mainframe security practices
June 13, 2017 Cybersecurity, Data

How to Revise Mainframe Security Practices and Improve Cybersecurity [New White Paper]

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The mainframe has long been a platform of superior security, reliability, scalability and performance economics in enterprise IT; nevertheless, the most inherently secure platform faces some challenges when it comes to cybersecurity, according to a new white paper from Compuware titled “Mainframe Security in a Hybrid/Mobile World: New Best Practices for the New Threat Matrix.”

Four trends in particular require adjustments in mainframe security practices:

  1. Cross-platform credentialing for cross-platform apps
  2. High stakes associated with insider malfeasance
  3. Intensifying DevOps activity
  4. Outsourcing

Why? Because, today, “mainframe applications and databases increasingly serve as back-end resources for cross-platform/multi-tier digital services that employees, customers, suppliers and partners engage with via distributed desktops and web/mobile front-ends,” according to the white paper.

Poor mainframe security practices cannot be allowed to evolve into problematic constraints, as companies already spend copious time and effort shoring up unsecure front-end technologies of engagement the mainframe serves as the back-end system for. Challenges to improving mainframe security exist nonetheless, precisely because mainframe applications and databases increasingly serve as back-end resources.

“More code running on more infrastructure moving more data across more connections means a larger threat surface,” according to the white paper, leaving companies with at least five mainframe security challenges to overcome:

  • Vulnerability by association with less secure distributed environments
  • Misuse of privileged mainframe accounts
  • Increased exposure to risk by way of more frequent sampling of mainframe data
  • Outsourcers with financial incentives who neglect infosec investments
  • Feeding SIEMs with mainframe-related data

“Simply put, it’s not the mainframe itself that exposes the enterprise to risk. It’s outdated mainframe infosec practices. Every enterprise must therefore re-examine and revise those practices,” according to the white paper.

Revising mainframe security practices to overcome the above challenges comes down to:

  • Capturing more complete and granular data on mainframe user behavior
  • Integrating mainframe user behavior activity into the enterprise SIEM
  • Reducing dependency on excessively privileged users
  • Separating mainframe ops privileges from mainframe audit privileges
  • Improving and enforcing mainframe test data privatization
  • Embracing automated mainframe unit testing

Improving mainframe security practices will positively impact overall enterprise security, aid digital agility, boost compliance and render costly and counterproductive re-platforming even more avoidable.

To learn more about mainframe security challenges companies face, what mainframe security practices to adopt and the outcomes that can be expected for strengthening the security of the most important platform in the enterprise, read the new white paper.

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Mike Siemasz

Technology Writer at Compuware
Mike Siemasz formerly served as Content Strategist and Technology Writer, reporting on culture, processes and tools in relation to DevOps and the mainframe.