IBM launches new mainframe with focus on security

Hardware encryption boosts performance, integrated security software helps spot intrusion attempts

A new IBM mainframe includes security hardware to encrypt data without slowing down transactions and can integrate with IBM security software to support secure hybrid-cloud services.

ravi srinivasan

Ravi Srinivasan, vice president of strategy and offering management for IBM Security

Thanks to an encryption co-processor, the new IBM z13s mainframe offloads encryption and doubles the speed at which previous mainframes could perform transactions, making for faster completion times and lower per-transaction costs, says Ravi Srinivasan, vice president of strategy and offering management for IBM Security.

Master encryption keys are stored only on the machines so if stored data were stolen, the thieves could not decrypt it. If attempts are made to tamper with the keys on the machines, the keys are rendered useless, he says.

Access to these mainframes requires multi-factor authentication by default and built into the operating system itself to better secure remote access to them. Customers can revert to single factor authentication if desired.

This feature is offered to tighten security as more and more of IBM’s customers grant administrators remote access to the machines so they can do their jobs more easily. That opens up the door to possible unauthorized access, he says.

The mainframe is integrated with IBM Security software platforms that Srinivasan says is meant to protect hybrid cloud environments. These include IBM Security’s QRadar, Identity Governance and Guardium, which offer the following:

  • QRadar correlates data from hundreds of sources to determine whether security events represent threats.
  • Identity Governance and Intelligence governs and audits access to resources based on policies.
  • Guardium tracks which users access what data to help identify possible culprits in the event of breaches.

IBM is linking z13s and its big brother, z13, to z Systems Cyber Security Analytics, which is being developed to analyze normal user behavior in an effort to better spot anomalies that might flag malicious activity. It will be available free under beta to z13 and z13s customers.

IBM z13s is available next month. The company wouldn’t discuss pricing, but did say leases and payment plans are available. New credit-qualified customers can defer payments for 90 days.

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