Article

The Real Heroes of the Finance Industry

IBM i
Posted:
August 16, 2016

The recent news making headlines about the once great city of Detroit declaring bankruptcy is but the latest in a long trend of economic gloom that has stained the financial fabric of our times. The scale of financial turmoil experienced in the last decade has not been discriminate and it seems no micro or macro economy has been immune. Several years ago we saw the Asian financial crisis; latterly the country of Greece has suffered greatly; and recent memory is littered with the names of individual merchant banks and financial lending institutions from across the globe, once deemed “to big to fail”, that is, until they did. Sadly, there is universal common ground in the fact that financial disasters will always take with them the investors, savers, and borrowers that once made them mighty. When this happens, the stories of woe are not limited to those of the shareholders, or of abstract economic theories undone, but untold personal ones involving people’s homes, lives, and families.

The financial industry as a whole is set to remain firmly under the microscope. Governments have responded with more regulatory measures that demand greater transparency, more accountability, and a mandate to earn the trust of the people once more. As this downward pressure filters into each organization, it is the IT systems that are so heavily relied upon to keep the wheels of commerce in motion, which must answer these requirements on a 24/7 basis. With a proactive approach to systems management and specialist solutions like QSystem Monitor and QMessage Monitor in place, financial institutions running busy IBM i environments will be well-equipped to do so.

QMessage Monitor’s real-time security monitoring functionality can help administrators maintain the integrity of their system data and provide instant alerts of any security access issues or breaches in protocol. In many cases, there may be a perfectly reasonable explanation for what appears to be highly suspicious activity (a mistyped password for example, or a third-party developer accessing the system via FTP to carry out necessary work) but without proper identification and investigation into each instance, any system could potentially be at serious risk. Simply knowing about these actions when they occur is the first step to guarding against problems. Other proactive monitoring measures include keeping a high degree of real-time vigilance towards Audit Journal security breach messages, as well as FTP server and client command messages. Further, database activity that identifies file opens (together with the action carried out—read, write, delete, update), native access attempts, and SQL access attempts will help pinpoint the nature of threats and how these are occurring. For example, if a user were to access the Payroll file, a detailed message could be escalated to the attention of the IT manager, meaning all the relevant information was to hand as shown in the example below.

Strict external, legal regulatory compliance such as Sarbanes-Oxley or PCI, or even self-imposed best practice standards demand nothing less than full visibility and an irrefutable and unbroken auditable trail of system transactions. Meeting this requires not just the recording and storing of data but also authorized access to and reporting capabilities for a complete historical archive, plus granular information for each instance where security has been compromised, such as the exact file names, libraries, users, and/or IP addresses involved. QMessage Monitor provides this to make compliance issues easy to implement and maintain in the long term without burdening team members with new and additional management workloads.

As IBM i administrators working in the financial industry will know, a truly proactive approach to systems management takes a holistic view of the system and can’t be limited to security or messaging related matters for best results. Issues such as runaway disk, inadequate capacity, application availability, or even generally degrading system performance all pose just as much risk to the overall viability of the financial institution to maintain 24/7 optimal operations to their employee user base and, ultimately, their customers. QSystem Monitor addresses all these issues with a comprehensive range of real-time monitoring functionality that covers system, network, availability, job, disk, and application elements. Combined with capabilities for rapid drill-down insight into issues, upper and lower thresholds for system metrics, and comprehensive reporting (both resource historical and predictive), there are few hiding places for issues to occur without being detected.

 

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