DND puts Vanguard on sensitive mainframe data

The Department of National Defence has upgraded its security software to protect sensitive information stored on its zSeries mainframe, the department’s foundation for centralized security.

DND realized it needs to concentrate

management of its security system to better handle thousands of users with access to the same pool of information, explained George Mitchell, an IT security analyst with the department in Ottawa.

He said DND personnel have rights to department data only on a “”need-to-know basis”” depending on their security clearance level.

One of DND’s objectives was finding a “”a tool that could do the job for us with less manpower,”” he explained. Michell said he’s the central Resource Access Control Facility (RACF) administrator for the DND mainframe and has group administrators across the country.

“”Think of me as God, or Jesus, and I have my disciples. So at the application level, my disciples take over and administer RACF from an application perspective.

“”If I see something I don’t like, based on findings from Vanguard, then I’ll talk to my guys and say, ‘Ok, why did you do this? This is not the standard.'””

DND chose Vanguard Security Solutions 5.3 from Vanguard Integrity Professionals of Las Vegas, an IBM partner, and has been using the version for two weeks, an upgrade from 5.2. DND has been an IBM shop since 1985 and has always used RACF, according to Mitchell.

With the help of Vanguard tools, Mitchell “”more or less (has) a picture of what has transpired from a RACF perspective on a daily basis. I can see more from a Unix perspective than I ever could before,”” he said, refusing to divulge specifics out of security concerns.

Jim Porell, chief architect for zSeries software at IBM in Poughkeepsie, NY, said DND is using some of Vanguard’s audit and compliance analysis tools to ensure it supports legislation related to corporate governance, Sarbanes-Oxley.

Porell said Vanguard technology has allowed DND to reduce “”some of that security, authentication and administration complexity”” that comes from having to sign in on different platforms in a distributed computing environment.

An “”enterprise view of the world”” also applies to the upgraded features DND has signed up for. “”So there’s less work required to correlate audit records across both of the platforms because it’s all captured in a single place.””

Moreover, he said, moving to the next software version has cut risks for DND. “”Correlation, no matter how good it is, is going to take some time. Is there a window? Did you miss something?””

At the same time as protecting information, government agencies across national borders must share information about government infrastructure in an age of increasing security threats that have inextricably linked countries, said Porell.

For its part, he said, DND is trying to make department data, once strongly concealed, available to others within the Canadian defence community.

Porell said Vanguard has more than 600 “”big-ticket”” customers using portions of its security software suite, which consists of 11 capabilities. He added DND is using four: Analyzer, Compliance, Enforcer and Administrator.

Although Mitchell has experienced no problems with the latest software version, he added the implementation is still in its early days.

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