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Townsend Security Data Privacy Blog

IBM i Customers Lag the Industry When It Comes to Encryption

Posted by Patrick Townsend on Dec 4, 2017 11:29:40 AM

This year we undertook a survey of organizations to determine how well they are doing in deploying encryption to protect sensitive digital assets. We were curious to see the level of progress organizations were making on this core part of a defense in depth strategy. Because we have information about both IBM i and non-IBM i users, we also wanted to see if there were differences based on the platform they used for their critical applications.

Request the Webinar on Top 5 Encryption Myths for IBM i UsersWe received responses from over 300 technology users. We felt it was a large enough response to allow us to make some generalizations.

The results were shocking.

Approximately 80 percent of our Windows and Linux respondents had taken some concrete steps to implement encryption to protect sensitive data. In most cases they still had a ways to go to fully protect sensitive data, but that was a lot more progress than I would have imagined. We did not try to distinguish between the particular database in use to store data, but we know that it spanned commercial databases (SQL Server, Oracle, etc.) and open source databases such as MySQL, MongoDB and others.

More Windows and Linux users had made progress with encryption than I would have guessed (sorry).

The real shocker was how few IBM i organizations had made steps to deploy encryption. Only about 6 percent of IBM i users had made any progress in deploying encryption as a part of their security defense in depth. And many of these IBM i users said that they had no plans at all to use encryption for security.

My surprise arises from the fact that I think of IBM i users as generally being more diligent and deliberate around sound system management and security practices. But clearly this is not the case. So what could explain this lapse on the part of IBM i users?

We have some comment data from the survey that points to a general view that IBM i users think their systems are more secure than other platforms. This view is probably a result of IBM’s early investment in security on the platform, and historical messaging about this. Of course we know now that the IBM i platform is subject to data breaches in the same ways that Windows and Linux are, but I believe that this outdated view of the security of the platform now works against IBM i users and leads directly to avoidable data breaches.

Unfortunately, I think there is another source for this lag in security by IBM i customers. There are still too many IBM employees and IBM consultants carrying the message to customers that their systems are more secure than they actually are. I even read a recent comment by a senior IBM engineer that IBM customers should not give much attention to encryption of data on their systems. They should, instead, put more attention on access controls and system security.

This unfortunate message and the myth that the IBM i platform is so secure that you don’t need to worry about encryption is still an unfortunate reality in this community. We know that IBM i users have lost data in breaches. We know that the IBM i server can be breached through weaknesses and vulnerabilities in adjoining networked PCs and servers using classic hacking techniques. A poor implementation of a defense in depth strategy leaves IBM i customers exposed. Because the IBM i server often hosts many back-office applications with rich sources of sensitive data, it is an especially egregious lapse of security.

As a community, IBM i users must do better in deploying a proper defense in depth for their sensitive data. And hopefully thought-leaders inside IBM and outside IBM will recognize the danger of overstating the platform’s native security.

Patrick

Key Management for IBM i - Sources of Audit Failures

Topics: IBM i, FIELDPROC

Identify Escalated Privilege Attacks on IBM i

Posted by Luke Probasco on Jul 13, 2017 11:21:03 AM

It can be difficult to identify IBM i users who have administrative privileges. This is because of the unique nature of IBM i user profiles. An IBM i user has an explicit level of privilege that is easy to determine, but that user can adopt additional privileges through a Group Profile and through any number of profiles defined in a Supplemental Group.

Identify Escalated Privilege Attacks on IBM iI recently sat down with Patrick Townsend, Founder and CEO, and discussed how to determine the true level of authority of a user profile, control and monitor administrative level users, and set email alerts to include critical job and security information.

Cyber criminals attempt to escalate their level of privilege by stealing and using administrative credentials. Because IBM i servers are accessed from user PCs across internal and external networks, credential stealing from these exposed PCs and networks is the preferred mechanism for compromising an IBM i server.

That’s right.  An attacker will typically compromise a user’s PC and use that as a platform to attack an IBM i server. While it is possible to attack an IBM i directly, I think that is a pretty unusual case.  Normally an attacker will try to determine who in your organization is likely to have elevated privileges and then, using standard attack vectors like phishing emails or poisoned web links, get access to that user’s PC. From that point, it is not difficult to piggyback on that user’s credentials into the IBM i platform – and that gives them access to data from the IBM i, especially if they have elevated privileges.  On the IBM i server, we have a particularly difficult challenge in identifying exactly who has a lot of privilege.  It is quite surprising how many regular users end up with a high level of privilege – and that is because of the hierarchy (Group Profile  and Supplemental Groups) that can be related to  a user profile on the IBM i platform.  If any of those groups that the user is a member of has elevated privileges, so does that user.

To determine a user’s actual level of authority, an IBM i security administrator may have to research dozens of additional accounts. That sounds like a daunting task.

It is.  IBM gives us some security commands to help print information about users, but unfortunately they don’t drill down and give you all the information that you need in one place.  You need to use multiple commands and look specifically at a particular user – which becomes an administrative headache.  Imaging multiplying that by hundreds or thousands of users on an IBM i server and you have got a major challenge in front of you.  At Townsend Security, we are giving the IBM i administrator some new tools in Alliance LogAgent that make this job a whole lot easier.  We will actually chase down those highly privileged users, resolving all of the adopted authorities that they have through group profiles and supplemental groups, and then alert system administrators when a highly authorized privileged user signs on to the IBM i server.  Alerts are sent via email notifications or by special events to your SIEM.   We think we have done a pretty good job of helping the IBM i administrator see and resolve problems with adopted authorities.

That is really cool.  How does it work?

We look at a user profile or a selected subset of user profiles, and for each one we look at what authorities each one has.  Do they have All Object authority?  Do they have control over jobs or audit capabilities?  What authorities do they have?  Then, we drill down into the group profile and ask the same questions.  What authorities are additive to the ones that you natively have? With this information, we start to build a matrix. If a user picks up authority with a group profile, we’ll tell you.  We take the mystery out of where the level of privilege comes from. This makes it easier for an IBM i security administrator to say “Oh my goodness, I have a user profile here who has All Object authority.  That shouldn’t be there!” and make it easier to reign in the number of highly authorized users.

Aside from reporting to a SIEM, there is an email-alerting component as well, right?

Yes.  We send an email in real-time when a highly authorized user signs on to the IBM i server or starts a job (either interactive or batch).  The notification contains information on the name of the user and job – enough information so that a security administrator can easily identify the system where the job is starting.  This gives security administrators a real fast alerting process so that they can identify when a highly authorized user signs on to the system.  That means that they can detect a brute force attack, somebody who has stolen credentials, or even when someone is signing on at an odd time.  If you find yourself saying “Bill in the shipping department has a high level of authority and signed on at 2:00am, there might be a problem here” – you now have a way to see and react very quickly.

What else would you like to tell us about Alliance LogAgent, your log and event monitoring solution?

Alliance LogAgent is a very rich and mature system logging and notification solution and is designed to integrate with any SIEM (IBM Security QRadar, Splunk, LogRhythm, etc.).  Additionally, we do File Integrity Monitoring (FIM) and can pick up changes to a database, even on a field by field basis.  FIM is a part of PCI DSS, for example, and other compliance regulations.  It really allows you to put a very detailed focus on the sensitive data sitting on the IBM i.

Additionally, the security audit journal is not the only place on the IBM i that collects important security information.  We monitor many exit points on the IBM i (FTP, ODBC, etc.) and capture activity and send it to your SIEM.  The communications are all built into Alliance LogAgent – syslog, UDP, TCP, and TLS encrypted sessions to move data in real-time off of the IBM i platform to your SIEM.  The solution allows you to bring your IBM i fully into a continuous monitoring SIEM view of security events on the IBM i.

To hear this interview in it’s entirety, download our podcast “Identify Escalated Privilege Attacks on IBM i” and hear Patrick Townsend, founder and CEO of Townsend Security, further discuss determining the true level of authority of a user profile, controlling and monitoring administrative level users, and setting email alerts to include critical job and security information.

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Topics: IBM i, Alliance LogAgent

IBM i Privileged Users – A Unique Security Challenge

Posted by Patrick Townsend on Jun 27, 2017 8:54:41 AM

If you are an IBM i security administrator you know how hard it can be to determine a user’s true level of privilege on your system. IBM has given us a very flexible scheme to grant and restrict privileges to groups of users. And this flexibility can lead to unexpected security exposures. Let’s delve into this a bit deeper with an example (names are made up for this example):

JANICE
Janice is regional manager in the sales team. She’s exceptionally effective at her job and has taken on a number of tasks that help her support her team and the sales goals of her region. Let’s take a look at her user profile:

User Profile . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . : JANICE
Special authority . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . : *SPLCTL
   
Group profile . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . : SALES
Supplemental groups . . . . . . . . . . . : HRUSER PAYROLL REPORTING
  INVENTORY MANAGERS …

 

Identify Escalated Privilege Attacks on IBM iAt first glance it would seem that Janice has a normal user level of special authorities. In fact the only special authority is spool file control (*SPLCTL) which would be reasonable for a manager who needs to run and print reports. It also seems appropriate that Janice has a Group Profile of SALES. You would imagine that this probably gives her the ability to access the company sales management application.

The first hint of concern is the long list of supplemental groups. If you’ve met effective managers like Janice it won’t surprise you that they have access to a number of applications. She probably has responsibility for approving time off for her department’s employees, and has responsibilities for reporting to management. But what privileges are hidden in that Group Profile and in those Supplemental Groups?

Let’s take a look. 

SALES (Group profile)
When we display the SALES user profile we find these special authorities: 

User Profile . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . : SALES
Special authority . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . : *SPLCTL
  *JOBCTL
   
Group profile . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . : *NONE
Supplemental groups . . . . . . . . . . . :  

 

Janice already had authority to spool files, but notice the job control value of *JOBCTL. This means that Janice has now inherited additional authority to manage jobs. This is not a severe uplift in privileges, but it shows how privilege escalation works.

Now, what about those supplemental groups? Do we have to look at every one?

Yes we do. Let’s look at the HRUSER profile next

HRUSER (Supplemental Group)
When we display the HRUSER user profile we see these authorities: 

User Profile . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  : HRUSER
Special authority . . . . . . . . . . . . : *SPLCTL
  *JOBCTL
  *SECADM
   
Group profile . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . : *NONE
Supplemental groups . . . . . . . . :  

 

Wow, the HRUSER has the special authority of security administration (*SECADM). That’s a bit worrying. If we had to guess there is probably third party HR package requirement for this, or this authority was just granted out of convenience. But now Janice has much more authority. 

Let’s continue our exploration of those supplemental group profiles:

PAYROLL (Supplemental Group)
Let’s take a look at the PAYROLL user profile:

User Profile . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . : PAYROLL
Special authority . . . . . . . . . . . . : *SPLCTL
  *JOBCTL
  *ALLOBJ
   
Group profile . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . : *NONE
Supplemental groups . . . . . . . . . :  

 

Whoops, the PAYROLL user has All Object authority (*ALLOBJ). Bingo! This is the mother load of privilege. A user with All Object authority basically has the keys to the kingdom. It is pretty much equivalent to being the QSECOFR security officer (“root” for you Linux nerds). Once you have All Object authority you can manage other user profiles, grant yourself additional authority, and basically access any data on the IBM i server. 

If I am an attacker and I can steal Janice’s credentials for the IBM i server I now have all of the authority I need to infiltrate sensitive data.

Did you notice how much work it was to track down Janice’s true privilege level? As an IBM i security administrator you probably know how to fix this problem. You need to analyze the real need for the All Object authority and revoke it. But imagine that you managed a system with hundreds or thousands of users. And imagine if you needed to check this at least monthly in order to detect any changes since the last time you inspected your users? It would truly be impossible to keep up with this task, and as the security administrator you might have other things you need to do, right?

So, is there any hope?

 Sure there is. Our Alliance LogAgent solution will do this work for you. You can run the User Authorization report and Alliance LogAgent will track down these authorities for you. It will tell you the overall inherited authority of any (or all) users, and where they are getting the authority. Here is an example of the output for Janice:

escalated-privilege-report.png 

Notice that all of Janice’s cumulative authorities are listed right on the top line of the report detail. Then notice that the Group Profile and all Supplemental Group profiles are listed with their authorities. The PAYROLL user is clearly identified as having the All Object authority. Now you can go to work. 

The Alliance LogAgent report can be executed for all users, or for a group of users. And you can filter it so that you first get a list of all users who have inherited All Object authority. Then run it with additional authorities. In a few seconds you can find your privileged users, discover where they get that authority, and create a work plan to fix the problems.

However, Alliance LogAgent goes even further. As it is processing events from the security journal QAUDJRN, it can resolve in real time the true privilege of each user signing on to the IBM i server, tag job start events where the user has elevated privileges, and send them to your SIEM for monitoring. In real time.

I think that’s pretty powerful, don’t you?

Patrick

I

Topics: IBM i, Alliance LogAgent

OpenSSH on the IBM i and Your Security

Posted by Patrick Townsend on Jan 3, 2017 7:45:48 AM

Lately I’ve seen some criticism of the OpenSSH implementation on the IBM i platform which seems to imply that using a third-party implementation of the Secure Shell (SSH) file transfer application is better without the IBM no-charge licensed OpenSSH implementation. I disagree with that opinion and think there are good security and implementation reasons to stick with the IBM OpenSSH implementation.

Here are some reasons why I like OpenSSH:

OpenSSH is supported by an global open source community

Tatu Ylönen founded SSH Communications in 1995 and produced the first versions of an open source SSH implementation. Since 1999 the OpenSSH application has been maintained by the OpenBSD Project which is funded by the OpenBSD foundation and managed by Theo de Raadt. OpenSSH is available on a wide variety of operating systems including the IBM i where it is deployed as a no-charge licensed product and maintained by IBM.  OpenSSH continues to be actively developed and new encryption algorithms have been added recently.

OpenSSH is a widely used by large and small organizations

By some estimates the OpenSSH implementation of the SSH protocol and applications commands a 97 percent market share for SSH implementations. This means that OpenSSH is in wide use by large and small organizations to securely manage their eCommerce needs. This also means that OpenSSH receives a lot of scrutiny by compliance and security experts. Widely deployed solutions tend to get more scrutiny from security experts, and this is true for OpenSSH.

OpenSSH is secure

No application is immune to security challenges. However, OpenBSD and the OpenSSH application in particular have a stellar record for security. With security products, deep expertise and commitment matter. OpenSSH started with security as a leading goal by its developers and it shows. Over the last few years there have been fewer than a dozen security issues, and most were unlikely to be exploited and all were patched rapidly through updates by IBM. The OpenBSD set of applications that include OpenSSH have a great record on security. If you think the IBM i platform has a good security record, take a look at OpenSSH.

IBM provides technical support for OpenSSH

We have all developed a deep appreciation for IBM’s commitment to security over the years. It is one of great values of the IBM i platform. As new vulnerabilities are discovered you need to have a reliable and timely source of patches and enhancements and IBM has stood behind this critical application. Security notifications are managed by IBM so that you know when you need to do an update. By making OpenSSH a no-charge licensed program IBM i customers get patches through the normal PTF update process. Do you know any third-party IBM i vendor with an equal commitment to notification, maintenance and patching? IBM has earned our trust through this process.

OpenSSH is PCI compliant

PCI Qualified Security Assessors (QSAs) like Coalfire, TrustWave and others recognize that a properly patched implementation of OpenSSH meets PCI Data Security Standards (PCI-DSS) compliance, and IBM also tracks OpenSSH for PCI compliance. This again reflects IBM’s and OpenBSD’s commitment to security. If you are using a third-party IBM i solution for SSH how well is it tracked by the PCI audit community?

SSH is a complex protocol

Bruce Schneier said “Complexity is the enemy of security.” SSH is a complex protocol and this means that extra care needs to be taken in its development, deployment and maintenance. No third-party SSH solution rises to the level of care taken by the OpenSSH community and by IBM. Almost every business depends on secure file transfer for daily business operations. Deploying the most secure SSH solution is a critical security step.

OpenSSH does not use OpenSSL or Java JSSE

We’ve read a lot over the last few months about security issues in OpenSSL and Java. Many IBM i customers are confused about the relationship between OpenSSH and OpenSSL. In fact, OpenSSH does not use the OpenSSL library for communications. This means that OpenSSH was not subject to the HeartBleed and other OpenSSL vulnerabilities. We are all also now painfully aware of the security issues in Java. Most browsers no longer allow Java plugins for this reason. Third-party SSH products may or may not use OpenSSL or Java for communications. If you are running a third-party IBM i SSH solution, do you know if it uses OpenSSL or Java?

Third-party SSH solutions provide no significant advantage over OpenSSH

OpenSSH is a secure, reliable, and resilient implementation of SSH for secure data transfer that is backed by IBM and a worldwide community of users and developers. Our Alliance FTP Manager solution fully integrates with the IBM i OpenSSH application for secure, automated and managed file transfer. Our solution automates the OpenSSH transfer of hundreds of thousands of file transfers every day without compromising security.

My opinion? You probably don’t need more IT risk in your life. Stick with OpenSSH for your security needs. You will be in good company.

Patrick

Webinar: Secure Managed File Transfer on IBM i

Topics: IBM i, Secure Managed File Transfer

IBM i Security Architecture & Active Monitoring

Posted by Patrick Townsend on Dec 6, 2016 7:30:42 AM

Excerpt from the eBook "IBM i Security: Event Logging & Active Monitoring - A Step By Step Guide."


IBM i Security: Event Logging & Active MonitoringActive monitoring (sometimes referred to as Continuous Monitoring) is a critical security control for all organizations. And it is one of the most effective security controls you can deploy. The 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 Report1 indicates that a full 84 percent of all breaches were detected in system logs. This is why the Center for Internet Security includes active monitoring as a Critical Security Control (Control number 6).

There are several elements of a truly effective Active Monitoring strategy:

Central Collection and Repository of All Events
Attackers almost never start with your core IBM i server directly. They attack a web application or infect a user PC and work their way into the IBM i server. A defensible active monitoring strategy has to collect events from across the entire organization. By the time they show up on your IBM i server they have probably compromised a number of intermediate systems and an opportunity to prevent the breach has been missed. Collect all events across your entire IT infrastructure to gain the best early detection opportunities.

Real Time Event Collection
Data breaches are happening much faster than in the past. In some cases the loss of data happens just minutes after the initial breach. This means that you must collect security events in real time. Good active monitoring solutions are able to digest threat information
in real time and give you the chance to deter them. Avoid batch event collection – you can collect IBM i security audit journal information in real time and you should.

Event Correlation
Event correlation is key to an effect active monitoring solution. This is typically accomplished through the use of special software implemented in Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) solutions. Highly automated SIEM solutions have the ability to correlate events across a large number of systems and automatically identify potential problems. They do exactly what we want computer systems to do – handle large amounts of data and apply intelligent interpretation of the data.

Anomaly Detection
Anomaly detection is another aspect of active monitoring. That unusual system login at 3:00am on a Sunday morning would probably escape the attention of our human IT team members, but good active monitoring solutions can see that anomalous event and report on it.

Alerting and Resolution Management
When a problem is discovered we need to know about it as soon as possible. A good active monitoring solution will inform us through a variety of alerting channels. Emails, text, dashboards and other mechanisms can be deployed to bring attention to the problem - and we need to be able to track the resolution of the event! We are all processing too much information and it is easy to forget or misplace a problem. 

Forensic Tools
Forensic tools are critical to an active monitoring solution as they enable the rapid analysis of an attacker’s footprints in our system. The key tool is an effective and easy-to-use query application. Log data can include millions of events and be impossible to inspect without a good query tool. The ability to save queries and use them at a later time should also be a core feature of your forensic toolset.

IBM i


Topics: System Logging, IBM i

Dangers of Encryption on the IBM i (AS/400, iSeries): Avoid These Pitfalls

Posted by Patrick Townsend on Nov 14, 2016 8:35:13 AM

IBM has done a good job of implementing security from the ground up on the IBM i platform. But that doesn’t mean that it is immune from data breaches. All of the PCs and servers on your network with the IBM i server are potential attack points for a data breach. And make no mistake, cyber criminals know that the IBM i server is a rich target. Implementing encryption in IBM i DB2 is an essential part of a defense in depth strategy. But there are lots of pitfalls to avoid. Let’s take a look at some of them (I am shamelessly plugging our Alliance AES/400 solution, too):

Key Management for IBM i - Audit FailuresLocally Stored Encryption Keys and Key Management

One of the surest ways to defeat your encryption strategy is to store encryption keys on the same system that stores sensitive data. The IBM i server is no exception. Compliance regulations and security best practices require that you store encryption keys away from the IBM i server in an encryption key vault designed for this purpose. Why is this a security best practice? Cybercriminals are often able to achieve privilege escalation on a compromised IBM i server and then get access to locally stored keys. Storing encryption keys off of the IBM i server makes the compromise of the sensitive data much harder.

How Townsend Security Can Help

The Townsend Security Alliance AES/400 product integrates seamlessly with Townsend Security's Alliance Key Manager solution for protection of encryption keys and key management best practices. Alliance Key Manager stores encryption keys in a hardware security module or VMware instance that is attached to the IBM i server by a secure, authenticated TLS connection. As a FIPS 140-2 compliant key management solution, Alliance AES/400 with Alliance Key Manager solves the key management problem!

High Availability and Key Mirroring

Encryption key management is a part of your critical infrastructure. The loss of an encryption key means the loss of your data! Your encryption key management solution should implement real-time key mirroring and real-time security policy mirroring. In the event the key manager is unavailable due to a hardware or network failure, the failover to a secondary key server should be automatic without business interruption. A key management solution based on the IBM i master key facility cannot achieve real-time mirroring and protection from these failures.

How Townsend Security Can Help

Alliance Key Manager implements real-time key mirroring to one or more backup key servers. The mirroring implementation is active-active meaning that any changes you make to keys or access policies on the secondary server will be mirrored to the production server when it comes back online. This perfectly matches your IBM i high availability failover strategy if you use MIMIX, iTera, Vision, or IBM DataMirror.

Encryption and Insider Threats

Insider threats include both intentional and unintentional access to and loss of sensitive information. Unintentional losses of data represents the largest insider threat. Accidentally copying data to a PC or development environment can lead to a reportable data breach event. This is especially true when access controls to sensitive data are only controlled by native IBM i object level security. You should certainly use native IBM i security mechanisms, but access to decrypted sensitive data should also be controlled using a “whitelist” approach. This will help minimize the intentional and unintentional access by security administrators. Note that it is not only the security profile QSECOFR that has all access to sensitive data: all users with All Object (*ALLOBJ) authority or who adopt this level of authority through a group profile or supplemental group are at risk for intentional or unintentional loss of sensitive data.

How Townsend Security Can Help

Alliance AES/400 implements a whitelist approach for controlled access to decrypted sensitive data. All configuration changes to security policies are logged to the IBM security audit journal QAUDJRN. You can achieve effective Separation of Duties between managers of the encryption keys and security administrators on the IBM i platform.

Poorly Performing Encryption Libraries

Encryption can also present an operational risk to IBM i customers. In order to meet service level expectations of end users encryption and decryption operations must be efficient. Unfortunately for IBM i customers the native AES encryption software libraries provided in the operating system may not provide an adequate level of performance. Even with the new IBM i POWER8 servers with on-chip encryption, the performance of AES encryption and decryption tasks is poor. It is important to assess the size of your protected databases and the nature of batch operations that require access to unencrypted data in order to avoid negative impacts to both interactive and batch applications.

How Townsend Security Can Help

Alliance AES/400 uses the Townsend Security NIST-validated AES encryption library for encryption and decryption tasks. This optimized AES encryption library is more than 100x faster that native IBM i encryption libraries on POWER7 processors, and more than 50x faster on POWER8 processors.

Encrypted Indexes

Many IBM i customers are surprised to learn that their RPG applications will not work correctly with DB2 FieldProc for encrypted indexes (key fields). FieldProc is IBM’s automatic column level encryption feature implemented at the DB2 database level. FieldProc is attractive to IBM i customers because it does not require modifications to applications. While native SQL applications can easily handle encrypted indexes, RPG applications do not use the native SQL Query Engine (SQE) and will not work properly with encrypted indexes. Most IBM i customers exclusively use RPG or have a mix of RPG and SQL applications. The issue with RPG and encrypted indexes represents a major roadblock to encryption. Be sure that your encryption strategy can support encrypted indexes, or be prepared to modernize RPG applications to use native the SQL Query Engine.

How Townsend Security Can Help

Townsend Security tackled the problem of encrypted indexes and offers a solution to the RPG challenge through its Open Access for RPG SQL library. Changing one line of code in your RPG application can automatically use the native SQL Query Engine for database access. This eliminates the challenges of encrypted indexes with FieldProc encryption.

Data Masking

Compliance regulations such as PCI Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) and security best practices require that we only allow authorized users access to fully decrypted sensitive data. But other users must have access to our database applications. This means that intelligent data masking should be built into your IBM i applications. As noted above, data masking should be based on a whitelist approach and not purely based on object or database level authority. You should have the ability to define masking rules (mask all but the last 4 characters, etc.) and you should be able to define a default masking rule that applies to all unauthorized users. While Row and Column Access Controls (RCAC) can provide some data masking capability, you must manage individual user level authorities to implement this control.

How Townsend Security Can Help

Alliance AES/400 fully implements data masking using a whitelist approach and provides protections from users with All Object (*ALLOBJ) or Security Administrator (*SECADM) privileges. Data is masked in the internal decryption routines and fully exposed data is never visible in the application program.

System Audit Logs

No security policy or solution can be effective on a stand-alone basis and this includes encryption and key management. A good encryption and key management strategy involves monitoring all access to sensitive data, monitoring changes to encryption and key management configurations, monitoring all use of encryption keys, and storing audit logs for future forensic reference. The use of Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) solutions is highly recommended as a part of your monitoring and alerting strategy. Be sure that all access to encryption and encryption keys is fully audited and logged.

How Townsend Security Can Help

Alliance AES/400 and Alliance Key Manager implement system logging and audit for all aspects of administration, configuration and use. Alliance Key Manager implements full logging of all aspects of key management and the server it runs on, and transmits logs to a SIEM solution in real time. Alliance AES/400 fully logs all administrative operations and decryption tasks to the IBM i security audit journal QAUDJRN. The optional Alliance LogAgent solution transmits these logs as well as all IBM i security events to a SIEM solution or log collection server.

Encryption and key management don’t have to feel dangerous or scary! I hope the above points about encryption and key management for the IBM i help you develop a roadmap for successful (and safe!) encryption.

Patrick

Key Management for IBM i - Sources of Audit Failures

Topics: Encryption, Key Management, IBM i

IBM i Security Notification - OpenSSL and OpenVPN

Posted by Patrick Townsend on Nov 8, 2016 8:46:49 AM

In case you missed it, IBM just released a security notification for the IBM i platform - all versions of the operating system from 6.1 through 7.3. This one is important and you should take a look at it right away. The vulnerabilities are related to OpenSSL and to OpenVPN which uses OpenSSL. The vulnerability is called the SWEET32 Birthday attack. OpenSSL is used in several places on the IBM i platform, so patching this should be a priority.

alert.pngHere is the link to the description of the problem and a list of the PTFs that you need to apply for all currently supported platforms. Be sure to read it all the way through.

I recommend that you follow the guidance in this document to turn off Triple DES ciphers.

In addition to patching the IBM instances of OpenSSL and OpenVPN, IBM recommends that you contact your third party software vendors to determine if they have vulnerabilities.

Let me be pre-emptive here:

None of the Townsend Security solutions for the IBM i use the OpenSSL library for secure TLS sessions. Our solutions exclusively use the IBM i System TLS library. Why is that? Well, we ported OpenSSL to the IBM i platform more than 10 years ago. While we were successful with the port to the IBM i, I made a decision that we would not release it nor use it in our IBM i products. OpenSSL is a complex application with many moving parts. I agree with Bruce Schneier that complexity is the enemy of security. It is so easy to introduce a problem in a cryptographic library even if you work in this area a great deal. I felt then, and I feel now, that the maintenance and support of the TLS library should remain with IBM and that the native IBM i System TLS library is the best platform for us and our customers. I believe that this was a good decision then, and remains a good decision now. It has protected our customers from a number of security problems.

Our Managed FTP solution does use the OpenSSH solution for secure FTP sessions. OpenSSH uses the OpenSSL solution for cryptographic operations, but not for secure session establishment and it is not subject to this vulnerability. We use the IBM OpenSSH distribution and not our own port of OpenSSH for the very same reason as above.

I am NOT criticizing the OpenSSL development team. I’ve worked directly with the OpenSSL team over the years and have deep respect for them. They have a gargantuan task in maintaining one of the most widely used secure communications products in the world. Security programming will humble you and, if you are lucky, it will make you risk averse. On the IBM i platform we chose to use the IBM i System TLS library and I still think that was a wise decision.

There are multiple third-party IBM i products that do use their own version of OpenSSL. You need to be talking to them right away. Unfortunately I know of one or two that are no longer supporting the IBM i platform. So you may have some difficulty getting resolution on this issue. I wish you luck in this endeavor!

If you are interested you can read about the SWEET32 attack here.

If you are one of our IBM i customers I recommend that you sign up for our newsletter. If you’ve opted out in the past you might not be getting security notifications from us. When you opt out we honor that request and won’t opt you back in. You have to do that here. 

Patrick

Webinar: Sec

Topics: IBM i

IBM i Security: Auditing Privileged Users, Applications, and Database Files

Posted by Patrick Townsend on Nov 3, 2016 9:21:51 AM

Excerpt from the eBook "IBM i Security: Event Logging & Active Monitoring - A Step By Step Guide."


IBM i Security: Event Logging & Active Monitoring

Audit Privelaged Users

Attackers attempt to gain privileged access to your IBM i system and as a privileged user can perform a wide variety of tasks on the IBM i server. As a privileged user, an attacker can steal sensitive data or damage your system. You should strongly consider enabling full user auditing of any user profile that has a high level of privilege. This should include the IBM user profile QSECOFR and any user with All Object (*ALLOBJ) or Audit (*AUDIT) capabilities. The commands executed by the audit user are logged to the QAUDJRN journal. You can identify privileged users by running an IBM security report:

   PRTUSRPRF TYPE(*AUTINFO)
   SPCAUT(*ALL)

Once you identify privileged users you can enable user auditing with the Change User Audit (CHGUSRAUD) command like this:

   CHGUSRAUD USRPRF(QSECOFR)
   OBJAUD(*ALL) AUDLVL(*AUTFAIL *CMD
   *PGMADP *NETCMN *PGMFAIL)

Note that you may want to increase or decrease the information you audit for privileged users. See the help for the command options.

Auditing Highly Sensitive Applications and Database Files

You should also consider enabling application and database access audit where sensitive data can be changed or where sensitive data is stored. For example, a core HR application that contains employee information, or a core ERP application that stores credit card information should be audited. Once you have a list of sensitive application programs and database files you can use the Change Object Audit (CHGOBJAUD) command to enable auditing. Audit records are sent directly to the QAUDJRN security journal.

   CHGOBJAUD OBJ(PRODLIB/ORD001)
   OBJTYPE(*PGM) OBJAUD(*ALL)

For IFS Files and directories you can use the Change Audit (CHGAUD) command like this:

   CHGAUD OBJ(‘/mydirectory’)
   OBJAUD(*ALL) SUBTREE(*ALL)
   SYMLNK(*YES)

For more information on auditing privelaged users, applications, and database files, as well as more information on IBM i event logging and active monitoring, download our ebook "IBM i Security: Event Logging & Active Monitoring - A Step By Step Guide."
IBM i

Topics: System Logging, IBM i, Alliance LogAgent

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

New York, Financial Institutions, and IBM i Encryption

Posted by Patrick Townsend on Oct 7, 2016 8:49:18 AM

New York State has finally had enough. Most people think that their bank has strong encryption in place to protect them from cyber criminals and nation-state actors. But that is too often just not the case. After a number of high profile data breaches at larger financial institutions, and a worrying increase in attacks on banks, the State of New York is about to require that banks implement some stringent security controls to protect Non-Public Information (NPI). The  new regulations are not a difficult read and you can find the proposed new regulations here.

Let’s take a look at some of the new requirements.

Request the Webinar on Top 5 Encryption Myths for IBM i UsersFirst, banks are required to develop a cyber security program. This means that there must be formal security processes in place, and appropriate management oversight. Banks are required to have systems and processes to identify threats, respond to them, and recover from an attack. The regulation also requires appropriate reporting of security events, something that is not always honored in today’s environment.

Next, banks are required to have a Cybersecurity Policy that addresses a number of areas related to information security, incident response, access controls, data privacy and other areas. If you are familiar with the Center for Internet Security Critical Security Controls or the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, these points will be familiar to you. As you might expect, a premium is placed on ongoing adaptive responses to new threats, so these frameworks are not a check-box response to the problem. Banks are being asked to step up to a new level of seriousness around IT security.

You also need a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) position designated in your organization. And, interestingly, the CISO is required to report to the board of directors of the bank. I find this requirement interesting as it means that boards of directors cannot remain ignorant about the state of the bank’s IT security. And this means that it will have to become a part of the governance process of the board.

The new regulations now get down into the weeds about what you should be doing. Here are some of the areas:

  • Vulnerability and Penetration testing
  • Collect and archive system logs
  • Implement restricted access controls
  • Conduct risk assessments at least annually
  • Hire cybersecurity professionals and make sure they stay current on new threats
  • Require third parties to adhere to the same security rules as the bank
  • Use multi-factor authentication for internal and external access to NPI
  • Train and monitor all personnel with access to NPI (SIEM, anyone?)
  • Encrypt NPI
  • Develop and incident response plan

The requirement to deploy encryption is surprisingly strong. It is a mandate unless deploying encryption is unfeasible. Given the wide availability of encryption in all major operating systems and databases, I believe it will be difficult for a CISO to argue against the use of encryption. Clearly the regulators want banks to encrypt sensitive NPI data.

Who does the new rule affect?

The new rule affects any financial institution that is regulated by the New York Department of Financial Services. This will affect all national and global banking organizations as New York is one of the leading centers of global finance. It may also affect regional banks through the extension of the rules to affiliates. Regional and local banks should review their relationships with larger banks to try to understand their requirements under these new laws.

When does the new rules take effect?

The new rules take effect on January 1, 2017. In terms of time, that is very soon! And there is only a 180 day transition period. CISOs can request an extension, but these controls must be in place by January of 2018. That is a very aggressive timeframe!

How is the IBM i (AS/400, iSeries) affected?

Almost all large banks and financial institutions use the IBM i server somewhere in their organizations. The IBM i server is perfect for the back office applications that banks run and which need a very high level of availability. Many of the largest third party banking applications are deployed on IBM i servers.

But banks are going to face a big challenge with IBM i DB2 database encryption. The Non-Public Information that must be protected is often used for indexes in the DB2 database. While IBM DB2 supports column level encryption, it won’t work well RPG programs that use encrypted indexes. Here at Townsend Security we have a fix for this problem! By implementing an OAR-based SQL interface for RPG files we are removing the impediment that banks face with encryption on the IBM i server. You can read more here.

And you can get a quick look at how this helps in this short video: 

Patrick

Topics: Compliance, IBM i

 

 

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