Top Three Mainframe Security Best Practices You Need to Know

By Jamie Owens, Top Gun

There have been many high-profile data breaches in recent years, and each has demonstrated the need for iron-clad security measures for businesses of all sizes. While many companies focus their security efforts on commodity servers that host consumer-facing applications, it’s just as important to protect internal resources, such as IBM mainframes. This type of hardware might seem isolated from hacking risks; but unfortunately, that is simply not the case. Mainframes host a high volume of critical data, so they are a prime target for breaches.

To complicate matters, the majority of business data security solutions focus on other types of breaches. It’s crucial to expand your efforts beyond what most obviously needs protection because hackers know the most common business vulnerabilities to exploit. If you’re ready to take action to protect your company’s mainframe infrastructure, read on to learn how to get started with our list of IBM mainframe security best practices.

Manage Access Control

First things first. If you’re asking what access control entails, it’s time to make a plan to protect your data. Access control outlines restrictions on who can and cannot utilize a computer resource, such as a mainframe. Highly sensitive data should only be accessible to those who need to interact with it regularly. When someone else needs to gain access to a mainframe, getting approval from an administrator should be a standard requirement.

Access control sounds relatively straightforward, but in practice, problems often arise. Many companies lack the necessary oversight to keep track of who has mainframe access and who does not. Thankfully, there are software solutions that help automatically organize employee credentials and grant mainframe access only when necessary. This type of solution is known as Resource Access Control Facility (RACF). By utilizing RACF software, a company can automatically generate user profiles in a database and use these profiles to permit access to protected system resources.

Real-Time Analytics

Fraud can occur in just minutes, and every second that passes during that timeframe matters. While your business can deal with the fallout after a security incident, it’s preferable to identify a threat instantly and take action before critical data is stolen. Whether your IBM mainframe processes ticket transactions, bank statements or another type of transaction, your fraud analytics should be automatic and instantaneous.

Because mainframes process such a high volume of information, it’s impossible for a human to manually analyze its real-time processes for abnormalities that would signal fraud. Mainframes can make up for this shortcoming with software that establishes a baseline of normal transactions and identifies anomalies instantly with real-time analytics. IBM offers a wide range of mainframe security solutions to protect against occurrences of fraud under the company’s zSecure family of products. The exact type of software you need for real-time analytics depends on your specific mainframe, applications and budget.

Isolating Workloads

One of the most important advantages of a modern IBM mainframe is its ability to separate workloads into distinct environments through virtualization. This approach compartmentalizes processes, isolating them from everything that occurs in separate environments. Not only does virtualization make processes more efficient, it also enhances security in the event of a data breach.

To utilize workload environment on a mainframe with virtualization, a hypervisor needs to create guest accounts. While each of these accounts are independent of one another, they will utilize the name mainframe resources as they complete processes. Isolating guest accounts is one of the most effective ways to enhance IBM mainframe security, and it’s something that should be done as soon as a mainframe goes online.

Find Your Mainframe

There is no questions that today’s mainframes can enhance productivity for business across a wide range of industries. Because this type of data center hardware often processes sensitive information, it is a prime target for hackers. IBM and other mainframe manufacturers are well aware of the threat and equip their mainframes with features that can help keep your business secure.

Want to find a mainframe that will keep your data safe and your business moving forward? Check out our selection of pre-owned, refurbished IBM Z mainframes (certified and banded) to find the capable hardware you require. Once you’ve found your mainframe, we can help you get the most out of it, impact TCO and take action to protect your data. Learn more about ongoing (“bundled”) mainframe maintenance and take a proactive approach to your business security. Top Gun is a financially independent, veteran-held organization providing Mission Critical Support Services℠ to enterprise companies by leveraging OverWatch℠ as a service platform that is specifically designed to handle the maintenance and support complexities of today’s hybrid computing, storage and networking environments.

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Jamie Owens


Top Gun

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