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 into HSM, its usage, HSM manufacturers, the features of HSM, the price of HSM, cloud-based HSM, etc.

(1) HSM is a hardware device 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 provide three important cryptography processes, i.e., encryption, decryption, and authentication, in a secure and tamper-proof manner.

(4) HSM also helps businesses store sensitive data by using cryptography features 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 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 cannot generate enough entropy because of the finite state machine constraint. In comparison, the hardware-based module uses physical processes to generate enough entropy and hence generate a random number that 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, including the tamper-evident mechanism, which ensures maximum security of keys. All the keys have been destroyed automatically if the seal/temper is broken. Other features include a full audit log trail of operations and a 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 and 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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