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Townsend Security Data Privacy Blog

Luke Probasco

Recent Posts

Case Study: Plaza Premium Lounge

Posted by Luke Probasco on Jun 19, 2017 8:29:59 AM

PPL-Logo.pngMeeting PCI DSS with Townsend Security's Alliance Key Manager Hardware Security Module (HSM)


“Alliance Key Manager is simple, reliable, and easy to use - as a result, has allowed us to meet PCI DSS compliance and expand our market.”

- Sandeep Tewatia, IT Director

 
Plaza Premium Lounge

Plaza Premium Lounge Case Study

Plaza Premium Lounge is a global service brand headquartered in Hong Kong and is the industry-leader in premium airport services. Their goal is to make your airport experience seamless and effortless and, through their hearty services, change the perception of travel at the airport. The company operates in more than 140 locations in 35 airports across the globe and counts over 3,500 employees. The success of their business model has prompted airport authorities around the world to offer independent lounge facilities and value-added airport services as part of a bid to enhance the overall traveler experience.

 

The Challenge: Meet PCI DSS Compliance with Encryption Key Management

PCI DSS 3.0 requires businesses to, “Protect stored cardholder data.” The Requirement 3 summary names encryption, truncation, masking, and hashing as “critical components of cardholder data protection” and places strong emphasis on key management: “If an intruder circumvents other security controls and gains access to encrypted data, without the proper cryptographic keys, the data is unreadable and unusable to that person.”

Storing encryption keys next to the data they protect is not considered a security best practice and won’t meet data security compliance requirements like PCI DSS.

Faced with designing a PCI DSS compliant environment to store and process credit cards, Plaza Premium Lounge understood the importance of deploying an encryption key manager and that it should be based on industry standards. The solution had to be FIPS 140-2 compliant, designed to scale with their business needs, and have easy integration with IT infrastructure.  Additionally, the chosen vendor needed to provide excellent developer and technical support.

 

The Solution

Alliance Key Manager HSM

“I looked at all of the encryption key management HSM vendors,” said Sandeep Tewatia, IT Director. “Not only is Alliance Key Manager available as a FIPS 140-2 compliant HSM, Townsend Security has the same technology available in the cloud - which is important as we scale.”  By deploying Alliance Key Manager HSM, Plaza Premium Lounge was able to meet their business needs with a FIPS 140-2 compliant solution that could not only deploy quickly, but was also easy to set up and configure.

Integration with IT Infrastructure

“Townsend Security’s integration with our existing IT infrastructure really set the company apart,” continued Tewatia. “Alliance Key Manager has helped us meet our business goals of meeting PCI DSS in record time.”

By combining Alliance Key Manager and Townsend Security’s client applications and SDKs, Plaza Premium Lounge experienced a seamless integration with their IT infrastrutucture. Alliance Key Manager includes an unlimited license to use the Key Connection for SQL Server software.

Meeting PCI DSS Compliance

By managing encryption keys separately from the encrypted data, meeting PCI DSS encryption key management requirements went from a long, difficult, developer project to an easy integration.

“Having a PCI compliant environment has allowed us to expand our market and Alliance Key Manager was essential to us meeting section 3 for protecting stored cardholder data,” finished Tewatia.

Plaz

 

Topics: Alliance Key Manager, Case Study

Banks & Financial Services: Meeting Data Security Compliance Requirements

Posted by Luke Probasco on May 22, 2017 7:11:00 AM
Due to the vast amounts of sensitive data that they deal with on a regular basis, it is understandable that the banking and financial services industries are among the most regulated in the world. While GLBA/FFIEC are specific to these industries, compliance regulations such as PCI DSS, SOX, and state privacy laws can also apply. One thing that they all have in common though, is that encryption, along with proper key management, can mean the difference between a public breach notification and having a safe harbor.
Encryption Requirements for Financial ServicesI recently sat down with Patrick Townsend, Founder and CEO, of Townsend Security to discuss the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA), the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC), and what they say about protecting non-public personal information (NPI) and personally identifiable information (PII).

Hi Patrick. 95% of the top US commercial banks have a network security grade of “C” or below (according to SecurityScorecard’s latest Financial Cybersecurity report). In the past we have talked about the perimeter being weak and this report really supports that - which in turn supports the importance of encrypting data at rest.

Yes, the financial industry is a little bit late to the game in terms of protecting data at rest with encryption. I know this might surprise some people when they hear this. There has been an increased level and sophistication of attack and cybercriminal activity towards financial institutions. We are seeing attacks on banks, insurance companies, and many others. And it makes sense, right? Verizon recently reported that the vast majority of these attacks, around 90%, have a financial motive. Yes, these actors have other interests, but largely, data breaches and attacks have a financial motive, which makes banks a natural target.

Historically, banks have not had much compliance pressure to implement encryption – which is now changing. We are seeing this happening now, for example, in New York with the Department of Financial Services regulations. There is a lot more pressure for financial institutions to encrypt data at rest, along with properly managing encryption keys – and it is only going to continue with more regulations and more requirements.

Let’s talk about compliance regulations. The finance industry arguably falls under more than any other industry. Can you talk about the various regulations?

You are absolutely right. Financial institutions do cross a lot of boundaries – GLBA/FFIEC, PCI DSS for credit cards, SOX if they are publicly traded, privacy regulations, etc. There is just a broad set of compliance regulations coming into play.

Banks who handle credit cards have always fallen under PCI DSS. But PCI DSS focuses specifically on credit card data – credit card number, expiration date, cardholder name, etc. Specific to the banking industry, GLBA and FFIEC are requiring these organizations to protect non-public personal information (NPI). At the end of last year there was an update from the FFIEC covering best practices on strengthening the regulations around encrypting and protecting NPI. The FFIEC has been very active in that area and is fully empowered to ensure the security and confidentiality of customer records and information.

Furthermore, we just saw the state of New York and the Department of Financial Services promote some new regulations in the area of data security. NYDFS covered a lot of ground, all the way from specifying the requirement of a compliance officer right down to encrypting private data. We are seeing an evolving regulatory structure that is moving towards more security and data protection, not less, and there is no question that across the board compliance regulations and banks are having to step up to better protect data with provable technologies. Encrypting data at rest is an evolving area, but has certainly been moving at a rapid pace.

When you talked about PCI you covered what credit card numbers are required to be encrypted. What are some examples of NPI that needs protection under GLBA?

Think of it as any kind of sensitive data that could be used by a cyber criminal. For example:
  • Any information an individual gives you to get a financial product or service (for example, name, address, income, Social Security number, or other information on an application)
  • Any information you get about an individual from a transaction involving your financial product(s) or service(s) (for example, the fact that an individual is your consumer or customer, account numbers, payment history, loan or deposit balances, and credit or debit card purchases)
  • Any information you get about an individual in connection with providing a financial product or service (for example, information from court records or from a consumer report)
Just think about it as sensitive data in the broader sense and not worry so much about the formal definition of NPI – again, information that might compromise someone’s financial or reputational status and you probably have a pretty good idea of what needs to be protected.

Along with encryption also comes key management, which has often been described as the most difficult part of encryption.

Yeah, we often say that encryption is the hardest part of data security and key management is the hardest part of encryption. Why is that? When you encrypt data, you are using a special secret, known as an encryption key (something that can’t be guessed or predicted) to keep the encrypted data safe.

First, businesses should be using standards-based encryption like AES or RSA, and these algorithms require keys to make them work. Key management then becomes the real challenge for financial institutions because they need to create and manage provably strong and protected encryption keys. Regarding strong keys, it is important to note that a password, or even what you think of as a strong password, is not adequate. This is the function of an enterprise key management solution. At Townsend Security we have our Alliance Key Manager, which is validated to industry standards (FIPS 140-2), and that means that encryption keys are strong, stored in a protected fashion, away from the data that they are protecting. All of that becomes a very important part of an encryption strategy because encryption is only as strong as the protection of the keys.

Critical functions of a key manager include:
  • Ensure origin and quality of keys
  • Manage keys through entire lifecycle, not just store them remotely
  • Use accepted and standards-based encryption algorithms
  • Implement dual control, separation of duties, split knowledge
  • Ensure that keys are securely backed up, at all times
  • Implement strong authentication mechanisms
  • Protect and restrict access to encryption keys

Thanks Patrick. Any final thoughts you’d like to share?

We really believe in the term “Compliance out of the box.” Townsend Security provides several solutions that can help members of the financial services industry protect NPI/PII and help them meet the vast number of evolving compliance requirements. We provide encryption key management solutions that are validated to meet PCI DSS, as well as a variety of client-side applications and SDKs to make encryption projects easier than ever. Alliance Key Manager is a mature product that is in use by thousands of customers, worldwide.

To hear this interview in it’s entirety, download our podcast “Encryption Requirements for Banks & Financial Services” and hear Patrick Townsend, founder and CEO of Townsend Security, further discuss encryption, key management, and meeting compliance requirements specific to financial services.

Encryption

Topics: Compliance, GLBA/FFIEC

Press Release: Townsend Security Secures Nonpublic Personal Information (NPI) for Financial Services and Personally Identifiable Information (PII)

Posted by Luke Probasco on May 1, 2017 6:00:00 AM

By protecting data with encryption and key management solutions from Townsend Security, businesses can easily meet compliance requirements.

Townsend Security, a leading provider of encryption and key management solutions, today announced that Alliance Key Manager can help businesses in the finance industry meet new encryption requirements, including those found in the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) cybersecurity regulation and the European Union General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR), in addition to existing Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) and PCI Data Security Standard (PCI DSS).

By protecting nonpublic personal information (NPI) and personally identifiable information (PII) with NIST-compliant AES encryption and FIPS 140-2 key management found in Townsend Security’s Alliance Key Manager, businesses can protect private information including: customer financial records, social security number, income, and account numbers. Organizations that experience a data breach where un-encrypted data is lost can suffer fines reaching into the millions of dollars, as well as face indirect costs like brand damage and customer loss.

Fortunately, encryption and key management has gotten tremendously easier to deploy and is within reach of the most modest budgets. Customers worldwide have turned to Alliance Key Manager because it enables them to easily meet the most stringent requirements found in GLBA, PCI DSS, and HIPAA. The solution has been validated to meet PCI DSS in VMware, and is also available as a hardware security module (HSM) and in the cloud (AWS, Azure, vCloud).

“The finance industry is increasingly being held accountable for the security, confidentiality and integrity of non-public customer information,” said Patrick Townsend, founder and CEO, of Townsend Security. “Encryption, along with key management, is the best way to ensure that private information remains private – even in the event of a breach.”

Encryption Key Management Trends Perspectives 

Topics: Press Release

Encryption Requirements for Banks & Financial Services

Posted by Luke Probasco on Apr 25, 2017 8:33:00 AM

It should come as no surprise that the financial industry is among the most regulated in the world.  There are strong data security requirements for banking and financial industries due to the sensitive and private data that they deal with.  While GLBA/FFIEC are specific to these industries, compliance regulations such as PCI DSS, SOX, and state privacy laws can also apply.  One thing that they all have in common though, is that encryption, along with proper key management, can mean the difference between a public breach notification and having a safe harbor.

What Data Needs Encryption?

Encryption Requirements for Financial ServicesAside from the obvious personally identifiable information (PII) such as names, addresses, and social security numbers, the financial industry also regularly handles data that includes income, credit score, collection history, and family member PII and Non-public Personal Information (NPI).

The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) specifically requires that institutions doing business in the US establish appropriate standards for protecting the security and confidentiality of customers’ NPI. The objectives are to:

  • Ensure the security and confidentiality of customer records and information
  • Protect against any anticipated threats or hazards to the security or integrity of such records
  • Protect against unauthorized access to information which could result in substantial harm or inconvenience to any customer

Additionally, the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC), which is “empowered to prescribe uniform principles, standards, and report forms to promote uniformity in the supervision of financial institutions,” adds:

“Financial institutions should employ encryption to mitigate the risk of disclosure or alteration of sensitive information in storage and transit.”

Between FFIEC and GLBA, banks and financial institutions should encrypt:

  • Any sensitive information an individual gives you to get a financial product or service (such as name, address, income, Social Security number, or other information on an application)
  • Any information you get about an individual from a transaction involving your financial products or services (for example, the fact that an individual is your customer, account numbers, payment history, loan or deposit balances, and credit or debit card purchases)
  • Any information you get about an individual in connection with providing a financial product or service (for example, information from court records or from a consumer report)

Encrypting Private Data

Encryption is often considered the hardest part of securing private data.  The first step that banks and financial services can take is to deploy encryption based on industry-tested and accepted algorithms, along with strong key lengths.  Examples of industry-tested and accepted standards and algorithms for encryption include AES (128 bits and higher), TDES (minimum double-length keys), RSA (2048 bits and higher), ECC (160 bits and higher), and ElGamal (1024 bits and higher). See NIST Special Publication 800-57 for more information.

There are many levels within an organization’s stack that encryption can be deployed, ranging from the operating system to the application and database level.  Choosing where to implement encryption has security implications.  Let’s focus on the two that are the most secure.

Encryption at the Database Level

Almost all commercial databases now support some time of encryption in the database itself.  Encryption at the database layer provides some distinct advantages:

  • Encryption is optimized for database performance
  • Encryption services are better integrated with other database access control services resulting in fewer security gaps
  • Encryption key management may be better integrated into the encryption implementation

Encryption at the Application Level

Application encryption involves the use of an encryption library and a key retrieval service.  Encryption at the application layer fundamentally means that you are encrypting data before inserting it into a database or other storage mechanism, and decrypting it after you retrieve the data.  It provides a very granular level of control of sensitive data and allows for the application of user access controls, program access controls, data masking, and other security controls.  Many feel that application layer encryption is the most secure way to protect data.

Encryption Key Management

Encryption is only as secure as your encryption keys.  The essential functions of a key management solution include storing the encryption keys separate from the data that they protect, as well as managing the encryption keys through the entire lifecycle including:

  • Generating keys for different cryptographic systems and different applications
  • Generating and obtaining public keys
  • Distributing keys to intended users, including how keys should be activated when received
  • Storing keys, including how authorized users obtain access to keys
  • Changing or updating keys, including rules on when and how keys should be changed
  • Addressing compromised keys
  • Archiving, revoking, and specifying how keys should be withdrawn or deactivated
  • Recovering keys that are lost or corrupted as part of business continuity management
  • Logging the auditing of key management-related activities
  • Instituting defined activation and deactivation dates, and limiting the usage period of keys

Just as with encryption, it is paramount that your key management solution meets industry standards.  Again, look to NIST and vendors who have a solution that is FIPS 140-2 compliant.  By adequately encrypting data to industry standards, the loss of encrypted data is not generally considered a breach, and is exempt from notification requirements.

FFIEC Guidance

The FFIEC provides guidance and oversight of GLBA for banks and financial organizations.  They publish the IT Examination Handbook, which provides guidance for the IT security controls that can or should be used to protect NPI under GLBA.  According to the Handbook, financial institutions should employ encryption to mitigate the risk of disclosure or alteration of sensitive information in storage and transit. Encryption implementations should include:

  • Encryption strength sufficient to protect the information from disclosure until such time as disclosure poses no material risk
  • Effective key management practices
  • Robust reliability

Fortunately, encryption and key management has gotten tremendously easier to deploy and is within reach of even the most modest budgets.  By protecting data with strong, standards-based encryption, organizations can meet the requirements of GLBA/FFIEC and protect their customer's’ private data – even in the event of a breach.

Encryption

Topics: GLBA/FFIEC

Case Study: Citizens Security Life Insurance

Posted by Luke Probasco on Mar 13, 2017 10:54:24 AM

CSLI-Logo.pngCompliance Made Easy - Protecting Private Information with Alliance AES/400 Encryption for IBM i and Alliance Key Manager for VMware


“Townsend Security was extremely easy to work with - from the sales process to deploying our proof of concept to post-sales support.”

- Adam Bell, Senior Director of IT

 
Citizens Security Life Insurance

MCitizens Security Life Insurance Company is a life and health insurance carrier. The company offers group benefits including dental and vision coverage, and individual ancillary insurance products. The company was founded in 1965 and is headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky.

The Challenge: Protect ePHI & PII on the IBM i

In order to meet growing partner requirements and pass a data security audit for protecting electronic Protected Health Information (ePHI) and Personally Identifiable Information (PII), Citizens Security Life Insurance (CSLI) needed to deploy an encryption solution on the IBM i. The solution needed to be easy to implement with excellent performance.

While FIELDPROC on the IBM i makes it very easy to encrypt data without application changes, CSLI also understood that for encrypted data to truly be secure, they would need to store and manage encryption keys with an external key manager.

By using a VMware-based encryption key manager, the company could meet encryption and key management best practices for separating encryption keys from the data they protect.

The Solutions

Alliance AES/400 Encryption

“The performance we are seeing with Alliance AES/400 encryption is excellent,” said Adam Bell, Senior Director of IT, Citizens Security Life Insurance. “The solution was easy to integrate and completely met our expectations.”

Alliance AES/400 FIELDPROC encryption is NIST-compliant and optimized for performance. The solution is up to 100x faster than equivalent IBM APIs on the IBM i platform.

With Alliance AES/400, businesses can encrypt and decrypt fields that store data such as credit card numbers, social security numbers, account numbers, ePHI, and other PII instantly without application changes.

Alliance Key Manager for VMware

Alliance Key Manager for VMWare was very easy to implement and the resources Townsend Security provided made deployment a smooth process,” continued Bell. By deploying Alliance Key Manager for VMware, CSLI was able to meet their business needs with a solution that could not only deploy quickly, but was also easy to set up and configure.

Alliance Key Manager for VMware leverages the same FIPS 140-2 compliant technology found in Townsend Security’s hardware security module (HSM) and in use by over 3,000 customers. The solution brings a proven and mature encryption key management solution to VMware environments, with a lower total cost of ownership. Additionally, the key manager has been validated to meet PCI DSS in VMware environments.

Integration with the IBM i Platform

An encryption strategy is only as good as the key management strategy, and it can be difficult to get key management right. For companies doing encryption, the most common cause of an audit failure is an improper implementation of key management. The seamless integration between Alliance AES/400 and the external Alliance Key Manager for VMware allowed CSLI to pass their data security audit with flying colors.

“The relationship we developed with Townsend Security enabled us to have a painless sales and support process, and in turn, enabled us to easily pass our data security audit,” finished Bell.

Meeting HIPAA and protecting ePHI with encryption and key management.

 

Topics: Alliance Key Manager, Alliance AES/400, Case Study

The Future of Active Security Monitoring on the IBM i

Posted by Luke Probasco on Jan 24, 2017 8:19:21 AM

Active monitoring is one of the most effective security controls an enterprise can deploy. In fact, a large majority of security breaches occur on systems that have been compromised days, weeks, or even months before sensitive data is lost. A recent Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report indicates that a full 84 percent of all breaches were detected in system logs.  By actively collecting security logs in real-time, organizations can not only monitor security events, but also prevent a data breach before it starts.  I recently sat down with Patrick Townsend, to discuss log collection and active monitoring on the IBM i.

Hi Patrick, can you give our readers an overview on the importance of collecting and monitoring security logs on the IBM i?

The Future of Active Security Monitoring on the IBM iOne of the most effective things that you can do to prevent a data breach is to deploy an active monitoring solution, sometimes also known as system logging.  You’ll find active monitoring at the top of all cyber-security lists of things to do – because it is effective.  Active monitoring is key to a strong security posture, for anybody.

Today, we all know that there is no longer a true perimeter and that our systems are at risk.  Luckily, active monitoring can help.  Here are some key principles that organizations need to understand.  First, an active monitoring solution needs to involve a log collection server or SIEM solution (IBM Security QRadar, Splunk, LogRythm, etc.) to collect security events across the entire enterprise and actively detect threats.  Second, there needs to be real-time collection and monitoring of security events.  Rather than scooping up the security events once or twice a day, it is imperative to be collecting these events in real-time. When you collect logs across the entire enterprise, a SIEM can provide a lot of intelligence to identify patterns and anomalies – which will identify a potential attack.  The final critical components are good reporting, query, and forensics tools.  SIEM solutions also give you the ability to quickly run reports and analyze suspect data.  This is important for two reasons.  If you are having an attack you need to identify quickly where the attack is originating and how it is happening.  This is essential in order to know how to remediate it.  If you aren’t able to pinpoint the problem, it is very likely that you are going to be attacked by the same methods again.

Switching gears, the serious points for an IBM i customer revolve around the fact that the IBM i is a critical back-office processor for most customers and runs multiple applications.  Too often the IBM i is an island within an organization, but it is important that it is fully integrated in your enterprise’s entire infrastructure security strategy.

Also, it is generally true that a cyber-attack almost never starts on an IBM i server.  They typically start on a compromised user PC or someplace in the organization.  From there, a hacker spends a fair amount of time probing around the IBM i finding any weak points.  We shouldn’t be naïve – hackers know about IBM i servers.  They know what to look for, they know the user IDs, they know how to compromise these systems – they are very good at it.

IBM introduced some new security event sources in V7R3.  Can you talk a bit about those? And what events should an IBM i customer be collecting?

Every release of the IBM i server has had new security events and fields to collect and monitor.  At Townsend Security we work very hard to stay ahead of these releases so that our customers are well positioned to handle new information and use it for protection.  A couple examples include IPV6 address support and new fields in existing events.  Regarding the recent V7R3 release, new sources include:

  • QAUDLVL (Auditing level) system value
  • *NETSECURE (to audit secure network connections)
  • *NETTELSVR (to audit Telnet connections)
  • *NETUDP (to audit UDP connections)

To address the second part of your question, when you deploy an active monitoring solution on the IBM i, you are certainly going to want to collect events from QAUDJRN, QHST, QSYSOPR, as well as exit points.  Interestingly, the QAUDJRN security audit journal does not exist when you first install a new IBM i server. You must create the journal receivers and the journal to start the process of security event collection.

Aside from the new log sources that IBM introduced in V7R3, for someone who maybe deployed a logging solution a few years ago, what should they be aware of now?

First, let’s take a look at how compliance regulations have been evolving.  We now know that most attacks work on the basis of privilege escalation.  For example, an attacker gets access to our systems and then eventually gets sufficient authority to steal data. Because of this, we are seeing that it is more important to identify when an administrative level or highly privileged user logs in to our system.  This is an example of how a logging solution needs to evolve to meet current compliance requirements. Businesses are now required to log and monitor that activity.

Unfortunately, this can be particularly hard on the IBM i.  On first look, an IBM i account may appear to have normal user privileges, but may in fact inherit higher privileges through a Group Profile or Supplemental Group Profile. It is important to detect these elevated privileges in real time and provide the security administrator with an easy-to-use report to identify the source of elevated privileges. This is an excellent example of how logging solutions need to evolve with the ways security events are monitored.  We recently tackled this in the latest release of our Alliance LogAgent.

Where do you see the future of logging on the IBM i?

Let me dust off my crystal ball!  First off, File Integrity Monitoring (FIM) will become more important.  To maintain a strong posture, security administrators need to know who is accessing sensitive data and system values on the IBM i.  We’re also going to see more requirements around File Integrity Monitoring across the regulatory compliance environments.  Why?  Because, as we discussed earlier, cyber-attackers escalate privileges, access sensitive data, and change security configurations in order to get the work done that they want to do.  Again, this is why we are seeing increased requirements in regulations like the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) and new financial services regulations.

Another interesting prediction:  It won’t be unheard of for organizations to use multiple SIEM solutions. We are starting to see businesses use one SIEM for traditional security monitoring and another to monitor operational data.  Operational data, you ask?  Sure.  Logging solutions can easily allow administrators to answer operational questions like: How full are my disks?  Do I have any critical hardware errors?  Second, they can benefit from deploying a SIEM to monitor application data.  Sales teams, for example, can track inventory status, trending products, etc.  The benefits of file monitoring don’t have to be exclusive to security.

In the near future, we will also see a pickup of integration with Artificial Intelligence (AI), also commonly referred to as cognitive computing.  IBM has the Watson platform, and there are others, which I believe will be used to enhance security.  We are already seeing initial efforts in this respect.  Harnessing that AI capability with security makes total sense.  

Finally, as we are seeing, everything not bolted down is going to the cloud.  We will definitely see an evolution of new cloud services around security and logging.  It may take a little time for vendors to start leveraging that, but I believe it is definitely in the works.

To hear this interview in it’s entirety, download our podcast “The Future of Security Logging on the IBM i” and hear Patrick Townsend, founder and CEO of Townsend Security, further discuss log collection and monitoring on the IBM i, new log sources in V7R3, and the future of security logging on the IBM i.

The Future of Active Security Monitoring on the IBM i

Topics: System Logging, Alliance LogAgent

Townsend Security Announces Major Update to Alliance LogAgent for IBM i

Posted by Luke Probasco on Nov 29, 2016 12:01:00 AM

New features include full reporting of administrative users, including authority the user adopts through Group Profiles and Supplemental Group Profiles.

IBM i Security: Event Logging & Active MonitoringTownsend Security today announced a significant update to its existing Alliance LogAgent for IBM i (AS/400, iSeries) solution, allowing full reporting of administrative users, which includes authority the user adopts through Group Profiles and Supplemental Group Profiles. Alliance LogAgent is a Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) integration solution that collects, formats, and transmits security information in real-time to any SIEM or log collection server.

When the new configuration options are enabled, Alliance LogAgent will tag all significant security events as performed by the administrative level user. This enhancement will help security administrators easily identify which users have elevated privileges and enable SIEM solutions to quickly identify and alert on operations. In addition to the new administrative user reporting, Alliance LogAgent now provides an easy-to-use local assessment report that identifies privileged users. This will reduce the overhead of inspecting and adjusting privileges of IBM i users. 

Alliance LogAgent is compatible with all SIEM solutions that accept Syslog messages, IBM QRadar Log Event Extended Format (LEEF), or the HP ArcSight Common Event Format (CEF). The new administrative field reporting will make it easy for SIEM administrators to create dashboards, compliance reports, and alerts based on reported fields. When an administrator privileges are detected Alliance LogAgent adds the following field to the security message:

            admin_user=yes

For IBM QRadar the new field is:

            adminUser=yes

By providing a normalized field in the security events sent to the SIEM monitoring platform, the SIEM’s query and forensic tools can be used more effectively.

“Many IBM i customers have struggled with identifying who on their system has elevated privileges. It is crucial to identify and strictly control these users as cyber criminals often use privilege escalation to enable the exfiltration of sensitive data,” said Patrick Townsend, CEO of Townsend Security. “On first look an IBM i account may appear to have normal user privileges, but may in fact inherit higher privileges through a Group Profile or Supplemental Group Profile. Alliance LogAgent now detects these elevated privileges in real time, and provides the security administrator with an easy-to-use report to identify the source of elevated privileges. We think this is a crucial enhancement that will help IBM i customers better secure their platforms.”

Alliance LogAgent is in use with a wide variety of SIEM solutions including LogRhythm, SecureWorks, NTT Solutionary, IBM QRadar, Alert Logic, AlienVault, McAfee SIEM, Splunk, SolarWinds, and many others. In addition to collecting the IBM i security audit journal information Alliance LogAgent collects system history messages, operator messages, exit point information, system statistics, and a variety of open source application logs in Unix/Linux format.

The solution is licensed on a per logical partition (LPAR) basis, with perpetual and subscription licensing options available. Existing Alliance LogAgent customers on a current maintenance contract can upgrade to the new version at no charge.

IBM i

Topics: Alliance LogAgent, Press Release

IBM i FieldProc Architecture and Implementation

Posted by Luke Probasco on Oct 19, 2016 10:33:47 AM

Excerpt from the eBook "IBM i Encryption with FieldProc - Protecting Data at Rest."


FieldProc Architecture

IBM i Encryption with FieldProcFieldProc is a type of column-level exit point that is implemented directly in the DB2 database. As is typical with any of the other IBM exit points, IBM provides the architecture for the exit point to invoke a user application, but IBM does not provide that application. Customers or vendors can create a FieldProc application based on the documented architecture of the exit point. Townsend Security is one vendor who provides such software.

A note on terminology:
We will use the term “column” when referring to a field in a file, and we will use the term “table”
to refer to a physical file. For the purposes of discussing FieldProc these terms are interchangeable and we will use the more modern terms “column” and “table”. In a similar way we will use the term “index” to refer to a column that is either a primary or secondary key. A secondary key would include a key de ned in a logical file.

The exit point architecture is very simple. There are only two commands and three functions that are supported. The two commands are:

  • Start FieldProc
  • End FieldProc

The three functions that are handled by a FieldProc program are:

  • Initialization
  • Encode (Encrypt)
  • Decode (Decrypt)

When FieldProc is started on a column the FieldProc program is called for Initialization, and then called for each row in the table to provide for the encryption of the column. When FieldProc is ended the FieldProc program is called for each row to decrypt the data. All other normal read, change, and insert operations call the FieldProc program to provide for encryption or decryption as needed. FieldProc is not invoked for a delete operation on a row.

FieldProc Implementation

FieldProc is a SQL feature and is implemented through SQL commands. That is, FieldProc is not implemented through DDS, but only through SQL. Through SQL you create or alter a table to have the FIELDPROC attribute like this:

ALTER TABLE employee alter column
salary set FieldProc Userpgm

Likewise you can remove a FieldProc attribute using a SQL DROP statement like this:

ALTER TABLE employee alter column
salary Drop FieldProc

As noted above when you start FieldProc with the CREATE TABLE or ALTER TABLE commands, the effect is immediate. Starting FieldProc causes the FieldProc program to be called for each row in the table to perform encryption. Dropping the FieldProc attribute of a column causes the FieldProc program to be called for each row to decrypt the data.

Certain operations will cause FieldProc to be invoked even if the column data is not being used. For example, a legacy RPG program might read a file from beginning to end but not use a particular column that is under FieldProc control. Even though the column is not used in the RPG program FieldProc will be invoked to decrypt the value of the column for each row.

Note that a native SQL SELECT statement that does not include the encrypted column will NOT invoke FieldProc for decryption. Some work management operations are difficult with the current IBM implementation of FieldProc. For example, save and restore operations when the restore library is different than the save library can be problematic. Additionally, change management operations where there are changes to column attributes can be difficult to manage and require decrypting the database, applying the change, and then re-encrypting the database. These limitations are especially true in legacy RPG applications.

Supported Field (Column) Types

Most column types are support for FieldProc including character, numeric, date, time, and timestamp  fields. You can use FieldProc on null-capable  fields and double-byte character  fields. Some type of derived and counter  fields do not support FieldProc, but IBM i customers will  find that all normal application  fields are supported. With FieldProc there is no need to change the  eld size or attribute, nor is there any need to change or re-compile applications.

Legacy DDS Files

Many IBM i customers have the impression that legacy DDS  files will not support FieldProc encryption. This is not true! You can readily implement FieldProc encryption on  files created with DDS and it is not necessary to convert them to DDL and SQL tables. As IBM notes there are some advantages to doing so, but it is not necessary and the large majority of FieldProc users continue to use DDS  files. As noted above, you can only start and stop FieldProc using SQL commands, but these SQL commands work  ne on DDS-created  files.

Encrypting Multiple Fields in One File

DB2 FieldProc control can be started on multiple columns in one database table. Three is no practical limit on the number of columns you can select for FieldProc implementation. Of course, there are performance implications for encrypting multiple columns as the FieldProc program will be called independently for each column under FieldProc control. But many IBM i customers place multiple columns in a table under FieldProc encryption control. In some cases customers place hundreds of columns under FieldProc control. FieldProc’s support for multiple columns includes columns that are Primary or Secondary keys to the data. Please see the following sections for a discussion of limitations related to encrypted indexes and legacy RPG applications.

IBM i Encryption with FieldProc

Topics: IBM i, FIELDPROC

Encrypted Indexes - Overcoming Limitation with FieldProc Encryption on the IBM i

Posted by Luke Probasco on Aug 30, 2016 11:00:00 AM

Excerpt from the eBook "IBM i Encryption with FieldProc - Protecting Data at Rest."


Encrypted Indexes

Request the Webinar on Top 5 Encryption Myths for IBM i UsersThe DB2 FieldProc implementation fully supports the encryption of columns which are indexes (keys) to the data in a native SQL context - this includes RPGSQL applications. However, there are some severe limitations with legacy RPG applications around encrypted index order. If you are like most IBM i users it is important to understand these limitations to implement DB2 encryption in RPG.


Legacy RPG applications use record-oriented operations and not set-oriented operations that are typical of SQL. Many record oriented operations on encrypted indexes in RPG will work as expected. For example, a CHAIN operation on an encrypted index to retrieve a record from a DB2 table will work. If the record exists it will be retrieved and FieldProc will decrypt the value. However, many range and data ordering operations will not work as expected with legacy RPG programs leaving you with empty reports and subfiles. Consider the following logic:

SETLL (position to an particular location in the index for a file)
WHILE (some condition)
READ (Read the next record by the index) END WHILE

The SETLL (Set lower limit) operation will probably work if the particular index value exists. However, the program logic will then read the next records based on that position in the file. IBM i developers are surprised to learn that they will be reading the next record based on the ENCRYPTED value, and not on the decrypted value which is what they might expect. The result is often empty subfiles and printed reports. This is very common logic in applications where indexes are encrypted. Note that your RPG program will not get a file I/O error, it just won’t produce the results you expect.

In simpler applications this side-effect of encrypted indexes is not significant, or easily programmed around. However, in some applications where sensitive data is encrypted across a large number of tables (think social security number in banking applications) this can be a significant limitation.

Don’t despair, keep reading.

Overcoming Encrypted Index Limitations in RPG

The limitations of encrypted indexes in legacy RPG applications often lead IBM i customers to abandon their encryption projects. The prospect of converting a large number of legacy RPG applications to newer SQL interfaces can be daunting. Their legacy RPG applications contain a lot of valuable business logic, and the effort to make the conversion can be quite large.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could wave a magic wand and make legacy RPG applications use SQL without any changes?

IBM opened a path to this type of solution with Open Access for RPG, or OAR. OAR allows for the substitution of traditional file I/O operations with user- written “Handlers”. In essence, you can replace the native file I/O operations of RPG with your own code. No change to program file handling or business logic! The OAR capability spawned a number of user interface modernization products, and other solutions that take advantage of this. Imagine if your RPG screen handling I/O with Execute Format (EXFMT) could be replaced with a web-based GUI library. Instant modernization of the UI! There are now many solutions that leverage OAR for UI modernization.

Join Logical Files with DDS

One limitation of logical files created with DDS specifications involves join logical files. You will not be able to create DDS join logical file where the join involves an encrypted  eld with FieldProc. You will get an error about invalid data type usage. This is an IBM limitation and there is no known workaround for this issue. Note that this limitation only applies to DDS join logical  les and does not apply to SQL joins using encrypted indexes. Most IBM i customers will need to change their RPG or COBOL program logic to avoid the use of DDS join logical  les which use encrypted indexes.

Application Changes

Legacy RPG applications that use encrypted indexes often need re-design and re-programming to avoid the problems of encrypted indexes. You can avoid these issues if you are using an Open Access for RPG (OAR) solution that maps the legacy RPG record-based file operations to native SQL and the SQL Query Engine (See the note above about Townsend Security’s OAR/SQL offering).

If you need to re-design your RPG applications to avoid encrypted indexes consider putting all of your sensitive data in a table that is indexed by some non-sensitive value such as a sequence number or customer number, and use FieldProc to encrypt that table. There are many approaches to application re- design and you should be able to find a method that works for you.

Change Management

IBM i customers who have deployed change management solutions can encounter challenges with FieldProc implementations. While most of these challenges are surmountable, it will take effort on the part of the systems management team to integrate FieldProc controls into their change management strategy. Unfortunately the implementation of FieldProc does not provide much in the way of support for change management systems. The activation of FieldProc changes an attribute on the column in the table, but change management systems generally are not aware of this attribute. It can be challenging to promote table and column level changes and properly retain the FieldProc attribute of the data. Look for a FieldProc implementation that provides a command-level interface to stop, start, and change FieldProc definitions. These commands can help you integrate FieldProc encryption into your change management strategy.

IBM i Encryption with FieldProc

Topics: IBM i, FIELDPROC

IBM i, PCI DSS 3.2, and Multi-Factor Authentication

Posted by Luke Probasco on Aug 16, 2016 10:48:05 AM

With the recent update to the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) regarding multi-factor authentication (also known as Two Factor Authentication or 2FA), IBM i administrators are finding themselves faced with the requirement of deploying an authentication solution within their cardholder data environments (CDE). Prior to version 3.2 of PCI DSS, remote users were required to use two factor authentication for access to all systems processing, transmitting, or storing credit card data. With version 3.2 this is now extended to include ALL local users performing administrative functions in the CDE.

Here is an excerpt from section 8.3: (emphasis added)

8.3 Secure all individual non-console administrative access and all remote access to the cardholder data environment (CDE) using multi-factor authentication.

IBM i, PCI DSS, & Multi-Factor AuthenticationI recently was able to sit down with Patrick Townsend, Founder & CEO of Townsend Security, and talk with him about PCI DSS 3.2, what it means for IBM i users, and what IBM i users can do to meet the latest version of PCI DSS.

Thanks for taking some time to sit down with me, Patrick. Can you recap the new PCI-DSS version 3.2 multi-factor authentication requirement? This new requirement seems to be generating a lot of concern.

Well, I think the biggest change in PCI DSS 3.2 is the requirement for multi-factor authentication for all administrators in the cardholder data environment (CDE).  Prior to 3.2, remote users like contractors and third party administrators, had to use multi-factor authentication to login to the network.  This update extends the requirement of multi-factor authentication for ALL local, non-console users.  We are seeing businesses deploy multi-factor authentication at the following levels:

  •      Network Level - When you first access the network
  •      System Level – When you access a server or any system with the CDE
  •      Application Level – Within your payment application

The requirement for expanded multi-factor authentication is a big change and is going to be disruptive for many merchants and processors to implement.

Yeah, sounds like this is going to be a big challenge.  What does this mean for your IBM i customers?

There are definitely some aspects of this PCI-DSS update that will be a bigger challenge on the IBM i compared to Windows or Linux.  First, we tend to run more applications on the IBM i.  In a Windows or Linux environment you might have one application per server.  On the IBM i platform, it is not uncommon to run dozens of applications.  What this means is, you have more users who have administrative privileges to authenticate – on average there can be 60 or more who can sometimes be a challenge to identify!  When merchants and processors look at their IBM i platforms, they will be surprised at the number of administrators they will discover.

Additionally, the IBM i typically has many network services exposed (FTP, ODBC, Operations Navigator, etc).  The challenge of identifying all the entry points is greater for an IBM i customer.

You say it is harder to identify an administrative user, why is that?

On the IBM i platform, there are some really easy and some really difficult administrative users to identify.  For example, it is really easy to find users with QSECOFR (similar to a Windows Administrator or Linux Root User) privileges.  But it starts to get a little more difficult when you need to identify users, for example, who have all object (*ALLOBJ) authority.  These users have almost the equivalent authority of QSECOFR.  Finding, identifying, and properly inventorying users as administrators can be a challenge.

Additionally, with a user profile, there is the notion of a group profile.  It is possible for a standard user, who may not be an administrator, to have an administrative group profile.  To make it even more complex, there are supplemental groups that can also adopt elevated authority.  Just pause for a minute and think of the complex nature of user profiles and how people implement them on the IBM i platform.  And don’t forget, you may have users on your system who are not highly privileged directly through their user profile, but may be performing administrative tasks related to the CDE.  Identifying everyone with administrative access is a big challenge.

Townsend Security has a multi-factor authentication solution for the IBM i.  How are you helping customers deal with identifying administrators?

From the beginning, we realized this would be a problem and we have taken some additional steps, specifically related to PCI DSS 3.2 to help IBM i customers identify administrators.  We made it possible to build a list of all users who have administrative access and then require them to use multi-factor authentication when logging on.  We have done a lot to help the IBM i security administrator identify highly privileged users and enroll them into a two factor authentication solution, and then periodically monitor/update/audit the list.

What are some of the other multi-factor authentication challenges that IBM i customers face?

Some of them are pretty obvious.  If you don’t have a multi-factor authentication solution in place, there is the effort of evaluating and deploying something on the IBM i server.  You’ll find users who may already have a multi-factor authentication solution in place for their Windows or Linux environments, but haven’t extended it to their IBM i.  Even if they aren’t processing credit card numbers on the IBM i, if it is in the CDE, it still falls within the scope of PCI DSS.

Aside from deploying a solution, there is going to be administrative work involved.  For example, managing the new software, developing new procedures, and putting governance around multi-factor authentication.  Further, if you adopt a hardware-based solution with key FOBs, you have to have processes in place to distribute and replace them, as well as manage the back-end hardware.  It has been really great seeing organizations move to mobile-based authentication solutions based on SMS text messages where there isn’t any hardware of FOBs to manage.  Townsend Security’s Alliance Two Factor Authentication went that route.

Let’s get back to PCI DSS.  As they have done in the past, they announced the updated requirements, but businesses still have a period of time to get compliant.  When does PCI DSS 3.2 actually go into effect?

The PCI SSC always gives merchants and processors time to implement new requirements.  The actual deadline to meet compliance is February 1, 2018.  However, what we are finding is that most merchants are moving rapidly to adopt the requirements now.  When an organization has an upcoming audit or Self Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ) scheduled, they generally will want to meet the compliance requirements for PCI DSS 3.2.  It never is a good idea to wait until the last minute to try and deploy new technology in order to meet compliance.

You mentioned earlier that you have a multi-factor authentication solution.  Tell me a little bit about it.

Sure. Alliance Two Factor Authentication is a mature, cost-effective solution that delivers PINs to your mobile device (or voice phone), rather than through an expensive key FOB system. IBM i customers can significantly improve the security of their IBM i systems through implementation of proven two factor authentication.  Our solution is based on a non-hardware, non-disruptive approach.  Additionally, we audit every successful or failed authentication attempt and log it in the security audit journal (QAUDJRN).  One thing that IBM i customers might also be interested in, is in some cases, we can even extend their existing multi-factor authentication solution to the IBM i with Alliance Two Factor Authentication.  Then they can benefit from the auditing and services that we supply for the IBM i platform.  Our goal was to create a solution that was very cost-effective, rapid to deploy, meets compliance regulations, and doesn’t tip over the IT budget.

Download a podcast of my complete conversation here and learn more about what PCI DSS 3.2 means for IBM i administrators, how to identify administrative users, challenges IBM I customers are facing, and how Townsend Security is helping organizations meet PCI DSS 3.2.

Podcast: IBM i, PCI DSS, and Multi-Factor Authentication

 

Topics: 2FA, IBM i, PCI DSS

 

 

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