Hardware Security Modules (HSM)

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What is Hardware Security Module (HSM) or what does HSM stand for?

Hardware security module is one of the forward-looking computing devices, responsible to manage the authentication, encryption, decryption, transaction signing, key management, pin generation and tokenization under a secured environment. It performs all that through ‘Cryptography’ technology. Some of you must be having a question, what is Cryptography? Well, the process of converting plain text (readable) to the encrypted (secret) code and vice-versa is performed through a methodology, namely ‘Cryptography’. And, it is used to secure data against unethical access. In order to manage all this, it secures all the phases of cryptographic key life cycle including key generation, key distribution, key storage, key usage, key replacement, key revocation, key deletion, and much more. These keys are used to validate/secure transactions and user identities.

Installing an HSM device is certainly a great way to reduce the IT management cost, as this elegantly designed machine quickly performs the following tasks:

  • Identity verification to ensure the legitimacy of any user accessing the respective application.
  • Digital signing of multiple documents within seconds, which certainly quickens your workflow management.
  • PIN/OTP token generation to make the online payments secured. It is mainly used by banking and other apps dealing in financial transactions.
  • Key storage to secure database passwords as well as private keys of servers.

The Workflow of Hardware Security Module (HSM) or how HSM device works?

Step 1: The user opens a website or app.

Step 2: The request goes to the web server/App server.

Step 3: The private key of the app or website is stored in HSM device, which is matched accordingly.

Step 4: Right after authentication, the response is sent back to the client machine.

HSM device comes under two categories such as financial HSM and general purpose HSM. A general purpose HSM is useful for tasks related to PDF signing, database security, invoicing, etc. Conversely, financial HSM device is used for various financial based transactions including pin generation, card issuance, OTP token generation and other associated tasks. There are distinct types of HSM devices available in the market today. However, the functionality of each one of them remains similar, but there may be some pros and cons if it’s about matching the features per your business requirements. Hence, you can buy HSM device according to your business requirements. HSM cost may vary according to the type of HSM devices:

Network HSM: The organizations, looking for first-grade security for the cryptographic keys, can opt for this HSM device. This well-designed machine can be integrated with various applications to reinforce your complete encryption architecture. Moreover, its advanced design restricts unauthenticated users to modify its settings, which means it will stop working if an intruder tries to modify its hardware configuration.

USB HSM: If you require the convenience of key management through a portable device, then USB HSM can be your preferred choice, as it is powered with a stunning USB interface. Moreover, its advantage of being loaded with an onboard key storage makes it stand out from other devices in its class. In nutshell, it facilitates you to plug/unplug and hold the small device containing root keys, which is known to be extremely convenient if you are on the go.

Java HSM: If your objective is to deploy web applications, java based applications or web services under a secured environment, then this machine can help you fulfill the purpose. It supports the J2S development methodology, and is coupled with a wide range of tools that bring ease to app development.

PCI HSM : This device can be installed into your application server within less cost. It is an easy to integrate device, which certainly helps you experience cutting-edge cryptographic security. This HSM is the most suitable device for the conglomerates that are in the pursuit of securing their encryption keys under budget.

Now, let’s discuss the configuration of HSM device. Well! Configuring HSM appropriately is extremely important to get the best out of it, as a tiny error in HSM can lead to major technical issues. Thus, it is recommended getting it installed/configured only by a qualified technician because your IT security should never be compromised even by a pixel. Buy an HSM device today to streamline your business process and IT security.