Securing the Mainframe: Minding the Details

Mainframe hackers Chad Rikansrud and Phil Young are taking over the keynote presentation at SHARE Sacramento on Tuesday, March 13, to discuss all things mainframe security.

To them, the mainframe is just another computer (albeit one we don't treat as well), and when it comes to securing the mainframe, small details matter. Pervasive Encryption may be considered the silver bullet of security, but alone, it's not enough to truly protect against much more dangerous hackers. Join the world's friendliest hackers in Sacramento to learn why.

In 2017, the SHARE Editorial Staff sat down with Chad and Phil to discuss the risks of an unsecured mainframe. Here are a few excerpts from that blog:

  • “The challenge with mainframe penetration testing is that, for the testers, the vulnerabilities are largely unknown and there is very little support available,” says Phil Young. “This lack of support is one of the key reasons the platform gets overlooked. We also have the problem of core vendors pretending that it is 1999 and hiding vulnerabilities. Finally, CISOs (Chief Information Security Officers) and CROs (Chief Risk Officers) are largely unaware of the risk posed to the enterprise by an unsecured mainframe, both from a data exfiltration risk and a loss of revenue caused by downtime due to an attack.”
  • Chad Rikansrud believes there are a few reasons that mainframes get overlooked when it comes to penetration testing. He says, “First, there isn't the necessary overlap of technical skills between those who deeply understand mainframe technologies and those who are well-versed in the current techniques and adversaries that compose the current threat landscape. Second, there is a widely held fallacy that the mainframe is somehow impenetrable or immune to hacking; this is just simply not true.
  • “Both Phil and I have proven time and again that the same tricks used to exploit x86 and other systems work just fine when ported to the mainframe. Some exploits (e.g., Java-based) don't even require porting and work out of the box.”
  • Rikansrud adds, “Mainframe hacking may not be the loudest or most pressing based on what is reported in the news, but certainly the impact to an organization's bottom line would be devastated by having their mainframe compromised. This cannot be overlooked.”

Click here to read the full article.

Want to learn more from Chad and Phil at SHARE Sacramento? Register by Friday, January 26, to save $200: https://event.share.org/register.

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