The Mainframe Isn’t Fort Knox: Cloud and Mobile Make Security a Bigger Priority

By Andrew Grzywacz

As the time-tested workhouse of the IT world, the mainframe has cultivated a reputation over the years as a cybersecurity fortress. And, in the days of the on-premises corporate LAN, it was a well-deserved reputation. The unique set-up of the mainframe within a company’s IT infrastructure, coupled with the firewall and AV perimeter security established around company endpoints (e.g., computers connected to the network), made it so that mainframes were relative safe havens for data processing and storage – far more so than, say, the average individual desktop that had to rely on levels of AV and AS protection to keep safe from hackers (and often times that still wouldn’t cut it).

But those were the old days. The era of the on-premises corporate LAN has given way to a new era of cloud-based networking and ubiquitous mobile access. These new services and devices allow employees to access and transmit data faster and more conveniently than ever before. They also put more holes into the walls of mainframe security. More access points to critical data within the mainframe means more potential vulnerabilities for malicious hackers to exploit.

No mainframe is an island; you can no longer trust that the mainframe, just by virtue of being a mainframe, is out of reach from the more dangerous parts of the internet. If the mainframe was traditionally looked at as a digital Fort Knox, then the combination of mobile access, cloud computing and Big Data processing have swung the vault doors open.

This isn’t to say that the mainframe is fundamentally flawed or unsecure – far from it! It means that enterprises and the IT professionals assigned to oversee their mainframe systems have to bring a little extra TLC to how their z Systems are utilizing proper security protocols in an age where cybersecurity (or a lack thereof) holds tremendous consequences.

IBM z Systems anticipate the need for more sophisticated cybersecurity in an age when a single, zero-day vulnerability can be exploited into millions of dollars in lost revenue and data. With new solutions geared toward enterprise data security and mobile computing available, it’s imperative that today’s mainframe professionals are taking the appropriate steps necessary – from incorporating new mainframes to educating themselves on the security risks they face and best practices for steering clear of them – to modernize their mainframe environments by leveraging equally modernized security solutions.

The mainframe may not be the Fort Knox of your enterprise, but smart planning, education and solution deployment for the cloud, mobile and Big Data can ensure that the mainframe is well-suited to weather today’s security threats.

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