May 31, 2017 By Luigi Perrone 3 min read

During the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last year, Industry 4.0 was the main topic of discussion. It was dubbed the fourth industrial revolution, a new technological vision for the entire IT world in which mainframe security plays a crucial role. In this world, the mainframe contains roughly 75 percent of enterprise data and 65 percent of active code.

We know the first three industrial revolutions very well, but this one is a little different because it goes beyond the Internet of Things (IoT). This fourth revolution is based on the strong relationship between machines and human resources that enables virtual reality (VR), thanks to cognitive computing and the evolution of artificial intelligence (AI).

Given this evolution and the hyperconnectivity of unstructured data, where does mainframe security figure into the Industry 4.0 era?

Mainframe Security in the Industry 4.0 Era

This level of human-machine interaction is supported by four key areas. The first, big data, facilitates all the others. Today, machines and humans produce and collect a huge amount of data, both structured and unstructured, but this data is often underused.

IT professionals need advanced analytics capabilities — the second key area — to process all this information and convert it to new business value. The third element, human interaction, enables security teams to work more efficiently toward building an environment driven by cognitive computing and artificial intelligence, which is the fourth and final stage.

These new technologies can work together to help analysts manage high volumes of data. Furthermore, the data will be available immediately for various types of transactions using many different devices connected to a slew of software platforms.

Security by Design and by Default

The Industry 4.0 scenario is characterized by a continuous and fast exchange of data between entities. This causes greater exposure, which requires a strict security policy that addresses data access, infrastructure use, and effective monitoring and alerting. With this in mind, what platform provides more security than the mainframe?

With any new technology, security must be implemented by design and by default. It’s important to establish accurate and thorough processes for creating policies, checking for vulnerabilities, conducting audits, issuing alerts, responding to incidents and managing risk. The mainframe assists security teams with all of the above.

But the primary responsibility of security professionals is to protect data, the crown jewels of Industry 4.0. This requires a strong encryption solution that secures data both at rest and in transit.

The Evolution of Cryptography

Encryption capabilities are built into IBM z Systems mainframes to enable security teams to protect many types of data. If you need to encrypt assets from a database, for example, you can use the DB2 native encryption tool, which does not require additional software. However, IBM Guardium Data Encryption is a more complete solution capable of encrypting DB2 and IBM databases.

Similarly, analysts can choose different encryption solutions based on the state of the data. If the primary goal is to encrypt data in transit, they can use the communication server to implement the system SSL or IPSec. If the data is at rest, analysts can use the encryption facility or leverage a cryptostorage solution for z Systems disks and tapes.

Besides all these software encryption capabilities, IBM offers strong support for hardware encryption without the need to install it. This is not new: In 2001, IBM released the Cryptographic Coprocessor. In the years following, it developed the CP Assist for Cryptographic Functions (CPACF) feature, which delivers high-speed, on-chip cryptography.

The Future of Mainframe Security

For the new z13 system, CPACF was redesigned to handle higher volumes of transactions executed by a variety of applications. Additionally, the new Crypto Express5 feature provides better performance during real-time data encryption without any delay or freeze intervals for applications.

And if that’s not enough, pervasive encryption, which will be introduced with the next z Systems release, will satisfy all data encryption needs. The combined power of these capabilities will drive a mainframe security revolution to usher in the new Industry 4.0 era.

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