Mon, Jul
4 New Articles

Partner TechTip: Help! I Forgot My IBM i Password (Again!)

Security - Other
  • Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times

Discover the euphoria of self-service password reset.


Since the dawn of the technological age, stories have abounded of users writing passwords on Post-It notes and in logbooks. That's because good passwords are hard to devise and even harder to remember. When we concoct one, we hang on to it. What's worse, we use the same username and password everywhere. Many experts believe passwords represent one of the greatest security vulnerabilities; however, they remain a necessary evil. The reality is that passwords will be around for the foreseeable future. And for every password that exists, there's a user who will forget it.

Strengthening Passwords

IBM i's integrated password controls are enforced through a number of system values, including the new multi-setting-capable QPWDRULES value introduced in V6.1. If additional flexibility is required, it's possible to accommodate custom rules in a user-written exit program.


A balance must be found between passwords that are easy to remember and ones that are hard to guess. PCI compliance dictates a minimum length of seven characters, yet PowerTech's annual "State of IBM i Security" study still exposes servers that require only single-character passwords.

"Hello? Help Desk?"

So what happens when users forget their passwords? Invariably, they keep trying to sign on until IBM i considers it a possible intrusion attempt and intervenes.


According to Meta Group, each user places an average of 1.75 calls to the help desk each month, or 21 calls per year. Gartner estimates that up to 30 percent of help desk calls are password-related, with each reset racking up between $51 and $147 in labor costs. Another global advisory firm, Forrester Research, estimates $70 per password reset.


Calculating ROI for a security project can be challenging due to intangible benefits. The financial overhead associated with account lockouts can be calculated using a simple equation:


Annual Cost = [(Number of users) * (annual number of help desk calls per user) * (percentage of calls involving password reset) * (average cost per call)]


Using Meta Group's numbers, a mid-sized organization with 1,000 users receives 21,000 help desk calls per year. Of those, 6,300 (30 percent) are for password resets. Applying Forrester's estimate of $70 per call, this represents a staggering expense of $441,000 every year. For large companies, this cost can easily extend into the millions.

Question the Answer

When using a self-service password reset solution, it's critical that the security of the application not be undermined by weak challenge questions.


Answers should not be easily researched from a person's social network or be known to an ex-spouse, friend, or colleague. Examples of weak (yet common) challenge questions include these:


  • Your mother's maiden name?
  • The name of your oldest child?


Questions should encourage open-ended answers to prevent an intruder from guessing the correct response:


  • What kind of pizza do you like?
  • What is your favorite color?


Questions shouldn't pertain to information that changes over time:


  • Where did you go on vacation last year?
  • What was the last movie you saw?


Good security questions have four common characteristics. The answer to a good security question

  • cannot be easily guessed or researched (safe)
  • doesn't change over time (stable)
  • is memorable
  • is definitive or simple


Acquiring a Solution to the Problem on IBM i

PowerTech's acquisition of Safestone Technologies has enhanced its portfolio with several new solutions, including Password Self Help (PSH), a native IBM i solution that enables users to reset their own forgotten passwords and to re-enable their disabled profiles.


When users forget their passwords, instead of contacting the help desk, they sign on with a special self-help profile that walks them through the process of resetting their account (Figure 1).



Figure 1: Allow users to reset their own passwords.


If the required questions are not answered correctly, the account will be suspended. Correctly answered questions result in an enabled profile and a reset password. All account reset activities are audited.


These are just a few of the features in PSH. Allow us to host you for a discussion and live demonstration or download a free 30-day trial and discover how to immediately start recouping lost productivity, scarce help desk resources, and bundles of money. And, as the television commercial says, "Who doesn't want more cash!?"


Visit the PowerTech website to learn more about PSH.



Robin Tatam

Robin Tatam is the Director of Security Technologies for PowerTech, a leading provider of security solutions for the System i. As a frequent speaker on security topics, he was also co-author of the Redbook IBM System i Security: Protecting i5/OS Data with Encryption. Robin can be reached at 952.563.2768 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



Support MC Press Online


Book Reviews

Resource Center

  • SB Profound WC 5536 Have you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application. You can find Part 1 here. In Part 2 of our free Node.js Webinar Series, Brian May teaches you the different tooling options available for writing code, debugging, and using Git for version control. Brian will briefly discuss the different tools available, and demonstrate his preferred setup for Node development on IBM i or any platform. Attend this webinar to learn:

  • SB Profound WP 5539More than ever, there is a demand for IT to deliver innovation. Your IBM i has been an essential part of your business operations for years. However, your organization may struggle to maintain the current system and implement new projects. The thousands of customers we've worked with and surveyed state that expectations regarding the digital footprint and vision of the company are not aligned with the current IT environment.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT Generic IBM announced the E1080 servers using the latest Power10 processor in September 2021. The most powerful processor from IBM to date, Power10 is designed to handle the demands of doing business in today’s high-tech atmosphere, including running cloud applications, supporting big data, and managing AI workloads. But what does Power10 mean for your data center? In this recorded webinar, IBMers Dan Sundt and Dylan Boday join IBM Power Champion Tom Huntington for a discussion on why Power10 technology is the right strategic investment if you run IBM i, AIX, or Linux. In this action-packed hour, Tom will share trends from the IBM i and AIX user communities while Dan and Dylan dive into the tech specs for key hardware, including:

  • Magic MarkTRY the one package that solves all your document design and printing challenges on all your platforms. Produce bar code labels, electronic forms, ad hoc reports, and RFID tags – without programming! MarkMagic is the only document design and print solution that combines report writing, WYSIWYG label and forms design, and conditional printing in one integrated product. Make sure your data survives when catastrophe hits. Request your trial now!  Request Now.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT GenericForms of ransomware has been around for over 30 years, and with more and more organizations suffering attacks each year, it continues to endure. What has made ransomware such a durable threat and what is the best way to combat it? In order to prevent ransomware, organizations must first understand how it works.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT GenericIT security is a top priority for businesses around the world, but most IBM i pros don’t know where to begin—and most cybersecurity experts don’t know IBM i. In this session, Robin Tatam explores the business impact of lax IBM i security, the top vulnerabilities putting IBM i at risk, and the steps you can take to protect your organization. If you’re looking to avoid unexpected downtime or corrupted data, you don’t want to miss this session.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT GenericCan you trust all of your users all of the time? A typical end user receives 16 malicious emails each month, but only 17 percent of these phishing campaigns are reported to IT. Once an attack is underway, most organizations won’t discover the breach until six months later. A staggering amount of damage can occur in that time. Despite these risks, 93 percent of organizations are leaving their IBM i systems vulnerable to cybercrime. In this on-demand webinar, IBM i security experts Robin Tatam and Sandi Moore will reveal:

  • FORTRA Disaster protection is vital to every business. Yet, it often consists of patched together procedures that are prone to error. From automatic backups to data encryption to media management, Robot automates the routine (yet often complex) tasks of iSeries backup and recovery, saving you time and money and making the process safer and more reliable. Automate your backups with the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution. Key features include:

  • FORTRAManaging messages on your IBM i can be more than a full-time job if you have to do it manually. Messages need a response and resources must be monitored—often over multiple systems and across platforms. How can you be sure you won’t miss important system events? Automate your message center with the Robot Message Management Solution. Key features include:

  • FORTRAThe thought of printing, distributing, and storing iSeries reports manually may reduce you to tears. Paper and labor costs associated with report generation can spiral out of control. Mountains of paper threaten to swamp your files. Robot automates report bursting, distribution, bundling, and archiving, and offers secure, selective online report viewing. Manage your reports with the Robot Report Management Solution. Key features include:

  • FORTRAFor over 30 years, Robot has been a leader in systems management for IBM i. With batch job creation and scheduling at its core, the Robot Job Scheduling Solution reduces the opportunity for human error and helps you maintain service levels, automating even the biggest, most complex runbooks. Manage your job schedule with the Robot Job Scheduling Solution. Key features include:

  • LANSA Business users want new applications now. Market and regulatory pressures require faster application updates and delivery into production. Your IBM i developers may be approaching retirement, and you see no sure way to fill their positions with experienced developers. In addition, you may be caught between maintaining your existing applications and the uncertainty of moving to something new.

  • LANSAWhen it comes to creating your business applications, there are hundreds of coding platforms and programming languages to choose from. These options range from very complex traditional programming languages to Low-Code platforms where sometimes no traditional coding experience is needed. Download our whitepaper, The Power of Writing Code in a Low-Code Solution, and:

  • LANSASupply Chain is becoming increasingly complex and unpredictable. From raw materials for manufacturing to food supply chains, the journey from source to production to delivery to consumers is marred with inefficiencies, manual processes, shortages, recalls, counterfeits, and scandals. In this webinar, we discuss how:

  • The MC Resource Centers bring you the widest selection of white papers, trial software, and on-demand webcasts for you to choose from. >> Review the list of White Papers, Trial Software or On-Demand Webcast at the MC Press Resource Center. >> Add the items to yru Cart and complet he checkout process and submit

  • Profound Logic Have you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application.

  • SB Profound WC 5536Join us for this hour-long webcast that will explore:

  • Fortra IT managers hoping to find new IBM i talent are discovering that the pool of experienced RPG programmers and operators or administrators with intimate knowledge of the operating system and the applications that run on it is small. This begs the question: How will you manage the platform that supports such a big part of your business? This guide offers strategies and software suggestions to help you plan IT staffing and resources and smooth the transition after your AS/400 talent retires. Read on to learn: