Securing Mainframe Access: Ensuring Robust Security for Third-Party Vendors

Securing Mainframe Access: Ensuring Robust Security for Third-Party Vendors

Your mainframe is the life wire of your organization, and hence, you must handle it as such. What this means is that there should be strict control and monitoring of third-party vendors who seek to access your mainframe. It’s not just good practice; it is essential for your organization security infrastructure.

When the third-party vendors have proper mainframe security, your organization is shielded from several risks such as data theft, unauthorized access, and even malicious damage. It is a preventive measure that can be useful for preserving the confidentiality and, at the same time, availability of the information that is critical for your company’s activities.

Issues Encountered In Mainframe Access Control For Third-Party Vendors

Mainframe access to third-party vendors can be a challenge, time-consuming process, and sometimes very complicated. Some of the key challenges you may face include:

  • Maintaining Control Over Access Privileges: It is often difficult to guarantee that a third-party vendor only has the bare minimum access rights required to complete their work, especially when there are many vendors and their responsibilities are elaborate.
  • Monitoring and Detecting Unauthorized Access: Monitoring the users of your mainframe and their activities can be very challenging, especially if you are working with multiple third-party vendors.
  • Ensuring Compliance with Security Protocols: Third-party vendors therefore may have their policies and procedures concerning security and this makes it difficult to ensure that they are in tandem with the organizational security policies.
  • Educating and Training Third-Party Vendors: Managing third-party vendors is another major problem that could prove to be a challenge especially if the third-party vendor lacks experience in your mainframe systems.

To overcome these challenges, it is necessary to provide a detailed security plan that will cover all the areas of interaction between third-party vendors and the mainframe.

The Third Party Vendors And Multi-Factor Authentication

That is why it is advocated that organizations should put in place a robust MFA protocol when allowing third-party vendors mainframe access. MFA requires the user to provide two or more factors, for instance, a password, and a biometric (e. h. Before one can gain access to the mainframe, the person needs to input a password, for instance, fingerprint or facial recognition or one-time code that would be sent to the mobile device.

With regards to the security of the MFA, the access is limited in this sense because even if the third-party vendor has the password to the user’s account, he or she cannot get full access to the mainframe without the second form of identification.

When implementing MFA for third-party vendors, consider the following best practices:

  • Require Strong Passwords: It is also important that third parties should not be allowed to use weak and easily guessable passwords and they should change it more often.
  • Leverage Biometric Authentication: It is also important to apply biometric authentication to enhance the level of security, for instance, the fingerprints, and even faces.
  • Use One-Time Codes: For third-party vendors, the only thing that they can provide is a one-time code that is sent to a mobile device or created through a specific authentication application.
  • Regularly Review and Update MFA Policies: Remember to update your MFA policies when necessary, so that they can deal with the current threats effectively.

This is why if you can implement a strong MFA system, you will be in a position to strengthen the security of your mainframe and safeguard your organization from any intrusion.

Managing And Detecting Security Threats

However, for the mainframe to be protected, there must be proper ways of establishing any form of intrusion into its security. It can be a bit of a complicated and lengthy task, especially if there are many partners involved in the project.

To effectively monitor and detect unauthorized access, consider the following strategies:

  • Implement Comprehensive Logging and Auditing: Ensure that you have good logging and auditing standards to track all the access to the mainframe and third-party vendors at the location.
  • Use Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) Tools: Use SIEM tools to gather and analyze logs from different components in the IT environment and get real-time awareness of the activity occurring, which will help to discover and prevent threats more effectively.
  • Establish Baseline Behavior Patterns: The first step in detecting the risky behavior is to analyze the log information and normal behavior pattern of the third-party vendor and then compare the two to look for any differences.
  • Regularly Review and Analyze Access Logs: Provide specific access logs for the activities performed and watch for malicious activities; analyze the problems and take proper actions regularly.

If an organization has a well-thought-out monitoring and detection strategy, one can easily identify any attempts at unauthorized access in the mainframe environment and protect the organization’s most important resources.

Training And Educating Third-Party Vendors On Security Protocols

A word on education: As much as technology can help secure the mainframe from third-party vendor threats, it is also crucial to focus on people. This means that all your third-party vendors must be aware and compliant with your security standards to minimize the occurrence of security threats and other related events.

When it comes to training and educating third-party vendors, consider the following best practices:

  • Provide Comprehensive Security Training: Create and implement effective security awareness training sessions for employees that would include security policies and procedures as well as the expectations for third-party contractors.
  • Emphasize the Importance of Security: Explain to your third-party vendors that they are dealing with a mainframe environment that its security is paramount for your organization, and that any insecurity breach could lead to dire consequences.
  • Regularly Review and Update Training Materials: Make it a routine to go over your training materials periodically and ensure that you incorporate any changes in your security measures or risk profiles.
  • Require Acknowledgment and Compliance: The third-party vendors should be made to read and understand your security measures, and there should be penalties for them not to adhere to these measures.

Hence, by providing support in education and training to your third-party vendor, you stand the best chance of having them effectively safeguard your mainframe environment and the security and privacy of your most sensitive information.


One of the main issues that have to be solved when providing third-party vendors with access to mainframes is that this process is rather a complex one and has to be addressed by employing several approaches. By focusing on mainframe security, proper authentication control, constant surveillance and detection of any unauthorized access, and proper training of third-party partners, it is possible to strengthen the security of the mainframe environment and protect valuable assets in your organization.

Get Ready to Reach New Heights! Start your free trial today. 

Written by Avatier Office