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The API Corner: Verifying That Nothing Has Changed, Part 2

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Explore more options with the Calculate Hash API.

 

Last month, in Verifying That Nothing Has Changed, we saw how easy it can be to create a hash over a string such as 'Some data to be hashed' by using the Calculate Hash API. We also saw how the calculated hash value is very dependent on what data is being hashed. Something as simple as a trailing blank or a punctuation change can cause significant changes in the derived hash value. Today, we'll look at some options on how we can hash data, and we'll see that agreement between the generator and verifier of the hash value on the how is not nearly as important as the what.

Last month's DOHASH program hashed the left-adjusted 25-byte string 'Some data to be hashed   ' using one call to the Calculate Hash API and got back the corresponding hash value. For longer stringsfor instance, a string representing all of the records in a fileit might be more convenient (and in some cases required due to high-level language constraints) to pass the data to be hashed in pieces (records if you will) using multiple API calls and, when all of the data has been processed, then get back the final hash value.

To demonstrate this piecemeal approach to hashing, we'll continue to hash the string 'Some data to be hashed   ' but we'll do it passing only 5 bytes of the string per call to the Calculate Hash API. That is, on the first call we'll hash 'Some ' (note that there's a trailing blank after the 'e' of Some), the second call 'data ', the third call 'to be', and so on. The program to accomplish this is shown below.

h dftactgrp(*no)                                                          

                                                                          

d CrtAlgCtx       pr                 extproc('Qc3CreateAlgorithmContext')

d AlgDsc                     4096a   const options(*varsize)              

d FmtAlgDsc                    8a   const                                

d AlgCtxTkn                     8a                                        

d ErrCde                             likeds(QUSEC)                        

                                                                            

d DltAlgCtx       pr                 extproc('Qc3DestroyAlgorithmContext')

d AlgCtxTkn                     8a   const                                

d ErrCde                             likeds(QUSEC)                        

                                                                          

d HshDta         pr                 extproc('Qc3CalculateHash')          

d InpDta                     4096a   const options(*varsize)              

d LenInpDta                   10i 0 const                                

d FmtInpDta                     8a   const                                

d AlgDsc                     4096a   const options(*varsize)              

d FmtAlgDsc                     8a   const                                

d CryptoPrv                     1a   const                                

d CryptoDev                   10a   const                          

d HshVal                       1a   options(*varsize)              

d ErrCde                             likeds(qusec)                  

                                                                    

d Data           s             25a   inz('Some data to be hashed')  

d DataSubset     s             5a                                  

d HashValue       s             32a                                  

d X               s             10i 0                                

                                                                    

/copy qsysinc/qrpglesrc,qc3cci                                      

/copy qsysinc/qrpglesrc,qusec                                      

                                                                    

/free                                                                

                                                                    

QUSBPrv = 0;                                                      

                                                                    

QC3Ha = 3;                                                          

CrtAlgCtx(QC3D0500 :'ALGD0500' :QC3ACT :QUSEC);                    

                                                                    

QC3FOF = '0';                                                      

X = 1;                                                      

                                                              

dow X < %size(Data);                                        

     DataSubset = %subst(Data :X :%size(DataSubset));        

     HshDta(DataSubset :%size(DataSubset) :'DATA0100'        

             :QC3D0100 :'ALGD0100' :'0' :' '                  

             :HashValue :QUSEC);                              

     X += %size(DataSubset);                                  

enddo;                                                      

                                                              

QC3FOF = '1';                                                

HshDta(' ' :0 :'DATA0100'                                    

         :QC3D0100 :'ALGD0100' :'0' :' '                      

         :HashValue :QUSEC);                                  

                                                              

DltAlgCtx(QC3ACT :QUSEC);                                    

                                                              

*inlr = *on;                                                

return;                                                      

                                                              

/end-free  

 

Reviewing the previous code, you'll find that two new APIs are being used. The first new API, Create Algorithm Context, can be used to create a job-specific context (environment) to enable the sharing of algorithmic parameters and interim values across multiple API calls. The API has four parameters:

  1. Algorithm description (AlgDsc)The algorithm and related parameters to be used within this context
  2. Algorithm description format name (FmtAlgDsc)The format of the Algorithm description (the first parameter). Format ALGD0500, used in this month's program, indicates that the Algorithm description is related to hashing. Other formats are defined for algorithms such as block cipher, stream cipher, and public keys.
  3. Algorithm context token (AlgCtxTkn)The output parameter to receive an 8-byte token that uniquely identifies the context being created. The format of a token is not defined. The token value is simply passed as-is in subsequent calls to other APIs in order to identify the algorithmic environment to be used.
  4. Error code (ErrCde)The standard API error code parameter

Notice that when calling the Create Algorithm Context API, the first and second parameters being passed are using the same values as the fourth and fifth parameters used last month when calling the Calculate Hash API. Combined, these two parameters, the data structure QC3D0500, and the constant 'ALGD0500' indicate that the program will be performing SHA-256 hashing. By using these values with the Create Algorithm Context API, we are simply enabling the ability to do the actual hashing using one or more calls to the Calculate Hash API.

Having created the hashing context, the program then sets the Final operation flag variable (QC3FOF) of the QSYSINC QC3CCI provided data structure QC3D0100 to the value '0'. When subsequently calling the Calculate Hash API, a Final operation flag value of '0' indicates that the hashing operation is still in progress, allowing us to continue calling the API with additional data to be included in the hashing operation.

The program then enters a DOW conditioned by not all data of the string to be hashed having been processed. Within the DOW, the program performs these steps:

  1. Sets the variable DataSubset to the next 5 bytes of the string 'Some data to be' to be hashed.
  2. Calls the Calculate Hash API to hash the currently identified 5 bytes. In addition to the change from last month's program regarding the number of bytes to hash (25 to 5), this call to the API also uses different values for the fourth and fifth parameters. Last month's call to the Calculate Hash API set these parameters, respectively, to the data structure QC3D0500 and format 'ALGD0500' in order to provide the necessary parameters for the hashing algorithm to be used. This month, the hashing algorithm parameters are set when calling the Create Algorithm Context API, so the fourth and fifth parameters are set to the data structure QC3D0100 and format 'ALGD0100', respectively, in order to reference the previously created algorithm context the program wants to work with.
  3. Identifies the next 5 bytes to be hashed.
  4. Re-runs the DOW until all data has been hashed.

When all of the string has been hashed, the DOW ends, the variable QC3FOF is set to the value '1' (indicating that the hashing operation is complete), and the Calculate Hash API is called one last time in order to obtain the hash value for the previously hashed data. On this call to the API, the second parameter, LenInpDta, is set to zero, indicating that no additional data is to be hashed as part of the API processing.

The program can, if desired, avoid this sixth call to the Calculate Hash API. If, within the DOW block, the program can determine that the fifth call to the API represents the last data to be used, then the program can set the QC3FOF variable to the value of '1' on the fifth call and obtain the hash value as an output of this fifth call. In the case of the sample program, this would be easy enough to do as the length of the string to be hashed is known in advance.

In other cases, this determination of the last data to be hashed may not be as straightforward. The current approach, though, is structured in a way that makes it fairly easy to replace the string being hashed (the variable Data) with, for instance, a database file. Prior to entering the DOW issuing a READ to a file, changing the DOW conditioning to test for the file being not %EOF, hashing the record buffer previously read, READing the next record, and re-entering the DOW allows the program to now create a hash value over the contents of the entire filewithout, in advance, having to determine the number of records in the file.

Having completed the hashing operation, the second new API, Destroy Algorithm Context, is called to destroy the context previously created with the Create Algorithm Context API (and subsequently referenced when calling the Calculate Hash API using format ALGD0100). The two parameters passed are the token identifying the context and the standard API error code. The program then ends.

Assuming that the previous program source is stored in member DOHASH2 of source file QRPGLESRC, you can create the program using the command CRTBNDRPG PGM(DOHASH2).

Calling DOHASH2 will then generate the following 32-byte HashValue (shown in hex):

7FCBD451 76B2E190 AFC956AE F507CB35

A9C7F58B 36A68E25 58E9F3F9 736FB213

 

Hopefully, you will notice that, while this hash value was created using multiple calls to Calculate Hash API (five times with data to be hashed, one time to access the hash value), the returned HashValue is the same as last month's hashing of the string with one call. The internal processing related to the data being hashed did not impact the derived hash value.

As usual, if you have any API questions, send them to me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Bruce Vining

Bruce Vining is president and co-founder of Bruce Vining Services, LLC, a firm providing contract programming and consulting services to the System i community. He began his career in 1979 as an IBM Systems Engineer in St. Louis, Missouri, and then transferred to Rochester, Minnesota, in 1985, where he continues to reside. From 1992 until leaving IBM in 2007, Bruce was a member of the System Design Control Group responsible for OS/400 and i5/OS areas such as System APIs, Globalization, and Software Serviceability. He is also the designer of Control Language for Files (CLF).A frequent speaker and writer, Bruce can be reached at bvining@brucevining.com. 


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    • 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.