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Townsend Security Data Privacy Blog

Heartbleed and the IBM i (AS/400)

Posted by Patrick Townsend on Apr 11, 2014 11:07:00 AM

The OpenSSL Heartbleed security vulnerability is arguably the biggest security exposure in the history of the Internet. While IBM i (AS/400, iSeries) customers may be somewhat isolated from the larger impacts of this vulnerability, there are good reasons not to take this event lightly.

Data-Privacy-EbookFirst, a disclaimer: Only IBM can comment in a definitive way on any Heartbleed vulnerabilities in the IBM i. The following are my opinions based on several years of work on the platform.

[UPDATE: IBM has issued a Security Bulletin stating that the IBM i is not effected by CVE-2014-0160 (Heartbleed)]

The first important fact to know is that OpenSSL is not commonly used in traditional IBM i network applications. IBM has an SSL/TLS library named GSKit and a certificate management application named Digital Certificate Manager. The underlying secure TLS implementation is not based on OpenSSL for these IBM-supplied applications. They probably do not pose a security issue for IBM i customers.

IBM does use OpenSSL in some of their IBM i open source applications. For example, the SSH implementation on the IBM uses OpenSSL. On a V7R1 system I started an SSH session and looked at the output:

OpenSSH_4.7p1, OpenSSL 0.9.8m 25 Feb 2010OpenSSH_4.7p1, OpenSSL 0.9.8m 25 Feb 2010

As you can see in the first log message, OpenSSL version 0.9.8m is used in SSH. Fortunately this version of OpenSSL is not vulnerable to Heartbleed. You should check your implementations of SSH, Apache, Websphere, Perl, PHP, and other open source applications to verify that they do not use a version of OpenSSL with the Heartbleed vulnerability.

Most third party vendors use the IBM i SSL/TLS library for secure communications. These applications will not be vulnerable to this new Heartbleed issue. All of the Townsend Security applications are based on the IBM library and not on OpenSSL. However, there are third party IBM i applications that embed OpenSSL or which use the OpenSSL application in the PASE environment. You should immediately contact your application vendors to determine if there are any exposures in their applications.

It is important to understand that while the IBM i platform may not be directly vulnerable to the Heartbleed problem, you may have lost IBM i User IDs and passwords over VPN or other connections which are vulnerable. An exploit of Heartbleed can expose any information that you thought was being protected with session encryption.

Once you know that your IBM i and all of your network services are patched or are not vulnerable to Heartbleed, you should immediately force a password change for all of your users. Don’t take a chance on missing this vulnerability at some point in your network infrastructure and exposing your IBM i data to loss.


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