Pervasive Encryption Simplifies Mainframe Security

On July 17, IBM unveiled its z14 mainframe server, which combines the traditional mainframe hardware with new capabilities in areas such as cloud, cognitive, analytics, application management, blockchain, machine learning and more. Most importantly, z14 includes enhanced security features — namely, pervasive encryption — to help clients stay one step ahead of cyberthreats.

Access protection inside the mainframe is based on the storage security keys mechanism, which is typical of the hardware. These keys ensure that access to data through the hardware and can be locked or unlocked by every software interface within the mainframe. This makes the hardware security-rich by design. In other words, the access protection hardware feature already works with a software interface in an easy and intuitive way.

The image represents the front picture of the new just annnounced IBM z14.

Figure 1: The new IBM z14 (Source: IBM)

Watch the on-demand webinar: Your Mainframe Environment in a Treasure Trove

Introducing Pervasive Encryption

Of course, access protection is not the only security measure we need to consider. We must also focus on encryption, especially when security regulations come into play. In the past, mainframe data encryption was based on on-chip cryptography and cryptocards, which limited de facto software interactions with the hardware.

With z14, for the first time in the 50-year history of mainframe technology, encryption is pervasive. This feature adds software-based security intelligence to the mainframe’s robust encryption mechanism, allowing security solutions to leverage hardware-based cryptography like never before.

The image represents a big picture of this new very important feature of the just announced IBM z14.

Figure 2: The new IBM z14 pervasive encryption feature (Source: IBM)

Pervasive encryption enables customers to encrypt data at the database, data set or disk level. If they so choose, they can even encrypt 100 percent of their data. The most crucial benefit of pervasive encryption, however, is that it does not require customers to change or adjust applications. Each app will have an internal encryption-decryption mechanism, allowing clients to apply cryptography without altering the app itself.

This feature should alleviate many pain points associated with the EU’s upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which governs how companies around the world handle personal data belonging to EU residents. Pervasive encryption can simplify security professionals’ responsibility to protect such information and help them keep up with the evolving regulations surrounding data privacy.

Learn More

To learn more, watch our recent on-demand webinars, “Your Mainframe Environment in a Treasure Trove: Is Your Sensitive Data Protected?” and “Protection Begins With Data at the Center: Encrypt It All With z Systems Pervasive Encryption.” You can also read our introductory redbook or view a demo of pervasive encryption from the IBM Client Center in Montpellier, France.

Thanks to Giuseppe Ranieri, Francesco Bertagnolli, Michael Jordan and Nick Sardino for their help and contributions to this article.

Watch the on-demand webinar: Your Mainframe Environment in a Treasure Trove

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Nico Chillemi

Executive IT Specialist, IBM

Nico Chillemi is an Executive IT Specialist in IBM Italy who mainly serves as the Technical Sales Leader in Europe for the System Management on zSystems software segment. He is a leader of the IT Specialist Profession in Italy and is also a member of the IBM Academy of Technology Leadership Team. He is an expert in automation and security software on mainframe and can speak to emerging technologies.