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Do You Have A Security Policy In Place?

By Rich Loeber

A conference speaker at a security forum that I attended some time ago posed a most interesting question.  He asked the simple question “What is your security policy?”.  I wondered what he might be getting at since the audience was made up of information technology security experts.  He went on to propose the idea that most security departments are more involved in security implementation than they are in enforcing security policy.  The tail, in effect, wagging the dog.

A security policy is a set of statements that describes how you view information security for your installation.   In each application area, the policy should describe how information created and stored in the application is going to be treated from a security perspective.  It might include statements such as “Only Payroll department employees can update payroll data”, or “Accounts payable vouchers can only be entered and maintained by employees in the Accounting department”.  As you consider your various policies, your Security Policy will roll out over time to include all aspects of information security.

The conference speaker I heard indicated that most IT security is determined and implemented by IT staff people with little input from the user departments.  This kind of security implementation, like any IT initiated application implementation, is destined to fail without user department participation.  Only the true owners of the data being secured can accurately create a security policy for their information.

If you don’t have a security policy in place, this might be a good time to think about creating one.  For your policy, you should consider all applications on your system including the operating system and system utilities.  For each application area, you should identify the owner of record and then meet with them to determine the security rules that should be in place.  The end user/owner of the application will probably know a lot more than you think about what applies to their information and how it needs to be secured.  Often, additional legal and operational situations will be known at the end-user level that your centralized IT security group is completely ignorant of.

Your security policy will end up being a series of descriptive statements about the information associated with each application area.  Once you have this in place, you can then review your security implementation, which is probably already in place to some extent, and see where your practice falls short of your policy.  You may identify areas on your system where your implementation falls far short of the policy objectives.  When this happens, you’ll need to involve your application owner to see what needs to be done to meet the policy.  Additional security tools may be required or tighter implementation of existing tools may do the trick.

You may even find areas where your implementation is stronger than what the policy states as a requirement.  For these situations, the additional security may not be necessary and could be resulting in administrative burdens that can be relieved by backing off on your implementation.

As you can see, without a stated security policy, you cannot effectively implement information security for your installation.  The only people who really know the requirements are probably not in the information security or IT departments.  So, get out there and get your policy down on paper, properly defined.  Then see if your implementation measures up to your requirements.

If you have any questions about this topic, feel free to reach me at rich at kisco.com.  I’ll try to answer your questions.  All email messages will be answered.

Object Signing, What’s That All About?

By Rich Loeber

All of the security measures you implement could easily be brought down if someone can introduce tampered data or programs into your system without your knowledge.  To address this, the IBM i OS has supported object signing ever since release V5R1 became available.   Object signing, simply stated, works by having each object on your system signed by the originator that guarantees that the object is what it claims to be and that it has not been altered.

Most systems today, many years after release of this feature, still only have the IBM operating system carrying signatures.  Run the WRKOBJ for *PGM objects on your system in the QSYS library.  When the list comes up, place and ‘8′ next to one of the objects and then scroll up to the second panel.  You should see the following fields displayed:

    Auditing/Integrity information:               
      Object auditing value  . . . . . . :   *NONE
      Digitally signed . . . . . . . . . :   YES  
        System-trusted source  . . . . . :   YES  
        Multiple signatures  . . . . . . :   NO   

Note that the object is showing as being digitally signed and that it is from a system-trusted source.

Similarly, if you do the same for some of your own programs, you will probably find that there is no signing in effect.  In fact, most IBM i implementations today that are not from IBM carry no signature.

So, what’s the big deal and how can this help you?

For now, probably not much.  The current implementation of this is clearly designed to help IBM protect its operating system.  IBM has provided some tools in the operating system to give users control.  The system value QVFYOBJRST can be set to only allow restore of objects that are signed.  You can differentiate this for objects that are system state and user state.  In fact, the recommended setting level of 3 will prevent any unsigned system state programs from being loaded onto your system, thereby adding a level of protection to the operating system’s integrity.

There is also the ability to scan your system for object integrity by using the Check Object Integrity (CHKOBJITG) command.  An option on this command will let you verify objects that are signed to make sure that operating system components have not been tampered with since they were loaded.  Scanning the operating system on your server can produce a database list of all objects on the system that have bad signatures.  Finding these could indicate that the operating system has been tampered with.

To add an additional layer of security to your own applications, this technology is available for user state programs as well.  But, seeing that the software developer community has not embraced this to date, you may just be asking for a headache by doing your own implementation while other third party software on your system does not comply.  IBM documentation is available, however, to implement this for your own applications.

If you have any questions about this topic, feel free to reach me at rich at kisco.com,  I’ll try to answer your questions.  All email messages will be answered.

Network Intrusion – An Allegory

By Rich Loeber

I have shared before that we live in the Adirondack Mountains in northern New York.  When most people think about New York, they don’t think much farther than New York City, but New York contains some beautiful and very wild locales and we live in the heart of one.  Our home is located on a large lake and my wife and I fell in love with our place the first time we saw it.

One of the key features of our place is a sandy beach.  A few days after we moved in, we got up in the morning to find a small flock of Canada Geese on the lawn and thought what beautiful birds these were.  After a few days of this, and a walk down to the beach area, our opinion of these geese headed downhill fast.  We were under an intrusion attack and needed to do something about it to protect our beach from the mess that the geese were creating.

Our first attempts at intrusion protection were simple, we just ran outside waving our arms and chased the geese off the beach.  They swam out on the lake a little way and then waited until we got tired and headed back inside.  Within minutes, they were back on the beach and we were right back where we started.  I then got the bright idea of leaving a “presence” on the beach to ward the birds off.  The next time I went out, I planted a broom on the beach and the geese did not return …. until the next day.

A friend told us that Canada Geese are afraid of owls and that a lot of locals reported good results from owl statues.  I search the Internet and found a garden supply house that sold inexpensive owl statues expressly for this purpose.  They even said that this particular owl species was feared by Canada Geese.  Our owl arrived a week later and with much anticipation, I put it up on the beach.  The next day, the geese were back huddled right around the owl.

Then, quite by accident, we found a solution that worked quite well.  We found that when we used a lawn sprinkler near the beach, the geese did not like it and stayed away.  So, we left the sprinkler out on the lawn and whenever we saw geese on the beach or swimming our way, we turned on the sprinkler and watched them head away.  After a few weeks of this, some of the geese found that they could avoid the sprinkler by going around it at the edge of the coverage area and we had to reposition the sprinkler to adjust.  But, the sprinkler technology was clearly one that worked.  The only problem with it was that it would not work when we were not at home.  It required direct intervention to repel an intrusion.  When we traveled away from home, we would come back and find the beach a mess.  If we just left the sprinkler on all the time, the yard would get soaked and we ended up with beach erosion. A better solution was still needed.

Last year, I think the problem was finally been solved.  I found a supplier who makes a motion sensor activated sprinkler!  As soon as I saw these on the web, I bought two of them at a very  reasonable price and waited for spring to try them out.  Two weeks into the season, after some early intrusions by the returning Canada Goose population, I deployed the motion activated sprinklers.  Since then, we have not seen a single goose on our lawn.

So, what does this have to do with computer intrusion protection?

Lessons learned from this exercise in our yard show me the importance of first knowing what is going on in your network.  If you don’t keep track, you’ll never know what’s going on in your yard.  You could be getting attacked on a regular basis and never know it.  Second, you need to find the solution that is right for you.  Not every intrusion situation is going to be the same (we have neighbors two houses away who never have a problem with geese, but frequently have bears getting into their trash).  Listen to recommendations from friends and associates, but do your research.  In my situation, I have left the owl statue in place as a constant reminder that some solutions are just dumb.  Lastly, once you have a solution, fine tune it.  Don’t be satisfied until you know that the solution is always working and achieving your objectives.  Keep up to date on developments in technology that you might use for your situation.  Stay current.  If you have a software solution, keep it current as your vendor releases updates.

If you are vigilant, you will be rewarded with a clean network.  In my case, I am looking forward to having a nice clean yard and beach area this summer.

If you have any questions about this topic, feel free to reach me at rich at kisco.com,  I’ll try to answer your questions.  All email messages will be answered.

Can NAT and IP Packet Filtering Work For You?

By Rich Loeber

In your efforts to secure your IBM i, you often come up against constraints imposed by company management.  Often, you will find that a specific technology or software add-on will give you an extra measure of needed security, but management has turned you down because of cost.  Since this is often an issue, it is always nice to find security tools that are built into the operating system that you can deploy without additional expense.  This tip will introduce you to two such tools on your system, NAT and IP Packet Filtering.  Both are included in the IBM i OS and are deployed through the Navigator For i.

NAT stands for “Network Address Translation”.  Among other things, NAT will allow you to provide public access to your system even though it sits behind a firewall.    It does so by changing the source and destination IP addresses for data packets as they flow through your system.  It can also be used to simplify configuration when multiple networks in your system operate on different addressing schemes.  Your system can act as a go-between making the connections possible.  NAT can also be used to hide real IP addresses between networks.

IP Packet Filtering lets you block specific IP addresses or filter packets based on information contained in each packet header.  This gives you a lot of power to control who can access your system and who cannot access your system based on the IP address they are coming from.  Using IP Packet Filtering, you can:

  • Permit or reject packets based on their destination IP address.
  • Permit or reject packets based on their source IP address.
  • Permit or reject packets based on either their source port number or their destination port number.
  • Apply these rules selectively when you have multiple network connections to your system.  Different rules can apply to each network adapter.
  • Stop undesirable traffic from passing through your system to other nodes in your network.
  • Selectively log traffic based on the way your rules are set up.

You can find more information about setting up and configuring NAT and IP Packet Filtering at the IBM iSeries Information Center (https://www.ibm.com/support/knowledgecenter/ssw_ibm_i).  Look for a manual titled “Networking – IP Filtering and NAT” for your release level of the IBM i OS.  The Navigator For i includes a setup wizard for IP Packet Filtering that may also help you to get started.

One note of caution.  While these “free” tools are available for your use, they are just another tool in your security toolbag.  Used together, these functions provide some of the functionality you’ll find in a firewall, but full implementation of a firewall product is preferable.  These tools should be used in conjunction with your overall security plan and strategy.

If you have questions about details of this tip, feel free to contact me directly by email: rich at kisco.com.

The Case For Implementing Exit Points

By Rich Loeber

Someone recently asked me if there was someplace on the Internet where they could see a case made for implementing exit points on their IBM i system.  I was at a loss for a comprehensive source and this got me thinking that it might be a good idea to just create one here.

Security exit points on the IBM i (and its predecessor OS/400) have been in existence since the mid 1990′s.  When the system was opened up to network access, the need for additional security over and above the standard IBM i OS security was apparent.   IBM’s solution was to let their customers solve the issues on their own by giving them access to specific decision points in the various network server functions that were being rolled out.  Server functions were being added to the IBM i OS to support network access to the system like FTP, ODBC, SQL, mapped drives in the IFS, file upload and download, remote command calls and a lot more.  Since that time, even more network functions have been added along with related new exit points.

To be fair and above board, I must also disclose here that my company, Kisco Information Systems, jumped on the exit point bandwagon right away when the exit points were initially rolled out.  Since 1996 we have been selling a comprehensive general use exit point solution called SafeNet/i, now in its 11th release.

The question I was asked was “Why does my shop need to implement exit point controls?”.  That is what I want to address here.  I will do so by describing several cases where additional security is needed over and above the already excellent security features that are built into the IBM i OS.

Case #1:

The classic case for exit point implementation comes from the 5250 terminal application days.  If you have a Payroll Application that runs on your IBM i and is maintained by one or more clerks, OS security has to give access to the payroll files for those clerks, but the application and terminal menu system can easily be used to restrict what operations they can do on the payroll master files.  That access will probably grant then *USE access so they can update files and generate payroll checks and reports.

The above scenario is secure from an application perspective, but you would never want your payroll clerk to be able to download the payroll master files and take them home on a USB drive, would you?  An exit point implementation can prevent this access.  The exit point process runs on top of the IBM i OS and can be used to restrict server functions by user profile, source IP address and even by objects accessed.  This leaves the IBM i OS security in tact for the 5250 terminal application and also prevents unauthorized access via the network connection.

Case #2:

Many IBM i shops have one or more “regular users” defined with *ALLOBJ access in their user profile.  This can happen for lots of reasons and in many cases, it would take a very long time to correct.  I never recommend granting *ALLOBJ access to regular users, but if your system has evolved with this issue, it cannot be fixed overnight.  In many cases, the application itself is providing the security.  The issue, however, is that these users literally have access to ALL OBJECTS on your system.  With network access to your system, one of these users could easily download sensitive data from your system, including credit card information and customer identity information, and hide it on a USB drive and walk out the front door and nobody would be the wiser.

An exit point implementation can address this issue.  Using exit points, you can restrict object access by user profile even though the user is set up with *ALLOBJ.  In fact, object access can even be restricted for the QSECOFR security user profile.  This can help to protect your system from abuse by a user profile that has been granted more access rights than they really need.

Case #3:

Since the TCP/IP communications utility FTP was added to the IBM i OS, a very easy to use network application lets users interact with the IBM i system without using a 5250 interface.  The FTP user can browse objects on your system and upload or download them.  A talented FTP user and even execute IBM i commands through FTP.  For some shops, you want a user to have these capabilities, but you wouldn’t want them granted on a broad basis.

Exit points can help with this too.  First, you can easily restrict which user profiles are allowed to use FTP.  Then, you can further restrict which FTP commands they are allowed to use letting them do a PUT, for example, but disallowing a GET.  Then, you can even give the user contextual access rights by only allowing an FTP connection from a known and trusted IP address, such as an internal IP address.  Then, if the user’s credentials are compromised, the FTP connection will still have to be established from a trusted source.

To sum up:

These are just a few examples of why IBM i shops should consider exit point implementation for additional security on your IBM i system.  There are literally dozens of additional scenarios that can be described, but these should get you started on making a case for exit points.  It is my belief that every IBM i shop should have some form of exit point controls in place in order to be secure.  If you are interested, I can heartily recommend Kisco’s SafeNet/i software if you want to jump in and get started.

If you have questions about details of this tip, feel free to contact me directly by email: rich at kisco.com.

Network/Internet Security

By Rich Loeber

When your system is connected to a network, you cannot always guarantee the integrity of the person at the far end of a network connection.  If your system is connected to the Internet, ethics go out the window altogether.  You have to assume that the person at the far end is a bad guy, then proceed from there.  With this tip, we’ll outline an approach to this problem that may help you to focus in on how to deal with the bad guys wherever they may be.

Internet bad guys generally fall into two categories, sneaks and bullies.  The bullies you can probably identify easiest, they are the ones who go after your system with active attacks.  They will try to break into your system trying just about everything in the book.  On our test IBM i server in the office recently, we had a bully come by who tried to log on using over 700 different user profiles in a period of 5 minutes.  Each logon attempt was met by our exit point software and tossed out right at the point of entry with a security warning message to our security officer for each try.  The user profiles were all different and all “typical” of what you might expect to see in just about any shop in the country.  When a bully comes after you, he does it with brute force. They can try to spoof your system, guess your passwords, deny others from using your system by keeping it overly busy dealing with their break-in attempt and much more.

The sneaks are a lot more passive.  A sneak will sit back and monitor network traffic to your system and try to uncover secret information that will then give them what they need to gain access to your system “normally”.  Sneaks are very hard to identify and the have insidious tools at their disposal to get the information they want.  This can even include Trojan horses that gather the information for them.  Since sneaks are so hard to identify, you should plan your security strategy assuming that someone is always watching your system.

To guard your system against both sneaks and bullies, you need to think about how to layer your system defenses to guard against anything and anyone.  If your system is connected to the Internet, you must assume that a sneak or a bully is going to attempt to gain access and plan accordingly.  The best defense is always a good offense and you should consider the various layers of your system and have a plan to deal with intruders at every level.  This layered approach will help you develop a good defense.  The layers you should give consideration to include:

 

  • System security – including your system level use of user profiles and regularly rotated passwords.  For most IBM i shops, this will be your last line of defense, so plan it well.  Consider using longer passwords or pass phases that are now supported by the IBM i OS.
  • Network security – this commonly involves implementation of a firewall between your network and the Internet but can also include services available from your ISP.  On the IBM i there are also things that can be done at the IBM i OS server level via exit programs that can address network security issues.
  • Application security – your applications should be designed to integrate with your security policies.  Application software can easily be misused and abused and your applications should be designed with this in mind, especially those applications that are open to network and Internet users.
  • Transmission security – when you use an uncontrolled network like the Internet, your data will be open to anyone while it is in transit from one place to another.  To protect your data, you need to consider encryption techniques and the use of Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) on your IBM i along with encryption.  Encryption should be required for all 5250 terminal connections.

In your plan for Network and Internet security, you need to have a plan for each of these layers of control in order to safeguard your system.  And, even then, a bully or a sneak might still get past you, so watch out.

If you have questions about details of this tip, feel free to contact me directly by email: rich at kisco.com.

Securing Your Programmers

By Rich Loeber

Updated December 11, 2018

If you are like most IBM i security officers, you probably cut your teeth in the IT field by doing some programming.  It might even be that you still get involved in programming and your role as security officer is a part-time role.  So, you have an appreciation of the special problem that programmers pose for system security in your environment.  This article will take a look at this issue and offer some suggestions.

The problems are many.  First, programmers know how things are handled internally in your systems and know how to get around in the system.  If a programmers wants to get at some secured information, they probably have the knowhow to do it.  Secondly, programmers have a regular need to access all of the data on your system in their testing role during project implementation.  Lastly, programmers tend to see security as a hindrance to getting their work done.  (I once knew a programmer who knew OS internals on a S370 I was working on and found a trick he could use to submit his program compiles so they would always go to the head of the line in the compilation job queue.  Nobody could figure out how he was getting so many compiles done while everyone else had to sit around and wait.)

Your responsibility as security officer is to create an environment for programmers that is secure yet lets them get their important work done effectively.  These are not always compatible goals.  Here are some ideas you can consider:

  • Even though they will tell you they need it, do not grant all special authorities to your programmers.  Only give them the special authorities that they need to get their work done.  Nobody except a security officer profile should have *ALLOBJ authority.
  • Set your programmers up in a group, but don’t associate them with the special QPGMR profile provided by IBM as that has some special qualities that you don’t want associated with your programmers.
  • Don’t let your programmers have direct access to your production libraries.  Set up test libraries and control the distribution of live data into these test libraries.
  • To create test data, set up a special copy program that adopts the necessary authority to create copies of production files in your test environment.  Monitor the use of that program including maintaining an internal log of when it is used and by whom.
  • Programmers often, like my friend from years ago, like to get their compiles right away by running them interactively.  This can wreak havoc on your system performance.  Consider changing the compile commands so that they will only run in batch.  Also, set up your programmers so that they default to the QPGMR subsystem and make sure that it is set to priority 30 so they aren’t stealing valuable CPU cycles from your production environment.  Consider restrict access to the CHGJOB command.
  • When you move an application from testing into production, review all of the data and program objects to make sure that programmer ownership has been removed and that the objects are now all owned by a profile that will be used to control production access.
  • Keep a separate set of source files for program source that is being worked on.  Do not give your programmers open access to the production version of the source code for a program they need to work on.  Move the source in and out of test mode in a controlled way and log when source members are moved in either direction.  You can do this from a special program that adopts the necessary authority to make the source member moves and logs use activity.
  • Don’t let your programmers have passwords that don’t expire.  Every programmer I’ve ever met has a favorite password that they just like to keep.  Don’t let them get away with that practice.  If you programmers don’t practice good password controls, how can you expect your end users to take this seriously.
  • If a programmer insists on *ALLOBJ and can make their case, consider adding security to their user profile by requiring a 2 Factor Authentication (2FA) logon protocol.  If you need a 2FA solution, take a look at Kisco’s i2Pass product.
  • Since IBM i OS 6.1, you can host a client LPAR on your system fairly easily.  Using this capability, you can create a separate partition on your system where the programmers can have full access while still restricting access in your production environment.  You can find an IBM document on how to set that up HERE.  If you are using data from the production environment for testing in your programmer’s partition, you will still need to guard the data.  But, if you only work with test data, then this is a good solution for you.

This list just scratches the surface.  If you have more ideas in this area, let me know so I can share them in a future tip.  You can reach me at rich at kisco.com,  I’ll try to answer your questions.  All email messages will be answered.

Securing IBM i Socket Connections

By Rich Loeber

IBM i has included security exit points for adding protection for platforms that work with connected systems.  These exit points have been included in the IBM i OS for years and have regularly expanded to provide for more and more network applications.  Using the exit points, you can add protection for FTP, ODBC, File Server, Remote Command submissions and much more.  This has gone a long way towards making the IBM i a truly secure platform.

For many years, however, there were a whole group of applications that could run under the radar on the IBM i and not get picked up by the existing exit point traps.  These are socket level communication applications.  The good news is that starting with IBM i 7.2, IBM has added three new exit points to address this issue.

The three exit points added let you control Socket Accepts, Socket Connects and Socket Listens.  Applications that use socket connections can sometimes also use other network services, like FTP or remote commands, which existing exit points will cover; but some applications bypass all other network services and work directly with data at the socket level.  Having control over socket connections is critical to having a secure environment on your IBM i.

The TCP Accept exit point watches for systems trying to establish a connection to your system at the socket level.  Using the exit point, you can control which IP addresses to accept or reject, what user profiles to allow use and even control what TCP/IP port numbers that the connection can use.

The TCP Connect does the same thing as Accept except it is for outward connections from your IBM i system to remote systems.  The same controls can be implemented controlling the IP address, user profile and port number.

The TCP Listen runs on your IBM i and watches for incoming TCP Connects from remote systems.  A typical socket connection starts with a Listen and then proceeds on to the Connect with subsequent Accept.  Following this sequence, socket communication can take place without any other network services being involved.

Some of the existing applications that run on the IBM i and use these socket connections include the Apache HTTP server which does not have any additional exit point control available.  If you want to control who can use a browser on your system, this is a way to approach this issue.

Another area where this can help improve security on your system is by denying that initial contact with your system.  By denying the initial contact, a potential hacker is denied information about the system they are attempting to connect with.  For example, when you try to sign on to your system via FTP and before you even attempt to enter a user profile, the following is what you see for your FTP session:
This clearly identifies your system as IBM i by virtue of the reference to the QTCP user profile.  A savvy hacker will know that and this information will inform their future attempts to gain access to your system.  Many of the other TCP network services on the IBM i return this kind of identifying information in response to connection requests even when an invalid user profile is used.

When you implement socket level controls on your IBM i, you can deny access to all but approved IP addresses and port numbers.  When you do this, then this is what that same FTP access attempt looks like to a hacker:
Denying this connection at the socket level stops the session before any information is sent back to the requester.

Adding implementation of the socket exit points on your system can help you achieve your security goals for the IBM i.  The good news is that you don’t need to code your own solution if you don’t have the time or the talent.  Kisco’s SafeNet/i software, in its recently announced Release 11 of the product, now includes general use implementations of all three of these exit points along with all other security exit points available in the IBM i OS.

If you have questions about details of this tip, feel free to contact me directly by email: rich at kisco.com.

Network Attributes and IBM i Security

By Rich Loeber

Protecting your IBM i system from network users can be a daunting and challenging task.  This tip will give you a few basics about it and, hopefully, get you thinking about this issue.

In the good old days, the IBM i (then called AS/400) was a closed system with the only connections to other systems being dedicated telephone lines running IBM’s SNA protocol.  Control over access from remote users was pretty easy given this environment.  Then, along came networks and the Internet and this all changed.  Soon, every IBM i on the block came with an Ethernet card and TCP/IP enabled.  PCs running PC Support (aka: iSeries Access) replaced dumb terminals and emulation cards and the IBM i became a much more open system.

Now, many users with iSeries Access, can use upload and download utilities to access data on your system and even do entry and updates directly from these utilities.  In fact, many installations have embraced these technology changes and implemented solutions with these capabilities in mind.

But, with the opening up of the system, new security considerations come into play.  Consider the classic situation of a payroll clerk running your company’s payroll application from their trusty old green screen application.  Using secure menu design, you can implement a system that easily restricts this user’s access to the payroll files.  However, the IBM i security for these files will probably be *USE or *CHANGE to allow this user to process updates.  If this user were to experiment with the iSeries Access utilities for download, that level of permission would allow them to quickly and easily download the entire payroll file to their PC, make changes and then upload it back to your system.  That is most probably something that you never had in mind when security was first envisioned for this application.

So, as the security officer, what’s a person to do?

For starters, there are some simple network attribute settings that you can use to implement  controls.  You can view the network attribute settings on your system using the Display Network Attributes (DSPNETA) command and make changes using the Change Network Attributes (CHGNETA) command.  The three network attributes that I want to direct you to in this tip are:

  •     Job action (JOBACN)
  •     Client request access (PCSACC)
  •     DDM request access (DDMACC)

The Job action setting controls how the system will process remote requests to run jobs.  It has three settings which are *REJECT, *FILE and *SEARCH.  The default setting from the factory is *FILE.  If you are concerned about this, just change the default setting to *REJECT and you’re safe.  When it is set to *FILE, the incoming request is queued to a network file for the designated user and the job must then be reviewed and started by the user. *SEARCH sets up a search of the network job table, but that is a topic for an entire tip by itself.

The PCSACC parameter (which has its roots in PC/Support, the early version of Client Access/iSeries Access or whatever name it goes by today), controls how a PC will have access to objects on your system.  This has no bearing at all on the use of the workstation emulator, it is just for object access for the various iSeries Access functions like download, etc.

The possible values for PCSACC are:

  • *REJECT – all object requests are rejected regardless of what they are.
  • *OBJAUT – OS/400 object authority is checked and supported (the default setting).
  •  *REJFAC – the system checks for a registered exit program and passes authentication to the exit program for processing.
  •   program name – the registered program name is called to verify authentication.

If you just don’t want anyone to have object access, then change this parameter to the *REJECT setting.  In this day and age of platform integration, this will often not work for you, so you’ll have to explore the other options. On the surface, *OBJAUT sounds like a good choice, and for many shops it will work nicely.  However, this means that any user profile that is authorized to process and/or update files from an interactive application could also have full access from the iSeries Access side, which may not be ideal for maximum security.  Using a program name or a registered exit point is the best method, but implementing exit point processing is a daunting challenge and much too much for a simple tip article.  I’d recommend that rather than create your own exit programs, you consider purchasing one of the many good third party solutions that are available in today’s market including SafeNet/i from Kisco Information Systems.

The DDM Request Access setting decides how to handle security from remote systems requesting data using the Distributed Data Management functions.  These can be from PCs or from other DDM compatible platforms such as other IBM i systems or even mainframes.

The possible values for the DDMACC are similar to those for PCSACC with the exception that *REJFAC is not offered.  The same advice for this applies as for PCSACC.  The program name option provides the only “exit point” available to control DDM access.

If you have any specific questions about this topic, you can reach me at rich at kisco.com.  I’ll try to answer your questions.  All email messages will be answered.

More About Controlling Access to Spool Files

By Rich Loeber

In my last tip, I talked about controlling access to spool files through implementation of IBM i OS object authority at the output queue level.  In this tip, I’ll be taking a look at three additional parameters that are associated with IBM i output queues that can extend the level of control you have over sensitive reports on your system.

The three parameters in question are:

  • Display any file (DSPAUT)
  • Operator controlled (OPRCTL)
  • Authority to check (AUTCHK)

These three work to give you more control over access to spool files beyond what is available through object level controls on the output queue.

One thing to keep in mind is the proliferation of user profiles with special authority of *SPLCTL.  This is the equivalent of the evil *ALLOBJ authority, but as applied to spool files.  You should restrict granting of *SPLCTL to only those user profiles where it is absolutely required.  As you read on in this tip, remember that if a user profile has *SPLCTL authority, then they can cut through these restrictions as they will not apply (with one exception as noted).

“Display any file” (DSPDTA) is intended to protect the contents of a spool file by setting authority requirements.  There are three values available, *YES, *NO and *OWNER.  Each of these provides progressively increased levels of authority requirements to view, copy or send spool files in the output queue. *YES allows anyone with READ authority to work with files in the output queue. *NO restricts that to the owner, those with *CHANGE authority and those with *SPLCTL special authority. *OWNER further limits this to just the owner profile and any profile with *SPLCTL authority.

“Operator controlled” (OPRCTL) controls whether or not a user with *SPLCTL special authority is allowed open access to this output queue.  The default value on the Create Output Queue (CRTOUTQ) command in the IBM i OS is *YES which is why most output queues are open season for users with *SPLCTL authority.  Changing this value to *NO will force normal object authority rules to control access to the output queue.  If you have an output queue with sensitive information stored and you are concerned about *SPLCTL users gaining access, this is the key parameter value that can save the day for you.

“Authority to check” (AUTCHK) controls how users with *CHANGE authority to the output queue will be given access to change, delete or copy spool files in the queue.  When this is set to *OWNER, only the owner profile of the spool file can change or delete spool files.  Using the value of  *DTAAUT changes this control so that it looks at object level controls for the output queue.

Using these parameters intelligently can give you much added control over how users access (or don’t access) spool files on your system.  Using them in combination can be a little confusing, but if you look in your IBM i OS Security Reference manual under the Work Management section on Securing Spool Files, you will find a full page chart for this set of parameters and how they can be used in combination to achieve your specific objectives.

If you have any specific questions about this topic, you can reach me at rich at kisco.com,  I’ll try to answer your questions.  All email messages will be answered.