PowerTech Puts a Pretty Face on Network Security
October 7, 2014 Alex Woodie
When it debuted in 1996, PowerTech‘s Network Security was the first commercial tool to lock down network exit points that posed security risks in OS/400. The product has proven its value in the field with thousands of deployments over the years. And with last week’s Network Security update, the product’s decidedly green look and feel was freshened up with a new Web-based UI.
Network Security is designed to prevent unauthorized access to IBM i resources over the network. Its main function is to monitor and control access to more than 30 exit points in the IBM i OS, including network access points such as FTP and ODBC that are not controlled through the platform’s traditional menu-based security paradigm.
While the software has always provided a way for users to monitor network traffic passing through the server and actions that Network Security was taking on the traffic, it didn’t necessarily make that easy. In today’s age, people expect advanced graphics and other visualizations, and so the reliance on a 5250 interface to determine the status of protection was not ideal.
So with the launch of Network Security 6.5, the HelpSystems subsidiary decided to spruce up the old interface and give the people what they wanted. The result is a new HTML5-based dashboard interface that runs equally well on a desktop, a tablet, and a smartphone.
As PowerTech’s Director of Security Technologies Robin Tatam explains, the new interface should make it easier for users to monitor the state of their IBM i servers from any device.
“The primary objective of the new dashboard is to provide additional visibility to the transactions coming from the network,” he tells IT Jungle. “Customers have shared with us that exit program solutions have traditionally been a solution where ‘no news is good news’ and we know that this can sometimes create a challenge of keeping people trained and aware of what could actually be happening behind the scenes.”
Users will be able to view permitted and rejected transactions through the new dashboard, which the folks at PowerTech are calling a Web user interface, or WUI. But the software goes beyond that and gives the user the capability to do some real-time reporting on the transaction activity.
Specifically, the dashboard should give the user insight into the volume of transactions, broken down into those that were accepted and those that were rejected. This information can be presented over a period of time for all of the servers being monitored.
“The screen can be set to auto-refresh on different intervals to provide timely notification of activities,” Tatam adds. “Of course, we have other notification mechanisms available, but this is one more way that PowerTech is committed to keeping our platform at the forefront of security in the data center.”
The software also brings advanced filtering, predictive text, and search-within-a-search functionality, which should help cut down on the amount of time required to find and customize security rules, the company says.
Of course, Network Security customers don’t have to use the new WUI. They can stay entirely within the green screen if they like. But those who do adopt the WUI will get access to most of the product’s underlying functionality.
There are a few things you can’t do in the WUI yet, but they’re on the product roadmap. Similarly, there are several things you can do in the WUI that you just can’t recreate in ASCII art, Tatam adds.