Mainframes have been used for decades in industries that require large-scale processing and secure storage of sensitive data. While mainframes are known for their reliability and security, they are not immune to cyber threats.
In recent years, organizations in every industry have seen a dramatic uptick in security compliance requirements, with many of the new requirements targeting the mainframe. It is important for organizations to comply with regulatory requirements to ensure the security and confidentiality of data stored on mainframes.
Here are some of the key components of mainframe security compliance:
- Regulatory Compliance
- Access Control
- Physical Security
- Network Security
- Auditing and Monitoring
- Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity
- Training and Awareness
Organizations must follow industry-specific regulations and standards that apply to their business. They must comply with a variety of regulatory frameworks such as GDPR, HIPAA, PCI DSS, and more. These regulations have been established to protect sensitive data from unauthorized access, theft, and misuse. Organizations must be familiar with which regulations they must comply with, then follow regulations on all their systems, especially on the mainframe where critical and sensitive data is often stored.
Access control is a critical component of mainframe security. Organizations must ensure that access to the mainframe is limited to authorized personnel only and limit access within the mainframe. User access controls must be enforced to ensure that users can only access the data they need to perform their job functions. Access to the mainframe must be controlled through secure authentication and authorization mechanisms such as passwords, tokens, and biometric authentication.
Physical security is another key component of mainframe security compliance. Organizations must ensure that mainframes are housed in secure data centers that are equipped with environmental controls, fire suppression systems, and other safety measures. Access to the data center must be controlled and monitored. Visitors must be subject to strict identification and clearance procedures. Physical security must also extend to the storage media used in mainframes. Sensitive data must be stored on encrypted tapes or other storage media that cannot be accessed by unauthorized individuals.
Network security is an important component of mainframe compliance. Mainframes should be isolated from external networks such as the internet to reduce the risk of cyber attacks. Organizations must implement firewalls and intrusion detection systems to monitor and control incoming and outgoing network traffic. Access to the mainframe must be controlled through secure virtual private networks (VPNs) and other security measures.
Encryption is another important component of mainframe security compliance. Sensitive data must be encrypted to ensure that it cannot be accessed by unauthorized individuals. Organizations must ensure that encryption keys are stored securely and that encryption algorithms are kept up-to-date to maintain the security of encrypted data. With quantum computing capabilities just around the corner, it’s important to use “quantum-safe” algorithms.
Auditing and monitoring are essential components of all security compliance mandates. Organizations must implement audit trails and logs to track user activity on the mainframe. This information can be used to detect unauthorized access attempts and other security incidents. Organizations must regularly review audit trails to ensure that users are complying with security policies and procedures.
Disaster recovery and business continuity planning are important aspects of running any business and also are featured prominently in compliance regulations. Organizations must have plans in place to ensure that mainframe operations can continue in the event of a disaster or other disruption. These plans should include backup and recovery procedures, redundant systems, and other measures to ensure that data and applications are available when needed.
Training and awareness are critical components of mainframe compliance. Employees must be trained on security policies and procedures. Mainframe administrators must be aware of their responsibilities for maintaining the security and confidentiality of sensitive data. Organizations must also conduct regular security awareness training to ensure that employees are up-to-date on the latest security threats and best practices.
Following relevant security compliance regulations will help maintain the security and integrity of sensitive data stored on mainframe systems. Organizations must comply with regulatory frameworks, implement access controls, ensure physical and network security, encrypt sensitive data, implement auditing and monitoring, have disaster recovery and business continuity plans in place, and provide training and awareness for employees. Mainframe compliance is an ongoing process that requires continuous monitoring and improvement.
Organizations that implement security-focused tools on the mainframe will be in a better position to comply with their security compliance requirements. They are also much less likely to have a major security breach.