IBM’s latest mainframe can encrypt billions of transactions per day

IBM Z seeks to address cyberattacks against banks while helping firms automate financial regulatory compliance

Tags: Cyber crimeIBM (www.ibm.com)United Arab Emirates
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IBM’s latest mainframe can encrypt billions of transactions per day IBM says the IBM Z is the most significant re-positioning of mainframe technology in more than a decade.
By  David Ndichu Published  July 19, 2017

IBM aims to address the global epidemic of data breaches with the IBM Z, the latest of its mainframe systems that is capable of running more than 12 billion encrypted transactions per day.

The new system also introduces a new encryption capable of pervasively encrypting data available from applications, cloud platforms or companies’ databases.

Of the more than nine 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.

IBM says the IBM Z is the most significant re-positioning of mainframe technology in more than a decade, when the platform embraced Linux and open source software.

"The vast majority of stolen or leaked data today is in the open and easy to use because encryption has been very difficult and expensive to do at scale," said Ross Mauri, general manager, IBM Z. "We created a data protection engine for the cloud era to have a significant and immediate impact on global data security."

A recent study found that extensive use of encryption is a top factor in reducing the business impact and cost of a data breach. To put that in context, the IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Index reported that more than four billion records were leaked in 2016 (a 556% increase from 2015). 

However, encryption is often largely absent in corporate and cloud data centres because current solutions for data encryption in x86 environments can dramatically degrade performance (and thus user experience), and can be too complex and expensive to manage. As a result, only about two percent of corporate data is encrypted today, while more than 80 percent of mobile device data is encrypted.

The IBM Z could be particularly attractive to the financial industry.

Already, IBM’s transaction engine already supports 87% of all credit card transactions and nearly $8trn payments a year.

Banks and others in the financial services industry process thousands of transactions per second to keep the world’s financial systems running. The mainframe is more critical than ever for reliably handling high volumes of transaction data.

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