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Townsend Security Data Privacy Blog

What is File Integrity Monitoring (FIM)? How Do I Achieve it on IBM i?

Posted by Patrick Townsend on Oct 8, 2012 9:51:00 AM

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Many compliance regulations require that you monitor critical system files, application configuration files, and sensitive file content for unauthorized changes. In the PCI Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) which applies to everyone who accepts credit and payment cards, here is what Section 11.5 says:

11.5 Deploy file-integrity monitoring software to alert personnel to unauthorized modification of critical system files, configuration files, or content files; and configure the software to perform critical file comparisons at least weekly.

Other compliance regulations also require this type of integrity monitoring and they are reflecting the security best practices in NIST’s Special Publication 800-53. Here are a couple of extracts on integrity monitoring from that guidance:

Section 3.4 – Monitoring Security Controls: Significant changes to the configuration of the information system through the removal or addition of new or upgraded hardware, software, or firmware or changes in the operational environment potentially degrade the security state of the system.


SI-7 Software and Information Integrity

Control: The information system detects unauthorized changes to software and information.

Supplemental Guidance: The organization employs integrity verification applications on the information system to look for evidence of information tampering, errors, and omissions. The organization employs good software engineering practices with regard to commercial off-the-shelf integrity mechanisms (e.g., parity checks, cyclical redundancy checks, cryptographic hashes) and uses tools to automatically monitor the integrity of the information system and the applications it hosts.

What do IBM i (iSeries, AS/400) customers need to do to meet these file integrity monitoring compliance regulations? Here are the steps you should take to meet file integrity monitoring requirements:

  • Identify, inventory, and monitor the application configuration files that control important security controls. You may need to work with your third-party software suppliers to know which files contain this information.
  • Identify, inventory, and monitor the application database files that contain sensitive information. This would include files that have credit card numbers, social security numbers, and other Personally Identifiable Information (PII).
  • Configure and enable system monitoring of changes to system values and network attributes. This involves setting up the system security journal QAUDJRN and initiating monitoring. IBM provides guidance on how to do this.
  • Collect and transfer file integrity security events to an organization-wide security monitoring and alerting system. This will be a Security Information and Event Monitoring (SIEM) solution that you deploy in-house or through a Managed Security Services Provider (MSSP). It is impossible for humans to properly monitor file integrity events and this is the province of SIEM solutions.

Implementing all of the components of a file integrity monitoring system on the IBM i system is a huge task. Almost all IBM i customers will turn to off-the-shelf solutions to help them achieve compliance with data security regulations.

Our Alliance LogAgent Suite provides the full set of functions and capabilities you need to meet compliance regulations for file integrity monitoring. It monitors system configuration changes through the QAUDJRN security journal and from system history file QHST. It monitors and reports changes to your application configuration files. It monitors and reports changes to sensitive data such as credit card numbers, social security numbers, or any field you want to monitor. It applies user and application whitelists to minimize the volume of events.  And it securely reports events to a SIEM solution using industry standard formats. It is affordable, easy to deploy, and is easy on system resources.  We encourage you to try a free 30-day evaluation of our file integrity monitoring solution and see for yourself. We can get you up and running within an hour.

Because file integrity monitoring is crucial to your security posture, I will be talking more about the functions and features of Alliance LogAgent Suite for the IBM i platform in future posts.


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Topics: System Logging, Compliance, Alliance LogAgent

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