September 28, 2023
By Nick Graham - Solution Architect – Public Sector, Skyhigh Security
In an era of evolving cyber threats, mainframes, the bedrock of many organizations, face an array of security challenges. While these computing behemoths have been resilient, traditional security measures often fall short. The fusion of a Security Service Edge (SSE) solution, fortified with zero trust principles, offers a holistic defense strategy for these critical systems.
1. Secure Access with Contextual Analysis:
Beyond mere credentials, a SSE solution with zero trust capabilities introduces a multi-dimensional authentication process. Factors like device, location, and behavioral patterns play pivotal roles in granting access, ensuring that even valid credentials don’t guarantee unauthorized entry.
2. Microsegmentation: A Labyrinthine Defense
Microsegmentation divides the mainframe into smaller, controlled zones. Each segment becomes its fortress, ensuring that a breach in one doesn’t compromise the whole, trapping attackers in isolated segments.
3. Continuous Authentication: The Ever-Watchful Sentinel
Modern SSE solutions offer continuous authentication, monitoring user sessions for anomalies. A sudden data download or a device switch? The session is instantly terminated, curtailing threats in real-time.
4. Encrypted Data Tunnels: The Shield Against Data Interception
A robust SSE solution provides Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA), which utilizes encrypted data tunnels, ensuring secure communication pathways. Data is encrypted at the source and decrypted at the destination using modern encryption protocols, such as Transport Security Layer (TLS). This ZTNA tool, combined with encrypted tunnels, ensures that data, even when intercepted, remains indecipherable, offering an added layer of protection.
5. Device Security Posture Check: The Entry Gatekeeper
Every device undergoes a rigorous security check before connecting. Outdated software, missing patches, or malware? Access denied, ensuring vulnerabilities are addressed at the outset.
6. Limiting Privilege Escalation: The Guardrails Within
The zero trust model ensures users operate within strict boundaries, accessing only what’s essential, acting as internal guardrails against potential insider threats.
7. Real-time Monitoring: The Constant Vigil
With SSE solutions, the mainframe is under constant watch. Every data packet, every user movement is scrutinized, enabling rapid threat detection and mitigation.
Use Case: The TN3270 Vulnerability
Consider the vulnerability of the TN3270 terminal connection to mainframes. Without encrypted tunnels, data transferred via TN3270 can be easily intercepted, especially since it often travels in clear text. By implementing encrypted tunnels via a ZTNA solution, every piece of data transferred via TN3270 is encrypted, ensuring that even if someone eavesdrops on the connection, they can’t decipher the data.
Encrypted tunnels also play a crucial role in thwarting Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) attacks. In a MitM attack, an attacker secretly intercepts and possibly alters the communication between two parties. With encrypted tunnels, even if an attacker manages to position themselves in the middle, they can’t decipher or alter the data due to the encryption in place.
Mainframes, with their legacy and significance, deserve state-of-the-art protection. The combination of Skyhigh SSE and zero trust principles offers a comprehensive, multi-layered defense strategy. It’s a paradigm shift from mere perimeter defense to a holistic, in-depth protection mechanism, ensuring that our mainframes remain the unbreachable fortresses they were always meant to be.
For those vested in mainframe security, the future beckons with promise. Let’s embrace modern solutions for our age-old systems and fortify our digital realms.
Interested in discussing the nuances of SSE and zero trust for mainframe security? Reach out to Skyhigh Security and request a demo.
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