IBM has a solution for hackers

IBM says it has achieved a breakthrough in security technology that will allow every business, from banks to retailers to travel-booking companies, to encrypt their customer data on a massive scale.

The Washington Post reports the computing giant’s breakthrough turns digital information into gibberish that is illegible to thieves with its new mainframe.

“The last generation of mainframes did encryption very well and very fast, but not in bulk,” says Ross Mauri, general manager of IBM’s mainframe business. Mauri estimates that only 4% of data stolen since 2013 was ever encrypted.

As the number of data breaches affecting U.S. entities steadily grows—resulting in the leakage every year of millions of people’s personal information—IBM argues that universal encryption could be the answer to what has become an epidemic of hacking.

The key, the company’s officials say, is an update to the computer chips driving the powerful mainframe servers that house corporate or institutional information and process millions of transactions a day worldwide, from ATM withdrawals to credit card payments to flight reservations.

But because of the enormous computational power needed to quickly encrypt and decrypt information as it passes from one entity to another, many businesses use encryption only selectively, if at all.

A December report by the security firm Sophos found that while 75% of organizations routinely encrypt customer data or billing information, far more do not encrypt their intellectual property or HR records. Sixty percent of organizations also leave work files created by employees unencrypted, the study found.

The Washington Post has the full story.

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