File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is a commonly used protocol for transferring files between computers on a network. FTP is widely used in mainframe environments for transferring data between mainframe systems and other systems on the network. However, using FTP can also create security vulnerabilities that can compromise the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of sensitive information.
While organizations must comply with various regulatory and compliance standards set up to protect entities and data, they also must function to provide the goods and services that keep them in business. This used to be more of a balancing act, but with today’s security compliance mindset, there is no other option than to always comply with relevant regulations and secure all data. We will discuss mainframe FTP compliance, the challenges involved in achieving compliance, and the best practices for ensuring mainframe FTP compliance.
Mainframe FTP Compliance
Mainframe FTP compliance refers to the set of regulatory and compliance standards that organizations must comply with when using FTP in a mainframe environment. The primary objective of mainframe FTP compliance is to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of sensitive information during file transfers.
There are various regulatory and compliance standards that apply to mainframe FTP compliance, including the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). These standards outline specific requirements for the secure use of FTP in a mainframe environment. There may be additional compliance standards that need to be followed depending on the industry.
Challenges in Achieving Compliance
Achieving mainframe FTP compliance can be challenging due to the complexity and diversity of mainframe environments. Mainframe systems are often used in industries such as finance, healthcare, and government, where data security is critical. These systems typically have many components, including hardware, software, and networks, that must be configured and managed to comply with regulatory and compliance standards.
Another challenge is the diversity of mainframe environments. Mainframe environments come in various configurations and architectures, and each environment may have unique requirements for FTP compliance. It can be challenging to identify and address all the specific requirements for each environment.
Additionally, many organizations may lack the expertise and resources necessary to achieve FTP compliance. FTP compliance requires specialized knowledge and experience to implement effectively. Many organizations may not have the in-house expertise to implement all the required security controls.
Best Practices for Ensuring Mainframe FTP Compliance
To ensure mainframe FTP compliance, organizations should follow best practices for security and compliance. The following are some of the key best practices for ensuring mainframe FTP compliance:
- Understand the Regulatory and Compliance Requirements: The first step in achieving FTP compliance is to understand the regulatory and compliance requirements. Organizations should carefully review the applicable standards and identify the specific requirements that apply to their mainframe environments. This can help organizations prioritize their efforts and focus on the most critical areas of compliance.
- Develop a Compliance Plan: Once the regulatory and compliance requirements have been identified, organizations should develop a compliance plan. The compliance plan should include a detailed roadmap for implementing the required security controls, including timelines, milestones, and responsibilities. The compliance plan should also include a process for monitoring and reporting on compliance progress.
- Assess FTP Configuration: Before implementing the required security controls, organizations should assess the current FTP configuration of their mainframe environments. This assessment should identify any areas of non-compliance and provide a baseline for tracking compliance progress. The assessment should also identify any configuration changes that may be required to achieve compliance.
- Implement Security Controls: After assessing the FTP configuration, organizations should begin implementing the required security controls. This may involve configuring FTP server and client software, implementing access controls, and configuring network security. Organizations should follow best practices for security and compliance when implementing the required security controls.
- Test and Validate Compliance: Once the security controls have been implemented, organizations should test and validate compliance. This may involve conducting penetration testing, vulnerability scanning, and security audits. Testing and validation can help identify any remaining vulnerabilities or non-compliance.
- Regularly Monitor and Update FTP Controls: Maintaining compliance with regulatory and compliance standards
Options to Secure FTP and Achieve FTP Compliance
A popular way to secure all file transfers to and from z/OS is by implementing FTPS or SFTP on the mainframe and requiring all file transfers be made using the secure system. The Peeling the Onion post and webinars help highlight the pros and cons of each method to send files to and from the mainframe.
Peeling the Onion!
Exploring Mainframe File Transfer Methods & Best Options for Security
Watch as we peel back the layers of the SFTP onion.