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Townsend Security Data Privacy Blog

Three Things to Know about PGP Encryption & the IBM z

Posted by Michelle Larson on Apr 24, 2015 6:10:00 AM

Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) Encryption is a solid path to provable and defensible security, and PGP Command Line sets the standard for IBM enterprise customers.

Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) encryption is one of the most widely deployed whole file encryption technologies that has stood the test of time among the world’s largest financial, medical, industrial, and services companies. Download the PGP z podcastIt works on all of the major operating system platforms and makes it easy to deploy strong encryption to protect data assets and file exchange. PGP is also well recognized and accepted across a broad number of compliance regulations as a secure way to protect sensitive data as it is in transit to your trading partners. PGP encryption can help businesses meet PCI-DSS, HIPAA/HITECH, SOX, and FISMA compliance regulations.

Here are three key things to know about PGP encryption for your IBM System z Mainframe, and how to discuss them with your technology providers:

1) Always encrypt and decrypt sensitive data on the platform where it is created. This is the only way to satisfy regulatory security and privacy notification requirements.

Moving data to a PC for encryption and decryption tasks greatly increases the chances of loss and puts your most sensitive data at risk.  In order not to defeat your data security goals it is important to encrypt and decrypt data directly on the platform.

2) The best PGP encryption solutions manage PGP keys directly on the platform without the need for an external PC system, or key generation on a PC.

Using a PC to generate or manage PGP keys exposes the keys on the most vulnerable system. The loss of PGP keys may trigger expensive and time-consuming privacy notification requirements and force the change of PGP keys with all of your trading partners.

3) The best data security solutions will provide you with automation tools that help minimize additional programming and meet your integration requirements.

Most Enterprise customers find that the cost of the software for an encryption solution is small compared to the cost of integrating the solution into their business applications. Data must be extracted from business applications, encrypted using PGP, transmitted to a trading partner, archived for future access, and tracked for regulatory audit. When receiving an encrypted file from a trading partner the file must be decrypted, transferred to an IBM z library, and processed into the business application. All of these operations have to be automated to avoid expensive and time-consuming manual intervention.

While the IBM System z Mainframe has always had a well-earned reputation for security, recently IBM modernized and extended their high-end enterprise server, the IBM System z Mainframe with the new z13 model. With full cross-platform support you can encrypt and decrypt data on the IBM Mainframe regardless of its origination or destination.

For over a decade Townsend Security has been bringing PGP encryption to Mainframe customers to help them solve some of the most difficult problems with encryption. As partners with Symantec we provide IBM enterprise customers running IBM System z and IBM i (AS/400, iSeries) with the same strong encryption solution that runs on Windows, Linux, Mac, Unix, and other platforms.

With the commercial PGP implementation from Symantec comes full support for OpenPGP standard, which really make a difference for enterprise businesses. Here are just a few of the things we’ve done with PGP to embrace the IBM System z Mainframe architecture:

    • Native z/OS Batch operation
    • Support for USS operation
    • Text mode enhancements for z/OS datasets
    • Integrated EBCDIC to ASCII conversion using built-in IBM facilities
    • Simplified IBM System z machine and partition licensing
    • Support for self-decrypting archives targeting Windows, Mac, and Linux!
    • A rich set of working JCL samples
    • As always we offer a free 30-day PGP evaluation on your own IBM Mainframe

PGP Command Line is the gold standard for whole file encryption, and you don’t have to settle for less. When you base your company reputation on something mission-critical like PGP encryption, you deserve the comfort of knowing that there’s a support team there ready to stand behind you.

Listen to the podcast for more in-depth information and a discussion on how PGP meets compliance regulations, and how Townsend Security, the only Symantec partner on the IBM i (AS/400) platform as well as the IBM z mainframe providing PGP Command Line 9, can help IBM enterprise customers with defensible data security!


Download the Podcast for PGP z

Topics: Data Security, PGP Encryption, IBM z, Podcast

Top 5 FAQs About PGP File Encryption Answered

Posted by Victor Oprescu on Feb 19, 2014 12:25:00 PM

Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.

Albert Einstein

Podcast: PGP Encryption on the IBM iOne important aspect of our work is supporting our customers and answering their questions. There is a lot to learn, and there are a lot of sources of information, and it can be difficult at times to decide what information to take in and what to let pass by.

Beyond answering their questions about broader topics such as security and compliance, we also end up discussing some very technical issues that they have questions about as well. It’s not usually until after someone begins working with our products that we step in to answer questions about the technical aspects, the nitty gritty, of how a product addresses their security and compliance needs. In this article I will cover in greater technical detail five frequently asked questions about working with PGP encryption, as well as some tips and tricks on how to get the most out of it.

1. I have encrypted a file for my trading partner, and I want to verify it, but when I try to decrypt it, why do I get an error?

If you are encrypting a file for a trading partner you are most likely using their public key. Because a public key can be given out to anybody, it becomes important to prevent just anyone from decrypting it. Thus the file can only be decrypted with your trading partner’s private key, which only they should have. Based on the principles of asymmetric encryption, it is impossible to encrypt and decrypt with the same key.

There is however a way to encrypt the file for both your trading partner and for yourself to decrypt. You can encrypt the file with multiple public keys, in this case your trading partner’s and yours. Our PGPENCRYPT command does this through the use of the ‘Additional user IDs’ parameter, in which you would define a public key for encryption to which you had a matching private key for. That way you would be able to decrypt it using your private key to verify the contents of the file.

2. How do I provide my trading partner with my key?

When you are exporting keys from the keyring there is one important question to ask, will the key be used for encryption or decryption? When you are exchanging files with a trading partner you have to remember that you will be encrypting with their public key and they will be encrypting with your public key. But decryption, again, can only happen with a private key.
So if you need to export a key for encryption it needs to be the public key, if it’s for decryption you should export the key pair.

Our PGPKEYEXP command can accomplish both for you. You would define the key to export with the ‘Export type’ parameter, where *PUBLIC exports the public key and *KEYPAIR exports both the public and private keys in one file. You can verify what was exported by viewing the file. Even though they keys themselves are unreadable the title is. An exported key pair would list the private key first.

It is important to note that under no circumstances should you provide your private key or the entire key pair to your trading partners or vendors. The option to export the key pair is built into the application to allow you to move individual key pairs between your company’s own servers.

3. My trading partner’s key has expired, can I update its expiration date using PGP commands?

There is a way to update the expiration date on a public key, but not one you received from a trading partner. The public key can be updated only if you have the matching private key and the private key’s password. Because your trading partner should not ever share neither their private key nor their password, you cannot update the expiration date on that public key.
You will need to attain the new public key from your trading partner. The good thing is that most trading partners have a system in place that should inform you ahead of time of the impending expiration of their public key and either provide the new key with that notice or provide instructions on how you can obtain it.

4. I have received a key from a trading partner and I have added it to the keyring but I can’t encrypt with it (or I am being asked if I want to trust the key every time I try to encrypt with it), how do I trust it?

When you first import a public key PGP will not ‘trust’ it, since information encrypted with it can’t normally be recovered (see Question 1 for options). When you try to encrypt with it, PGP will error out, although when you are encrypting interactively, it will prompt you. To trust the key you need to do the following 2 steps:

  1. Sign the new key with your private key to validate the key using the PGPKEYSIGN command. Because you are using your private key to do this you will need its password as well.
  2. Then you need to set its trust level using the PGPKEYCHG command. Once you have done this PGP will accept the key for encryption.

5. My trading partner wants me to sign the file. What does signing a file do?

Signing a file is a way that you can help your trading partner make sure the file they received really came from you. You can encrypt and sign a file or just sign it, on the latter the contents of the file remain visible but an encrypted string is added to the bottom containing your signature. A signature can only be created with a private key, so your trading partner can be pretty certain that the file could only have come from you. The signature is verified by PGP by using your public key to decrypt and read that encrypted string. The string is never stored in the clear but it is read and PGP returns a message that it has verified it. This does mean that anyone with your public key can verify your signature, but then again that is what you want. If a file is both encrypted and signed, the signature would be read by your public key and the contents decrypted by your trading partner’s private key. You can define the signing key in our PGPENCRYPT command with the ‘Signing user ID’ parameter and by providing the command with its password. You can also sign a clear text file or an already encrypted file with the PGPSIGN command.

For more information on encrypting data in transit with PGP, download the podcast, “PGP Encryption on the IBM i,” featuring data security expert Patrick Townsend.

PGP encryption on the IBM i

Topics: Encryption, PGP Encryption, IBM i

Secure Managed File Transfer and PGP Encryption

Posted by Michelle Larson on Nov 19, 2013 3:15:00 PM

Core Components of a Total Encryption Strategy

One of the easiest things to do to improve your data security posture is make sure that all of the transfers moving in and out of your organization are encrypted. The core components of any secure managed file transfer solution are the ability to protect and secure transfers as they move off of your system or as transfers move into your system using strong encryption.Webinar: Secure Managed File Transfer on the IBM i

The two main transfer mechanisms are:

  • SSL FTP, File Transfer Protocol that has been updated to support encrypted sessions

Implemented based on industry standards and integrated with the IBM i Digital Certificate Manager (DCM), new IBM i platforms have DCM installed by default. Our own solution, Alliance FTP Manager adds things like intelligent firewall negotiation and proxy server support which make those connections easier to deploy, as well as integrated logging to make sure that the sessions are properly logged for compliance regulations and compliance audits.

  • Secure Shell sFTP, which is a Linux and UNIX facility also exists in the IBM i platform and secure FTP gives you the ability to implement encrypted transfers to and from your IBM i platform

Secure Shell sFTP, based on how it encrypts, establishes, and maintains sessions is easier to manage from a firewall point of view than SSL FTP. We fully support password-based Secure Shell sFTP in batch mode and are the only vendor who fully implements that according to the standard.

Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) file encryption is the third critical component of a total encryption strategy.  PGP encryption protects data at rest, so when you move data securely across the internal network or across the Internet, you need to be sure that it's properly encrypted at it’s destination.  SSL FTP and sFTP encrypted sessions are great at protecting data when in transit however, when that data lands on an FTP server, it may not be inside a firewall and could be exposed. PGP is the most commonly used and widely deployed encryption in retail, banking, medical, insurance, and other industries to protect data and a fundamental part of a managed file transfer solution.

The commercial version of PGP, created by the original developers and now supported by Symantec, is fully implemented in our Alliance FTP Manager solution. Commercial PGP also offers features important to enterprise clients:

  • Additional decryption keys support (ADK) - allows you to encrypt a file and send it to multiple people without using the same key. You can actually encrypt the file and add your own decryption key which would allow you to recover that data as part of a discovery process to prove what data was actually sent to a recipient.
  • PGP implements key server support in addition to local PGP encrypted key stores on the IBM i platform and for z/OS Mainframe.
  • Support for Self-Decrypting Archives (SDA) for multiple platforms.
  • Commercial PGP product has been through multiple rounds of FIPS 140-2 certification over the years. Both the source code and the application has been fully vetted by independent security professionals multiple times and that code has been open for public review.

Beyond those three core components, you also need some other things to confirm that the encryption being used is defensible and has been reviewed by security professionals:

  • Good audit trails
  • Real time system logging integrated with the IBM security audit journal (QAUDJRN)
  • Certifications through NIST and  FIPS 140-2

For an indepth look at a total encryption strategy, security expert Patrick Townsend presents a 30-minute webinar discussing how compliance regulations such as PCI, HIPAA, Sarbanes-Oxley, and new state/federal laws affect your company.  He also covers real-life examples of how others are meeting these challenges with Alliance FTP Manager and the new PGP solutions.

Webinar: Secure Managed File Transfer on IBM i

Topics: Alliance FTP Manager, PGP Encryption, Secure Managed File Transfer, SFTP, Webinar

Securing Data in Motion with PGP Encryption

Posted by Michelle Larson on Aug 28, 2013 3:22:00 PM

In their latest podcast, Paul Taylor with Security Insider Podcast Edition and Patrick Townsend, CTO of Townsend Security discuss using PGP encryption to secure data in motion for meeting compliance regulations, the OpenPGP standard, the differences between Open and Commercial PGP solutions, and ways to automate your managed file transfers on the IBM i.Podcast: PGP Encryption on the IBM i

PGP stands for “Pretty Good Privacy”, and it’s an encryption solution that originally started in the 1990s. Over 20 years ago, Phil Zimmerman and a group of developers decided to produce secure file encryption technology and felt that PGP should be used everywhere to protect data-in-motion, both for individuals and for companies who need to transfer data across networks. Originally, Phil Zimmerman’s development team offered a free, open-source version of PGP. Over the years, ownership of PGP was transferred from Network Associates to McAfee, and is now owned and commercially licensed by Symantec.  Throughout that development, Townsend Security has helped to bring this important encryption technology to IBM enterprise platforms. We have partnered with Symantec to offer the only commercial version of PGP Command Line on the IBM i.

In their podcast, Paul and Patrick discuss the OpenPGP standard and the two solution versions of PGP, Open and Commercial, and the confusion around them. OpenPGP is a standard (RFC 4880 & RFC 2440), not software, and that standard covers what an Open PGP solution is and should do. There are multiple open source editions for software, available from a number of different organizations, that should meet the OpenPGP standard.

The commercial version from Symantec was created and continues to be advanced by the original PGP developers. It conforms to the OpenPGP standard, and it adds additional functions that are important to enterprise customers.

For example:

    • Additional decryption key support (the ability to encrypt a file for multiple recipients)

If you need to send and recover an encrypted file to yourself for due diligence, your ability to recover that encrypted file through additional decryption key support becomes an important regulatory component.

    • Self-decrypting archives (the ability to encrypt data and send it to almost anyone for processing)

You can create an encrypted file on your system, even on IBM z mainframe or IBM i platform that can be decrypted as an executable on a Mac system, a Windows PC, or even a Linux box.

    • Support for X.509 Certificates, external key management protocols, and the ability to actually store encryption keys on an external server.

With the Commercial PGP product comes full support for OpenPGP standard, as well as these additional features, which really make a difference for enterprise businesses. When you base your company reputation on something mission-critical like PGP encryption, you deserve the comfort of knowing that there’s a support team there ready to stand behind you.

“Pretty Good Privacy” is well recognized and accepted across a broad number of compliance regulations as a secure way to protect sensitive data as it is in transit to your trading partners. PGP encryption helps businesses meet PCI DSS by encrypting credit card numbers and other PII as required by HIPAA/HITECH Act, Sarbanes-Oxley, and FISMA compliance regulations.

Listen to the podcast for more in-depth information and a discussion on how PGP meets compliance regulations with it’s NIST certifications, and how Townsend Security, the only Symantec partner on the IBM i or AS/400 platform as well as the IBM z platform providing PGP Command Line 9, can help IBM i users with PGP!

 DOWNLOAD THE PODCAST: PGP Encryption on the IBM i

If you have topics you would like to hear discussed in future podcasts, please email them to us at podcast@townsendsecurity.com or post your comments here in the blog!


Topics: PGP Encryption, Security Insider Podcast, PGP

AES vs PGP: What is the Difference?

Posted by Victor Oprescu on Jul 9, 2013 12:04:00 PM

In the world of encryption there are many different names for encryption, but probably the two most common would have to be AES and PGP. But not everyone knows what these acronyms stand for. In today’s world of TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms) it’s easy to feel left behind in a data security conversation when they start replacing every other word. OMG!

First we’ll break both of them down a bit and then we’ll compare them to each other.

AES EncryptionIBM i Encryption with FieldProcAES, or Advanced Encryption Standard, as we know it today is the dreamchild of two cryptographers’ proposal of a symmetric key encryption algorithm based on the Rijndael cipher. This algorithm was developed when NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) sent the call out to the cryptographic community to develop a new standard. NIST spent five years evaluating fifteen competing designs for the AES project and in 2001 announced the cipher developed by the two Belgians Joan Daemen and Vincent Rijmen as the adopted standard, known as FIPS-197, for electronic data encryption.

AES is a symmetric key encryption algorithm, which essentially means that the same key is used for the encryption and decryption of the data. A computer program takes clear text and processes it through an encryption key and returns ciphertext. If the data needs to be decrypted, the program processes it again with the same key and is able to reproduce the clear text. This method required less computational resources for the program to complete its cipher process, which means lower performance impact. AES encryption is a good method to protect sensitive data stored in large databases.

There is, however, a time when AES will not be your go-to encryption process. When you need to share sensitive information with trading partners or transfer information across networks, using AES has one downside when it comes to security: You would have to share your encryption key with your trading partners. Sure, they’d be able to decrypt the information you sent them, but they would also be able to decrypt anything else encrypted with that key, and if the key itself became compromised anyone in possession of it could decrypt your data.

PGP encryptionEnter PGP. PGP stands for Pretty Good Privacy, and before you get too distracted by the name, I can tell you it is actually much better than just pretty good. PGP uses symmetric and  asymmetric keys to encrypt data being transferred across networks. It was developed by the American computer scientist Phil Zimmerman, who made it available for non-commercial use for no charge in 1991. To encrypt data, PGP generates a symmetric key to encrypt data which is protected by the asymmetric key. Podcast: PGP Encryption on the IBM i

Asymmetric encryption uses two different keys for the encryption and decryption processes of sensitive information. Both keys are derived from one another and created at the same time. They are divided into and referred to as a public and a private key, which makes up the key pair. Data is only encrypted with a public key and thus can only be decrypted with the matching private key. The encryption PGP offers is just as strong as that of AES, but it adds the additional security that prevents anyone with just the public key from being able to decrypt data that was previously encrypted with it. Another benefit of asymmetric encryption is that it allows for authentication. After you have exchanged public keys with your trading partners, the private keys can be used to digitally sign the encrypted content, allowing the decryptor to verify the authenticity of the sender.

PGP does require more computational resources, which is why it is usually not recommended for encrypting data in large databases where information needs to be accessed frequently, and each record that you access needs to be ran through a cryptographic process.

When you are considering which encryption to use for your sensitive information choose whichever will suit your needs best. AES is fast and works best in closed systems and large databases; PGP should be used when sharing information across an open network, but it can be slower and works better for individual files.


IBM i Encryption with FieldProc

Topics: Encryption, PGP Encryption, Data Privacy, AES, PGP, Webinar, AES Encryption

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