Partner TechTip: A New Start in Security for a New Year

Security - Other
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This is a corporate New Year's resolution you can't afford to break.


The champagne corks, confetti, and party favors have all been swept up and discarded, marking the demise of yet another busy year. Now it's time to refocus and regroup with new personal and professional resolutions. While weight loss and smoking cessation are typical personal goals, security and compliance continue to be top corporate initiatives—and with good reason. The yet-to-be-released 2011 PowerTech "State of IBM i Security" study continues to report inadequate security controls among a rising tide of regulations and security violations.


One thing I hear repeatedly during my travels is that many folks just don't know where or how to begin a security initiative. In one of my COMMON presentations on the habits exhibited by secure organizations, I discuss the need to start by creating a security policy and following that up with an assessment of the current environment. While the IBM i server has always enjoyed an envious reputation for its integrated security controls, a common misconception is that it comes that way from the factory. The reality is that it takes a fair amount of configuration—initial and ongoing—to get there. Far too often, companies start on a project to fix individual issues before they really understand the risks associated with the different vulnerabilities, and they don't have a solid game plan to achieve the defined goals.


So how do you actually get started? PowerTech's newly updated Open Source Security Policy, available as a Microsoft Word document at no charge, is an excellent entry point if you don't currently have a (good) policy. You can use it as is, or you can customize it to your own requirements. Having a policy allows you to track your existing configuration and compare it to the policy to ensure ongoing compliance to a defined standard.


To assess your current standing, I recommend another fantastic PowerTech resource: the Compliance Assessment. The no-cost, no-obligation assessment allows you to evaluate risks as they apply to your entire infrastructure. It's an automated scanning solution that can quickly review a system—typically in just a few minutes—searching for common vulnerabilities. The findings display immediately in a browser-based, interactive application and can be saved or printed for sharing (see Figure 1).



Figure 1: PowerTech's Compliance Assessment provides an overview of the state of security on your system. (Click image to enlarge.)


When you're ready, start by establishing a Security Officer role whose first task is to reconfigure the factory default system values, and then set up auditing for monitoring subsequent (unauthorized) changes. User profile management is another critical area that is frequently overlooked. Review existing profiles for special authorities, along with the amount of access that users have to application objects. Role-based profile maintenance can be very useful. You also should pay attention to the number of (typically transparent) network transactions, such as FTP and ODBC. After you address the basics, also consider additional areas, such as SSL for Telnet connections, and advanced options, such as data encryption and integration into an enterprise security information and event monitoring (SIEM) environment.


Once you have identified the most significant risks for your organization, PowerTech can help with remediation with market-proven solutions that include the leading exit point monitor, powerful user management tools, a configuration and audit journal reporting solution—including event notification in real time—and now database monitoring. Find more information on the PowerTech security solutions in our Security Guide.


Beyond world-class software, PowerTech also has consultants who can do deep-dive security assessments, as well as consulting on the security controls already included in the operating system.


With a proven track record of providing security resources to the IBM Power Systems community, PowerTech is trusted by hundreds of customers to be far more than just another software vendor. Simply put, if you want to become more secure in 2011, make PowerTech your new best friend.

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