IBM's new mainframe automatically encrypts all your company's data

Cesar Mills
July 17, 2017

With data breaches a problem that shows no signs of going away, businesses are increasingly seeking to protect their information with encryption. As a result, encryption performance is seven times faster than on IBM's previous-generation z13 mainframe and, according to IBM, 18 times faster than systems powered by Intel Corp.'s x86 chips.

This means it is possible to encrypt data associated with any application, cloud service or data base all the time, which IBM is claiming as a world first.

IBM has launched a new mainframe system capable of running more than 12 billion encrypted transactions per day, in a bid to wade further into the financial cybersecurity market. The system's advanced cryptographic capability can now extend across any data, network, external device or entire application - such as the IBM Cloud Blockchain service - with no application changes and no impact on business service level agreements.

To demonstrate the use of Z for encryption on cloud services, IBM announced it has opened six new blockchain global data centers in NY, the U.K., Frankfurt, Tokyo, Toronto and Brazil.

"The vast majority of stolen or leaked data today is out in the open and easy to use because encryption has been very hard and expensive to do at scale", said Ross Mauri, general manager, IBM Z.

What the IBM Z does is encrypt all data for an application or cloud service or in a database whether the data is being used actively or residing "at rest".

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The IBM Z key management system is created to meet Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) Level 4 standards.

IBM has rolled out what it called the biggest revamp of mainframe technology in more than a decade with a system that aims to stem the damage caused by data breaches through pervasive encryption. These data centers are securing the cloud service using IBM Z's encryption technology. IBM says of the more than nine billion data records lost or stolen since 2013, only 4% were encrypted. And of course, IBM's solution doesn't stop hackers from taking data - it just prevents them from reading that data. The general idea is that IBM Z will encrypt all data all the time and reduce the attack surface for enterprises about 92 percent.

It is becoming increasingly important for organisations to be able to prove that data is protected in the face of regulations like the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and encryption requirements set for financial institutions by regulators in the Singapore, Hong Kong, and the USA at a federal and state level. IBM Z now allows organizations to encrypt these APIs - the digital glue that links services, applications and systems - almost 3x faster compared to alternatives based on x86 systems. They will face fines of up to 4pc of annual worldwide revenues, or €20m, unless the organisation can demonstrate that data was encrypted and the keys were protected.

Encrypted application programming interfaces so developers can build applications and services.

Mainframes are widely used in sectors such as financial services, government, retail and travel and transportation, and IBM says its transaction engine handles 87 percent of all credit card transactions, 29 billion ATM transactions per year and four billion passenger flights per year. It supports 2,000,000 Docker containers and 1,000 concurrent NoSQL databases.

IBM's new mainframe brings security to a whole new level with end-to-end encryption. With 32Tb of memory, IBM Z offers one of the largest memory footprints in the industry. It does this without any software changes or disruption to business applications and operations. When available, these capabilities will include the support of workflow extensions for IBM Cloud Provisioning and Management for z/OS and real-time SMF analytics infrastructure support.

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