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< IT Jungle Volume 5, Number 4 -- January 25, 2005

CXL Debuts iSeries Security Reporting Tool

by Alex Woodie

English developer CXL unveiled a new software utility this month called AZScan that tells users how security settings have been configured on their OS/400, Unix, or OpenVMS midrange systems. In addition to revealing what the actual security settings are, the sub-$500, PC-based AZScan also provides an explanation of settings and recommends ways to make them more secure.

AZScan is actually three products in one, and a license to AZScan gives users the right to run security scans with any of the individual products, which include AScan (OS/400 V4R4 and later), VScan (for HP/DEC Alpha/VAX systems), and UScan (for 75 different Unix variants). OS/400 shops that don't need the other two products can just ignore them.

The AZScan products are intended to be used periodically, to gauge the relative strength or weakness of a server's security settings. Each time an AZScan product is used, it generates a report that tells users the exact state of their security setting for particular operating systems, and it provides an explanation of the setting and makes recommendations about how to improve it.

Two different types of reports are provided for each product. The zipped Word file and HTML files are basically identical and provide detailed information about every security setting, whereas the "heat map" report generates a numeric score based on how the server rated in the various areas, which are weighted according to the risk they can pose to security.

The HTML and Word reports make liberal use of color-coding that tells administrators which areas of the system are at low, medium, and high risk. For example, if the system is set to disable a user profile after five unsuccessful sign-in attempts, the report will highlight this area of the report in yellow, for medium risk, and recommend that the administrator lower this number to three unsuccessful sign-in attempts before disabling the user profile. There are also numerous charts and graphs for various security-related settings, such as the distribution of authorities among user profiles, the number of days required between password resets, and so forth.

The AScan component checks 53 different security-related settings in OS/400. These are broken down into eight main areas, including system, auditing, system passwords, users, sign-on controls, special authorities, groups, and user passwords. Explanations and recommendations are provided for each of the settings. The UScan component checks 74 security settings on all major (and many minor) Unix operating systems, and VScan checks 89 OpenVMS Versions 7.1 through 7.3.

Setting up AScan to run is a matter of copying two files from an OS/400 server, including the System Profile file and the User Profile file, onto the PC equipped with AScan. (The techniques for other operating systems are similar.) Both of these files can be generated using fairly simple commands provided by the vendor. Setup and use of the AScan, VScan, and UScan products is handled through a fourth component of AZScan, called the Controller.

Proficient administrators can get the same information gathered by AZScan without spending any money. But AZScan does the grunt work of gathering the data into a single report, and does a good job of generating colorful and insightful reports that are easier to digest, particularly for auditors who may be unfamiliar with the system.

CXL developed AZScan to run on Windows PCs, as opposed to running directly on the host systems, to minimize the impact on the monitored system, says David Robinson, CXL's chief executive. "The main idea behind the tool was to have something which was free standing and remote from the systems it was reviewing so that it could not crash a live system or even affect the performance," he says.

London-based CXL worked with a major U.S. investment firm and an OS/400 security software company in the development of AZScan, Robinson says. "Our aim has been to produce a simple to use product which will find your security issues, explain the implications of these problems, and recommend solutions. All this is done in the context of your security policy and the many regulatory conditions which are now imposed on business," he says.

Although pricing hasn't yet been nailed down, Robinson says a one-year license for AZScan will likely be about $440, with five free "runs," or reviews, which can be used with any of the three products. Additional runs can be bought at about $35 each, or less for bulk purchases. For more information and downloads, go to



Editor: Alex Woodie
Managing Editor: Shannon Pastore
Contributing Editors: Dan Burger, Joe Hertvik,
Shannon O'Donnell, Timothy Prickett Morgan
Publisher and Advertising Director: Jenny Thomas
Advertising Sales Representative: Kim Reed
Contact the Editors: To contact anyone on the IT Jungle Team