Syncsort Unveils MFA, Bolsters IBM i Security Suites
July 30, 2018 Alex Woodie
Syncsort last week unveiled new security and auditing capabilities for its IBM i user base, including a new multi-factor authentication (MFA) solution dubbed the Cilasoft Reinforced Authentication Manager for IBM i, as well as new releases of the Cilasoft and Enforcive security suites.
Developing and selling security software has become one of the focuses for Syncsort, the Pearl River, New York, company that previously concentrated on developing mainframe data integration solutions and extract, transfer, and load (ETL) technology for distributed Hadoop clusters.
Since it merged with IBM i high availability vendor Vision Solutions last year, Syncsort has acquired several IBM i security vendors, including Cilasoft, Enforcive, and Townsend Security, and company executives say more are deals possibly on the way.
As part of the rebranding initiative that started earlier this year, Syncsort has grouped its HA/disaster recovery and security products under the Assure line of products (the other brands are Optimize, Integrate, and Advance). The thinking behind that grouping, Syncsort has explained to IT Jungle, is that both security and HA/DR solutions are similar in that they’re intended to protect businesses from disruption. And at least on IBM i, they both rely in part on the same journaling technology, they said.
In terms of product news, Syncsort announced that it is shipping new releases of two security products, including the Cilasoft Compliance and Security Suite for IBM i, and the Enforcive Enterprise Security Suite. It also announced a net-new addition to the security team, the Cilasoft Reinforced Authentication Manager for IBM i, which goes by RAMi for short.
Both the Cilasoft and Enforcive security suites offer similar capabilities in terms of detecting potential security gaps in the security IBM i server (which are commonly misconfigured security settings in the IBM i operating system) and suggesting ways to remediate or fill them. However, there are important distinctions between the products.
The Enforcive security suite focuses on examining common IBM i administrative topics like use of powerful user profiles, default passwords, library authorities, exit programs, and system values. The Cilasoft security tools, on the other hand, excel in tracking changes to the operating system and the integrated Db2 for i database through its powerful journal-tracking software, dubbed QJRN/400 as well as applying data-centric security rules through its CONTROLER product.
Syncsort said that it’s delivering new releases of the Enforcive and Cilasoft suites to bolster data protection and to help customers comply with the new regulatory landscape. A big part of that job is helping IBM i shops navigate and achieve compliance with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which went into effect on May 25.
The company also delivered RAMi, a new Cilasoft product that’s designed to streamline a host of authentication and password-related challenges, including the delivery of multi-factor authentication (MFA) functions that are increasingly being required as a way to protect against unauthorized access to sensitive programs and data.
According to Syncsort’s data sheet, RAMi can be used with the IBM i OS’s 5250 sign-on screen or invoked on demand. Upon entering their user ID, users are prompted to enter something they know (their password) and something they have (a token) to gain entry to the system.
Syncsort offers three options for generating tokens to be used with RAMi, including:
- Cilasoft-generated token. These codes are sent via email or as a pop-up screen in the IBM i environment. Syncsort recommends this for “less-demanding environments.”
- A RADIUS-generated token. RADIUS is a standard protocol used for MFA, and Syncsort has included a native IBM i RADIUS client that works with existing RADIUS-based authenticators or servers.
- An RSA-generated token. Dell’s RSA subsidiary is a leader in MFA and RAMi is certified compliant with RSA’s SecureID technology and its RADIUS servers and cloud services, which support a variety of MFA token-delivery methods (SMS message, voicemail) in addition to biometrics (fingerprint and iris recognition).
According to Syncsort, RAMi also includes a rules engine that allows IBM i shops to use MFA with certain groups of high-risk customers (but not others) based on various criteria. Those criteria include whether the user is registered or unregistered; whether they’re a member of a certain user group; whether they possess special authorities; which IP address they’re attempting to log in from; specific days or times the log-in request occurs in; and whether they’re authenticating from a specific subsystem or iASP.
A common theme across all three of the new or enhanced products Syncsort unveiled is ensuring compliance with new security rules. The company cited a recent survey that suggests 52 percent of Power Systems users are investing in compliance auditing and reporting in 2018. What’s more, 28 percent of Power Systems respondents said they “anticipate growing regulatory complexity as a security challenge in the coming year,” the company says.
“The trend to ensure organizations adequately protect personal data from theft and misuse has driven increasingly strict data privacy regulations like GDPR. This has fueled the rise of regulatory compliance to become a top priority for most IT organizations,” David Hodgson, Syncsort’s chief product officer, says in a statement accompanying he announcement. “The new capabilities in our IBM i security products can be used to help avoid building compliance models from scratch.”
The company will discuss the new product capabilities during a webinar on August 14 at 11 a.m. EDT. You can register for the event here.