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CA updates mainframe security products

Mainframe security software: CA has released new versions of ACF-2, TopSecret and Cleanup, its identity and access management software.

Mainframe security software: CA Inc., formerly known as Computer Associates International Inc., has released new...

versions of ACF2, Top Secret and Cleanup, its identity and access management software for the mainframe.

ACF2 and Top Secret have been serving the mainframe data center in one form or another for more than 20 years, with ACF2 focused on resource-based security, and Top Secret focused on user identities. Cleanup has been around a few years and works to eliminate extraneous logon identifications and provide reports detailing who has accessed what.

Features of the new versions include:

  • Longer passwords (128 characters as opposed to eight), allowing IT managers to have a single logon across the system.
  • Better security auditing, allowing for more detailed reporting on resources and data based on filters, such as access type or security level.
  • Automated performance reports, allowing mainframe administrators to determine the quality of new security controls.

Mainframe security tools:

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IBM steps up mainframe encryption

The mainframe in business resiliency

The new versions are available now. ACF2 and Top Secret are licensed on capacity and start at around $26,000; Cleanup costs $62,500 per CPU. Reg Harbeck, CA mainframe solutions manager, said the mainframe may not be running in as many businesses as distributed computers, but it runs in some of the most important businesses, such as large financial institutions.

"The mainframe has only gotten more and more important in the world of business," he said. "They're sort of the engine that runs the world's economy."

He described some other features of the product, including the ability to create templates that can be ascribed to employees who require the same type of security access and sample reports that businesses can use.

Rich Ptak, a principal at analyst firm Ptak, Noel & Associates in Amherst, N.H., said the updated versions of the three products will help CA stay in the front of the mainframe security marketplace.

"I think they're very nice and slick enhancements to what they've been offering before," he said. "They moved them up a whole level in their capabilities."

Ptak said extending the maximum length of passwords, helping to make it easier for IT managers to have a single logon, accomplishes two important goals: Staffers don't have to remember multiple logons and passwords, and the system is also safer. Being able to better customize reports is also a key feature, he said, because managers can filter information "instead of having a bunch of superfluous information you don't need to look at."

Joanne Kelly, senior information security analyst at Boston University, said Top Secret allows her to set up file permissions "that are more intuitive to our mainframe users," and that she can administer from a central location.

"Once you have the mainframe architecture, once you put the permissions in place, they're there, and they're working," she said.

She also uses Cleanup on the system, and touted how it doesn't use up much CPU, but rather just "sits back" and monitors the security system. She said it also helps with regulatory compliance issues because she can easily go back and determine which user accessed what file.

Let us know what you think about the story; e-mail: Mark Fontecchio, News Writer

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