Security and Systems Management Newsletter for the IBM i             March 26, 2014 - Vol 4, Issue 5
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Feature Article

The Threat - Invisible Data Theft on IBM i

By Dan Riehl -

How many times has your most sensitive data file been downloaded today?

For most of us, the honest answer is "I Don't Know".

That's Exactly Right! How could you possibly know?

Our great IBM i (iSeries and AS/400) has long been considered a security strongbox—a hacker's worst nightmare. Some even consider it to be unhackable. This gross misconception has caused some of us to become complacent in our due diligence related to the security and integrity of our systems and sensitive data. But IBM i security cannot rely upon it's perceived obscurity as sufficient protection in a world of potentially malicious insiders and highly trained and well-financed cyber criminals.

According to the Open Security Foundation Data Loss Database, since 2013, almost a billion people have had their personal or credit card information hacked, stolen, lost, or misplaced. Hundreds of high profile computer-related data thefts occur every year; often numerous occurrences per day. To view those of public record, you can visit the OSF's Data Loss Database. According to their Data Loss Database's published list of compromised companies, we can tell that some of these major incidents are occurring at IBM i shops, both large and small.

Securing the data on the IBM i is made especially difficult by our ubiquitous tools(e.g. FTP, ODBC, DDM) that access our data but leave no footprints. How can you reasonably expect to protect the sensitive information in your care when it can be accessed without your knowledge?

Invisible Data Access Methods

When a thief steals your car, you know it. But how can you know when someone has stolen a sensitive database file? The file is still there and there are no traces of any access to the file. But, that doesn't prove that the file hasn't been breached or stolen.

IBM ships the IBM i with a variety of data access tools, many of which access data invisibly. We often add third-party data query tools, and we even write our own data access methods using socket programs and the database APIs. Although non-IBM data access tools might reside on your systems, I want to focus this article on the built-in IBM-supplied tools that access data, and do not leave a trace of the activity.

If I download a database file using FTP or the IBM i Access for Windows file transfer facility, there's no built-in audit trail of that activity. There is no FTP log for the FTP server and no logging or history of IBM i Access for Windows file transfers. These file transfers are invisible, even to the system administrator. If I use one of these common tools to download an employee personnel file, a payroll file, a customer file, or any other file to my PC, you can't know it. Neither the IBM FTP server nor the IBM-supplied file transfer facility makes or keeps a record of that activity.

What about using ODBC applications, Distributed Data Management (DDM), and other data access methods shipped as part of IBM i? All data movement using these services is invisible.

Read More

In This Issue

Featured Article - Invisible Data Theft

Security Shorts - Save Spooled Files

Industry News and Calendar

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Security Shorts - Get a Full Backup of your Spooled Files

By Dan Riehl

Even when you use the SAVE Menu option to "Save the Entire System", your Spooled Files are NOT saved. None of the bulk SAVE operations on the IBM supplied SAVE menu will save your spooled files. If you need to restore your system, or a specific spooled file, you are "toast" if all you use is the SAVE menu option.

Since V5R4 we have had the capability to save the spooled file reports residing in our output queues. Prior to V5R4, when you saved an output queue, or saved a library containing output queues, only the output queue object itself was saved, not the contents(the spooled file reports) in the output queue.

Since the V5R4 upgrade, many of us have not updated our backup routines to take advantage of this new support. Instead, when we save a library or an output queue, we still only save the output queue object, but not the spooled files contained in the output queue.

The following command saves all objects in the PRODLIB library, including all the spooled files in all the output queues that reside in the library:


When you do a SAVLIB(Save Library) or SAVOBJ(Save Object) command, you must specify SPLFDTA(*ALL) in order to save the spooled files in the saved output queues. The parameter SPLFDTA(*ALL) is the key to saving the spooled files.

I encourage you to update your backup routines to begin saving your spooled files. But, perhaps you are using the IBM supplied SAVE menu to perform your backups, and not a home grown backup program. Or perhaps your vendor supplied backup software does not give you the option to save your spooled files. If that is the case, then here is a simple solution. Below is the source code for a Control Language program you can use that will save all of the output queues on your system and will save all of the spooled files in those output queues. This would be a nice program to add to your weekly backup routine.

Note: In this program you must replace 'TAP02' with the name of your backup device.

            PGM        /* Save Spooled Files  */       
            DCL        VAR(&MSGID) TYPE(*CHAR) LEN(7)     
            DCL        VAR(&MSGF) TYPE(*CHAR) LEN(10)   
            DCL        VAR(&MSGFLIB) TYPE(*CHAR) LEN(10)          
            DCL        VAR(&MSGDTA) TYPE(*CHAR) LEN(100)          
            DCLF       FILE(QADSPOBJ)                             
            MONMSG     MSGID(CPF0000) EXEC(GOTO ERROR)            
            DSPOBJD    OBJ(*ALL/*ALL) OBJTYPE(*OUTQ) +            
                         OUTPUT(*OUTFILE) OUTFILE(QTEMP/QADSPOBJ) 
LOOP:       RCVF                                                  
            MONMSG     MSGID(CPF0864) EXEC(GOTO CMDLBL(ENDIT))    
            SAVOBJ     OBJ(&ODOBNM) LIB(&ODLBNM) DEV(TAP02) +     
                         OBJTYPE(*OUTQ) SPLFDTA(*ALL)      
            GOTO LOOP                                                       
ENDIT:      RETURN                                                         
                         MSGF(&MSGF) SNDMSGFLIB(&MSGFLIB)                   
            MONMSG     CPF0000 /* Just in case */                           
            SNDPGMMSG  MSGID(&msgid) MSGF(&msgflib/&msgf) MSGDTA(&msgdta) + 
            MONMSG     CPF0000 /* Just in case */                           

When it comes time to recover a deleted spooled file, or an entire output queue, you can use the command RSTOBJ(Restore Object) to restore the saved output queue, including the spooled files.

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