Fortifying Your AS400/IBM i Environment: Top Cybersecurity Concerns and Best Practices

Jul 27, 2023 Aiswarya Madhu

As technology continues to advance, so do the ever-evolving cybersecurity threats that plague the IT landscape. Data breaches have become an ever-growing threat, leaving organizations vulnerable to significant financial losses and reputational damage.

According to the 2022 Cost of a Data Breach Report, conducted by Ponemon Institute and sponsored by IBM Security, the average cost of a data breach has reached an all-time high of USD 4.35 million. Among the key findings, an alarming 83% of organizations have experienced multiple breaches, while critical infrastructure industries face even higher costs.

As we delve into the realm of AS400/IBM i services, understanding IBM i security challenges and implementing robust cybersecurity measures becomes paramount to bolster the security of your AS400/IBM i environment.

Key IBM i Cybersecurity Challenges

Lack of Security Knowledge and Skills

Organizations are facing a pressing challenge to bridge the talent shortage of skilled professionals capable of defending against the ever-increasing cyber threats.

There was an astounding 1.8 million unfulfilled cybersecurity positions by 2022, underscoring the significance of this issue.

The key to addressing this talent gap lies in emphasizing essential attributes and core skills required in cybersecurity. Digital IT Services firms can play a crucial role in bridging this gap by equipping the next generation of cybersecurity experts with the knowledge and expertise needed to protect the digital landscape effectively.

By nurturing and developing a skilled workforce, these firms contribute significantly to enhancing the overall security posture and resilience of organizations across the globe.

The Role of Cloud Computing in IBM i Security Challenges

  • Adoption Challenges and Cloud-Based Environments

    While cloud computing offers undeniable benefits, the transition to cloud-based settings or hybrid environments can present adoption challenges for organizations relying on AS400/IBM i systems. Despite the growing popularity of cloud solutions, some businesses hesitate to fully embrace them due to concerns about security, data privacy, and the complexity of migration. As cyber threats continue to evolve, organizations may experience uncertainties about ensuring the same level of security for cloud-based infrastructure as their on-premises systems. This apprehension can lead to slower adoption rates, hindering the realization of the full potential that cloud and hybrid environments can offer in terms of scalability and efficiency.

  • Ransomware Management

    Ransomware poses a formidable challenge for IBM i environments. Even though the IBM i operating system does not execute Windows malware directly, the IFS (Integrated File System) can act as a gateway for malicious software, leaving organizations vulnerable to ransom demands. A single infected PC with a mapped drive to the IFS can lead to a devastating encryption of files, disrupting operations and causing extensive downtime. To safeguard against this menace, IBM i shops must prioritize security measures, including user training, proper configuration, and reducing privileges such as ALLOBJ (All-object) authority.

Complexity of Government and Industry Regulations

IBM i environments often store sensitive data and critical business information, making them subject to various data protection and privacy regulations, including GDPR, HIPAA, PCI DSS, and more.

Each of these regulations has its unique set of requirements and compliance measures, making it challenging for organizations to navigate and implement the necessary security controls effectively.

To address this challenge, organizations must adopt robust cybersecurity measures tailored to meet regulatory standards and industry best practices. This involves implementing access controls, encryption, auditing, and other security mechanisms to safeguard sensitive data and ensure compliance with government and industry regulations.

Strategies for Effective IBM i Security: How Does Nalashaa Help

Strengthening APIs

APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) play a crucial role in enabling seamless communication between applications and systems. However, they can also be vulnerable entry points for cyberattacks. To fortify your APIs, consider the following measures:

  • Implementing JSON Web Token (JWT) based authentication: Use JWTs to provide secure verification of user authenticity and prevent unauthorized access to APIs.
  • Controlling access through Access Control Lists (ACLs): Set up ACLs to restrict access to specific functions, ensuring that only authorized users can interact with the APIs.
  • Monitoring API usage: Deploy comprehensive monitoring tools to detect potential misuse and respond proactively to suspicious activities.

Addressing Malware Threats

Malware poses a significant risk to the security and functionality of your IBM i environment. Implement the following measures to tackle malware threats:

  • Limiting special authorities and shares: Minimize privileges and shares to prevent unauthorized users from accessing critical resources.
  • Implementing Multi-factor Authentication (MFA): Strengthen login security by enforcing MFA, requiring users to provide multiple forms of identification before accessing the system.
  • Securing Internet connections with SSL/TLS encryption: Ensure that all Internet communications are encrypted using SSL/TLS protocols, safeguarding data during transmission.

Ensuring Server-Level Security

Securing servers is fundamental to protecting the entire system from potential attacks. Ensure server-level security through the following practices:

  • Establishing secure communication using SSH: Use Secure Shell (SSH) to create encrypted connections, making it challenging for attackers to intercept sensitive data.
  • Using proxy servers: Deploy proxy servers to conceal network users' IP addresses, adding an extra layer of protection against potential intrusions.
  • Utilizing server security certificates (SSL/TLS): Configure SSL/TLS certificates for authentication and encryption, guaranteeing secure server-client communication.
  • Keeping the operating system up to date Regularly update the operating system with security patches to address vulnerabilities promptly and mitigate potential risks.

Implementing Single Sign-On (SSO)

Streamlining user access and reducing login credentials are key components of efficient cybersecurity. Achieve this through:

  • Centralizing control of user access: Implement SSO, enabling centralized control of user access across various systems and resources, enhancing security and convenience.

Enhancing User-Level Security

Managing user privileges and active sessions is critical in preventing unauthorized access. Ensure user-level security through:

  • Assigning limited capabilities (LMTCPB): Control command execution by assigning limited capabilities, reducing the risk of misuse.
  • Disabling unused user profiles and terminating inactive sessions: Regularly review user profiles, disable unused accounts, and terminate inactive sessions to minimize potential security gaps.

Data-Level Security

Protecting sensitive data is crucial for compliance and maintaining trust with customers. Address data-level security concerns through:

  • Setting permissions on specific objects: Configure access permissions for specific objects, restricting data access to authorized personnel only.
  • Conducting regular security audits: Perform periodic security audits to identify vulnerabilities, enabling prompt remediation of potential threats.
  • Implementing data encryption: Utilize strong encryption methods to safeguard sensitive information from unauthorized access.

Safeguard Your Business with Proactive IBM i Security Solutions

As providers of AS400 services, we understand the critical role that IBM i environments play in businesses' daily operations. Ensuring the security of these systems is of utmost importance, considering the ever-evolving cyber threat landscape. IBM i security is a journey, not a destination, and it requires ongoing dedication and vigilance to stay one step ahead of cyber adversaries.

So, if you're considering enhancing the security layers of your AS400/IBM i infrastructure, you've come to the right place. Our team of experts is ready to assist you in devising robust security strategies that will provide lasting protection for your critical systems. Don't hesitate to reach out to us and take the first step towards safeguarding your valuable assets and ensuring long-term security for your business.

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Aiswarya Madhu

In the ever-changing tech landscape, my mission is to craft content that simplifies complex concepts and brings the wonders of modern technology closer to my audience. With a rich experience spanning over 2 years, I have honed my skills in crafting captivating and informative content for B2B domain that deeply resonates with the tech-savvy audience. When not working, you'll often find me with a steaming cup of tea and an inspiring book, fueling my curiosity and passion for knowledge.