IBM Z: Tackling Data Breaches through Encrypted Transactions

Tuesday, October 10, 2017 by Shira Caldie

Increase in Data Breaches

With recent customer data breaches surrounding Equifax and Target Corporation in 2013, it is easy to think that cyber-attacks on sensitive and confidential data is now a common occurrence for large corporations.  However, IBM has recently launched a new mainframe data encryption system called IBM Z.  Research by IBM shows that nearly nine billion digital data records have been compromised since 2013 and only 4 percent of this data was encrypted, meaning, the remaining 96 percent slipped into the dark web for criminal exchange.  A report published in April 2017 by the research firm, Juniper Research, shows that criminal data breaches could cost firms a total of $8 trillion by 2022.

Encrypting data can be expensive, but cost and data security are not comparable when data contains such highly sensitive information.  Investing in data encryption is exactly what IBM is doing.

What Does IBM Z Do?

  • Runs more than 12 billion encrypted transactions per day.
  • Locks data down with public 256-bit AES encryption – the same protocol used in SSL and TSL web encryption.
  • Able to encrypt up to 13 gigabytes of data per second per chip, using roughly 24 chips per mainframe.
  • Keeps data encrypted at all times unless it is actively being processed.

Compliance Automation

With IBM Z comes the ability to automate compliance.  The mainframe will enable companies to comply with new data protection laws, like the European Union’s General Data Protection (GDPR) and the U.S.’s Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC), which is specific to the financial services industry.  IBM Z supports 87 percent of all credit card transactions, which totals nearly $8 trillion worth of payments each year.

Business Resiliency

One of the cornerstone concepts of IBM Z is its dedication to business resiliency.  This includes data driven risks like viruses, risk failures and network problems, business driven risks, like audits and government regulations and event driven risks, like natural or man-made disasters.  IBM Z has positioned itself to help with these types of issues.

While investing in data encryption might be costly, it is something for large corporations to consider when performing transactions with sensitive data, and could save them from a potential data breach down the road.

Image source: