We in the security field like to use metaphors to help illustrate the significance of data in the enterprise. I’m a big fan of cooking, so I’ll use the metaphor of a secret sauce. Think about it: Each transaction basically reflects your organization’s unique relationship with a customer, supplier or partner. By sheer quantity alone, mainframe transactions provide a huge number of ingredients that your organization uses to make its secret sauce — enhancing customer relationships, tuning supply chain operations, starting new lines of business and more.

Extremely critical data flows through and into mainframe data stores. In fact, 92 of the top 100 banks rely on the mainframe because of its speed, scale and security. Additionally, more than 29 billion ATM transactions are processed per year, and 87 percent of all credit card transactions are processed through the mainframe.

Safeguarding Your Secret Sauce

The buzz has been strong for the recent IBM z14 announcement, which includes pervasive encryption, tamper-responding key management and even encrypted application program interfaces (APIs). The speed and scale of the pervasive encryption solution is breathtaking.

Encryption is a fundamental technology to protect your secret sauce, and the new easy-to-use crypto capabilities in the z14 will make encryption a no-brainer.

With all the excitement around pervasive encryption, though, it’s important not to overlook another component that’s critical for data security: data activity monitoring. Imagine all the applications, services and administrators as cooks in a kitchen. How can you ensure that people are correctly following the recipe? How do you make sure that they aren’t walking off with your secret sauce and creating competitive recipes or selling it on the black market?

Data Protection and Activity Monitoring

Data activity monitoring provides insights into access behavior — that is, the who, what, where and when of access for DB2, the information management system (IMS) and the file system. For example, by using data activity monitoring, you would be able to tell whether the head chef (i.e., the database or system administrator) is working from a different location or working irregular hours.

In addition, data activity monitoring raises the visibility of unusual error conditions. If an application starts throwing a number of unusual database errors, it could be an indication that an SQL injection attack is underway. Or maybe the application is just poorly written or maintained — perhaps tables have been dropped or application privileges have changed. This visibility can help organizations reduce database overhead and risk by bringing these issues to light.

Then there’s compliance, everybody’s favorite topic. You need to be able to prove to auditors that compliance mandates are being followed, whether that includes monitoring privileged users, not allowing unauthorized database changes or tracking all access to payment card industry (PCI) data. With the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) set to take effect in May 2018, the stakes are even higher.

Automating Trust, Compliance and Security

As part of a comprehensive data protection strategy for the mainframe, IBM Security Guardium for z/OS provides detailed, granular, real-time activity monitoring capabilities as well as real-time alerting, out-of-the-box compliance reporting and much more. The newest release, 10.1.3, provides data protection improvements as well as performance improvements to help keep your costs and overhead down.

Your mainframe data is precious — it is your secret sauce. As such, it should be kept under lock and key, and monitored at all times.

More from Data Protection

Data residency: What is it and why it is important?

3 min read - Data residency is a hot topic, especially for cloud data. The reason is multi-faceted, but the focus has been driven by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which governs information privacy in the European Union and the European Economic Area.The GDPR defines the requirement that users’ personal data and privacy be adequately protected by organizations that gather, process and store that data. After the GDPR rolled out, other countries such as Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan, South Africa and the UAE…

Third-party breaches hit 90% of top global energy companies

3 min read - A new report from SecurityScorecard reveals a startling trend among the world’s top energy companies, with 90% suffering from data breaches through third parties over the last year. This statistic is particularly concerning given the crucial function these companies serve in everyday life.Their increased dependence on digital systems facilitates the increase in attacks on infrastructure networks. This sheds light on the need for these energy companies to adopt a proactive approach to securing their networks and customer information.2023 industry recap:…

Data security posture management vs cloud security posture management

4 min read - “A data breach has just occurred”, is a phrase no security professional wants to hear. From the CISO on down to the SOC analysts, a data breach is the definition of a very bad day. It can cause serious brand damage and financial loss for enterprises, lead to abrupt career changes among security professionals, and instill fear of financial or privacy loss for businesses and consumers.According to an ESG report, 55% of data and workloads currently run or operate in…

Topic updates

Get email updates and stay ahead of the latest threats to the security landscape, thought leadership and research.
Subscribe today