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Make the Most of Mainframe Security Services

Milan Shetti

At a time where emerging technologies are grabbing headlines, it’s easy to overlook the importance of mainframe systems. Doing so, however, would be a mistake. Some of a business’ most sensitive data is stored, tightly locked away, on mainframe systems. There’s a reason that—according to a Rocket Software survey, over half (51%) of IT leaders rely on mainframe systems to handle all, or nearly all, core business applications.

But even for a highly secure system like the mainframe, risks still exist. And as new technologies and approaches, like the integration of open source, find their way onto the mainframe, securing IT infrastructure is essential to business success long term. Couple that with the arrival of new regulations and compliance requirements, particularly the Digital Operational Resilience Act (DORA) and PCI 4.0, IT leaders face an increasingly complex security landscape.

To meet those challenges, IT leaders should prioritize working with a trusted partner who can deliver security services that help improve data governance, ensure compliance and identify security vulnerabilities before they can cause problems.

So, where to start? Here are three security services that should be at the top of every IT leader’s list.

Mainframe Integrity Assessments

Even the most secure systems are not infallible. Mainframe code vulnerabilities exist in virtually all z/OS systems. That means there are always gaps for hackers to exploit—even a single bad line of code or third-party software can wind up costing businesses millions of dollars in losses and liabilities. Mainframe integrity assessments emphasize catching those vulnerabilities quickly, before they cause tangible problems. As regulations, like DORA, continue to take hold, these services will be a must-have to help meet critical risk assessment requirements.

Leveraging this service, IT leaders can get answers to critical questions around their existing mainframe systems like, how many SVCs, PC routines or APF libraries have vulnerabilities? What was their CVSS score? Which vendor? All are critical pieces of information when it comes to spotting and stopping a potentially devastating breach.

Compliance Assessments

Maintaining effective mainframe security means that policies all need to be aligned with the way systems are run and managed. Even a system like the mainframe, that’s been around for a long time, still undergoes a great deal of change and evolution, particularly with the integration of emerging technologies and open source or third-party software. Failing to regularly assess the state of the security configurations and how they map back to overarching company security policies could leave an organization open to insider threats.

By implementing regular compliance assessments, IT leaders can take a base-line approach to their security configurations and build a continuous process for identifying and alerting instances in which critical system configurations drift from policy. Whether that’s ensuring the right people have access to the right data, understanding how pervasive data access actually is, or if security parameters are in line with corporate policy, conducting these assessments gives IT leaders a deeper level of insight into their overall compliance.

Regular Penetration Testing

Hackers are always looking for a way into otherwise secure systems. The best way to stop them is to find those vulnerabilities before they can. As mentioned with integrity assessments, DORA requires organizations to conduct regular assessments and scans of their IT systems. That means IT leaders need to implement regular penetration testing as part of their security practices. Penetration testing—an ethical security assessment methodology aimed at identifying weaknesses in IT systems—leverages a mix of human, machine-driven or physical approaches to uncover hidden weaknesses that exist within an organization’s systems and processes.

Looking ahead to the future, IT risks are not slowing down anytime soon. Establishing a consistent, regular cadence of proactive security processes, like penetration testing, will be one of the most important tools in an IT leader’s security toolbelt.

Make the Most of Security Services

Digital transformation, emerging technologies and evolving regulations have made the world of managing IT infrastructure security a complex one to manage. But that doesn’t mean IT leaders need to face those complexities alone. Taking advantage of services delivered by a trusted expert and partner, IT security teams can tackle even the most complex security challenges, ensuring and maintaining compliance and preventing disaster before it ever has a chance to strike.

Learn more about how Rocket Software's mainframe security services can help keep your IT operations protected.