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Security Patrol: Managing User Profiles With Management Central

IBM i (OS/400, i5/OS)
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If you have to manage the same user profiles across multiple iSeries systems, the User and Group functionality within Management Central can help make that task easier. It won't help if each system has its own unique set of profiles, but it will if the same profiles generally exist on more than one system.

System Requirements

To manage users and groups with Management Central, all systems managed must be running OS/400 V5R1 or later. The PC from which management will occur must be running iSeries Access for Windows or Client Access Express.

Setup and Configuration

You must first ensure that Management Central is installed on your PC. Management Central is installed when you install iSeries Navigator (formerly Operations Navigator, or Ops Nav). To get to Management Central, open iSeries Navigator. You can find iSeries Navigator in the Client Access folder on your desktop or by going to Start->Programs->IBM iSeries Access (or IBM AS400 Client Access Express )->iSeries Navigator (or Operations Navigator)

If you have never opened iSeries Navigator before, you may get a message about the system scanning for and installing new plug-ins--that's OK; let it do its thing.

At the top of the window that opens, you will see an entry for Management Central (see Figure 1). The system name shown in parentheses is the "central system." In Figure 1, the central system is SkyView.

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Figure 1: If you right-click on Management Central, the tasks available are shown in the bottom pane. (Click images to enlarge.)


The central system is the system from which all requests and commands originate. In addition, the central system stores some information from the other systems. The central system should be one that is consistently available (in other words, don't choose a test system that is frequently reloaded or IPLed). If you want to change which system is the managing system, click on "Change the central system" in the task list in the bottom pane.

Now that you have defined the central system, you need to define the systems that you are going to take action on. These systems get grouped together into something called a "system group." For example, you have four systems in your company, and the same users are created on three of those systems (the fourth system is a development system). You would define a system group that includes the three systems that are managed in the same way. Or perhaps you centrally manage multiple organizations within your corporation. You could define one group that consists of the two systems that service the financial organization, a second group that consists of the four systems that service the manufacturing organization, and a third group that consists of the 10 systems that service the retail outlets.

To create a system group, double-click on "Create a system group" in the task list shown in Figure 1. The screen shown in Figure 2 will be displayed.

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Figure 2: Choose the systems you want in the system group and click Add.

Name the system group, add a description, and then choose the systems you want in this group. The pane on the left shows all of the systems in the network (Management Central goes out and discovers those--you don't have to add them). Click on the system name and press the Add button to add it to the system group. The central system does not have to be one of the systems in the group.

If you have colleagues who will also want to use this group, click on the Sharing tab at the top of this window. Choose Full to allow others to use this system group (see Figure 3) and then click OK. You have just defined a system group. Repeat this process for all of the groups you want to define.

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Figure 3: To allow multiple users to use this system group, choose Full.

As part of the setup, you will want to schedule a job that will collect "inventory" information about all users and groups that have been created on the systems in your system groups. (As you continue to read this article, it will become more apparent why you want this information.) For each system group, right-click on the system group name and choose Inventory->Collect. The screen shown in Figure 4 will appear.

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Figure 4: Uncheck all boxes except for Users and Groups.

Make sure that the only box checked is Users and Groups. Click on Schedule. You'll get the screen shown in Figure 5.

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Figure 5: Use this feature to schedule when the inventory collection will occur.

This screen allows you to schedule a job that will run at 2:00 every morning. It will collect all user profile and group profile information from all the systems defined in the system group and make this information available so that you can take action on it (i.e., modify the profile or delete the profile from all of the systems). To make sure you can modify or delete profiles, gather the users and groups information regularly.

To check that the collection job has been scheduled, open Scheduled Tasks and then click on Inventory--you can see the scheduled jobs listed on the right. See Figure 6.

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Figure 6: To make sure the inventory is being collected, look at the Inventory under Scheduled Tasks.

Performing Actions on Multiple Systems

Now that setup is complete, let's look at the actions you can perform.

Creating Profiles

In the left nav pane under Management Central, expand (click on the +) System Groups. Right-click on one of the groups you created. Choose Users and Groups and then New User. The screen shown in Figure 7 is displayed.

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Figure 7: Define a new user who will be created on all systems in the system group.


This is a graphical interface for creating user profiles on OS/400. You click on each of these boxes to define the user's group, special authorities, job settings, directory entry, etc. Once you've specified those parameters, click Add. The user profile NEWPROFILE will be created on each of the systems defined in the system group you are currently using. Beats signing on to each individual system and creating the profile multiple times, doesn't it?

Creating profiles does have its limitations, however. While Management Central does allow you to define commands or programs to run after creating a profile, many of my clients go into their applications and manually add the new user to a list of application users and define which menu options they are allowed to use. Unless this can be done programmatically, Management Central doesn't help you manage the application enrollment and configuration.

Modifying Profiles

You can also modify or "edit" a profile on multiple systems. Right-click on the system group, choose Users and Groups, and then choose Edit user. You'll see the screen in Figure 8.

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Figure 8: User profile attributes are grouped into categories. Choose the category and then the specific attribute that you want to change.

Specify the name of the profile you want to change and find the field or fields that you want to update. If you don't see the user profile field listed under the Setting field, use the drop-down box to find the right setting. In Figure 9, the accounting code is chosen to be changed.

http://www.mcpressonline.com/articles/images/2002/Management%20CentralV308.png

Figure 9: The accounting code of the profile NEWPROFILE is chosen to be modified.


Click on the field you want to update and then click on Properties. It's not obvious which button is Properties, however! It's the button above the delete (or the "X" box). The screen shown in Figure 10 is where you enter the new accounting code.

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Figure10: Enter a new value for the Accounting code.


Click OK and then OK again. The accounting code for the profile NEWPROFILE will be changed on all systems in the chosen system group.

Deleting Profiles

There are two ways to delete profiles.

Deleting Profiles--Method 1
Right-click on the system group name, choose Users and Groups, and then Delete User. You'll get the screen in Figure 11.

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Figure 11: Specify the user to be deleted from all systems in the system group.

Notice that this screen gives you the same options as the Delete User Profile (DLTUSRPRF) command. That is, you can tell the system to not delete the profile if it owns objects (that's the default), delete any owned objects, or transfer the objects to another user. Specify the name of the profile to be deleted and click OK to delete the profile from all systems in the systems group.

Deleting Profiles--Method 2
Use this method of deleting profiles when you want to find the profile based on something other than the profile name and then delete the result of the search. To use this method, right-click on the system group, choose Inventory->Search->Users and Groups, and click on the Advanced tab (see Figure 12).

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Figure 12: Choose the attribute on which to perform a search of the Users and Groups inventory.

Scroll down to find the unique identifier (UID), click on it, and press OK. Figure 13 shows all of the options you have when searching the inventory.

http://www.mcpressonline.com/articles/images/2002/Management%20CentralV312.png

Figure 13: Specify the search criteria for searching the Users and Groups Inventory.


The field name will be filled in, and the operation will default to "equals" (=). Leave those and specify the UID. Click Search. The resulting screen will show all of the systems within the system group that have a user profile with the specified criteria. The profile name and the system on which it resides will be listed. Right-click on the profile name and choose Delete. If you want to delete all of the profiles displayed, click on the first profile, hold down the Shift key, and click on the last profile. All profiles should be highlighted. Then, right-click and choose Delete. You will be presented with the same screen as shown in Figure 11. However, the heading of the box will include the names of all of the systems you will be deleting the user from. Choose the appropriate action to take with their owned objects and click OK to run the delete right away or click Schedule to schedule the deletion to occur later.

To see the status of all of the tasks that you have run, go to Task Activity and click on Users and Groups. In the right nav pane, you can see the status of the tasks you have run (see Figure 14). Once complete, you can get rid of these tasks. Right-click on the task and then choose Delete.

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Figure 14: To see the status of your tasks, click on Users and Groups under Task Activity.

If there was some kind of failure, as shown in Figure 14, you can click on the task for more details. Figure 15 shows the details of the failure.

http://www.mcpressonline.com/articles/images/2002/Management%20CentralV314.png
Figure 15: The user profile was not created on two systems because of a connection problem.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are some questions I've been asked by system administrators who implement Management Central.

Question 1: What if I am creating a user for a system group and it gets created on only two of five systems? (The connection fails on the other three.) Can I create the same user on the same system group again? Or do I have to create the profile on each individual system?

Answer: You can go ahead and run the create against the system group. Obviously, it will fail on the two systems that the profile was created on earlier, but that's OK.

Question 2: I have a system group of five systems. I know that a profile I have to delete exists on only four of those systems. Can I use the delete function against the system group, or do I have to delete the profile from each individual system?

Answer: You can run the delete function against the system group. You should get a message that the profile was deleted on four of five systems. For the system on which the profile did not exist, you should get a message that says the profile couldn't be deleted because it did not exist.

Question 3: I have a system group of 10 systems. I know that a profile owns objects on four of those systems. Can I still run the delete function against the system group? Do I have to specify to delete the profile even if it owns objects?

Answer: You can run the delete function against the system group. You can leave the delete option at the default (i.e., delete the profile if it does not own objects). The system will delete the profile on the systems where the profile does not own objects. It will not delete the profile on the systems where the profile does own objects. Messages will tell you from which systems the profile was deleted.

Question 4: I tried an operation, but it did not complete successfully. The error message said there was a connection issue or problem. What do I do?

Answer: This is probably the biggest frustration you'll have with Management Central--making sure the connection between all systems is available. Sometimes, you'll discover that the Management Central server isn't started. Sometimes, you'll find that you need a PTF. Sometimes, the other system is not available. Unfortunately, many situations can produce a connection issue.


Carol Woodbury is co-author of the book Implementing AS/400 Security as well as co-founder of SkyView Partners, a firm specializing in security consulting and services. Carol has over 12 years in the security industry, 10 of those working for IBM's Enterprise Server Group as the AS/400 Security Architect and Chief Engineering Manager of Security Technology. Carol can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Carol Woodbury

Carol Woodbury is President and CTO of DXR Security and has over 30 years’ experience with IBM i Security. She started her career as Security Team Leader and Chief Engineering Manager for iSeries Security at IBM in Rochester, MN. Since leaving IBM, she has co-founded two companies – SkyView Partners and DXR Security - both focused on helping organizations achieve their IBM i Security goals. Her practical experience together with her intimate knowledge of the system combine for a unique viewpoint and experience level that cannot be matched.

Carol is known world-wide as an author and award-winning speaker on security technology, specializing in IBM i Security topics. She has written seven books on IBM i Security. Carol has been named an IBM Champion since 2018 and holds her CISSP, CRISC and PCIP security certifications.


MC Press books written by Carol Woodbury available now on the MC Press Bookstore.

IBM i Security Administration and Compliance: Third Edition IBM i Security Administration and Compliance: Third Edition
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    • How can RDi help me find out if I’ve tested all lines of a program?
    • What’s the best way to transition from PDM to RDi?
    • How do I convince my long-term developers to use RDi?

    This is a unique, online opportunity to hear how you can get more out of RDi.

     

  • 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 NodeRun.com as a pre-built development environment

     

     

  • Inside the Integrated File System (IFS)

    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.