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In recent years, when data was easily getting breached, experts introduce the encryption mechanism. But later on, it gets discovered that attackers are targeting vulnerable systems holding private keys to effortlessly decrypt file content.


But now, by using a Hardware Security Module (HSM) you can prevent malicious attackers from stealing the private key. With its usage, many organizations are solidifying their digital security and are successfully able to prevent unauthorized persons from performing digital signing on their behalf. Therefore, HSMs are now a necessity and you must understand their fundamentals.


What Is a Hardware Security Module? Role of HSM for your Business
EV Code Signing Certificate


Hardware Security Module (HSM): A Brief Overview And Its Types

Hardware Security Module is a physical device, mostly a USB stick that works as a crypto-processor and helps to store private/public keys in a secure environment. Its primary purpose is to restrict access to cryptographic keys and to assure that only authorized personnel are executing encryption or digital signing.


Furthermore, HSMs are considered more reliable and secure than software-based cryptographic key storage, as attackers can’t access them through network or system breaches. if any hacker wants to breach the encryption keys, then the only way is to physically enter into premises and steal the module. Otherwise, it’s not possible.



Moreover, it also prevents users from gaining knowledge about algorithms getting used to encrypt data. For instance, when an organization utilizes a hardware token (HSM) of an EV Code Signing Certificate to sign an application, it takes source code as input and provides encrypted code as output. No one knows the algorithm getting used between the input and the output procedure. And that’s how HSM also helps in adding layers of security.


Additionally, it is of two types – General Purpose HSM and Payment & Transaction HSM


General-purpose HSMs primarily get used by the organization for storing encryption keys, building a strong authentication module to maintain data confidentiality, and in public key infrastructures. And the payment & transaction HSM is specifically for the financial industry to secure ATM PINs, debit/credit card details, and all other online transactions, by complying with PCI-DSS standards.



The Working of Hardware Security Module: Strengthening Security

The Hardware Security Module gets used to store cryptographic keys and perform encryption on the input provided by the end user.


For instance, you connect a hardware security module to your network. And whenever an end-user will request the server to encrypt a file, the server will forward the request to the HSM to perform it. Then, HSM will take the user file as input, and utilize the private key in its isolated ecosystem to encrypt file content. When the file will get encrypted, HSM will send the output (encrypted file) to the server and then the server will forward it to the customer.


Throughout the process, only HSM was able to utilize the encryption keys and provide encrypted output.



Primary Approaches: How an HSM Aids an Organization

Nowadays, every organization must prefer Hardware Security Modules, as it leverages with:


Secure Storage of Private/Public Keys

As encryption is getting used in every industry to secure data from unauthorized modifications and breaches, it’s essential to securely the private key. With HSM, organizations can store such keys in FIPS 140-2 aligning devices, defined by regulatory bodies. And it will help to maintain their integrity and confidentiality.


Prevents Unauthorized Access

When you store private keys in hardware security modules, you can set an authentication mechanism, such as a password upon it. It will allow only users with the correct password to utilize the private and digitally sign the files. Moreover, if your HSM is a USB drive, you can store it offline, preventing attackers to breach cryptographic keys through online attacks.



Improves Encryption Speed and Efficiency

Every HSM comes with a built-in processing chip or dedicated hardware, that can handle a load of encryption processes on its own. It makes the process faster, as HSM doesn't have to request resources from another system. And it leads to completing the process within seconds and maintaining system performance simultaneously.


Complies with Industry Standards

If you want to store private keys in any hardware module, you have to confirm that it complies with Federal Information Processing Standards. And if you select a dedicated HSM device for such purpose, you don't have to put extra effort, as it by default aligns with FIPS 140-2 standards. Therefore, it guarantees that no malicious actor can access your private key.


Strongest Scramble Generation

HSMs are capable of generating the most complex encryption values, as they utilize the latest 128-bit and 256-bit algorithms. It increases the complexity for hackers to reverse engineer or crack the file content. And mostly make the breach process near to impossible.



Protect Cryptographic Keys From an Insecure Ecosystem

HSM has a dedicated environment in which it stores the private key and performs encryption. It helps organizations limit access to confidential private keys and allow only authorized users to perform encryption. Moreover, it streamlines the software signing process during testing and production, as it effortlessly integrates into the pipeline.


EV Code Signing Certificate: Leverage HSM Security For Software

If you are a software development or publishing organization and want to adopt an HSM-based signing mechanism, then Comodo EV Code Signing Certificate is the only available solution. When the Certificate Authority issues an EV certificate, it sends you the private in an external USB stick. It works as your portable HSM device, which you can also store behind multiple physical locks.


Moreover, EV Software Publisher Certificate also helps in tamper-proofing the software and scripts and instantly building a business reputation. In addition, it assures the removal of Microsoft Defender SmartScreen warnings from user experience to provide a seamless installation.



Concluding Up

Hardware Security Module (HSM) is an essential part of a secure business ecosystem. It works as an additional layer for protecting private keys from breaches and hackers. Moreover, it helps to allow only legitimate users to access cryptographic keys and tamper-proof the software and files.


You can connect an HSM in a network and even store it offline according to your requirements. But, with the increasing cyber-attacks, you must prefer an HSM for your IT environment.


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