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February 2021

SPARTA President’s Corner

contributed by Randy Springs

As the first month of 2021 ends, we can look back at last year and see many changes in our world and in our work environments. Working from home is now the norm for most of us in the IT world, and business travel is almost non-existent. Let’s hope that 2021 continues to bring us back to more normal means of communication and teamwork. For the foreseeable future, we will be holding our SPARTA meetings via Zoom format. Hopefully, we can resume meetings at LabCorp in 2022.

For our February meeting, Jeff Cherrington of ASG will explain many of ASG’s mainframe product offerings. Please join your colleagues at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, February 2, on Zoom. Watch for meeting connection information coming your way soon.

Randy Springs

Future Speakers

(subject to change)

Feb. 2, 2021 - ASG Mainframe Offerings and Data Security by Jeff Cherrington of ASG

Mar. 2, 2021 - TBA

Apr. 6, 2021 - SHARE 2021 Virtual Summit Report by Ed Webb of SPARTA

We need ideas and volunteers for future speakers. Presentations don’t have to be fancy, just informative and interesting. Even a 5 or 10 minute talk can start an interesting interaction. Contact Ron Pimblett by phone as noted below.

2020-2021 SPARTA

Board of Directors

Randy Springs - President

Truist                  (919) 745-5241

3200 Beechleaf Court, Suite 300

Raleigh, NC 27604

Ron Pimblett - Vice President

MDI Data Systems

Land line 613 599 6970

Mobile 613 981 6919

190 Guelph Private

Kanata, ON K2T 0J7

Chris Blackshire - Secretary

Retired (Dell, Perot Systems, Nortel)  (919) nnn-nnnn


Durham, NC 27713

Randy Springs - (Acting) Treasurer

BB&T                  (919) 745-5241

see Randy

Springs earlier

Ed Webb -  Communications Director

Retired (SAS Institute Inc.)  (919) nnn-nnnn


Apex, NC 27523

Mike Lockey -  Web Master

Guilford Co. Information Services  336-641-6235

201 N. Eugene St.

Greensboro, NC 27401


Coronavirus Change: All meetings for the foreseeable future will be held online via the Zoom App. The link to meeting is sent to SPARTA Mailing list within 24 hours of the meeting time for security reasons. Stay safe.

Meetings are scheduled for the first Tuesday evening of each month (except no meeting in January), with optional dinner at 6:15 p.m. and the meeting beginning at 7:00 p.m.

These monthly meetings usually are held at LabCorp’s Center for Molecular Biology and Pathology (CMBP) near the Research Triangle Park (see last page). Take I-40 to Miami Boulevard and go north. Turn right onto T.W. Alexander Drive. Go about a mile or so. Then turn right into LabCorp complex and turn Left to the CMBP Building (1912 T.W. Alexander Drive). In the lobby, sign in as a visitor to see Bill Johnson. Bill will escort you to the conference room.

Call for Articles

If you have any ideas for speakers, presentations, newsletter articles, or are interested in taking part in a presentation, PLEASE contact one of the Board of Directors with your suggestions.

Newsletter e-Mailings

The SPARTA policy is to e-mail a monthly notice to our SPARTA-RTP Group. The newsletter is posted to the website about five (5) days before each meeting so you can prepare. The SPARTA-RTP Group is maintained by Chris Blackshire; if you have corrections or problems receiving your meeting notice, contact Chris at

December 2020 “CBT Tape” Shareware Online

The directory and files from the latest CBT tape V500 (dated December 20, 2020) are available from

If you need help obtaining one or more files, contact Ed Webb (see Board of Director’s list for contact info).

Minutes of the December 1, 2020 Meeting

• The meeting was called to order at 7:05 PM by Randy Springs, the SPARTA President.

• This ninth (April to December) virtual SPARTA meeting was held via the Zoom Software.

• Seventeen (17) people were present at the virtual meeting.

• Our business portion of the meeting followed after the presentation.

• For the Roundtable, everyone introduced themselves, told where they worked, talked about working from home, and briefly described their job functions and what they've been doing at work and home.


• The minutes of the November 3, 2020 meeting as published in the December 2020 Newsletter were approved.

• The November 30, 2020 Treasurer's report (no April-November income or expenses) as published in the December 2020 Newsletter was approved. As of November 30, 2020, the current balance was $1,429.66.

• Call For Articles: Articles are needed for this newsletter. If you would like to write an article for this newsletter, please contact Ed Webb. Keep in mind that you don't really need to write the article, it can be an article that you read that you would like to share with the membership.

• The SPARTA Web page is available. To access the SPARTA Web page, point your Web browser to this site: Please send any comments or suggestions about the Web page to Mike Lockey. Be sure to check the Web page every once in a while to see any new or changed information.

• 2021 meeting dates, Future Speakers and Topics (subject to change based on internal politics, budget, the weather):





February 2, 2021

ASG Technologies

Jeff Cherrington

ASG Mainframe Offerings and Data Security

March 2, 2021




April 6, 2021


Ed Webb

SHARE 136 Update
Virtual, Mar. 02-24, 2021

May 4, 2021



May the Fourth Be With You

June 1, 2021




June 29, 2021




August 3, 2021




August 31, 2021



SHARE 137 Update
Columbus, Aug. 2-7, 2021

October 5, 2021




November 2, 2021




December 7, 2021




If you have suggestions about speakers and topics, contact Ron Pimblett.

• The next SPARTA monthly meeting will be held virtually on Tuesday, February 2, 2021.

• The 2021 membership fee is due ($30) starting in February 2021. Please pay Randy Springs.

• Thanks to Randy Springs for virtually hosting the meeting via Zoom.

• There are currently 101 people on the SPARTA-RTP e-mail list.

• Send any e-mail address changes to Chris Blackshire so he can update the SPARTA-RTP Listserv. You will be added by the moderator (Chris = sending you an invitation to Join the list.

• Randy Springs is looking for a new Treasurer volunteer. He projects about 2 hours per month is needed.
- The treasurer position duties are:
- - Collect dues and pay expenses at each monthly meeting.
- - Deposit income at the Truist bank monthly.
- - Make an updated monthly Excel income-expense list for the monthly newsletter.
- - Give a Treasurer report at each meeting.
- - One Time: Be added to the checking account authorization.
- Contact Randy Springs if you are interested.

• LabCorp Meeting Place Update: no update needed from Bill Johnson.


• Yahoo is ending their Group email ListServ service on December 15, 2020. Chris and Ron will start looking for a replacement Listserv service to use for the February 2, 2021 meeting announcement emails. Possibilities discussed were Mail Chimp, Google groups, GoDaddy, Gaggle Mail, and Lsoft Listserv. If anyone has ideas, please contact Chris or Ron.

• Changing the SPARTA web page from HTTP to HTTPS. Chris to contact Mike Lockey about what would be involved.

• The Business portion of the meeting ended about 8:45 P.M.

• Presentation Topic: Tales from the Road; Teaching Mainframe Hacking

by Mark Wilson, Senior Director Consulting Services and Chad Rikansrud, Director N. A. Mainframe Services, BMC Mainframe Services by RSM Partners

What Is EM?
Where have we been?
The Fun Part
What did we learn
The Question
Demo Time

• Presentation Access - See Below for a full outline of the presentation. See the SPARTA webpage for the complete presentation.

Contact Info:
Speaker: Mark Wilson
Senior Director Consulting Services
Mobile in U.K.: +44 (0) 7768 617006
Speaker: Chad Rikansrud
Director N.A. Mainframe Services
Phone: 713-918-2950

BMC Mainframe Services by RSM Partners

• The December 1, 2020 monthly meeting ended about 8:45 P.M.

Treasurer’s Report for December 2020

contributed by Randy Springs

The balance in the account is $1489.66 as of December 31, 2020.

SPARTA Financial Report
4/01/2020 through 12/31/2020


Opening Balance 4/1/2020


Total Deposits

Food money donated











Web Site


Petty Cash


Bank Service Charges






PETTY CASH on hand




Items of Interest

SPARTA Schedule and Menu for 2021

contributed by Chris Blackshire

Feb 2, 2021 - Chicken
Mar 2, 2021 - Subs (SHARE 136 Virtual, March 2-4, 9-11, 16-17, and 23-24)
Apr 6, 2021 - BarBQ (Ed Webb speaker topic SHARE 136)
May 4, 2021 - Pizza
June 1, 2021 - Chicken
June 29, 2021 - Subs (July 5 holiday is in the July 6 week)
Aug 3, 2021 - BarBQ (SHARE 137, August 08-13, 2021)
Aug 31, 2021 - Pizza (Labor Day holiday is Monday Sept 6) - Speaker Ed Webb, topic SHARE 137
Oct 5, 2021 - Chicken
Nov 2, 2021 - Subs
Dec 7, 2021 - BarBQ
Jan 4, 2022 - No meeting!

IBM software electronic delivery change - take notice!

contributed By Ed Webb

Marna Walle of IBM, and a recent SPARTA presenter, posted this SHARE blog entry on Wednesday, January 27, 2021, notifying us about critical changes with IBM Software Delivery on Friday, April 30, 2021.

" This should be read by all IBM customers that download software (products and service) to see if they are impacted, and for possible changes.

On April 30, 2021, IBM is planning to remove support for Transport Layer Security (TLS) 1.0 and TLS 1.1 from the IBM software download servers. The affected servers are used for downloading files for the following z/OS software offerings:

* PTFs and HOLDDATA ordered using the SMP/E RECEIVE ORDER command

* PTFs ordered using Shopz

* PTFs ordered using ServiceLink

* Products in ServerPac and CBPDO offerings ordered using Shopz

* Products in CustomPac offerings "

If you use FTPS to drive the software download from your IBM Z mainframe, you are affected. Shops that use HTTPS are not affected. For FTPS users, look at the TLSMECHANISM statement in your FTP.DATA file. If it specifies ATTLS, no worries. But if, like mine, it reads FTP, act now to make the change to ATTLS or HTTPS. To find out more about what's happening and how to make the changes, read Marna's article and follow the links she provides in this Marna's Musings blog entry at

Pervasive Encryption: Upgrading AT-TLS to TLS 1.2 or 1.3

contributed By Ed Webb

Chris Meyers of IBM, and a recent SPARTA Presenter, encourages shops to move to TLS 1.2 or 1.3 soon. IBM itself is changing its software delivery process this Spring to require TLS 1.2. If you pull IBM service directly to your mainframe, be sure you are using TLS 1.2 or switch to it right away to avoid issues.

"Mainframe customers take security seriously. Chris Meyer, senior technical staff member at IBM, spoke about pervasive encryption and upgrading to TLS 1.2 and preparing for TLS 1.3 in his SHARE Fort Worth Best Strategic Partner session, “Pervasive Encryption: AT-TLS, Upgrading to TLS 1.2 and Preparing for TLS 1.3.” Transport Layer Security (TLS), which evolved from the old Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol, is a key element in complying with local, government, and industry data protection standards. TLS is also an important part of any IBM Z Pervasive Encryption strategy, Meyer says.

According to Meyer, TLS provides peer and data authentication, data integrity, and data privacy protection to TCP/IP network connections using a variety of cryptographic algorithms. Application-Transparent TLS (AT-TLS) is a feature of the z/OS Communications Server that provides TLS protection for z/OS TCP/IP workloads regardless of programming language and without requiring modification to the application source code. For customers who have users and applications that connect to z/OS over TCP/IP, the chances are that customers need to consider AT-TLS."

Learn more about using AT-TLS to make this change soon in this SHARE blog entry at

ISPF Editor Can Foster Higher Quality Work, Improve Productivity

Contributed by Ed Webb

"Mainframers are aware that the Interactive System Productivity Facility (ISPF) editor, introduced in the 1970s, is easy to learn and helps with basic editing. The editor also has many powerful functions that enable users to manipulate source code and edit and analyze data, noted Dan Dirkse, president of Iuvo Technologies, Inc., at SHARE Fort Worth during his SHARE Best Session "ISPF Master Class: Edit - from A to .ZLAST." He added that there have been a number of additions to edit/view over the years that may have been missed.

"We often think we are too busy to invest time in ourselves," said Dirkse. "Learning how to use our tools increases our personal productivity and the quality of our work, and is more than worth the effort expended. As the session name implies, ‘Edit – from A to .ZLAST,’ I touched on every primary and line command, highlighting those that greatly improve my productivity. Additionally, I introduced the Edit service and Edit macros."

Find out more about ISPF Edit Service and Edit macros in this SHARE blog article.


Wit and Wisdom continued

contributed by Ed Webb

Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you'd have preferred to talk.
Don't be irreplaceable. If you can't be replaced, you can't be promoted.
How long a minute is depends on what side of the bathroom door you're on.

Pride is what we have; vanity is what others have.
Success usually occurs in private and failure in full view.
The difference between reality and fiction: fiction has to make sense.

Membership Information

Don’t Forget the Next SPARTA Meeting

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

7 p.m.

Location: Online

Information about access to our online meeting will be sent to our e-mail list by Tuesday, February 2.

Free Food before meeting: Your Food at Your Home


ASG Mainframe Offerings and Data Security

Speaker: Jeff Cherrington of ASG

SPARTA Corporate Sponsors:

DTS Software

Rocket Software

Software Diversified Services


December 2020 Presentation outline

• Presentation Topic: Tales from the Road; Teaching Mainframe Hacking

by Mark Wilson, Senior Director Consulting Services and Chad Rikansrud, Director N. A. Mainframe Services, BMC Mainframe Services by RSM Partners

What Is EM?
Where have we been?
The Fun Part
What did we learn
The Question
Demo Time

- Chad Rikansrud
- - Director N.A. Mainframe Services
- - Mainframer for about 15 years
- - Prior led teams for large financial services org
- - Hacker
- - Speaker (DEF CON, blackhat, RSA, SHARE, etc.)
- - Technical background mainly UNIX, network, reverse engineering
- Mark Wilson
- - Senior Director Mainframe Services
- - Been a Mainframe since May 1980
- - Operator > Senior Operator > Shift Leader > Ops Analyst > Systems Programmer > Consultant
- - Mainframe Security Specialist; especially Penetration Testing and Security Assessments
- - Passion for fast things (Motorcycles and Cars)
- - Real Football! [soccer]
- - Scuba Diving

What is EM?
- Why is it called “Evil Mainframe”?
- The Class
- - This first of its kind mainframe hacking class teaches you the techniques you need to conduct mainframe penetration tests. Using a live z/OS mainframe you'll get the ability to put the classroom teachings in to practice
- Three main sections
- - Techniques
- - Hands On
- - CTF

Where have we been?
- Places Visited
- - London, Copenhagen, Singapore, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Sydney and most of the USA!
- Comments from our wives
- - You two spend more time with each other than you do us!
- - There was a price to be paid!

The Fun Part (pictures no copied - see presentation on SPARTA webpage)
No I Said the Fun Part!! (pictures not copied - see presentation on SPARTA webpage)

What did we learn?
- Next generation of MF security folks might not be traditional Mainframers!
- Why?
- Role of the traditional Mainframer (training, knowledge transfer and yes, some of you will do this role too (we had some Mainframers in our classes that were sharp! – eg. Copenhagen))

Questions, Questions, Questions!!
- Asking questions no one asks in SHARE and GSE, etc.
- And ultimately led to this one question

The Question
- Can USS/OMVS Superuser be used as the basis for z/OS system takeover?

Discussion of the question
- Could USS/OMVS Superuser be used to compromise a mainframe z/OS system?
- Our collective view at the times was NO!
- But it can do APF right?
- - No; Superuser does not grant the authority to switch from problem State to Supervisor State
- What can it do?
- - Well it can Mount and Unmount Filesystems

So the gloves were off and off we went to see what we could do

What did we learn?
- Editing z/OS aggregate directly – Worked!
- Still had a problem in that we still needed to mount it
- What about UNIXPRIV superuser.filesys.mount / usermount?
- Hold on a minute.. Do we have something here?
- We now have Carry-in exploits!



The virtual presentation ended about 7:55 PM followed by the business meeting.