The Ultimate Guide to Mainframe Security in the IoT Era

The Ultimate Guide to Mainframe Security in the IoT Era

The world is gradually moving towards the IoT – an environment where various connected devices gather, share, and analyze data. IoT is becoming increasingly integrated in our daily lives with applications ranging from homes, and wearables, to industrial automation and smart cities. However, the new age comes with a new set of security issues that organizations have to handle especially when it comes to mainframe systems.

Historically, the mainframes are used for large-scale organizational computing, where important business applications, confidential data, and heavy workloads are executed. In the current world of the growing IoT environment, it has become critical for the mainframe to be more secure. Hackers have begun to turn their attention towards these robust systems, to infiltrate the systems to obtain valuable data.

The Role Of Mainframe Security In The New World Of IoT

In the age of IoT, mainframes are an essential component of the big data processing and storage of the data produced by the Internet of Things. Such information may be in the form of customers’ data, financial information, and key business processes that an organization cannot afford to lose or have compromised. Mainframe system security can be severely violated which results in loss of data, money, and reputation.

Furthermore, mainframes are the center of integration of numerous IoT devices and applications, which makes them a primary concern for cybercriminals. With the increasing use of IoT, threats to the mainframe’s security can be exploited to compromise the entire IoT structure and potentially bring chaos into the system.

Security Threats In The IoT World

As the IoT landscape continues to evolve, mainframe systems face a growing array of security threats, including:

Unauthorized Access: Threat actors may use a range of tactics including credential theft, trial and error, or exploiting the weaknesses in the mainframe access control.

Insider Threats: Mainframe systems are prime targets for malicious insiders or disgruntled employees who have access to the systems and can corrupt or steal data and interrupt business operations.

Malware and Ransomware: The devices that are connected to the IoT can be used by hackers to enter the system and then infiltrate the mainframe with malware or ransomware that can encrypt or steal data.

DDoS Attacks: The number of connected devices in IoT can be used for launching a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack on the mainframe, and hinder the availability of services.

Data Breaches: Mainframe system security issues include the following: There are weaknesses in the security of the mainframe and these can be exploited by hackers to gain access to corporate data including customer information, financial records, and intellectual property.

Key Considerations Of Mainframe Security In The IoT Age

Mainframe security in the Internet of Things context implies more than simply technical solutions; it also entails organizational solutions. The key components of this approach include:

Identity and Access Management (IAM):

  • Base security measures on strong user authentication methods including, for instance, multi-factor authentication to curb access by unauthorized persons.
  • To achieve the desired level of security, users and IoT devices must be granted only the required level of permissions to perform their operation.
  • It is also recommended to monitor and audit user activities on the system and respond to their suspicious activities.

Data Encryption and Protection:

  • Protect information stored in databases and during transit to prevent unauthorized access.
  • Develop sound backup and disaster recovery solutions to protect the information resources that are crucial to the organization.
  • Develop policies for classifying and securing data to regulate the share of information in the IoT environment.

Network Security:

  • Install secure and effective firewalls to regulate and filter communication between the mainframe, IoT devices, and other systems.
  • To enhance the security of the mainframe resources, it is necessary to implement network segmentation and micro-segmentation.
  • Use IDS/IPS to detect and prevent possible cyber threats to the organization to minimize the risk of a cyber attack.

Vulnerability Management:

  • Implement checks and updates to mainframe systems and related IoT devices for already identified risks.
  • This one is to implement a good patch management process where the security updates should be patched efficiently.
  • Carry out penetration testing and vulnerability scanning for security risks for them to be fixed.

Incident Response and Resilience:

  • Have the incident response and disaster recovery measures and check them from time to time to guarantee the organization’s readiness to manage security incidents.
  • Use effective logging and monitoring procedures to identify and investigate security issues and take timely corrective measures.
  • Set up communication standards and processes to facilitate the direction of incident response across the IoT and mainframe environments.

Security Awareness and Training:

  • Conduct awareness programs for security for all employees, particularly those who are handling IoT devices, and the mainframe.
  • Inform users how to securely operate IoT devices, and how to properly interact with the mainframe, including password protocols, phishing scams, and other suspicious activities.
  • It is recommended to review and update security policies and procedures frequently to address the emerging threats and changes in the regulatory environment.

Mainframe Security: Some Practical Solutions

From the above analysis, it is clear that to secure mainframe systems in the IoT era, organizations should be proactive and have measures that are layered. This includes:

Conducting a Comprehensive Risk Assessment: 

  • Explain the possible security threats that may arise when connected devices are introduced into the IoT environment and the mainframe.
  • Assess the current level of security in the organization and establish the weaknesses that should be filled to improve the level of security.
  • Security initiatives need to be prioritized in accordance to the risks and their impacts observed in the business environment.

Developing a Robust Security Strategy:

  • Ensure that the mainframe security plan is in congruence with the cybersecurity plan of the organization and IoT mainframe security policies.
  • Recognize that mainframe and IoT security are separate entities and clearly define who is responsible for each.
  • Ensure that sufficient financial, human and technical resources are provided to put into practice and sustain proper security measures.

Implementing Security Controls and Technologies:

  • Implement state-of-the-art security technologies including identity and access management, encryption of data, network segmentation, and security information and event management (SIEM).
  • Mainframe security should be integrated with the IoT security system to cover all aspects of the IoT ecosystem.
  • Consequently, the security controls should be managed proactively by constantly scanning them for new threats and updated regulations.

Fostering a Security-Aware Culture:

  • Create specific security guidelines that will help regulate the use of IoT devices and accessing mainframe systems.
  • Conduct frequent security awareness sessions and information sharing to all the staff and those who are in charge of IoT devices and mainframes.
  • To foster security, support a culture of security and encourage the reporting of security-related events or possible security breaches.

Regularly Testing and Updating Security Measures:

  • Semi-annually or bi-annually, perform penetration testing, vulnerability assessment, and security audit to determine the security flaws in the system.
  • Develop a strong patch management policy to facilitate the timely rollout of security fixes for both mainframes and IoT devices.
  • It is also important to revise and update the incident response and disaster recovery procedures of the organization to counter new types of threats.

Thus, by following these measures, organizations can safeguard their mainframe systems as well as other segments of the IoT environment, with a focus on the protection of the main components of IS, namely confidentiality, integrity, and availability.


In this day and age of IoT, mainframe security has become a vital issue in the field of computing. As the world continues to experience an increased interconnectivity of IoT, hackers are always on the lookout for a loophole to penetrate the entire IoT system. The following article discusses how organizations can enforce a multiple and preventative approach to mainframe security and protect their valuable information, key applications, and business processes.

Written by Avatier Office