REPRIEVE - makes SAFEGUARD PCI compliant in regard to the management of frozen users, and prevents a Denial-of-Service attack, caused by the AUTHENTICATE_FAIL_FREEZE setting in SAFEGUARD

The PCI paper discusses under point 8.5.13 the need to lock out a user when six authentication attempts have failed.  Under Point 8.5.14, the lock-out time is specified:  Set the lockout duration to thirty minutes or until the administrator re-enables the user ID.
These requirements cannot be satisfied with current SAFEGUARD features.
Actually, SAFEGUARD supports two different penalty schemes:

  1. The process of performing authentication is terminatedfor a configurable time period.  This was a successful strategy when a user had one terminal and was connected by a dedicated line.  With TELNET and its windows, the number of terminals a user has access to is nearly unlimited.  A 'hanging' process is re-started from a new Telnet window, and a new authentication attempt can be started.
  2. SAFEGUARD can be configured to freeze a user after sixfailed logon attempts.  This is what PCI requires.  However, activating this setting can easily result in a denial-of-service (DoS) attack, where a malicious user intentionally logs on to all available IDs with wrong passwords, freezing all users of the system, including SUPER.SUPER.  The result is a running system, where nobody can logon.

The current change request is to be able to configure:

  1. those users who have to be frozen, for example aftersix failed attempts, and to automatically thaw them after 30 minutes
  2. to define the freeze time on a 'by user' basis
  3. to report FREEZE and THAW events to the EMS system
  4. to have these activities logged in the SAFEGUARD audit trails

The solution is REPRIEVE from GreenHouse:
REPRIEVE is a program controlled by the $ZZKRN process.  It keeps an eye on the user-ID files and recognizes any change of a user.  When a user becomes frozen, REPRIEVE starts a timer for this user, and thaws her/him automatically when the timer times out.  All variables, such as 

  • users, their freeze time, and EMS action type (information, critical, action needed)
  • EMS collector process
  • REPRIEVE cycle time

can be configured.

The configuration is done through a small EDIT type file (standard), or can be done through the REPRIEVE module of iWAMS, the web based management system from GreenHouse.

The configuration can be changed at run time.

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