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Conceal or encrypt: MPE can comply, with help

It seems no focus in IT is stronger these days than compliance. With the onslaught of HIPAA, SOX and other regulatory mandates, a manager of a 3000 has plenty of required work being dumped on the to-do list. Security is a big part of this, especially in the 3000 operations that process credit card transactions.

(Don't laugh. Every 3000 running Web commerce data is now in this category. Think Ecometry customers, hundreds of them.)

The recent Payment Card Industry (PCI) standards suggest encryption as a way to comply. (You can also truncate credit card numbers.) The 3000 doesn't do encryption as well as it manages database transactions efficiently. But there's a open source solution that can help.

Strong cryptography, such as Triple-DES 128-bit or AES 256-bit, is among the Visa solutions. The Internet Concealment Engine from Matthew Kwan can be used on MPE/iX. One 3000 expert we know recently reported that "It’s free, no strings, and is easily adaptable to MPE/iX,  *nix, and [Windows] NT. (I had it working on all three platforms in one evening). I don’t know how it compares to 2006 encryption schemes, but it beat DES by a longshot in ‘97 or so."

The downside of using the 3000 for encryption is the server's hobbled status. Encryption draws a lot of horsepower, one of the places you're likely to miss those extra processing cycles that HP takes out of the PA-8700 chip when you use most MPE/iX systems. In a security-crazed world, this seems like a good case for pulling the slowdown code out of MPE/iX N-Class and A-Class systems.

You can always shuffle the 3000 data through a Unix server for encyption, as a leading retailer does in stores throughout the West. Have a look at the Quest Software NFS solution that makes the 3000 a NFS client to aid in this task.

You'll also need to reach for a more secure backup system than STORE; those backups are in clear text. Orbit Software's Backup+/iX and NetBackup 3.4 from Veritas are potential secure backup candidates for MPE/iX. Both use DES 56-bit encryption. Banks need the 256-bit standard, though. There are banks using the 3000 these days, but they're moving away. We'll have a report on that next week from a 3000 app vendor who's making a careful, thorough transition.