The short answer? Yes. Any organization that relies on mainframes to secure their most sensitive data needs to scan those mainframes for vulnerabilities using scanning software.

Put simply, you can’t protect against vulnerabilities if you don’t know that they’re there. With the help of mainframe vulnerability scanning software, organizations can look for zero-day vulnerabilities that, if exploited, could compromise the security of the entire system.

Take a look at our recent blog if you need a refresher on the risks mainframe zero-day vulnerabilities pose to mainframe integrity. Essentially, zero-day vulnerabilities are software security flaws that aren’t yet known to the vendor. Manually scanning for vulnerabilities is impractical – not to mention, expensive – so many organizations turn to third-party vendors for scanning tools.

Vulnerability scanning software like KRI’s z/Assure Vulnerability Analysis Program (VAP) enables organizations to identify, rank and report these zero-day vulnerabilities. Here’s why it’s so important.

Ensuring security and protecting customer data

Maintaining the security of mainframe systems is complex. While ESMs establish permissions and access control, they can’t help find and contain OS-level code-based vulnerabilities. Vulnerability scanning software enables organizations to dive into both their applications and operating systems to identify every system flaw.

Beyond identification, organizations also need to score vulnerabilities in their risk management system. By ranking and reporting vulnerabilities, organizations can prioritize what’s most urgent and take steps to plug the gaps. In this way, vulnerability scanning software helps organizations ensure the security of sensitive customer data stored on the mainframe.

Maintaining compliance

Investing in vulnerability scanning software isn’t just about ensuring security, though. It’s also a matter of compliance. Vulnerability scanning is required by a number of regulations. PCI DSS, HIPAA, GLBA and SOX, among others, mandate that organizations scan their systems for both known and newly discovered vulnerabilities, which requires vulnerability scanning software. By employing vulnerability scanning software, organizations can also avoid the hefty fines associated with noncompliance, while ensure the organization is ready for audits.

It’s not enough to simply scan for vulnerabilities at one point in time, however. These scans need to be performed on an ongoing basis – from both a security and compliance standpoint. PCI DSS, for example, requires organizations to “run internal and external network vulnerability scans at least quarterly and after any significant change in the network.” Regardless of the specifications of each regulation, scanning should be done any time changes occur in the mainframe environment, and usually is performed at least quarterly.

The bottom line? Vulnerability scanning is an essential component of a modern mainframe security strategy, and vulnerability scanning software is an indispensable tool that helps organizations scan accurately and efficiently.

Click here to learn more about how z/Assure VAP helps ensure security by identifying zero-day vulnerabilities. Or, download the paper, “5 Steps to a Modern Mainframe Security Strategy,” to learn more about why vulnerability scanning is an essential component of modern mainframe security strategy.