June 26, 2022
Hardware Security Modules (HSMs)
Hardware Security Modules (HSMs)

A Hardware Security Module (HSM) is a physical device that provides additional security for sensitive data. This type of device is used to provide encryption keys for sensitive functions such as encryption, decryption, and authentication for application, identity, and database use.

These devices may be plug-in cards or embedded in other hardware, including smart cards, consumer electronics, and other external devices. It can be connected to a network server or used offline as a standalone device. Also available as a cloud service.

Businesses use HSMs to separate cryptographic functions related to transactions, identities, and applications from normal operations and control access to those functions. For example, companies can use HSMs to protect trade secrets or intellectual property by ensuring that only authorized individuals can access the HSM to complete the transfer of encryption keys.

Protecting keys in cryptographic systems is critical to maintaining a secure system. However, managing the lifecycle of these keys is challenging. This is where HSM is needed. The HSM manages all aspects of the encryption key lifecycle, including the following six phases:

provisioning. Keys are generated by HSMs, other types of key management systems, or third-party organizations that do this. You must use a true random number generator to generate the key.

  • Backup and save. You should make a copy of your key and keep it safe in case the key is damaged or lost. It can be stored on HSM or external media. The private key must be encrypted before being stored.
  • This involves installing the key on a cryptographic device such as an HSM.
  • Keys are controlled and monitored according to industry standards and the organization’s own internal policies. The cryptographic key management system handles key rotation where new keys are distributed when existing keys expire.
  • A revoked key is held in offline long-term storage where it may be needed to access existing data encrypted with that key.
  • Keys should be securely and permanently destroyed only after it has been determined that they are no longer needed.