Groundhog Day for Malware

Say it with me: IBM i is NOT immune to malware.

A couple of years ago I wrote a piece called The Real Effects of Malware on IBM i. I thought it laid out a pretty fun yet frighteningly serious story of having an argument with a gentleman on Facebook regarding what’s IBM i fact vs fiction regarding malware and how myself and iTech Solutions colleague Nathan Williams proved it out with some homemade malware and hosed a test system in the process. It really just says everything it needs to.

So a few weeks ago I’m on Facebook again having the same argument with other people.

I’ll not besmirch the original poster’s name in this newsletter article. I just want to highlight his content of the conversation so I can add a few formal rebuttals after I’ve had some additional time to ponder. I’ve cleaned it up a little for the benefit of the readers.

The IFS just like a UNIX or Windows file system is susceptible to viruses, the i/OS is NOT.”

Okay, this comment is pretty much false information. First, the IFS is called the Integrated File System because it’s exactly that. It literally contains ALL TEN IBM i file systems! Here they all are for good measure:

Integrated File System

Root File System










It starts with the Root file system of course.

Every other file system is underneath the root directory. Contained in various places within those file systems is the IBM i operating system. If you expose these file systems through SMB file shares via IBM NetServer, then they are 110% susceptible to malware. See the article above.

No, the IBM OS is NOT susceptible to Malware and PC Viruses…IFS files are of course because they are just PC files anyway, but the architecture of the IBM i and its objects are not going to be attacked by viruses…in my 38 years of IBM midrange including IBM Rochester support, sorry, you are wrong.

Again, there’s a fundamental misunderstanding of what exactly the IFS actually is and what is or isn’t susceptible to malware. And once someone pulls out the years of experience as a reason to accept their argument as gospel then they’ve lost any leg to stand on. It’s a whopping non sequitur. If someone has 50 years in mathematics and …

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