The mainframe has proven to be remarkably secure over the years, racking up the highest security certifications available. But there is still room for improvement. Earlier this month, Compuware announced Application Audit, a software tool that aims to transform mainframe cybersecurity and compliance through real-time capture of user behavior.

Capturing user behavior, especially in real-time, is seemingly impossible if you have to rely on the data your collect from the various logs and SMF data. Compuware’s solution, Application Audit, in conjunction with Syncsort and Splunk, fully captures and analyzes start-to-finish mainframe application user behavior.

As Compuware explains: Most enterprises still rely on disparate logs and SMF data from security products such as RACF, CA-ACF2 and CA-Top Secret to piece together user behavior.  This is too slow if you want to capture bad behavior while it’s going on. Some organizations try to apply analytics to these logs but that is also too slow. By the time you have collected enough logs to deduce who did what, and when, the damage may have been done. Throw in the escalating demands of cross-platform enterprise cybersecurity and increasingly burdensome global compliance mandates, you haven’t a chance without an automated tool optimized for this.

Fortunately, the mainframe provides rich and comprehensive session data you can run through and analyze with Application Audit, and in conjunction, with the organization’s security information and event management (SIEM) systems to more quickly and effectively see what really is happening. Specifically, it can:

  • Detect, investigate, and respond to inappropriate behavior by internal users with access
  • Detect, investigate, and respond to hacked or illegally accessed user accounts
  • Support criminal/legal investigations with complete and credible forensics
  • Fulfill compliance mandates regarding protection of sensitive data

IBM, by the way, is not ignoring the advantages of analytics for z Systems security. IBM continues to flog its cognitive system on z Systems for real-time analytics and security; promising to enable faster customer insights, business insights and systems insights with decisions based on real-time analysis of both current and historical data delivered on an analytics platform designed for availability, optimized for flexibility, and engineered with the highest levels of security. Check out IBM’s full cognitive for z Systems pitch.

The data Compuware and Syncsort collect with Application Audit is particularly valuable for maintaining control of privileged mainframe user accounts. Both private- and public-sector organizations are increasingly concerned about insider threats to both mainframe and non-mainframe systems. Privileged user accounts can be misused by their rightful owners, motivated by everything from financial gain to personal grievances, as well as by malicious outsiders who have illegally acquired the credentials for those accounts. You can imagine what havoc they could wreak.

In addition, with Application Audit, Compuware is orchestrating a number of players to deliver the full security picture. Specifically, through collaboration with CorreLog, Syncsort and Splunk, Compuware is enabling enterprise customers to integrate Application Audit’s mainframe intelligence with popular SIEM solutions such as Splunk, IBM QRadar and HPE Security ArcSight ESM. Additionally, Application Audit provides an out-of-the-box Splunk-based dashboard that delivers value from the start. As Compuware explains, these integrations are particularly useful for discovering and addressing security issues associated with today’s increasingly common composite applications, which have components running on both mainframe and non-mainframe platforms. SIEM integration also ensures that security, compliance and other risk management staff can easily access mainframe-related data in the same manner as they access data from other platforms.

“Effective IT management requires effective monitoring of what is happening for security, cost reduction, capacity planning, service level agreements, compliance and other purposes,” noted Stu Henderson, founder and president of the Henderson Group in the Compuware announcement. “This is a major need in an environment where security, technology, budget, and regulatory pressures continue to escalate.”