Choosing the Right Security Approach: Object-level Security vs. Transaction-based Security

Before selecting a System i Security solution, you must first determine the best security approach for your needs. Some systems offer an Object-level security approach, while others have a Transaction-based approach. What does this difference really mean?

Essentially, Object-level security enables you to define a “white list” of the objects (such as files) which can be accessed by all or specific users; such an approach enables specifying the exact access type (Read, Write, Update,…) for each object as well.

Transaction-based security, however, does not have this capability. Instead, this approach uses a mechanism called Memorized Transactions. With this mechanism, certain transactions are kept in a separate area (not in the log), and analyzed to check if the a pattern or particular template can be used as a security rule, or as the structural basis for allowing or disallowing access to objects. Naturally, pattern recognition is a CPU intensive task which can negatively affect process time for each transaction.

Our flagship product, iSecurity, uses Object-level security together with an intuitive algorithm in which more specific rules are analyzed before generic ones are referenced. Using this algorithm, iSecurity requires only one successful I/O with minimal CPU to find the exact rule.

The advantages of Object-level security are:

Better Performance
Object-level security is far superior in the area of performance. With Transaction-based security, the greater the number of memorized transactions, the larger the number of comparisons needed for each incoming TCP transaction (FTP, SQL, etc.). And more applications in use means more transactions generated, more rules that need to be defined, and more transactions that need to be memorized.

Less Security Exposures
Unlike Object-based security, Transaction-based security compares transactions character by character, which means that unimportant differences between transactions may render important security rules useless.

Installation & Maintenance Issues
With Transaction-based security, the administrator needs to carefully review each transaction, determine which transactions require rules, and memorize those transaction definitions. The above procedure is time consuming and, more importantly, extremely error prone. Errors in defining the rules can easily lead to actual security breaches and serious monetary and reputation losses to your company.

Written by Eli Spitz, VP Business Development, Raz-Lee Security
Email Eli Spitz at