Legacy protections extend to ransomware

Whether it’s a Swedish grocery chain, or a major healthcare IT datacenter, local servers everywhere are under attack. Cities and counties endure the threat of ransomware this year. One of the classic legacy benefits presents itself, once more, for protections.

Over the years, proprietary operating platforms become cautious. Transactions run in repeat patterns. The link between users and the database is not open for assaults. Legacy systems are not even participants on the Internet, in some places. Most importantly, the injection of malware becomes a low risk. MPE/iX and OpenVMS now ride this protection, the guardrail of security through obscurity.

The HP 3000 community considers its MPE/iX platform a secure choice. Anyone want to bet,” asks Tracy Johnson, “that currently running HP 3000 applications in plain terminal mode straight-up won’t get hacked by ransomware?”

Johnson says that GUI client-server mode is off the table, with too many unknowns. “Any vulnerability is probably on the client side.”

The downside to using a legacy platform for security is the hardware. In the HP 3000 newsgroup, one reseller is searching for multiple system boards for his N-Class machines. Rail kits are on his shopping list, too.

Emulation, simulation, life extension

Much older HP 3000 systems, which hail from the 1970s, run today. It may not surprise many IT managers to learn that emulation drives a Classic 3000 Series III. That’s a computer last built when Reagan was president. It lives on today as a simulation server.

Gavin Scott, who counts experience in several MPE/iX development shops, brags about his “My Series III” emulation. To be clear, this is a server too old to be a production machine. It does prove how emulation makes any hardware immortal, though.

Scott’s system is a ready to run out of the box emulation of the Classic (stack-based) Series III HP 3000 computer system from around 1980. It includes MPE V/R with all the standard language compilers, BASIC, “as well as my resurrected APL\3000. You’ll also find pretty much all the contributed library software as collected by Keven Miller, the HP 2000 contributed library thanks to Dave Elward, and various other goodies from the golden age of the HP 3000. It also comes with MAME emulations of the HP 2645A and HP 2641A (APL) terminals, and it works great with QCTerm and Reflection  as well.”

A new Classic 3000 SIMH freeware distribution now includes David Bryan’s binary distribution of the hp3000.exe Simulator without any changes. “This means you can also use the source from his website if you want to build the simulator for another OS like Linux, MacOS, or ARM/Raspberry Pi.” The download is free for this history machine.

Keeping 41-year-old legacy hosts online demands emulation, for max reliability. The power of obscurity can be paired with virtualizing hardware for hosting. That’s a non-ransom solution.

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