Vanguard releases new products to improve mainframe security

IT managers have a new weapon in their battle to protect corporate data, according to Vanguard Integrity Professionals. The software maker says the latest version of its Security Solutions 5.3 gets user names and passwords off of company desks and into a safer place.

“A lot happens in large companies when people write down their passwords and leave it on their desk or drawer,” said Ted Smykla, director of product development and delivery for Vanguard. He added, “If I have access to that, it means I have access to the information on your system.”

To combat that particular problem, the Las Vegas-based company announced last week the inclusion of ez/Token as part of its update to its Security Solutions 5.3. “It is a two-phase authentication process using token technology. This provides additional security authentication…specifically through Resource Access Control Facility (RACF),” Smykla said.

RACF is the IBM Corp. security utility within IBM’s z/OS that controls access to the operating system, as well as protects various applications, data, and functions within the mainframe environment.

Ralph Izzi, vice-president of Vanguard, said it is still important to secure enterprise mainframes.

“One of the things we struggle with in our industry all the time is (the impression) that mainframes are…some sort of dinosaur that is going away. That is absolutely not the case. Fact is that 75 per cent to 85 per cent of the world’s mission critical data still resides on mainframes and 85 per cent of the world’s critical transactions are processed…either directly or indirectly via mainframe,” stated Izzi.

The two-phase authentication process involves a personal identification number (PIN) and a dynamic password that will be displayed in a device slightly larger than a fob (a keyless entry system to buildings) in order for end-users to access their systems. According to Smykla, the password changes every 30 seconds eliminating any need to remember or write down passwords.

Forgetting passwords is also quite common in companies, according to Smykla. Vanguard has come out with another product that will let end users reset their own passwords, eliminating the need to call the help desk and thereby improve efficiency and reduce costs, he said. The end users would register themselves as authorized users, answering one to three questions to confirm their identities.

All of Vanguards offerings are open to systems other than IBM’s, including Microsoft, Sun, and HP. That should enable a company to have a centralized security environment through RACF, Vanguard said.

In addition to these new products, Vanguard also added 44 enhancements, such as detailed reporting capabilities, to its administrator, analyzer, advisor, enforcer, and security centre offerings. These products are used by Canada’s Department of National Defence, among organizations in other industries. The department uses Vanguard’s solutions to monitor and report any new user identifications created or deleted at military bases across the country, as well as changes made to the operating system.

George Mitchell, central RACF security administrator, Canadian Department of National Defence, installed Vanguard’s Security Solutions 5.3 two weeks ago. He has looked at the two new products but is taking a wait and see approach before making any decisions on whether he thinks it will be useful for the department.