Hardware Security Module – Cryptographic Solution for Enterprise


Hardware Security Module (HSM) is an integral part of the security of enterprises and big businesses. Below 10 points give an insight of HSM, its usage, manufacturers of HSM, what are the features of HSM, the price of HSM, cloud-based HSM etc.

(1) HSM is a hardware device which is used to store encryption secret keys of the enterprise securely. This module is not for personal use.

(2) Leading manufacturers of HSM are Utimaco, Thales, Ultra Electronics – CIS, Atalla, Futurex, IBM and Gemalto.

(3) HSM helps in providing three important processes of cryptography i.e. encryption, decryption, and authentication in a secure and tamper-proof manner.

(4) HSM also helps businesses to store sensitive data by using features of cryptography such as encrypt, decrypt, signing etc.

(5) HSM is a perfect solution for key generation, key access control, key transport/key establishment, key storage and key destruction.

(6) HSM is built on top of a secure operating system which is free from various computer malware. Thorough security testing is recommended before integrating HSM with other software/hardware modules.

(7) The concept of Strong Key: Random number generation is the must for the strong key. The software-based random key generator is not able to generate enough entropy because of the finite state machine constraint. While the hardware-based module uses physical processes to generate enough entropy and hence generate a random number which satisfies pseudo-random number generator tests.

(8) HSM is quite expensive which ranges from $1000 to $50,000. Hence, many cloud-based HSM also available at affordable prices by Google (https://cloud.google.com/hsm/), Amazon (https://aws.amazon.com/cloudhsm/pricing/), Microsoft (https://azure.microsoft.com/en-in/pricing/details/azure-dedicated-hsm/) etc.

(9) HSM has many features which include the tamper-evident mechanism which ensures maximum security of keys. All the keys have been destroyed automatically if seal/temper is broken. Other features include full audit log trail of operations and backup of encryption keys.

(10) HSM modules can be developed in high-level languages such as C, C++, Java etc. Vendors preferred level 3 or 4 FIPS 140-2 in addition to common criteria compliance  HSM module to ensure maximum security of the product.


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Disclaimer: This tutorial is for educational purpose only. Individual is solely responsible for any illegal act.

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