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Illusive Networks’ New Mainframe Deception Addresses Missing Link to Secure Financial Services Against Sophisticated Cyber Attacks

October 2017 by Marc Jacob

Illusive Networks 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.

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.

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.

Illusive 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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