Enhancing Remote Work Security: Securing Mainframe Access for Seamless Operations

Enhancing Remote Work Security: Securing Mainframe Access for Seamless Operations

As remote work sets new standards, protecting the infrastructure of your organization is more important than ever. One such crucial component is the mainframe which is often used to support the organisation’s mission-critical applications and data storage. With an increasing number of employees accessing mainframes remotely, the protection of mainframes has become a critical concern for both IT executives and cybersecurity personnel.

Mainframes have been the backbone of large-scale business computing for decades since they are effective in processing large volumes of data and performing crucial transactions. However, the recent changes in a work environment, where employees are no longer required to come to work physically, have posed new problems in protecting this crucial asset. Remote employees may require the mainframe for access from different geographical locations, different devices, and connections, thus, the security threat is heightened.

To mitigate such issues and keep your organization’s mainframe systems running smoothly, it is important to adopt a sound security framework that can be effective for remote employees. Here we outline the key points to strengthen the security of remote work and access to mainframes for your enterprise.

The Threats Of Remote Mainframe Access

The use of remote access to the mainframe brings up several new security issues that must be addressed. Some of the key risks include:

  • Unauthorized Access: Due to its decentralized nature, with employees accessing work from different locations, the risk of access to the mainframe is likely. Criminals may seek to intrude into the system by exploiting the common or stolen credentials.
  • Data Breaches: This information can be in the form of customer details, financial data, and other forms of intellectual property that are stored in the mainframe, and once accessed remotely, they are more susceptible to being stolen or leaked.
  • Compliance Violations: GDPR, HIPAA, and PCI-DSS are well-known regulatory models that may have specific guidelines for information protection and permissions. Non-compliance is costly since it attracts heavy fines and leads to a tarnished image of the firm.
  • Insider Threats: Remote employees have access to the mainframe privileges, and some of them may have ill intentions that may lead to the alteration of systems, stealing of information or even causing havoc to the business.
  • Network Vulnerabilities: Remote employees may connect to a range of networks – such as public Wi-Fi – which are vulnerable to eavesdropping, man-in-the-middle attacks, and other network-based risks.

To address these risks and safeguard your mainframe environment, you must adopt a robust security strategy that can effectively address the threats arising from remote working.

The Implementation Of Role-Based Access Control For Remote Workers

Another main aspect of secure mainframe access for remote workers is the proper use of role-based access control (RBAC). RBAC enables the manager to allocate certain levels of access and authority to a user to the principle of least privilege and the user’s job description.

  1. Identify User Roles and Responsibilities: Start with a clear identification of all the functions of the company as well as the roles assumed by the employees. Identify the employees or user groups that need to access the mainframe and the activities that they are going to perform.
  1. Establish Granular Access Permissions: Designate each user role to have the correct level of access permissions, specifically restricting the remote employee to only the necessary resources and functionalities for their job. This reduces the chances of people who are not authorized to access the information to gain entry and steal information.
  1. Regularly Review and Update Access Privileges: Regular checks and audits of the user’s access rights are also important to ensure that the rights accorded to the users are relevant to the changing needs of your organization. Control the access rights as the employees switch positions or if they are let go of their positions in the company.
  1. Implement Segregation of Duties: Do not allow a particular user or a team of users to perform all critical mainframe functions and tasks because this will give them excessive control and power to misuse such authority.
  1. Maintain Detailed Audit Logs: This should be done through the use of log and monitor programs to capture all the activities of the user, logins, and any access on the mainframe. This will assist you in easily spotting and tracking any suspicious or unauthorized activities.

In this way, the integration of an effective RBAC system allows you to limit remote employees’ access to the mainframe only to what is required, minimizing the likelihood of security compromises and maintaining the overall security of your vital utilities.

Mainframe Multi-Factor Authentication

Apart from RBAC, the use of MFA is a sure way of protecting mainframe access when done remotely. MFA also increases the protection because before allowing a user to access the mainframe, he or she is required to input a password, one-time code, or biometric identifier.

  • Evaluate MFA Solutions: Evaluate different MFA solutions available in the market and select the one that is suitable for the organization’s security needs and mainframe environment. Some of the considerations that should be made include; Integration, User Interface, and compatibility with your organization’s security policies.
  • Implement MFA for All Remote Mainframe Access: Require MFA for all the remote users that require access to the mainframe. This will guarantee that in case a user loses his/her credentials, there will be a second factor that will prevent unauthorized access.
  • Provide Clear Guidance and Training: It is strongly recommended to inform your remote workers about the significance of MFA and how to act in the context of the applied solution. Provide extensive training as well as assistance to the users to ensure an easy transition and reduce cases of user frustration.
  • Continuously Monitor and Optimize MFA Processes: It is also important to periodically check and evaluate the effectiveness of the measures taken for the implementation of MFA. Consider if any possible problems may slow down the system or make the user experience less efficient and try to amend these problems to make the system more secure.
  • Enforce MFA Policies and Compliance: There should be proper policies and standard operating procedures for MFA usage and these should be followed by all the remote employees. Periodically perform an assessment and check compliance to ensure that your mainframe protection procedures are still strong.

Thus, by enforcing strong MFA measures, you can minimize the opportunities for unauthorized access and improve the security of the mainframe environment even in remote work conditions.


Another major concern that organizations face is to provide secure authentication for mainframes to remote workers for the efficient and effective management of the core business processes. By following the secure role-based access control, multi-factor authentication and other similar measures, it is possible to minimize the threats that are inherent in the remote mainframe access and ensure the security of your organization’s critical assets.

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Written by Avatier Office