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Can virus affect the Mainframe?

 
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bhim_sb
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Joined: 31 Mar 2005
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PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2005 11:01 am    Post subject: Can virus affect the Mainframe?
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Why the mainframe is so secure?
Why the virus can't affect the mainframe?
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vasanthanc

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Joined: 01 Apr 2005
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PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2005 12:00 pm    Post subject: Re: Can virus affect the Mainframe?
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First what is a virus. Its nothing but an executeable program which executes and destructs file(s). Unless like windows, in mainframe we have various levels of security. Each user has various rights on various files. It means you may or may not have read access for few files, write access for few files, modify access for few files. No user can touch other files on which he/she doesnt have access rights. For executing a virus program, you need execution rights for that particular file. Even if you get execution rights for that file, the virus file while executing will be trying to corrupt other files but for those files, you will not be having modify rights. Because of this various levels of security, there is no chance of virus affecting mainframe
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brain_s390

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Joined: 06 May 2005
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Location: Mumbai

PostPosted: Fri May 06, 2005 1:00 am    Post subject: Re: Can virus affect the Mainframe?
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Hi Bhim,

Quote:
Twenty years ago, mainframes sat in tight glass houses, accessed by a
limited list of select employees. Today, mainframes remain a mainstay
of enterprise operations. All predictions of the mainframe's imminent
demise have disappeared as quickly as those predicting the end of
brick-and-mortar retailing. In fact, industry sources estimate that 30
billion Cobol transactions occur daily; that's more than the number of
Web page hits in the same time period.

In today's enterprise, mainframes have shattered their glass houses
and are accessible by a variety of network services. In addition to
conventional users of core CICS or IMS-based transactions, large
organizations (including many financial services companies) are
shifting applications from Wintel to Linux on the mainframe to save
costs and increase performance and reliability. And Web-based
applications hosted on the mainframe's Linux or Unix environment
enable millions of customers to access the core transactional data
needed to conduct business.

With so much traffic from so many sources -- and new government
regulations aimed at consumer privacy and corporate diligence -- it's
time for companies to rethink how they secure the mainframe.

Fatigue, inexperience and overconfidence trump security

Marooned on islands, with limited outside connectivity, mainframes
have always been relatively easy to administer and secure. It wasn't
uncommon for an organization to literally have one mainframe
technician per user. Now, it's one technician per 1,000 users. Across
our customer base of more than 300 large companies, we're seeing the
trend: Experienced mainframe help is overworked and hard to find. You
can't just plug in a firewall administrator and expect him to find his
way around a spaghetti works of applications and services that were
written before that administrator was even born.

In addition to increased connectivity and staff scarcity and
knowledge, one of the largest challenges for mainframe security is
complacency and overconfidence. Most companies assume that mainframes
are secure, simply because of their glass-house heritage. I recently
visited a very large European bank that boasted about mainframe
security. I made the wrong assumption; with so many applications
hosted on the mainframe, it was relatively easy for an insider to
abuse and compromise the system. Sensitive data could be copied,
records deleted, and all traces of this activity could be removed.

In particular, mainframes are vulnerable to three major types of
threats:

1. Malicious data access: Hackers and trusted users have increased
potential to access the mainframe's core data repository just like
any other platform. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the Health Insurance
Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Gramm-Leach-Bliley
Act (GLBA) and other standards all point to the need to protect
data accountability and integrity. The mainframe can't be an
exception.

2. Self-inflicted mistakes: A generation of mainframe masters is
quickly retiring, and less qualified or less experienced technical
staffers (often rushed and overworked) can inadvertently change
code or settings to open up holes or deliver too much authorization
to the system.

3. Aged software: The strength of the mainframe is that you can
continue to run the old reliable software without too much maintenance.
But even mainframe software needs checks, patches and updates to close
gaps or simply improve security.

Teaching an old dog new tricks

Organizations need to take a deep breath and start applying
traditional best-of-breed security practices to the mainframe. Here's
a quick checklist of the types of practices that dramatically improve
security on mainframes:

* Create a mainframe security dashboard: With fewer staffers on the
job and more threats daily, organizations need to install a mainframe
security dashboard to show the progress of security initiatives. A
dashboard should include an overview of who is accessing data on the
mainframe, which data groups are accessed most and, ideally, if
access violates your security policy.

Similarly, an overview of the number of users who have been added
and removed, the number of dormant accounts and the weakest passwords will
provide you with assurance that your mainframe security team is on
top of the job.

* Smart centralization: You need to better leverage the mainframe
knowledge base you have by wisely centralizing some of the security
functions -- particularly administration and auditing -- to
less-specialized resources. This can be done with "dummy-proof"
mainframe software or with enterprise systems that allow for
role-based and policy-driven provisioning of users and auditing of
file access and configurations across the enterprise. Your mainframe
experts should be leveraged for their expertise, while your central
security team and help desk should take on many of the mundane tasks
of auditing and administering the mainframe as they do with open
systems.

* Reinvigorated audits: Many customers I visit are proud of the number
of access violations they were able to prevent when they look at
log-on and data-access failures. What about those you didn't prevent
-- that is, the vast majority?

Make it a point to properly configure logging of the mainframe
operating systems and the applications on it to ensure you can
establish a trail of who touched what data. Then systematically look
at key files (data sets), particularly those governed by federal
regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley, GLBA or HIPAA, and make sure
your policies are being enforced. Automated tools that enable such
monitoring allow this type of routine auditing without requiring an
army of administrators.

* Enhanced controls: Look to improve the security controls on the
mainframe. Real-time alerting for access violations or
misconfigurations is worth considering. You've installed such
intrusion-detection systems on the open system; make sure you have
similar confidence in your mainframe security. Similarly, ensure
that you have solutions that can prevent the mistakes that will be
made by the less experienced and less technical staff that you'll
need to employ to pick up the administrative burden of the
mainframe.

Finally, ensure that your administration and audit functions are
indeed separate and serve to check and balance each other.

Even though security threats to the mainframe may not be as glamorous
as well-publicized viruses and worms, they are indeed a viable threat
to the mission-critical services and information typically found in
the glass house. The good news: Technologies for monitoring security
have come a long way, and even the simple measures outlined above can
have a dramatic affect on mainframe security without requiring a
fortune in staff or software.


-brain_S390
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vbhat

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Joined: 29 Apr 2005
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PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2005 12:47 pm    Post subject:
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i think there is no chance?
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bhim_sb
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Joined: 31 Mar 2005
Posts: 24

PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2005 1:30 pm    Post subject: Re: Can virus affect the Mainframe?
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vasanthanc wrote:
First what is a virus. Its nothing but an executeable program which executes and destructs file(s). Unless like windows, in mainframe we have various levels of security. Each user has various rights on various files. It means you may or may not have read access for few files, write access for few files, modify access for few files. No user can touch other files on which he/she doesnt have access rights. For executing a virus program, you need execution rights for that particular file. Even if you get execution rights for that file, the virus file while executing will be trying to corrupt other files but for those files, you will not be having modify rights. Because of this various levels of security, there is no chance of virus affecting mainframe



THANX
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swaran_msc

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Joined: 19 May 2005
Posts: 5
Location: Bangalore

PostPosted: Thu May 19, 2005 1:13 pm    Post subject:
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Mr Bhim,

No one can write the Virus coding for Mainframes. Coz No one knows Mainframe Architecture Completely. Coz IBM still confidentially maintaining some Architecture information.

Corrections are Welcome...
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thatiparthis

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Joined: 02 Jun 2003
Posts: 5
Location: Chennai - India

PostPosted: Wed Jun 22, 2005 6:15 pm    Post subject:
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I deny that " no one knows mainframe architectuere completely ". There are few bright chaps in IBM who know.

The relative difference in mainframes and PC's where it comes to address handling and giving control to a program (PC virus can get the control from OS - where in MVS the whole control lies in OS itself) is different and follows certain strict rules. Due to multi tasking and fault tolerance level being high for mainframes - they are relatively at a higher secured level then PC's and other servers.

But security masters - like Anonymous, The SNAKE, had did considerable damage to few mainframes. Refer to Maximum security - SAMS Publications - Author _ Anonymous.
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ideas

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Joined: 25 May 2005
Posts: 53
Location: India

PostPosted: Thu Jun 23, 2005 12:41 pm    Post subject:
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for more on this read the article on 5 9s availability on IBM M/F..
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