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Hardware Security Module (HSM)

Definition - What does Hardware Security Module (HSM) mean?

A hardware security module is a secure crypto processor focused on providing cryptographic keys and also provides accelerated cryptographic operations by means of these keys. The module acts as a trust anchor and provides protection for identities, applications and transactions by ensuring tight encryption, decryption and authentication for a variety of applications. The hardware security module includes protection features such as physical tamper resistance and strong authentication. Although the module is physically isolated like smart cards and back tapes, it provides a greater level of security as it does not have an operating system and is thus virtually invulnerable to attacks over a network.

Techopedia explains Hardware Security Module (HSM)

Hardware security module systems come in different flavors and form factors, and are less susceptible to corruption and system failures. This is because they do not have an operating system and are externally attached to the device they are serving. Examples of hardware security module systems include physically shielded LAN appliances, smart cards and PCI plugin cards. Hardware security modules provide protection against internal and external intruders using two-factor authentication.

Hardware security modules provide many distinct benefits, including:

  • Providing certifications that conform to security standards
  • Dual control access protection
  • Load distribution and reliability
  • Support for all standard cryptographic algorithms
  • Several transactions per second
  • Greater availability of keys with just one hardware security module

The software and hardware present in the modules are specifically dedicated for security functions and thus provide faster and superior results.

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