Resource Access Control Facility
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RACF, short for Resource Access Control Facility, is an IBM software product. It is a security system that provides access control and auditing functionality for the z/OS and z/VM operating systems. RACF was introduced in 1976.
Its main features are:
- Identification and verification of a user via user id and password check (authentication)
- Identification, classification and protection of system resources
- Maintenance of access rights to protected resources (authorization)
- Control the means of access to protected resources
- Logging of accesses to a protected system and protected resources (auditing)
RACF establishes security policies rather than just permission records. It can set permissions for file patterns — that is, set the permissions even for files that do not yet exist. Those permissions are then used for the file (or other object) created at a later time.
RACF has continuously evolved to support such modern security features as digital certificates/public key infrastructure services, LDAP interfaces, and case sensitive IDs/passwords. The latter is a reluctant concession to promote interoperability with other systems, such as Unix and Linux. The underlying zSeries hardware works closely with RACF. For example, digital certificates are protected within tamper-proof cryptographic processors. Major mainframe subsystems, especially DB2 Version 8, use RACF to provide multi-level security (MLS).