Level up your IT security: Extend protection to the mainframe.

December 29, 2023
1 min read

In today’s digital landscape, organizations are facing the challenge of ensuring consistent security across all aspects of their enterprise, including mainframe environments. The main issue lies in the incompatibility of tools designed for both mainframes and enterprise settings, resulting in a lack of uniformity in solutions, training methods, and user experiences. To address this challenge and ensure modern security standards are met, organizations need to extend enterprise IT security to the mainframe.

One essential aspect of security on the mainframe is access control. Organizations need to identify network users and validate their authorization to access sensitive data, typically managed through an identity and access management (IAM) system. However, a lack of consistency arises as the IAM system used in the enterprise may differ from the one employed for mainframe authentication. To achieve comprehensive protection and uniformity, it is crucial to leverage the same IAM system on both the enterprise and the mainframe. This not only strengthens secure host application access but also enables regulatory compliance that helps prevent cyber threats.

When it comes to authentication experiences, organizations must find a balance between convenience and risk mitigation. User-friendly access to information and services is important, but robust security measures are necessary to prevent breaches. Multi-factor authentication (MFA) can be utilized to add an extra layer of security. However, recent cyberattacks have highlighted vulnerabilities in MFA systems, particularly those exploiting human behavior. Therefore, organizations need to carefully consider how to implement MFA effectively and securely.

Mainframe organizations face escalating threats and complex challenges. Many users still rely on insecure eight-character passwords, and managing separate MFA solutions for the mainframe and enterprise can be a struggle. Traditional authentication methods like text messages, emails, and one-time passwords are susceptible to attacks, providing opportunities for threat actors to bypass MFA defenses. To address these challenges, there are several key considerations:

1. Centrally managed host access: Organizations should re-evaluate current host access methods and eliminate insecure passwords by unifying authentication through a trusted MFA solution used in both the enterprise and the mainframe.

2. Secure and zero footprint host access: Exploring cloud-based host access solutions that don’t require desktop installation can offer managed deployment, scalable access, and enhanced security features like centralized control, lockdown capabilities, and encryption.

3. Advanced authentication for mainframe users: Tailoring MFA to specific use cases, considering the needs of privileged users and varied hardware access requirements, can help extend advanced authentication to the mainframe while maintaining consistency.

In the modernization of mainframes, it is essential to address legacy challenges while aligning with modern expectations. Enhanced mainframe capabilities benefit the entire ecosystem and contribute to a dynamic and connected IT environment. By extending enterprise IT security to the mainframe, organizations can achieve greater consistency, uniformity, and protection against cyber threats.

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