Home Case Studies Abraxas - IBM case study - Security Boosting IT security and simplifying user management
Abraxas Informatik AG modernizes security experience for business-critical enterprise applications
Abraxas building entrance in a illumined street

Modern government organisations depend heavily on the ability to maintain security in digital systems. Abraxas Informatik AG, a leading IT services provider in the public sector in Switzerland, is aiming to futureproof digital tax services through improved security and tighter integration.

Owned by Swiss cantons and municipalities, Abraxas has been delivering fast and efficient digitalization of government services for Swiss residents for years. Millions of people already rely on the smooth, secure and efficient operation of e-government services that the company provides. To protect even more effectively against proliferating cyber threats, Abraxas wanted to strengthen the security of key tax services used by a number of cantons and municipalities. Kurt Gantner, Systems Engineer at Abraxas Informatik AG, says: “To improve cyber protection, we wanted to enable more sophisticated password and security policies. One challenge was that we needed to find a way to harden our security measures in a cost-efficient way without having to manually update over 1,000 programs individually to benefit from state-of-the-art security.”

As Abraxas provides a wide range of solutions for cantons and municipalities of different sizes, the company needed a flexible security solution that could be integrated with various identity and access management solutions. René Seiler, Program Manager at Abraxas Informatik AG, confirms: “It was important for our business that we could configure the security policies separately for our various tenants and clients. We wanted to benefit from tried-and-tested standard solutions that would help us streamline compliance, boost security and modernise the login and user experience.”

>1,000 programs

Increases security with multi-factor authentication without changing code.

7,000 users

Enables highly flexible authentication with single sign-on.

By using standard software for multi-factor authentication, we can futureproof our IT security. As new ways to authenticate are added to IBM Z MFA, we will be able to leverage the latest security technologies – without having to develop and maintain our own integrations. René Seiler Program Manager Abraxas Informatik AG
Boosting security with flexible multi-factor authentication

As Abraxas was exploring its options, the team attended a Guide Share Europe (GSE) event where IBM Z Multi-Factor Authentication (IBM Z MFA) was presented and realized that the capabilities of IBM Z MFA met the company’s needs precisely. Daniel Cattin, Systems Engineer at Abraxas Informatik AG, remembers: “When we understood how easy it was to implement IBM Z MFA and what we could do with it, we decided to deploy a proof of concept.”

The team at Abraxas worked closely with IBM to integrate IBM Z MFA with its custom-developed identity and access management solution based on OpenLDAP software. Using the IBM Z MFA Out-of-Band authentication feature, Abraxas could flexibly add multiple factors depending on individual user and tenant requirements.

“With IBM Z MFA, we can simplify access management and enhance logon security,” says Kurt Gantner. “Our applications offer high security through the IBM z/OS RACF Security Server. By deploying IBM Z MFA, we can seamlessly add more complex security and password policies to increase security further and facilitate compliance.”

Following its initial proof of concept, the team plans to expand the solution and roll it out to more clients with a range of different user management solutions. “One of our large clients is using Microsoft Active Directory,” adds Daniel Cattin. “IBM Z MFA helps us to integrate easily with any identity and access management. This boosts security and improves the overall user experience with a simplified single-sign on offering, and potentially even highly secure passwordless authentication capabilities.”

Thanks to IBM Z MFA we can now support very flexible authentication options more easily. These new, cutting-edge login capabilities enhance the security for our tax applications without substantial changes in costs for us. Kurt Gantner ICT System Engineer Abraxas Informatik AG
Protecting enterprise applications with a cost-efficient standard solution

Using IBM Z MFA, Abraxas can modernize the enterprise security and improve protection its applications running on IBM Z, without having to update and customize individual programs. “Thanks to IBM Z MFA, we do not need to change our program code on IBM Z,” confirms Kurt Gantner. “This makes it much easier and faster to meet new security requirements and customer needs by enabling more advanced password policies and a wide range of multi-factor authentication options.”

Abraxas is planning to roll out IBM Z MFA to one canton with about 1,000 users. “Our focus right now is on tax applications for our canton and municipality customers,” adds René Seiler. “The goal is to activate multi-factor authentication for around 7,000 users of our tax solutions.”

Integrating its tax applications with external identity management solutions also simplifies user administration at Abraxas. “We frequently have to deal with adding and removing users or adjusting permissions,” says Daniel Cattin. “We also have to handle support calls when users cannot log in. With IBM Z MFA, we no longer need to synchronise users across different systems and troubleshooting becomes easier, because the user configuration can be done directly by our clients. The ability to integrate our clients’ existing identity management systems reduces our administration and support workload substantially.”

A major advantage of IBM Z MFA for Abraxas is that the organisation will benefit from the ongoing release of new features and developments. “By using standard software for multi-factor authentication, we can futureproof our IT security,” says René Seiler. “As new ways to authenticate are added to IBM Z MFA, we will be able to leverage the latest security technologies – without having to develop and maintain our own integrations. Looking ahead, this will become especially important in the future when we might need to move towards quantum-safe security solutions.”

Kurt Gantner concludes: “Thanks to IBM Z MFA we can now support very flexible authentication options more easily. We can configure different factors for different clients and even require additional factors for individual users. These new cutting-edge login capabilities enhance the security for our tax applications without substantial changes in costs for us.”

Abraxas logo
About Abraxas Informatik AG

Abraxas Informatik AG (link resides outside of ibm.com) is the largest service provider of integrated IT solutions for the public sector in Switzerland. Headquartered in St. Gallen, the company employs around 970 people across all regions. Abraxas connects public administrations, governmental institutions, businesses and the population with efficient, secure and integrated IT solutions and services.

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