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Townsend Security Data Privacy Blog

System Logging on the IBM i (AS/400): An Introduction

Posted by Luke Probasco on Jan 31, 2012 9:02:00 AM

system logging on IBM iAs a company that works hard to protect your data, we get a lot of questions – from people wanting to know the ins and outs of our products to IT professionals who are new to the world of meeting compliance regulations.  Luckily, our company has several experts to answer these questions.  One topic that we often get questions regarding is system logging on the IBM i (AS/400).  Logging on the IBM i is different than logging on other platforms.  I recently sat down with Patrick Townsend, Founder & CEO, to pick his brain on what system logging is, and why it is so unique on the IBM i.

System logging has become one of the most essential compliance tasks in contemporary corporate IT. Can you give a brief explanation of what logging is and why it is so important?

Sure, all computer systems, including the IBM i (AS/400, iSeries, System i) collect lots of important information about the security state or the operational state of the system as a whole.  We call these System Logs and they often include a great deal of information about what is going on in the system.  In a lot of systems, including the IBM i, these logs are created in real-time.  To give an example, if someone tries to sign into an IBM i and for whatever reason the username or password is invalid, that event is logged in the system log.  This is an important thing to log because if you were to look at this system log in real-time and notice several invalid username and password events, you would say “Hey, our system is being attacked. We need to take action on this now.”  In summary, System Logs are just a central repository on the computer system that say what is going on within the system.  This is why they are so important from a security point of view.

Where does security information live on the IBM i?

Security information lives in a number of places, which is one of the challenges that IBM i administrators have.  On the IBM i, IBM creates a central repository (QAUDJRN in the IBM i world) for a large number of security events including password and other security events. Our Alliance LogAgent customers can decide what kind of events they want to collect.  QAUDJRN is not the only place to look for this security information. There is also a system event log file called QHST that has important log-on and log-off information for users.  The operators console (QSYSOPR) collects and tracks important events and messages for security monitoring.  Finally, the IBM i sports a lot of new, web-type services that have their own log collection facilities including WebSphere, Apache, and SSH.  In order to properly look at all of the security events that are happening on an IBM i, you have to look in several places, which can be a challenge.

Listen to our podcast “System Logging on the IBM i” for more information on logging, how it can help you meet compliance requirements, what to look for in a logging solution, and how Townsend Security can help you transmit the logs from your IBM i to any SIEM console.

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Topics: IBM i, Alliance LogAgent, logging

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