Hardware Security Module
HSM or hardware security module refers to the physical computing device that can safeguard and manage the digital keys. It is responsible for performing encryption as well as decryption for strong authentication and other such cryptographic functionalities. So it helps enterprises to meet the regulatory standards required for cybersecurity, including HIPAA, GDPR, PCI DSS, eIDAS, etc. It also helps organizations achieve an advanced level of data security and trust. As a result, maintain high business agility and service levels with HSM devices, as these offer the best ways to protect your private keys and other cryptographic operations.
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At a Glance
In this section you will read about :
1. Understanding the types of HSMs
HSM or Hardware Security Module refers to highly trusted, specialized equipment that performs all cryptographic operations, including key management, encryption, key exchange, decryption, authentication, etc. It is known for protecting these cryptographic materials as it offers a highly robust OS along with restricted network access, which is protected using the firewall. Since HSMs are excellent for providing advanced security, organizations consider this to be the Root of Trust.
Mainly, you will come across two types of HSM, namely:
- General Purpose HSMs utilize standard encryption algorithms, like CNG, PKCS#11, CAPI, etc. These are chiefly used with the cryptowallets, Public Key Infrastructures, along with other primary sensitive data.
- Payment and Transaction refer to Payment HSM mainly created with the motto of providing ultimate protection to the users while conducting online transactions. These are known for securing the payment card information along with other sensitive transactional information involved in the activity. Therefore, it is ideal for helping organizations that comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards, also known as the PCI DSS.
2. Can using HSM help your business?
HSM refers to the dedicated computing device that can store and secure cryptographic keys. How can it help any business? HSM is ideal for encrypting the IT data and information in any organization. Some of the reasons for switching to HSM devices are:
- HSMs are the standalone network-connected equipment, ideal for protecting the company’s cryptographic keys throughout their lifecycle
- Known for generating the most robust cryptographic keys for PKI, as they come with the in-built True Random Number Generators or TRNGs which can offer high unpredictability and randomness, thereby lowering the occurrences of data thefts
- “Zeroization,” a unique aspect of HSMs available for adding security to the company’s cryptographic keys as these are tamper-resistant devices that can destroy or erase all the stored information to avoid compromise
- For adding security to the organization’s services and operations by restricting the functions like signing PKI certificates, documents, apps, etc.
- Load balancing helps in improving the overall server performance, while some of the HSMs can function as web traffic accelerators as they can offload the cryptographic operations
- Protect your cryptographic keys from insecure extractions, which eventually lead to data compromises
- HSM offers high protection to the company’s private PKI keys, which are used by the software systems for testing conditions and internal production, without requiring any direct access to the data
- Helps in ensuring total compliance with the data security regulations to simplify the audit procedures
3. What is a Dedicated HSM? How does it work?
Dedicated HSM refers to the cloud service used for encryption, signature verification, signature, decryption, key generation, etc. It is the easiest and most effective way to secure your keys using encryption hardware certified by CSCA (China State Cryptography Administration). In addition, it is known for guaranteeing overall data security and integrity on ECS (Elastic Cloud Servers), meeting the specific FIPS 140-2 requirements. So, in layman’s terms, it uses multiple algorithms for data decryption and encryption.
Users can now provision HSMs in specific areas using the command-line interface or PowerShell. First, the user can specify the type of virtual network connecting to the HSM device. Once provisioned, it will be available in a specified subnet as an assigned IP address within the customer's private IP address space. Following this, the user can connect to the devices using the SSF for setting up HSM client connections, appliance management and administration, and role assignment.
4. Which sectors use HSM for digital security?
- Cloud service providers as well as vendors
- Certificate authorities
- Government, Defense agencies, and public sector organizations
- Blockchain platforms
- Automotive manufacturers and suppliers
- Entertainment service vendors
- IoT device developers
- Industrial manufacturing
- Energy and Utilities
- Telecommunications, etc.
5. Understanding important HSM features
The different features of HSM that contribute to the security of the encrypted keys are:
- A secured design that is made as per the government standards like Federal Information Processing Standardization (FIPS) 140-2 as well as the Payment Card Industry
- Highly tamper-resistant, which makes the keys resistant to unintentional damage and illicit tampering
- A secure operating system that remains in a protected physical area to prevent unnecessary unauthorized access
- Access controls make the devices inoperable in case of any tampering
- Support APIs enabling the application integration along with the custom applications development
6. How much do HSMs cost?
The HSMs typically start from AED 73,000 and the price seems to fluctuate depending on its detailed features and brand value in the market. However, the license/feature set and after-sales support are always priced separately. Some of the top brands offering HSMs are Amazon AWS, Entrust, Microsoft, Thales, etc.
7. How can I find the best HSM service providers?
You can shortlist the best suppliers offering HSM products and services depending on your requirements. However, if you need expert services with onsite installation support in UAE, check out DC Gears, which helps you connect with supply and commissioning of HSM devices at an affordable price. In addition, with its global presence, DC Gears offer you worldwide on-site professional assistance in countries like the United States, UK, Australia, India, Singapore and more. So get in touch with us to know more.
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