How sufficient is integrated IBM i security?
I recently ran into an interesting quote in System i News Magazine, January 2009:
“Not only is IBM i virus resistant, its object-based architecture provides integrated security based deep into the heart of the system. You don’t need to apply a multitude of security patches – because security is not an afterthought with IBM i”.
I couldn’t agree more. As VP Business Development at Raz-Lee Security, which has focused on software and security products for AS/400/IBM i since 1983, I can testify that security is indeed built into the IBM i to an extent that is unequaled on any other platform.
However, it’s important to emphasize the areas where IBM i only provides the infrastructure for security solutions, leaving it to each company – or to software providers like ourselves – to turn this infrastructure into something manageable and beneficial to CIOs, CSOs, auditors and system administrators.
Certainly the exit point architecture for protecting network access exists in vanilla OS/400; but were it not for a solution such as iSecurity Firewall, most organizations would not have the qualifications or resources to utilize these exit points.
The same goes for QAUDJRN log information; the information may all be there but its esoteric codes are unreadable without a solution such as iSecurity Audit which provides a useable front end to all this extremely valuable information.
OS/400 provides a wealth of password related system values and options; so many in fact, that a solution such as iSecurity Audit, which provides built-in password-related reports, a report generator and scheduler, is an absolute must.
And then there are capabilities that OS/400 simply does not provide; for example, an automatic operator facility (part of iSecurity Action) which can send real-time alerts and execute CL (command language) scripts in the case of a security breach.
And finally we reach the area I’ll call “Application Security”: using OS/400 facilities to secure the company’s business critical data. We’ve actually seen a growing trend over the past 2-3 years of companies’ growing interest in securing applications, as opposed to “infrastructure” (i.e. network access, QAUDJRN ).
iSecurity’s flagship product in the area of “Application Security” is AP-Journal. This product utilizes the information in OS/400 journal receivers, which fill up quickly and become unmanageable, and stores it in special purpose containers. These containers store only updates/fields which were defined by the user as “significant” and are therefore much smaller than journal receivers.
For example, AP-Journal can “trap” changes to application fields which are beyond a user-defined threshold, so that when a change occurs, an e-mail or operator message are sent to notify management. And, because the containers can store years worth of data, AP-Journal can easily provide a timeline report of all changes made to a mortgage over numerous years.
Another capability touching on application security is iSecurity’s ability to “capture” (via iSecurity Capture) user green screen images, store them and play them back at a later date.
In conclusion, while the IBM System i does lay out a groundwork for security, you still need additional, professional applications such as those offered by iSecurity in order to actually exploit the features/information provided by IBM.
Written by Eli Spitz, VP Business Development at Raz-Lee Security.
Email Eli Spitz at firstname.lastname@example.org