Illusive Networks’ New Mainframe Deception Addresses Financial Services Security

Launching at Sibos: Mainframe Guard – a non-intrusive solution to protect the powerhouse that keeps the world’s systems running.

October 17, 2017

4 Min Read


New York, NY and Tel Aviv, Israel – Illusive Networks, the leader in deception-based cybersecurity, today introduced Mainframe Guard which enables the inclusion of mainframe systems into an integrated deception solution architecture to protect critical business services from Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) and other high-impact attacks. Illusive Networks is debuting Mainframe Guard this week at Sibos, the world’s premier financial services conference organized by SWIFT.

According to IBM, their mainframe systems currently support 87% of all credit card transactions and nearly $8 trillion payments a year; 29 billion ATM transactions equating to $5 billion per day and more than 30 billion transactions per day. Ninety-two of the world’s top 100 banks rely on the IBM mainframe because of its ability to efficiently process huge volumes of transactions. While IBM’s latest mainframe models encrypt transactional data, the vast majority in the field expose significant vulnerabilities.

The need to secure innovations such as mobile applications, cloud-based services and smart devices is getting a lot of attention these days, but mainframes remain an essential element in many of these critical service chains,” said Andrew Howard, CTO at Kudelski Security, who has extensive experience remediating mainframe systems in the wake of cyber breaches. “Organizations are sometimes reluctant to upgrade legacy applications and databases on these enterprise servers, particularly in today’s always-on economy. But unless you address every link in the end-to-end process, you haven’t secured it.”

Mainframe security is often overlooked by in-house teams due to misperceptions that the platform is inherently more secure than others. Furthermore, tools and talent to configure security controls on mainframes or implement upgrades are scarce. Monitoring of these systems is both challenging and time consuming, plus they are often viewed as ‘untouchable’ for fear of the business disruption that could be caused by configuration changes.

“We’ve seen a trend toward more direct attacks on applications and transactions. As attackers go after higher-value targets, we expect financial institutions and global enterprises will incur more attacks directed at their mainframes,” says Ofer Israeli, Founder & CEO of Illusive Networks. “Beyond data theft, organizations should consider mainframes as a target for espionage because they’re a nerve center for vast volumes of transactional data. From a single location, an attacker could gather significant competitive or strategic intelligence. Even data encryption can be bypassed as the more sophisticated attackers will impersonate other users to conceal their actions and gain access to sensitive data. Organizations committed to providing the utmost protection against cyber attacks need to consider whether their mainframes have become a weak, forgotten link at the heart of their core operations.”

When attackers breach a mainframe, the results can be devastating. In 2011, the mainframe of banking industry behemoth Fidelity National Information Services (FIS) was hacked. Alongside a carefully timed multi-million dollar ATM heist, the attackers touched nearly every part of Fidelity National’s vast network, spanning over 100 countries, exposing data from around 100 financial institutions. Prior to this attack, nearly 60,000 employees of luxury eyewear group Luxottica had their personal information stolen by a mainframe breach.

Leveraging Illusive’s Deceptions Everywhere® approach, Mainframe Guard works by detecting malicious movement toward the mainframe, providing a non-intrusive method of protecting the systems themselves, the data they host and the services they support from advanced attacks. The solution is comprised of:

  • A new “family” of deceptions for mainframe environments and clients

  • The ability to display mainframe assets along with other sensitive assets in the Illusive Attacker View component of the management console, which enables security personnel to see potential attack paths to reach mainframes, and track the proximity and progress of attackers toward these assets

  • Purpose-built views of the mainframe environment to monitor unexpected connections to mainframe servers

  • An interactive layer added to the Illusive Trap Server that mimics mainframe behavior and login screens, tricking attackers into believing they are interacting with an actual mainframe computer.

Ilusive Network’s Mainframe Guard is the latest addition to its award-winning, agentless, distributed deception platform that blankets a company’s entire network with information that deceives attackers. Deceptions are placed on every endpoint and server to mimic application, data, network and system components that an attacker would use to further attack efforts.

Automatically generated and AI-driven, Illusive Networks' deceptions are tailor-made for the customer’s environment to appear realistic and authentic to attackers. As soon as attackers attempt to use the deceptive data, Illusive detects and alerts enterprise security teams, providing real-time, contextual forensic data from the source host that enable informed, targeted and timely incident response operations.

At the vanguard of the next evolution of cyber defense, Illusive Networks recently received recognition by Momentum Partners as one of ten cybersecurity companies on their Watch List, by The Wall Street Journal in its inaugural Tech Companies to Watch and was named as one of CRN’s ’25 Coolest Network Security Vendors’.

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