The importance of Hardware Security Modules in the Hybrid Cloud

multicloud, connected items

Published: 20 February 2023

Reading time: 2 minutes

The hybrid cloud offers the best of both worlds: the data center's customizability and flexibility coupled with the public cloud's convenience. This adaptability is what makes it attractive for many businesses. Also, these environments have been proven to provide more security than typical on-premises data centers. Examples include locks, guards, and security cameras. Technical controls are protections designed for IT systems themselves, such as encryption, network authentication, and management software. Many of the strongest security tools for the hybrid cloud are technical controls.

However, while these cloud solutions are considered secure, it is essential that businesses maintain control of their own critical cryptographic keys to keep data that is migrating between their data centers and the cloud secure at all times. The data is kept safe, and its privacy is guaranteed only when it is continuously encrypted. Properly managing the life cycle of the many cryptographic keys a business may use is essential to maintaining the security of applications and data in that hybrid environment. Encryption can only be effective when these crypto keys are protected, and this is where a hardware security module (HSM) is a must along with a centralized key management system to manage key life cycles.

An HSM protects critical cryptographic keys in a dedicated hardware-based appliance that provides a root of trust over the business’s keys, data, and applications because it:

- Protects cryptographic material and keeps it hidden at all times

- Keeps decryption keys separate from encrypted data to provide an extra layer of security in the event of a data breach thus preventing exposure of encrypted data

- Strengthens encryption practices through the entire key lifecycle from generation to storage, distribution, back-up, and ultimately, destruction

- Limits access through a strictly controlled network interface

- Is built with secure hardware that is resistant to hacking attempts

- Runs on a secure operating system

- Simplifies compliance and auditability through certified hardware and easier audit reporting

- Allows for scalability and multi-tenancy of the security architecture

A hybrid cloud mandates a network of HSMs which need to be as follows:

- The master HSM in the organization’s central data center, allowing for centralized key life cycle management. The local data center can then be managed directly by this central HSM.

- Data centers in decentralized locations or in the cloud need a local or cloud-based HSM.

Don't forget to protect your keys and contact us for more information!

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