IBM i Security Quiz (by Carol Woodbury HelpSystems)


Q: True or False: Once you start specifying values for the QPWDRULES system value, the other password composition rule system values are ignored.

Q: When is the user class (USRCLS) specified in the user profile not considered?

A. When displaying IBM i menu options
B. When checking a user’s authority to an object
C. When moving off of QSECURITY (security level) 20 to a higher security level
D. When defaulting special authorities when creating a user profile

Q: True or False: A user with *ALLOBJ will always be able to see all records in a database file.

Q: True or False: Commands such as Change Authority (CHGAUT) and Change Owner (CHGOWN) that work on IFS objects can also be used to change the authority to and owner of objects in libraries.

Q: True or False: The user is required to have authority to an outq to access the spooled files in it.

Q: True or False: No authority checking is performed when the system is running at QSECURITY level 20.

Q: Which system value does not require an IPL to take effect?

D. None of the above

Q: True or False: When you modify the password composition system values (for example, changing the minimum or maximum length or requiring a digit), users will have to change their password the next time they sign on after you make the change.

Q: What user profile attributes should be specified for service accounts?

E. All of the above

Q: True or False: A user configured as Limited Capability—LMTCPB(*PARTIAL)—can enter commands on a command line.


Pass or Fail?
Please have a look at the right answers on this link…



HELPSYSTEMS: Free Security Scan.


The HelpSystems Security Scan is the place to start when you want to secure your IBM i (System i®, iSeries®, AS/400®).

HelpSystems, leader in security solutions, offers a security scan to check your IBM i. The free Scan provides a snapshot of your current system security in just 10 minutes. It runs directly from a network-attached PC, without modifying any system settings. The Security Scan audits common security metrics and displays the results in an easy-to-read, browser-based application. A HelpSystems Security Advisor helps you interpret the results, and you can print the findings for your records.

You could see in this example all the features available for you.

For more details please have a look at the link.

This is the summary report generated by the scan:

The Scan runs on seven differents areas:

1) Admin Privileges:

Administrative Privileges are called Special Authorities. These rights are very powerful and should be for trusted and knowledgeable IT professionals only. Users with these special authorities should have their activities audited.

2) Public Authority:

IBM i is shipped with a default set of permissions assigned to the general user population (*PUBLIC). *PUBLIC access to libraries is a measurement that indicates how accessible the system is to the average end user. As defined by the operating system, *PUBLIC represents any user that can log in and that has no explicit authority.

3) Network Access:

Security of user access across the network is at risk on this system. The IBM i is shipped with a variety of network services that are factory configured and ready to communicate with other computers. All IBM i servers should have exit programs on IBM network servers to monitor and control network access.

4) FTP Access:

FTP is an industry-standard client/server protocol widely used for performing file transfers between two devices. IBM i has the ability to act as client and/or server. While convenient and fast, FTP enables a user to access objects (including data files) for which they have object-level permission or, if a profile has *ALLOBJ special authority, any object on the server. FTP represents a significant risk to any server that has no security configured, or that relies on legacy restrictions such as menus and limited capabilities.

5) System Security:

The operating system provides a number of methods of securing itself and the workstations connected to it. In this section we examine the system values that protect your operating system and your workstations.

6) User Security:

User and password security are critical because they are the easiest way to compromise a system. On this system the security controls for users and passwords have been scanned with the listed results.

7) System Auditing:

A major feature of the operating system is its ability to log important, security-related events in a secure audit journal.

2017 State of IBM i Security Study


By using the free security scan Helpsystems executed the annual security study over a various set of 332 companies servers. The results show a series of weakness over seven critical areas:

– Server-level security controls
– Profile and password settings
– Administrative capabilities
– Network-initiated commands and data access
– Public accessibility to corporate data
– System event auditing
– Virus scanning

We will examine step by step the single areas, suggesting better solutions.

For the complete study consult the link:


A) Setting the Tone: Basic System Security Levels


The system security level (QSECURITY) sets the overall tone. IBM recommends and ships security level 40 as the minimun. The different levels of security are:

Level 10 — No Security. No password required. User IDs are created for any user who attempts to sign on. IBM no longer supports level 10.
Level 20 — Password Security. Every user must have a valid ID and password. Every user with a valid ID and password assumes root-level authority (*ALLOBJ) by default.
Level 30 — Resource Security. Object-level authority is enforced as users do not assume root-level authority by default. A moderately knowledgeable programmer or operator can bypass resource-level security and assume root-level authority.
Level 40 — Operating System Security. Level 30 protection plus additional operating system integrity. It is possible for an extremely knowledgeable programmer with access to your system to elevate his or her level of authority, possibly as high as root-level authority.
Level 50 — Enhanced Operating System Security. Level 40 protection plus enhanced operating system integrity. A properly secured system at security level 50 is the best defense. However, even at level 50, other system configuration issues must be addressed.

This study shows 19 % of servers fail the minimum level required.

2) Key System Values for Restoring Objects

System values related to object restoration often remain at their shipped levels, reflecting a typical IBM i configuration of “load and go.”

– Verify Object on Restore (QVFYOBJRST)—63 percent of servers are running below the recommended level of 3. This value, preset at level 1, controls whether a signature will be validated when a digitally signed object is restored.
– Force Conversion on Restore (QFRCCVNRST)—96 percent of servers are running below the recommended level of 3. This value, preset at level 1, controls whether some types of objects are converted during a restore.
– Allow Object Restore (QALWOBJRST)—Only twenty servers had altered this system value from its default *ALL setting. This value controls whether programs with certain security attributes, such as system-state and authority adoption, can be restored.


B) Users with Superpowers

Special authorities often expose companies to a security risk, so it’s recommended to limit the users who have special rights. In most cases corruption data are originated by employee within the organization.


C) Faulty Passwords and Profile Security

User and password are very important in this analysis because they represent the most used method to compromise your system. How can you be sure that user signed on is the same user that the ID and pwd were assigned too? Follow these simple rules:

inactive profiles

Profile not used after 30 and more days create a security exposure that you should eliminate, when possible. You should establish a standard process to eliminate inactive profile after a certain number of days.

The Open Secret of Default Passwords

When a new profile is created the password is set with the user name, opening an high risk access to the hackers.On the other hands often many companies create the user password combining first name initial and surname, often easy to be discovered.
The solution is create a password policy that requires the use of more characters (at least 7) by using special rules as the following.

Capitalizing on Other Password Settings

Adding to the password length it’s more sure to add complexity by using few rules. IBM i introduced in V6.1 a new system value QPWDRULES, able to define password policy in different ways. For example note the value:

The uppercase password value can not contain the Complete user profile in consecutive positions.

Whee n is a number between 0 and 9. The password must contain at least n uppercase letters and n lowercase letters…….

The password must contain characters included in at least three of the following four fonts:
– capital letters
– lowercase letters
– figures
– special characters


But QPWDRULES has a lot of values to be used for security.

Another important security parameter in V6.1 is QPWDCHGBLK, that restricts the frequency with users can voluntarily request a password change. It’s recommended to use the value of 24 hours.

Forgotten Passwords and Other Invalid Sign-On Attempts

Users with a lot of invalid sign-on attempts must be tracked because this is the sign of a possible intrusion.To protect your system, make sure profiles are disabled by default after the maximum allowed sign-on attempts is exceeded.

It’s not enough disable the device but you must disable the user profile.

D) Data Access Goes *Public

On non-IBM i servers, users who are not granted permission to an object or task typically have no authority. With IBM i, this is not the case. Every object has a default permission that is applicable to non-named users, known collectively as *PUBLIC. Administrators need to control access to IBM i data granting where possible authority to objects: they could use level *USE, *ALL, *EXCLUDE, *CHANGE, *SYSVAL.


E) Through the Networks’ Back Doors
IBM has extended the power of IBM i by adding tools that allow data to be accessed from other platform.
Services as FTP, ODBC, JDBC and DDM are active and ready to send data across the network. This could cause an exposition of the server to the attacks.To reduce this serious exposure, IBM provides interfaces known as exit points that allow administrators to secure their systems. An exit program attached to an exit point can monitor and restrict network access to the system. An exit program should have two main functions: to audit access requests and to provide access control that augments IBM i object-level security.

F) Users Crossing the Command Line
This is a traditional way to control user access by limiting the use of the command line.

G) Straying from the Audit Trail
One of the significant security features of IBM i is its ability to log important security-related events into a tamper-proof repository—the Security Audit Journal. This feature allows organizations to determine the source of critical security events, such as:
Who deleted this file?
Who gave this user *ALLOBJ authority

So it’s recomended to use “Security Audit Journal” to monitor violations and attack attempt: the parameter QAUDCTL must have a value different from *NONE.
Special tools could reduce the costs associated with compliance reporting.

H) Susceptible to Viruses and Malware
The IFS (Integrated File System) has the risk of host potential virally infected files. Recognizing this reality, IBM created system values and registry exit points to support native virus scanning a number of years ago. So best solution is to run native IBM i scan to protect data, such as Stand Guard Anti-virus.

IBM i Security. The live webinars scheduled by Helpsystems for next month.

22 August        Security Alert! Prevent FTP and ODBC Data Breaches on IBM i

31 August        Getting Started with IBM i Security: Integrated File System (IFS)

5 September   Getting Started with IBMi Security: System Values

6 September   Getting Started with IBMi Security: System Values

12 September Encryption on IBM i Simplified Edition1 

12 September Encryption on IBM i Simplified Edition2

14 September Getting Started with IBM i Security: Object Authority

20 September Getting Started with IBM i Security – Event Auditing

21 September  Getting Started with IBM i Security – Event Auditing