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Batten the Hatches: Securing Your Midrange Infrastructure

IBM i (OS/400, i5/OS)
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The unauthorized access, download, and manipulation of proprietary, corporate data—such as the recently reported intrusion at Microsoft in which a hacker leisurely reviewed source code for a yet-to-be-released operating system version—occurs far more often than is reported.

The risk of significant material loss is increasing exponentially as system access opens up beyond company employees to dealers, customers, and the public in general. Companies are beginning to take security issues very seriously and are reporting and assisting in the prosecution of intruder, as well as disciplining employees responsible for securing these systems. Security personnel can face severe disciplinary action, while higher-level executives with direct responsibility for systems may suffer even greater penalties in the wake of such intrusions. For example, a company can be held liable to an injured consumer if appropriate and immediate action is not taken to correct a security breach.

For most IS departments, the real threat will not be a teenager with abounding curiosity and a knack for technology. The 2000 CSI/FBI Computer Crime and Security Survey reported that 71 percent of respondents detected unauthorized access by insiders, while only 25 percent detected an attack from the outside. IS department managers report that they are most concerned with employees who have either recently had their relationship “severed” with the company or feel that termination, for one reason or another, is inevitable, if not imminent. Also, there are employees who don’t have “need to know” responsibilities but possess “want to know” curiosity.

Many experts feel that security is directly related to the education and ethics of users. The underlying message here is that it’s not the computer but the person at the keyboard. For this type of problem, there is no easily implemented firewall.

 

New Security Exposures

 

Further compounding the issue for midrange professionals is the evolution of the corporate computing environment, including the ever-evolving nature of OS/400 and networked, heterogeneous computing.

The AS/400 was once the singular, central closed server for all corporate computing. Since the AS/400 was not networked to the outside world except for dial-up and a few point-to-point connections, risk management and risk assessment were easy.


Over time, as the IBM midrange platforms proved exceptionally cost-effective and reliable for managing businesses, simple, secure, locally attached point-to-point connections gave way to open networking.

Networking requirements for interconnectivity—including intranet access, Web server support, publicly accessible extranets, direct TCP/IP access for customers and even potential competitors—increased. The introduction of support for FTP and Client Access alone has created significant security challenges for midrange network security managers. For example, some client/server functions can bypass traditional OS/400 security-checking unless users fully implement object-level security. Without object-level security, a PC- based database tool, such as Microsoft Access, can easily access, update, or delete any data file on an AS/400.

With every new release of OS/400 came the addition of several new exit points. In OS/400, exit points are instances where you register and insert your own programs, overriding default application behaviors. Exit points can be used to call programs, block access to programs, and perform other functions. Exit points are a primary concern from a security standpoint because, among other acceptable and unacceptable system practices, exit point programs can be used to capture passwords. In earlier versions of OS/400, there were only about 30 exit points; now there are hundreds.

System security is often neglected until an incident occurs. Ideally, security planning and implementation should not be a reactive process. Unfortunately, many companies don’t have the resources to implement a security plan. But in the absence of a security plan, the damage a company can sustain through electronic espionage, sabotage, or even simple tampering can be devastating. It’s unsettling to consider the fact that, unlike a hurricane or fire, security degradation can go unnoticed for an extended period of time.

Recently, I heard a story of a new IS director who was hired at a large furniture distribution company in the Midwest. His first big project was to interconnect servers in remote sales offices to a central production AS/400. On the Sunday before these offices were to go live, he dialed into the AS/400 from home to inspect the link. Out of curiosity, he checked Work with Active Jobs (WRKACTJOB) to see if anyone else was logged on. To his surprise, the person he replaced, who was no longer an employee of the company, was signed on with all-object authority. He then checked the history log and learned that this ex-employee had signed on several times since leaving. The new IS director was baffled; he had deleted all old user profiles when he started. After some investigation, he discovered that a program had been written that adopted QSECOFR authority, creating a back door into the system.

 

Developing a Security Plan

 

Implementing a cogent system, network, and application security initiative for your company begins with a computer security policy. Generally, the goal of a security policy is to manage access to a specific set of company assets, including data, software, and hardware. The policy should focus on known and probable threats.

The first step in developing a policy is to conduct a risk analysis to identify and document potential risks. By identifying the most probable threats, you will be able to prioritize your investment of time, money, and resources. For example, a data center in Wisconsin need not plan for risks related to tidal actions, but it should prepare for risks posed by disgruntled employees, including the theft of valuable data or software.

The next step in the risk analysis is to determine what assets you need to protect and their approximate value. Topping the list is proprietary information, trade secrets, and financial and personnel data.

A review of business requirements is also an essential part of any security plan. For example, does your company connect a production AS/400 to a public network to allow


 

Big Risk

 

sales staff to view inventory levels, pricing information, and available customer credit? Your company’s business requirements may create significant security management issues.

When you have completed the reviews of risk analysis and business requirements, a computer security policy should be constructed. The policy explains the rules and acceptable practices that must be followed in order to protect the company’s data and network assets. The policy also enables the security team to implement the procedures and tools necessary to protect and manage access to your company’s resources.

The overall security plan can be perceived as having two facets: the physical environment and the system environment. The practices pertaining to the physical environment are easier to devise, and periodic security reviews of the physical environment should not take much time.

 

Reviewing Physical Security

 

Periodic security audits should review physical security practices regarding control of physical access to computer hardware and media, including production and development infrastructure as well as communications equipment. Access should be restricted for phone switches and building security systems as well. Master copies of licensed software media should be locked up where possible. Make sure there is limited access to the computer system consoles. And, as a matter of housekeeping, don’t leave any security keys in the equipment itself unless necessary for normal operator use.

The first step in restricting access to equipment is to lock the computer room door with key-card access or electronic combination locks. Key-card systems are preferable to electronic combination locks because they are easier to administer, offer more selective access options, and create audit trails. By limiting access to those who really need it, traffic in and out of the computer room will be greatly minimized. Key cards cannot be copied and information about who enters the computer room, and when, is collected. When an employee is terminated, the card can be immediately deactivated. When doing a periodic security audit, it’s important to review key-card systems as well to ensure that access lists are up-to-date.

 

Reviewing System Environment Security

 

The scope of environment security on a given system is dictated, to some extent, by what type of business is being conducted. While all companies may have a security risk posed by disgruntled employees, some businesses are more prone to hacking and corporate espionage. Businesses using online credit card authorization and transaction systems, for example, are more likely to suffer from unauthorized access than smaller manufacturers.

Although exposures and requirements differ from business to business, Figure 1 (page 31) provides a checklist of important security areas to review on a regular basis.

It is also important to review backup and recovery plans in the event that a system is either damaged inadvertently by a user or purposefully sabotaged by an intruder. Ensure that the backup and recovery processes will fully protect and fully recover the financial data, trade secret information, and human resources information your company needs to continue or resume operations.

 

Getting Help

 

IBM offers the AS/400e Security Advisor on its Web site (www.as400.ibm.com/tstudio/ secure1/advisor/secwiz.htm). If you are new to the AS/400 or to security, or if the environment in which you run your AS/400 has recently changed, this tool will generate a list of recommendations that you can use to get started. Fill out the questionnaire, which requests information pertaining to the use of your AS/400, and the site will provide you with a list of IBM’s recommended security-related system values, along with suggestions for scheduling security audit journal reports. There is no charge for this analysis. Also available is the AS/400 Security Wizard in Operations Navigator (see “Configure Your


AS/400 Security the Easy Way with the New AS/400 Security Wizard,” Shannon O’Donnell, MC, March 1999), which provides similar information.

There are many third-party AS/400 audit/security software products that extend beyond the tools offered in OS/400 and help detect security holes. Generally, these products are designed to analyze your system to find all existing security faults and block all exit points. Security audit tools also monitor activities and report violations. They can notify operators of security issues through system messages or pager messages. Many tools have object and profile monitors that analyze the use of sensitive programs and commands or produce a complete log of a specific profile’s activities. For a comprehensive list of AS/400 security audit software solutions, please refer to www.midrangecomputing. com/yellowpages.

Intrusion detection systems (IDSs) have become an absolute must for businesses using the Internet, as an adjunct to firewall protection. IDSs track user activity from entry to exit, guard against known types of attack, detect network policy violations, and keep tabs on normal network activity, making exceptional behavior easier to identify. Similar to virus scanners, IDSs can either be network-based (by scanning packets of incoming data) or host-based (which means the software is installed on all computers in a network). Network-based IDSs do a good job of restricting unwanted traffic from the outside, and host-based IDSs enable detection of unacceptable activity originating from within the network.

Objective, periodic security audits and reviews conducted by professional, independent organizations can help to reduce the likelihood of material loss resulting from computer misuse. Such focused expertise is invaluable to companies that regularly review procedures and physical and system environments, as well as to those that have just fallen victim to an intruder or are planning an Internet initiative. Since most companies don’t have a security specialist on board, a consultant can be a cost-effective way to button things down.

Randy Ball, an AS/400 security specialist with ComTech Group in Northbrook, Illinois, has conducted several such security audits for AS/400 shops large and small. A widely held belief about system security is that there is an inverse relationship between security and user accessibility to data. Ball feels, however, that the converse is actually true. According to Ball, “The more data you make accessible, the more important security becomes.” His approach to a client’s reviews sometimes span the course of two weeks. After discussing objectives with the client, Ball creates a statement of work. He then looks at the company’s overall security policy, both written and informal, spanning all platforms. He reviews physical security and then all points of access into the AS/400, including local devices, dedicated communication lines, Ethernet connections, and so on. He then reviews system security attributes and compares them with IBM’s recommendations.

Ball says that a lot can be determined by carefully checking user profiles. Of greatest interest to Ball are profiles with default passwords, special authorities, special classes, and all-object authority. He also checks to see if limit capability (LMTCPB(*YES)) is being used for users. Ball then generates a security review document, which includes his observations and recommendations. “It’s very specific and detailed,” says Ball.

Ball reinforces the premise that good system security is a continuous, proactive process and is a firm believer in the use of security audit journaling. “It’s a very powerful tool, which is already built into the system. It offers a great opportunity to do proactive monitoring of your system.” Security audit journaling allows you to monitor what has changed on your system, who has made the change, what programs use adopted authority, and what commands are allowed for public use, among other things.

 

Be Proactive

 

When you have established a direction, examine the physical environment to ensure that everything is properly accounted for and buttoned down, then review the system


environment. IBM offers tools, both with OS/400 and online, to help you identify possible security weak points. Third-party software solutions can provide status information on a near real-time basis, and new tools called Intrusion Detection Systems can help protect your network. If you are strapped for time or don’t have the expertise necessary, consultants can help you. They offer objectivity and have valuable experience.

Also, the importance of periodic security audits has increased exponentially due to the evolution of distributed computing and broadened general access to systems. Implementing security requires finite human resources and capital. Often, as security tightens, access to mission-critical data becomes more controlled (which to some means more difficult). It is important to be proactive in matters of system security, and a good place to start is a written security document.

User Profiles • List user profiles using Display User Profiles (DSPUSRPRF)

• Check for old, outdated profiles
• Review for last time they were used, changed, expired, or * disabled
• Note authority level, spool control, and job control capabilities

Remote Entry Points • Display Net Attributes (DSPNETATTR)

• Review options
• Check who signed on to what port
• Check *CMD to see who is connected

System Security Attributes • Display system values using Work System Value (WRKSYSVAL

SYSVAL(*SEC))
• Review password restrictions, failed sign on attempts, etc.

Network Attributes • Display Network Attributes (DSPNETA)

• Review attributes of the network, connections, local location, names, system name, etc.

Object Authority • Display objects by owner

• Display Program Adopt (DSPPGMADPT)
• Review programs that adopt authority in user libraries (Beware of programs buried in QSYS.)

Commands with Public Access • Display Command (DSPCMD) Option*Out

• Query
• Limit to user libraries

Backup and Recovery Plans • Review processes to ensure that all critical business information is regularly backed up and can be fully recovered
• Test recovery processes on a periodic basis

Figure 1: Reviewing security-related system issues on a periodic basis can minimize system misuse.


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    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.

     

     

  • 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.