IBM announces breakthrough in encryption and data protection for enterprises

Eloi Lecerf
Julho 17, 2017

The new IBM Z is capable not only of running more than 12-billion encrypted transactions per day, it also features an encryption engine that, for the first time, makes it possible to pervasively encrypt data associated with any application, cloud service or database all the time. IBM says of the more than nine billion data records lost or stolen since 2013, only 4% were encrypted.

As well as the hardware changes, the mainframe range has undergone a discrete change of name: Instead of the awkwardly capitalized z Systems, it's now called IBM Z.

"The vast majority of stolen or leaked data today is 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.

A recent study found that extensive use of encryption is a top factor in reducing the business impact and cost of a data breach.

The IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Index reported that more than 4bn records were leaked in 2016 - a 556pc increase from 2015. Broader use of encryption could reduce the damage to enteprises from such leaks by about 92 percent, IBM estimates. Businesses not already running on IBM Z would have to switch out much more than just their encryption system to benefit.

The x86 systems that IBM Z is up against typically don't have the processing power to encrypt everything, all the time: They take a piecemeal approach, encrypting a password here, a credit card number there, with the result that plenty of personal information is there for the taking, if only hackers can find their way in.

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". The standard practice today is to encrypt small chunks of data at a time, and invest significant labor to select and manage individual fields.

Marie Wieck, general manager, IBM Blockchain, commented: "The powerful combination of IBM Z encryption and secure containers differentiates IBM Blockchain services on the cloud by supporting the trust models new blockchain networks require".

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Tamper-responding encryption keys. A top concern for organizations is protection of encryption keys. This new system allows for a customer to encrypt all data on the mainframe. IBM's key management system hardware causes keys to self-destruct in response to intrusions, and they are then reconstituted after the intrusion, the company said.

IBM said that the mainframe system is set to be the global tech giant's most significant system overhaul in more than 15 years.

This kind of encryption makes sense for security, but it wasn't done in the past because it is very expensive and takes a lot of computing cycles.

The timing is handy given the surge in data breaches and regulations such as the EU's General Data Protection Regulation. For example, auditors are expected to manually inspect and validate the security of databases, applications and 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. And there's pricing model for payment systems, which is based on the volume of payments not capacity. This gives clients much greater flexibility to innovate affordably in a competitive environment, particularly in the fast-growing Instant Payment segment. The systems handle 87pc of all credit card transactions, almost $8trn payments a year and 29bn ATM transactions each year, worth almost $5bn per day.

The mainframe, called IBM Z, seeks to address cyberattacks which have compromised financial data.

IBM say's that the system is created to address the "global epidemic of data breaches" where of the nine billion data records lost or stolen since 2013, only 4% were encrypted.

The world's largest MongoDB instance with 2,5-times faster NodeJS performance than x86-based platforms. It supports 2,000,000 Docker containers and 1,000 concurrent NoSQL databases. The Z also has three times the memory for faster response times and analytics performance and three times faster data movement.

There are some applications that can profit from having one of IBM's mysterious black monoliths in the data center today.

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