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Townsend Security Data Privacy Blog

What is FIELDPROC for IBM i and Why Should I Use It?

Posted by Liz Townsend on Aug 24, 2012 8:04:00 AM

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If you’re a company using an IBM operating system (AS/400, iSeries) to store your data, but you still haven’t upgraded to V7R1; or if you have upgraded but are not sure how to utilize the new FIELDPROC procedure to best protect your data, don’t be discouraged! I recently sat down with Patrick Townsend, President and CEO of Townsend Security to discuss what FIELDPROC is and how it aids in helping you secure your sensitive data.

What is FIELDPROC?
“FIELDPROC is a new feature in V7R1 that was not available in earlier releases of the AS/400 and iSeries. FIELDPROC stands for Field Procedures--it’s a column and field level exit point for the IBM i iDB2 database. There is no need for application changes to encrypt your data when using FIELDPROC.

As an Exit Point, FIELDPROC is not actually encryption software. FIELDPROC allows system administrators to select which data they want to encrypt on a column by column and row by row basis, however IBM does not provide actual encryption or key management software that is called on by the exit point. Encryption and Key Management must be implemented by vendors like us who have encryption solutions tailored for FIELDPROC.”

[Learn More: 10 Questions to Ask Your Key Management Vendor]

What Was Encryption on IBM i Like Before FIELDPROC?
“Before the implementation of FIELDPROC, encryption was almost always a complicated, multifaceted application software project involving many application changes. After identifying all fields needing encryption, IBM developers often used SQL views and triggers to implement encryption, but that was only a partial solution. Developers would have to modify their RPG or COBOL code, and then implement calls to an Application Programing Interface (API) to encrypt and decrypt data on an insert or update. All of those application changes had to be made using IBM’s encryption APIs or vendors like us who offer AES encryption solutions on the IBM i platform and offer independent APIs. After the application changes and encryption were implemented, IBM developers had to test the system over and over again to detect and eliminate points of failure. A grueling process.”

How do I Encrypt My Data With V7R1 FIELDPROC?
“When you encrypt with V7R1 FIELDPROC, the entire process is automated with no need for application changes. IBM i system administrators first need to identify all fields they want to encrypt. Next, install FIELDPROC exit point software, and then activate it. Used along side an encryption program, the DB2 database automatically, without application changes, calls on the FIELDPROC exit program to encrypt and decrypt, and retrieve encryption keys. One thing to remember is that using FIELDPROC only as an exit point is not by itself adequate for data security. IBM i administrators must also implement proper key management solutions if they want to not only secure their data but also be PCI DSS compliant.”

IBM customers are just now moving to V7R1 from earlier versions (V5R4, V6R1) due to the increased security features that can be implemented with FIELDPROC. In fact, these security features are in such high demand that many V5R4 customers skip V6R1 and go straight to V7R1, and IBM supports this migration. If you’re still running these applications on an older version of the IBM i, you can update to V7R1 and eliminate all of these time consuming application changes.

If you want to learn more about FIELDPROC and how to easily encrypt data on your IBM i, download our podcast “The Benefits of Automatic Encryption.”

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Topics: Encryption, IBM i, FIELDPROC

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