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Mainframe Vulnerability Management: Navigating the Demands of DORA and PCI 4.0

John Crossno

In today’s evolving cyber landscape, threats to cybersecurity are continually shifting, and both new attacks and resurging old ones pose significant risks to organizations. Particularly in the finance and banking sectors, the stakes are incredibly high. Given that 91% of mainframe organizations have experienced a breach within the last five years, the need for robust security measures is not just advisable; it’s imperative.

Cybercriminals target any organization with resources worth plundering, including yours. Read How to Start a Mainframe Vulnerability Management Program to learn how your security tools and strategies must constantly evolve to keep up with this complex reality.

The Evolving Cyberthreat Landscape

Cybercriminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated, leveraging advanced technologies and AI-driven initiatives to enhance their phishing and hacking capabilities. These well-funded entities are challenging to counter, making it essential for security strategies to evolve in tandem. It’s no longer sufficient to rely on outdated methods; organizations must adopt comprehensive approaches to protect their infrastructure—mainframes included.

The Importance of Mainframe Security

Mainframes often serve as the backbone of an organization’s IT infrastructure, handling critical data and transactions. Despite their robust nature, mainframes are not immune to vulnerabilities. Traditional configuration-based vulnerability scanning offers a level of protection but failing to address code-based vulnerabilities at the operating system level leaves a significant gap in your defenses. The cost of neglecting these vulnerabilities can be staggering, running into millions if breaches occur.

Regulatory Pressures: DORA and PCI DSS 4.0

Regulatory bodies are acutely aware of the evolving threat landscape and are increasingly mandating more rigorous security measures. Enter DORA (Digital Operational Resilience Act) and PCI 4.0 (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard). Both frameworks underscore the necessity for frequent and comprehensive vulnerability scanning.


DORA emphasizes the importance of operational resilience in the financial sector. It mandates that organizations implement mechanisms to promptly identify and manage ICT-related incidents, including those affecting mainframes. Regular and thorough vulnerability scans are a cornerstone of this approach, ensuring that potential weaknesses are identified and rectified before they can be exploited.

PCI 4.0

PCI 4.0, on the other hand, focuses on protecting payment data through stringent security controls. This latest iteration requires businesses to perform multiple vulnerability scans annually, covering all aspects of their technology stack, including mainframes. The emphasis is on proactive identification and mitigation of risks, reflecting a shift towards more dynamic and continuous compliance requirements.

Without operating system integrity, there can be no system security. Learn what it takes to scan for mainframe vulnerabilities and how to keep your system secure by reading the full whitepaper.

Actionable Steps for Compliance and Security

To align with DORA and PCI 4.0, and to safeguard your organization against cyber threats, here are some actionable steps:

Implement Comprehensive Scanning: Ensure that your vulnerability management strategy includes both configuration-based and code-based scanning methods. This dual approach will provide a more holistic view of potential threats.

Increase Scan Frequency: Regular scans should be conducted multiple times per year, as mandated by regulations. This helps in early detection and prompt remediation of vulnerabilities.

Cultivate a Security-First Culture: Inspire your teams to prioritize security by embracing organizational change, learning about the latest threats, and adopting scalable risk management practices. Stay ahead of evolving regulations and protect your organization with a proactive mindset.

Collaborate with Experts: Engage with cybersecurity experts to ensure that your strategies are aligned with the latest best practices and regulatory requirements.


Mainframe vulnerability management is no longer an option; it’s a necessity. With the increasing sophistication of cyber threats and the stringent demands of regulations like DORA and PCI 4.0, organizations must prioritize regular, comprehensive vulnerability scans. By doing so, you not only ensure compliance but also significantly bolster your defenses against potential breaches.

For those looking to stay ahead in this dynamic landscape, adopting a proactive and comprehensive approach to mainframe security is key. Read How to Start a Mainframe Vulnerability Management Program today to protect your organization, secure your data, and ensure your operations remain resilient against the ever-looming cyber threats.