother anymore. As the Internet continues its explosive growth, more and more companies are attaching their AS/400s to the Internet. The marriage of the Internet and the AS/400 forces developers like us to employ security measures we have never had to before. Luckily, attaching the AS/400 to the Internet is easy.

Retrofitting legacy code to work securely while running in that environment is another matter, however. When you attach an AS/400 to the Internet, you have opened a portal that makes your data available from anywhere in the world. There are all kinds of measures that can help protect your data, and one of those measures is encryption. Encryption is a tool used to retrofit your legacy applications. Most applications have some kind of built-in security requiring a password. A menu system wants a password before you can run an option or has a pop-up window that asks for a password to perform a special function. Usually, you can store these passwords in a data area or a file and then view them with easily accessible, system-provided commands. In other words, somebody that knows what to do has a good chance of discovering those passwords. If you encrypt the passwords, they cannot be viewed by anybody.

Shaken, Not Stirred

As shown in Figure 1, the RPG program encrypts passwords for you. It allows you to add users and their passwords to the system, remove users from the system, or validate the user/password combination. We have written this program as an external program that you call to verify users and passwords. It is strongly recommended that you use this program as a guide and clone the code into your program so that the password does not have to be

passed as a parameter. Passing a password as a parameter is a security violation in itself, but it’s better than storing it in a file.

The first step in the process is to create a validation list, which is an object on the AS/400 (type *VLDL) that stores the encrypted password. You use the Create Validation List (CRTVLDL) command to create a list. You must have security clearance to operate this command. Just give the list a meaningful name and designate a library for it to reside in. To use the program provided, you must create a validation list called PWLIST in library QGPL.

Now, you need to add a user to the list. The first three parameters that the program expects are an action code, a user profile, and a password to encrypt. Use action code “A” to add the user and password to the list; use action code “D” to delete the user from the list; and use action code “V” to verify that the password is correct. The next two parameters are the return code and error text. These parameters return error information regarding your request. The return code field is set to “N” if the password is invalid or the request failed, and the error text gives feedback information from the API about the reason for the failure. The description parameter is used only when adding a new user to the list. It allows you to further describe the entry. There are other APIs, such as Find Validation List Entry (QsyFindValidation LstEntry), that retrieve this description and allow you to see all of the users on the validation list.

Keeping Secrets

Let’s take a closer look at the code. The ADDPW subroutine executes the ADDPASS function. If we look at the prototype for ADDPASS, we see that it executes the external Add Validation List Entry (QsyAdd ValidationLstEntry) API. The procedure wants five parameters, four of the parameters are mandatory, and the other one is optional. The OPTIONS(*OMIT) keyword on the ATRIBDSH parameter indicates that we don’t have to pass this parameter. The first parameter is the name of the validation list and is hardcoded to QGPL/PWLIST. The next three parameters are data structures.

The ENTRYIDDS data structure contains the name of the user profile preceded by two 4-byte binary fields that contain the length of the user profile data and the CCSID code. The user profile length is 10, and we use zero for the CCSID code, which stores the default CCSID for the current user. The user profile name does not have to exist on the system. You could devise some kind of coding scheme to encrypt data, based on something other than the user profile. Valid values for the profile length are one to 100. The ENCRIPDS data structure follows the same format as the ENTRYIDDS data structure. But this data structure contains the password. Valid values for the length of the encrypted data are one to
600. The ENTRYDS data structure also follows the same format and contains your description of the ENTRYID field. Valid values for the length of the description are one to 1,000. We have elected to omit the fifth parameter. This parameter is an attribute data structure that allows you to change default values. By default, encrypted passwords cannot be viewed in their original form. This means you cannot look at the decrypted password using any method. You can verify a password, but you can’t see it. There are APIs that return the data in its original, decrypted state, but only if you enable this function when you first add the entry to the validation list. This attribute data structure parameter enables this function. Because we are accepting the default value for this option, we can omit the parameter.

If the entry is successfully added to the validation list, the field ADD contains zero. If it is not successful, the field contains a -1 and the ERRNO global value is set to indicate the error. Most APIs use an optional error data structure as a parameter to pass back error conditions, but these APIs are different. The APIs in this article are of the C language type and, like the C language itself, much more difficult to follow. We’re sure that this will offend all of the C programmers out there (both of you) who are reading this, but really, how many RPG programmers know what a “union data type” is and how to define it in

RPG IV? Since we’re on the subject, why are all the examples in the manuals written in C when RPG is still the dominant language on the AS/400? The APIs would be a lot easier to use if the examples were shown in a language that somebody actually uses on the AS/400!

The global value ERRNO is accessed in an RPG program through the external procedure “__errno”, which we have defined on the prototype C_Errno. It returns a pointer that you can use to retrieve a text description of the error. If you think that RPG and CPF messages were created by demented, dyslexic cryptographers who weren’t very happy with their assignment in the first place, you should be forewarned. It gets worse. The description of the errors returned by C-type APIs make us wonder if anyone at IBM knows the definition of the word description.

The validation function is provided through the VLDPW subroutine. If you pass a “V” in the action code, this subroutine gets executed. It, in turn, executes the Verify Validation List Entry (QsyVerifyValidation LstEntry) API. This is a relatively simple API, but it makes the whole encryption process work. You give the API the name of the validation list, the name of the user profile (or key), and the password to verify, using the ENTRYIDDS and ENCRIPDS data structures. If the password is invalid, the procedure returns a -2. The program then sets the RTNCODE field to “N” so the calling program knows that the password is invalid.

The delete function is provided through the DLTPW subroutine. Pass in a “D” in the action code, and this subroutine gets executed. It uses the Remove Validation List Entry (QsyRemoveValidationLstEntry) API to accomplish this task. Pass this procedure the name of the validation list and the name of the user profile (again, through the ENTRYIDDS data structure), and it removes the user from the list.

Loose Lips Sink Ships

We would like to thank one of our favorite ex-IBMers, Jon Paris, for the code, enabling us to retrieve the ERRNO value. Without his help, we wouldn’t have been able to work our way through these APIs. With the help of Jon, we have done the hard part for you. These encryption techniques can be valuable for securing your data. We would strongly recommend adding them to your programming toolbox. After all, in the bigger picture, tightened security is a small price to pay for the advantages of global computing.


* TO COMPILE: (signed on as QSECOFR)







* VLD016Rg = Program performs 3 functions:

* Action code A = Add encrypted password to system

* D = Delete encrypted password from system

* V = Validate password passed to system


d AddPass PR 10i 0 ExtProc('QsyAddValidation+
d LstEntry')
d ListName 20
d EntryIdDsH 18
d EncriptDsH 18
d EntryDSH 58
d AtribDsH 47 options(*omit)

d Action s 1
d Add s 10i 0 inz(0)
d Description s 50
d Dlt s 10i 0 inz(0)
d ErrorText s 70
d ErrorVal s 10i 0 based(@errorVal)
d PassWord s 10
d Rtncode s 1
d UserId s 10

* Validation list name
d ListNameA s 20 inz('PWLIST QGPL ')

* Prototype for validation API
d ValidPass PR 10i 0 ExtProc('QsyVerifyValidation+
d LstEntry')
d ListName 20
d EntryIdDs 18
d EncriptDs 18

* Prototype for remove API
d DeletePass PR 10i 0 ExtProc('QsyRemoveValidation+
d LstEntry')
d ListName 20
d EntryIdDs 18

* Prototype for error retrieval
d C_Errno PR * extproc('__errno')
d C_Strerror PR * extproc('strerror')
d errno 10i 0 value

* Entry Id list (user profile name or key value)
D EntryIdDs DS INZ
D IdLength 1 4b 0 inz(10)
D CCSIDLen 5 8b 0 inz(0)
D EntUserId 9 18

* Password to encript
D EncriptDs DS INZ
D EncripLen 1 4b 0 inz(10)
D CCSIDEnc 5 8b 0 inz(0)
D EncripData 9 18

* Free-form description of item
D EntryDs DS INZ
D EntryLen 1 4b 0 inz(50)
D CCSIDEnt 5 8b 0 inz(0)
D EntryData 9 58

c *entry plist
c parm Action
c parm UserId
c parm PassWord
c parm RtnCode
c parm ErrorText
c parm Description

c eval EntUserId = UserId
c eval EncripData = Password
c eval ErrorText = *blanks
c Action caseq 'A' AddPw
c Action caseq 'D' DltPw
c Action caseq 'V' VldPw
c endcs

* Trap any errors that may have occurred
c eval @errorval = C_Errno
c if errorval <> 0
c if %parms > 4
c eval ErrorText = %str(C_Strerror(ErrorVal))
c eval RtnCode = 'N'
c endif
c clear ErrorVal
c endif

c eval *inlr = *on

* Add password to system
c AddPw Begsr
c eval EntryData = Description
c eval Add = (AddPass(ListnameA:
c EntryIdDs:EncriptDs:
c EntryDS:*omit))
c endsr * Validate password
c VldPw Begsr
c If (ValidPass(ListnameA:
c EntryIdDs:EncriptDs)) 0
c eval RtnCode = 'N'
c endif
c endsr * Delete password
c DltPw Begsr
c eval Dlt = (DeletePass(ListnameA:
c EntryIdDs))
c endsr

Figure 1: Cut and paste portions of program VLD016RG to add password encryption to your programs.



Support MC Press Online





  • White Paper: Node.js for Enterprise IBM i Modernization

    SB Profound WP 5539

    If your business is thinking about modernizing your legacy IBM i (also known as AS/400 or iSeries) applications, you will want to read this white paper first!

    Download this paper and learn how Node.js can ensure that you:
    - Modernize on-time and budget - no more lengthy, costly, disruptive app rewrites!
    - Retain your IBM i systems of record
    - Find and hire new development talent
    - Integrate new Node.js applications with your existing RPG, Java, .Net, and PHP apps
    - Extend your IBM i capabilties to include Watson API, Cloud, and Internet of Things

    Read Node.js for Enterprise IBM i Modernization Now!


  • Profound Logic Solution Guide

    SB Profound WP 5539More than ever, there is a demand for IT to deliver innovation.
    Your IBM i has been an essential part of your business operations for years. However, your organization may struggle to maintain the current system and implement new projects.
    The thousands of customers we've worked with and surveyed state that expectations regarding the digital footprint and vision of the companyare not aligned with the current IT environment.

    Get your copy of this important guide today!


  • 2022 IBM i Marketplace Survey Results

    Fortra2022 marks the eighth edition of the IBM i Marketplace Survey Results. Each year, Fortra captures data on how businesses use the IBM i platform and the IT and cybersecurity initiatives it supports.

    Over the years, this survey has become a true industry benchmark, revealing to readers the trends that are shaping and driving the market and providing insight into what the future may bring for this technology.

  • Brunswick bowls a perfect 300 with LANSA!

    FortraBrunswick is the leader in bowling products, services, and industry expertise for the development and renovation of new and existing bowling centers and mixed-use recreation facilities across the entertainment industry. However, the lifeblood of Brunswick’s capital equipment business was running on a 15-year-old software application written in Visual Basic 6 (VB6) with a SQL Server back-end. The application was at the end of its life and needed to be replaced.
    With the help of Visual LANSA, they found an easy-to-use, long-term platform that enabled their team to collaborate, innovate, and integrate with existing systems and databases within a single platform.
    Read the case study to learn how they achieved success and increased the speed of development by 30% with Visual LANSA.


  • Progressive Web Apps: Create a Universal Experience Across All Devices

    LANSAProgressive Web Apps allow you to reach anyone, anywhere, and on any device with a single unified codebase. This means that your applications—regardless of browser, device, or platform—instantly become more reliable and consistent. They are the present and future of application development, and more and more businesses are catching on.
    Download this whitepaper and learn:

    • How PWAs support fast application development and streamline DevOps
    • How to give your business a competitive edge using PWAs
    • What makes progressive web apps so versatile, both online and offline



  • The Power of Coding in a Low-Code Solution

    LANSAWhen it comes to creating your business applications, there are hundreds of coding platforms and programming languages to choose from. These options range from very complex traditional programming languages to Low-Code platforms where sometimes no traditional coding experience is needed.
    Download our whitepaper, The Power of Writing Code in a Low-Code Solution, and:

    • Discover the benefits of Low-code's quick application creation
    • Understand the differences in model-based and language-based Low-Code platforms
    • Explore the strengths of LANSA's Low-Code Solution to Low-Code’s biggest drawbacks



  • Why Migrate When You Can Modernize?

    LANSABusiness users want new applications now. Market and regulatory pressures require faster application updates and delivery into production. Your IBM i developers may be approaching retirement, and you see no sure way to fill their positions with experienced developers. In addition, you may be caught between maintaining your existing applications and the uncertainty of moving to something new.
    In this white paper, you’ll learn how to think of these issues as opportunities rather than problems. We’ll explore motivations to migrate or modernize, their risks and considerations you should be aware of before embarking on a (migration or modernization) project.
    Lastly, we’ll discuss how modernizing IBM i applications with optimized business workflows, integration with other technologies and new mobile and web user interfaces will enable IT – and the business – to experience time-added value and much more.


  • UPDATED: Developer Kit: Making a Business Case for Modernization and Beyond

    Profound Logic Software, Inc.Having trouble getting management approval for modernization projects? The problem may be you're not speaking enough "business" to them.

    This Developer Kit provides you study-backed data and a ready-to-use business case template to help get your very next development project approved!

  • What to Do When Your AS/400 Talent Retires

    FortraIT managers hoping to find new IBM i talent are discovering that the pool of experienced RPG programmers and operators or administrators is small.

    This guide offers strategies and software suggestions to help you plan IT staffing and resources and smooth the transition after your AS/400 talent retires. Read on to learn:

    • Why IBM i skills depletion is a top concern
    • How leading organizations are coping
    • Where automation will make the biggest impact


  • 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 as a pre-built development environment



  • 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.

  • 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.



  • Encryption on IBM i Simplified

    SB PowerTech WC GenericDB2 Field Procedures (FieldProcs) were introduced in IBM i 7.1 and have greatly simplified encryption, often without requiring any application changes. Now you can quickly encrypt sensitive data on the IBM i including PII, PCI, PHI data in your physical files and tables.
    Watch this webinar to learn how you can quickly implement encryption on the IBM i. During the webinar, security expert Robin Tatam will show you how to:

    • Use Field Procedures to automate encryption and decryption
    • Restrict and mask field level access by user or group
    • Meet compliance requirements with effective key management and audit trails


  • Lessons Learned from IBM i Cyber Attacks

    SB PowerTech WC GenericDespite the many options IBM has provided to protect your systems and data, many organizations still struggle to apply appropriate security controls.
    In this webinar, you'll get insight into how the criminals accessed these systems, the fallout from these attacks, and how the incidents could have been avoided by following security best practices.

    • Learn which security gaps cyber criminals love most
    • Find out how other IBM i organizations have fallen victim
    • Get the details on policies and processes you can implement to protect your organization, even when staff works from home

    You will learn the steps you can take to avoid the mistakes made in these examples, as well as other inadequate and misconfigured settings that put businesses at risk.



  • The Power of Coding in a Low-Code Solution

    SB PowerTech WC GenericWhen it comes to creating your business applications, there are hundreds of coding platforms and programming languages to choose from. These options range from very complex traditional programming languages to Low-Code platforms where sometimes no traditional coding experience is needed.
    Download our whitepaper, The Power of Writing Code in a Low-Code Solution, and:

    • Discover the benefits of Low-code's quick application creation
    • Understand the differences in model-based and language-based Low-Code platforms
    • Explore the strengths of LANSA's Low-Code Solution to Low-Code’s biggest drawbacks



  • 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.

  • Comply in 5! Well, actually UNDER 5 minutes!!

    SB CYBRA PPL 5382

    TRY the one package that solves all your document design and printing challenges on all your platforms.

    Produce bar code labels, electronic forms, ad hoc reports, and RFID tags – without programming! MarkMagic is the only document design and print solution that combines report writing, WYSIWYG label and forms design, and conditional printing in one integrated product.

    Request your trial now!

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

    FortraRobot 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

    FortraRobot 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.