Does CloudHSM Combine the Simplicity of KSM and the Security of HSM?

The year 2020 has taken the use of internet and online services ahead by a decade within the last few months. It has created a surge for the need for data encryption and ways to keep confidential data secure in servers. Cybercrime and data theft have become quite frequent, and even multinational companies are becoming victims of it.

It seems like an even more daunting task for enterprises that store most of their information in the cloud. Public cloud providers are constantly making efforts to upgrade their security measures and provide tools to their customers that follow the best possible security practices. 

Once an enterprise decides to move to cloud data storage, they face a unique challenge. The encryption key management they had used so far might become inconsistent or redundant since the cloud environment might have a different way of managing their encrypted keys.

While most of these companies could either rely on legacy Hardware Security Module (HSM) or Key Management Services (KMS), they can avail of a third option when they move their data to a public cloud environment. CloudHSM offers encrypted security to the enterprises that were available only to those who chose to use private cloud environments. 

Choosing CloudHSM Over Others

CloudHSM can be potentially used by organizations of all sizes, irrespective of their buying power. It can also be used by enterprises that use either AWS or any other cloud service provider. CloudHSM can be used by any organization to store encrypted keys on AWS for any kind of data hosted in some public cloud environment. That is because AWS CloudHSM can not only generate but also store and manage encrypted keys for their clients.

Earlier, organizations did not have any means of achieving this because they either had to rely on Key Management Services for cloud storage of data, or they had to store the information on private servers using legacy HSM. However, with CloudHSM, businesses can afford the simplicity of KMS and the security of HSM in a cloud environment.

If someone compared CloudHSM vs KMS offered by AWS, the primary advantage is that CloudHSM is available to any enterprise, and not just AWS users. That is because CloudHSM can encrypt, store, and decrypt data to and from any cloud services around the globe. So now, when an organization wants to move their data to any cloud-based environment, they can use CloudHSM to get easy access to keys, manage the transition, and keep the data safe and secure.

Advantages of CloudHSM

CloudHSM indeed provides organizations with HSM security with the consistency of KMS. Some of the biggest advantages of using CloudHSM are:

  • Businesses can get multi-cloud support for their data storage in a centralized manner.
  • They can get HYOK support, which allows them to have their existing encryption key.
  • The keys are cryptographic, which means only authorized users can access them.
  • It can provide FIPS 140-2 Level 3 validation without requiring any HSM hardware.
  • CloudHSM can be accessed over any public internet facility across the globe without compromising security. 

Some Red Flags to Consider

However, there are certain aspects of CloudHSM that businesses must be aware of while using it. Some of them are mentioned below.

  • Businesses must use VPC while using CloudHSM since it is a part of a virtual private cloud-based environment.
  • Most business applications may need design adjustments to become compatible with CloudHSM, especially if they were hosted on private servers before. Developers may need to incorporate certain API components into the application to make it compatible.
  • Using CloudHSM does not release the company from the obligations of enforcing data security practices. For example, only authorized personnel must have access to the encrypted keys. 
  • The architecture of the application must also meet the cryptographic operations and practices. Most of the vulnerable areas of network security arise due to a lack of validated input methods and handling errors.

CloudHSM Can Be a Long-Term Strategy

CloudHSM can be an ideal solution to provide the best possible key management services as well as the means to implement them to the data storage. Enterprises that stored information in their private servers use legacy HSM to generate encrypted keys and can continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Companies that availed the services of single cloud service providers can also continue to use their KMS.

However, using CloudHSM can be a long term solution for both kinds of enterprises. Companies using private servers can eliminate the additional overhead cost of maintaining the HSM infrastructure in their data storage center. And companies using KMS can take advantage of the added security offered by CloudHSM by keeping the cryptographic keys away from the cloud service provider. 

So whether it is time to expand the enterprise’s data storage facilities or switch cloud service providers, CloudHSM can be the most effective way to generate and manage encrypted keys for the organization.

Rakesh Babu
Rakesh Babu
Rakesh Babu is a business analyst with a focus on startups. With an MBA and years of experience, he's a go-to source for insights on entrepreneurship. Beyond the business world, Rakesh is a chess aficionado and an amateur astronomer, always curious and seeking new patterns – whether in the stars or the stock market.


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