IBM's new CPU makes security seamless thanks to powerful encryption

Pablo Tucker
July 17, 2017

For the first time, IBM z automates the process of verifying that data is encrypted and keys are secure.

Given the current climate of fear around hackers and ever-increasing amount of data breaches, IBM obviously believes this system will be an attractive proposition in terms of watertight security and keeping everything encrypted all the time.

And the firm further noted that IBM Z was being introduced to the IBM Cloud as an encryption engine to run IBM Blockchain services in data centres worldwide (Dallas, London, Frankfurt, Sao Paolo, Tokyo and Toronto). "The pervasive encryption that is built into, and is created to extend beyond, the new IBM Z really makes this the first system with an all-encompassing solution to the security threats and breaches we've been witnessing in the past 24 months", said Peter Rutten, analyst at IDC's Servers and Compute Platforms Group.

Of the more than 9-billion data records lost or stolen since 2013, only 4% were encrypted, making the majority of such data vulnerable to organised cybercrime rings, state actors and employees misusing access to sensitive information. Today, the company unveiled the z14, its latest z-Series mainframe, which comes with the considerable draw of full encryption.

The IBM Z (pictured, with IBM distinguished engineer Karl Casserly, left, and hardware engineer Rhonda Sundlof) features what the company calls "pervasive encryption", providing the ability to encrypt all data in an application, database or cloud service.

IBM said it designed IBM Z collaboratively with 150 clients, including security experts and chief security officers. The result is a mainframe that is 18x faster than a x86 system that is focused on only limited chunks of data.

IBM Z is a new mainframe from IBM with a built-in encryption engine that can protect all of a company's data-in a database, the cloud, or an application.

For one, IBM has been steadily improving its encryption algorithms in recent years. While IBM plays an important role in online commerce (its transaction engine handles 87 percent of credit card payments), many companies would likely have to upgrade before you'd see the benefit.

The technology will also help mainframe users meet new data compliance requirements, such as the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation, pointed out Judith Hurwitz, president of the market research and consulting firm Hurwitz & Associates. Broader use of encryption could reduce the damage to enteprises from such leaks by about 92 percent, IBM estimates. With 32Tb of memory, IBM Z offers one of the largest memory footprints in the industry.

1 000 concurrent NoSQL databases. It protects encryption keys with so-called tamper responding hardware which invalidates keys at any sign, and IBM says they can be restored in safety. IBM also integrates with IBM Blockchain services, the release said, and IBM has announced new container pricing as part of the IBM Z debut. At the time we wrote it was grunty enough to do "real time encryption of all mobile transactions at any scale" up to a claimed 2.5 billion transactions a day. 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. "No, I don't think a company would buy a mainframe just for the encryption".

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