IBM proposes to encrypt everything, and it has just the mainframe to do it

IBM said it can make data virtually impregnable to hacking. All it would take would be to process every single bit of data to be protected through an IBM mainframe to get encrypted.

The company introduced the latest generation of its Z mainframes, the Z14. The company said the updated processors in this version can encrypt up to 13 gigabytes per second—the entirety of a customer’s application and database data. IBM said the Z14 can do this at one-twentieth the cost of doing the same using a system based on x86 processors.

Bonus? You can use the mainframe to process your data using big data and artificial intelligence techniques. 

It’s an enticing notion given the growing number of companies that are suffering hacks. Two recent hacks, including WannaCry and Petya, replicated themselves in unexpected places. Britain’s National Health Service was taken down. International shipping company Maersk was hit, and so was Telefonica in Spain. None of them were believed to be intended targets.

It is important to note that WannaCry and Petya were both based on malware developed by, and hacked from, the NSA. The NSA won’t comment on how it lost its code.

Most recently, customer information from Verizon was made available online, though Verizon has argued its systems were not hacked.

But as for commercial entities, hardly any are encrypting their data, largely due to the expensive computing power to do so. On IBM’s Z webpage, the company estimated that “only 4% of the 7 billion records recently breached were encrypted.”

Perhaps that’s because a typical breach costs $4 million, according to IBM.

It’s hard to determine if those costs are low because they are relatively harmless, or if they’re low because the legal and/or market-based penalties disregard the full extent of the harm. Either way, $4 million is chump change for companies like Merck and Bell Canada, which have recently been hacked.

So that’s what makes the IBM offer so intriguing. The company is striving to make it affordable to keep data highly secure by making the process of encryption cheaper and easier, compared to the costs of some less strict security measures and paying the paltry $4 million a pop per hack.