IBM Launches Super-Secure Mainframe for Encrypted Hybrid Clouds

IBM's new z13s encrypts data at twice the speed of prior generations and new security analytics identify malicious behavior based on learned activity.

cloud security

ORLANDO, Fla.—IBM continues to prove that the mainframe is very much still alive and well, this time by announcing a new mainframe that delivers the security of data encryption without slowing down system performance to midsize organizations.

The new system, the IBM z13s, is optimized for hybrid cloud environments and can help secure information and transactions better than before, IBM said. IBM highlighted the new mainframe at its PartnerWorld Leadership Conference here.

IBM also announced new security partnerships and integrated innovations for the mainframe, such as security embedded into the hardware. The new z13s has advanced cryptography features built into the hardware that allow it to encrypt and decrypt data twice as fast as previous generations, protecting information without compromising performance.

IBM also is integrating mainframe technology with IBM Security software solutions to create a more secure foundation for a hybrid cloud infrastructure. And IBM is offering a new Cyber Security Analytics service to z Systems customers that can help identify malicious activity by learning user behavior over time.

In addition, IBM is working with leaders in the cyber-security industry through the "Ready for IBM Security Intelligence" partner program to help deliver enterprisewide solutions and offerings tailored to specific client needs. The new partners for z Systems are BlackRidge Technology, Forcepoint—a joint venture of Raytheon and Vista Equity Partners—and RSM Partners.

"Fast and secure transaction processing is core to the IBM mainframe, helping clients grow their digital business in a hybrid cloud environment," said Tom Rosamilia, senior vice president of IBM Systems, in a statement. "With the new IBM z13s, clients no longer have to choose between security and performance. This speed of secure transactions, coupled with new analytics technology helping to detect malicious activity and integrated IBM Security offerings, will help midsize clients grow their organization with peace of mind."

IBM said the typical enterprise can face an average of 81 million security incidents annually. The incidents and threats are escalating and evolving as companies increase interactions to their network through mobile devices and cloud networks, with industry analyst IDC forecasting 80 percent enterprise hybrid cloud adoption by 2017. Cyber-criminals are now manipulating data, rather than stealing it, compromising its accuracy and reliability. The z13s provides access to APIs and microservices in a hybrid cloud setting while keeping data integrity intact, IBM said.

"Key to protecting the enterprise and new cloud deployments is managing access at the earliest possible time based on user and device identity," said Bob Graham, CEO of BlackRidge Technology, in a statement. "Even being able to identify endpoints via network scanning can be an entry point for malicious hackers, whose methods are becoming more and more advanced. As a member of the Ready for IBM Security Intelligence partner program for z Systems, we have been able to offer our identity-based network protection for the mainframe to provide a new level of protection against today's advanced threats."

BlackRidge Technology delivers identity-based network security that operates before network connections are established and security defenses engage at the application layer. BlackRidge determines and authenticates user or device identity on the first packet before network connections are established. This provides the equivalent of secure caller ID for the network that allows only identified and authorized users or devices access to enterprise systems, stopping known and even unknown threats.

IBM's z13s, the new entry point to the z Systems portfolio for enterprises of all sizes, is packed with security innovations. The z13s includes an updated cryptographic and tamper-resistant hardware-accelerated cryptographic coprocessor cards with faster processors and more memory, providing encryption at twice the speed as previous mid-range systems. This means clients can process twice as many high-volume, cryptographically protected transactions as before without compromising performance. This equates to processing twice as many online or mobile device purchases, IBM said.

Moreover, z Systems clients can take advantage of the z Systems Cyber Security Analytics offering, which delivers an advanced level of threat monitoring based on behavior analytics. The solution, being developed by IBM Research, learns user behaviors and is then able to detect anomalous patterns on the platform, alerting administrators to potential malicious activity. Along with IBM Security QRadar security software, which can correlate data from more than 500 sources to help organizations determine if security-related events are simply anomalies or potential threats, z Systems now delivers breakthrough intelligent security solutions that offer end-to-end protection based on advanced analytics. z Systems Cyber Security Analytics service will be available as a no-charge, beta offering for z13 and z13s customers.