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June 14, 2024
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What Is a Hardware Security Module (HSM)

  • June 5, 2024
  • 5 min read
What Is a Hardware Security Module (HSM)

As businesses continue investing in security measures, one element gaining attention is access and document protection. Once these key elements are safe and secure, companies can easily handle attacks without much pressure. 

The main goal of your business security is to deny access to any unauthorized personnel, hence the need for an HSM system. Although it is part of the organization’s security infrastructure, it has the distinct role of ensuring the keys are always safe.  

Due to these capabilities, its roles quickly evolve from on-premises to cloud capabilities.  

If you are looking for the ultimate and last-resort security measures, keep reading to learn more about HSM.

1. What is HSM 

In a simple illustration, HSM is the ultimate security framework for ensuring encryption protocol keys are safe from tampering or access from unknown sources. It is like a storage system to ensure businesses lock all the encryption keys from unwanted people.  

As a secure storage unit, it only allows access to parties with access rights and authority. The primary objective is to act as the security control to determine who can access certain data using encryption and authentication protocols.  In a company, the hardware security module is the ultimate encryption tools that grant employees access to systems by giving them access keys to open databases and decrypt documents. Since the roles are diverse, this can hinder all attack attempts on company data and mainframes.

2. How It Works 

From the surface perspective, HSM is the compartment and the ultimate storage unit for the encryption keys that grant access to other documents. One of the greatest threats to organization security is readily available and accessible keys. That is where HSM comes in to ensure the keys stay in one place and are not scattered. Even authorized sources can’t load and copy any key without permission.  

It is the attack-proof housing for systems and algorithms that generate keys. It designates all key management activities to a specific location and database, ensuring only HSM can perform functions like key generation.  

If attackers gain access to the organization database, they cannot access the keys since HSM operates independently from all the company databases. Secondly, the keys can never be copied to the web servers and files, ensuring they are secure from anyone.  

When attackers gain access to sensitive data through an on-premise or cloud system, they cannot encrypt or access the data to see the content. This is because HSM operates independently, and the hackers cannot access it to get the keys to decrypt data. 

In the event of a successful hack, you can rely on it as the last-resort security solution, ensuring nobody can see the stolen data. Due to its capabilities, it is perfect for companies that hold susceptible information.

3. HSM vs HSMaaS 

Either of these two will prevent attackers from accessing any organization keys. HSMaaS is cloud-based, which makes it more secure than HSM.  

HSM is on-premise-based, like company on-premise services and storage systems. Consequently, it can be vulnerable to breaches because it hosts the central system that generates the codes and keys.  

HSMaaS is cloud-based and offered by a third party. This means hackers can never access it or tamper with it. These capabilities make it ideal for securing on-premise and cloud-based applications and systems. 

4. Types of HSM 

Whether HSM or HSMaaS, you have different technologies to consider which are suitable for your general and specific security needs. For extra safety and security issues, it is best to designate different HSM systems to address specific needs and organizational security.  

General Purpose Hardware Security Module 

It is ideal for certificate management and encryption needs. Generally, you rely on it for data security and protection to secure all the organization’s sensitive data and databases. Based on its capabilities, it is ideal for securing all organizational data. 

Payment-Based Hardware Security Module 

This one protects all financial information. It is perfect for organizations with more customer financial data, such as card details, accounts, passwords, and online payment information. Therefore, it is ideal for ensuring hackers can’t access the most sensitive data. 

Organizations should designate the two to focus on the leading roles. Secondly, they must comply with different regulatory standards and menus. Therefore, having one performing both roles could compromise security due to limited compliance and enforced security measures, 

5. The Importance Of HSM To Your Business 

As your company’s ultimate security system, ensuring compliance with the various data and security laws is essential.  

HSM systems are created based on specific security standards to ensure they can withstand all forms of attack. Therefore, they integrate all the security standards and compliance measures to create the ultimate, tamper-proof protection storage. 

Once you establish the most tamper-proof security system like HSM, you can collect different customer data without concerns about attacks. The security measures enforced also enable your customers to trust you with their data regardless of its sensitive nature. You can use this positive reinforcement to win customer trust and get them to provide you with more data and information. 

Finally, it is essential for crucial security practices like certificate lifecycle management and encryption protocols. Since it holds all the keys at a central location, it is easier to monitor all the access protocols, certificate activities, and authentication protocols.

Conclusion 

Securing organizational data takes a lot of effort and investment. Even with that, you cannot guarantee ultimate safety due to the constantly evolving security threats.  

However, if you have HSM, you can have peace of mind knowing your documents are safely encrypted and protected.

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