Sidebar

The Case for Using Authorization Lists to Secure IBM i Objects

IBM i (OS/400, i5/OS)
Typography
  • Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times

Carol explores the pros and cons of using authorization lists to secure IBM i objects.

Authorization lists (Autls) are a tool provided by the operating system that allows you to simplify the management of authorities on IBM i objects. But many organizations aren’t leveraging them. By fully explaining both the benefits and pain points of authorization lists, I’m hoping to convince more organizations to take advantage of them.

To best explain what an authorization list is, let me present a scenario. I have a finance application, and at the end of the month a file is created by the manager to summarize transactions. Several batch jobs run that update the file. Once all of the end-of-month jobs have run, a handful of people from the finance department need to download the results into spreadsheets. No one else should have access to this file.

I don’t need to have an authorization list to solve this authorization puzzle. I can grant these authorities to the following profiles and life is good:

            BATCHJOB1     *CHANGE

            BATCHJOB2     *CHANGE

            FINANCE1        *USE

            FINANCE2        *USE

            FINANCE3        *USE

            FINANCE4        *USE

            FINANCE5        *USE

            *PUBLIC           *EXCLUDE

But why should the manager have to remember all of the authorities that need to be granted each month? Enter authorization lists. In this scenario, I would create an authorization list:

CRTAUTL AUTL(FINANCE) AUT(*EXCLUDE) TEXT('Finance authorization list')

Then, using the EDTAUTL command, I’d grant the same authorities listed above to the FINANCE authorization list. See Figure 1.

The Case for Using Authorization Lists to Secure IBM i Objects - Figure 1 

Figure 1: Use EDTAUTL to authorize profiles to the FINANCE autl.

Each month, when the manager creates the new file, all that needs to happen is that she attaches the authorization list to the file:

GRTOBJAUT OBJ(*LIBL/FINOCTEOM) OBJTYPE(*FILE) AUTL(FINANCE)

Then she points the *PUBLIC authority of the file to the authorization list (unfortunately, you can’t do this at the same time you attach the list):

GRTOBJAUT OBJ(*LIBL/FINOCTEOM) OBJTYPE(*FILE) USER(*PUBLIC) AUT(*AUTL)

Later, if you determine there are other files that have these same authority requirements, you repeat the same process: Associate the file (or other object) with the authorization list, and set the *PUBLIC authority to come from the autl. You can also secure IFS objects with an authorization list. Here are those commands:

CHGAUT OBJ('/finance') AUTL(FINANCE)

CHGAUT OBJ('/finance') USER(*PUBLIC) DTAAUT(*AUTL) OBJAUT(*NONE)

Regardless of where the object is located, the result is that whatever authority the profile has to the FINANCE autl is the authority to the objects attached to the authorization list.

This scenario greatly simplifies the management of the authorities to these files, but I can simplify it even further by using a group profile. If I create a group profile called FINDWNLOAD and make the FINANCE1, 2, 3, 4, 5 profiles a member of that group, I can replace those users’ authority to the autl as shown in Figure 2.

The Case for Using Authorization Lists to Secure IBM i Objects - Figure 2 

Figure 2: Profile’s authority has been replaced with authority to their group.

This step simplifies the maintenance even further because the manager no longer has to remember to modify the authority to the authorization list when FINANCE1 leaves the department and is replaced by FINANCE53. Just place FINANCE53 in the FINDWNLOAD group and those users will have the authority they need.

Other Benefits

In addition to simplifying the management of authorities, perhaps an even bigger benefit is the fact that you can affect the authority of a *FILE object that’s in use. In the previous example, if the finance manager was still granting private authorities to individuals and a new member joined the team, she would have to wait to grant the authority to her new team member until the file wasn’t in use. The operating system prevents you from changing the authority of a file that’s open (that is, in use.) Any attempt to add a new authority or remove or modify an existing authority times out (fails). If, however, the file is secured with an authorization list, you can manage the authorities to the list even when the file is open. This means you don’t have to end an application to be able to manage authorities as long as its *FILEs are secured with an authorization list.

Another benefit of using authorization lists is that they reduce the number of private authorities on the system. In the original scenario, the system was storing at least seven private authorities for each file secured. (It’s likely more, especially if the file is a multi-member file. Then the private authorities are multiplied by the number of members.) Why do you care whether there are a lot of private authorities on the system? You care when you perform a Save Security Data (SAVSECDTA) and you especially care when performing a Restore Authority (RSTAUT). See this article for more details.

The Downsides

One downside of using authorization lists is that an object can be secured by only one authorization list. While I have run into the situation where I wanted to attach two authorization lists to the same file, it’s not a situation that craters a project. In this case, you typically have to create a third authorization list, authorize the profiles from both original lists, and switch the file to be secured by the third list. The downside is that you now must administer three authorization lists rather than just two. But even with this additional list, it’s still better than administering authorities to individual objects.

Another downside is that you can still grant private authorities to the object in addition to securing it with an authorization list. I try very hard to have authorities come from either the authorization list or from the object itself but not both. I like to look at one place for the authorities, either the object or an autl. (That’s one reason I like to point the object’s *PUBLIC authority to the authorization list; it allows me to look at the autl and know all of the authorities in effect.) When authorities come from both places, I really have to stop and think which authorities are in effect, especially when the same profile has been granted a private authority as well as having authority to the autl and the authorities are different. Or a profile has authority to the authorization list, and the profile’s group has a private authority to the object. To determine which authority is in effect takes knowledge of the IBM i authority-checking algorithm. Call me lazy, but I don’t want to think that hard!

Working with Authorization Lists

I’ve shown you a few of the CL commands associated with authorization lists, but you may prefer to use the IBM Services in QSYS2 to work with authorization lists. Two views allow you to get information about authorization lists:

QSYS2.Authorization_list_user_info provides what the name suggests: the list of profiles authorized to an authorization list. Run your SQL SELECT statement with no WHERE clause and you’ll have a list of all autls along with all the profiles authorized to them.

QSYS2.Authorization_list provides the list of objects secured by this list. This is one of my favorite SQL views because of the speed at which the information is returned as compared to the corresponding CL command. If you have ever run the Display Authorization List Objects (DSPAUTLOBJ) command for an authorization list that secures lots (as in thousands) of objects, you’ll know that the results can take a significant length of time to be displayed. Using this view returns the list of objects for a specific authorization list very quickly, especially compared to DSPAUTLOBJ. See Figure 3 for an example of the output.

The Case for Using Authorization Lists to Secure IBM i Objects - Figure 3 

Figure 3: Results using QSYS2.Authorization_List_Info SQL Service

Another benefit of using this view is that it includes any IFS objects that are secured by the autl, unlike the output from DSPAUTLOBJ.

Summary

I find authorization lists to be an under-used feature of IBM i security. I hope that this article will help you find ways to make use of this feature, allowing you to start saving time administering your IBM i security authorities.

 

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
Don't miss the newest edition by the industry’s #1 IBM i security expert.
List Price $71.95

Now On Sale

IBM i Security Administration and Compliance: Second Edition IBM i Security Administration and Compliance: Second Edition
Get the must-have guide by the industry’s #1 security authority.
List Price $71.95

Now On Sale

IBM i Security Administration and Compliance IBM i Security Administration and Compliance
For beginners to veterans, this is the definitive security resource.
List Price $69.95

Now On Sale

BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS

LATEST COMMENTS

Support MC Press Online

RESOURCE CENTER

  • WHITE PAPERS

  • WEBCAST

  • TRIAL SOFTWARE

  • 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 NodeRun.com 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.