Businesses have long been dependent on hardware security modules (HSM) to provide security functionality across the enterprise. Hosted data operations, authentication and encryption key management are just some of the wide range of HSM functions currently managed and leveraged for the protection of data assets. These physical units present enterprise network administrators with growing challenges as more businesses move data into the cloud, leading to an important question: “Why use an HSM as a Service model?”
Integrating HSM processes into cloud operations while properly maintaining high levels of physical security requires your enterprise to look at alternatives. Legacy distributed security via HSM cannot be relied upon once a cloud computing environment is in play within your network without a remedy. Most likely, your HSM environment is too intertwined into your other enterprise and physical security control systems to sit still, but how does a business best address this mismatch of legacy and next-gen technology requirements?
While it is not possible to understate the complexities involved in the transformation of HSM from legacy to a service model, there is a proven set of actions that you can address at the onset of your efforts to pave the way for project success. Achieving your ideal HSM management scenario is possible if you take the time to explore your options so that your HSM as a Service implementation leaves you in a highly secure, flexible state.
Assessing and Addressing Your Current HSM Security Model
Every project requires a deeper understanding of how the infrastructure can be molded to fit where you need to be in the future. Exploring every aspect of your legacy HSM architecture may be the most complex task ahead of you and may definitely prove to be a history lesson when it comes to how your security is being managed. Knowing your current assets will allow you to avoid the increased costs and risks associated with “garbage in, garbage out” integrations.
Knowing where your security keys are located on your network, or if some are tucked away in a manager’s desk drawer on a USB drive, will identify a number of pre-transitional steps that must be taken. Identifying which of these are still relevant to your security requirements, as well as if any certificate renewals are in order, will provide solid risk reductions and lessen the complexity of your migration. This also serves as a way to generate project buy-in across the board, keeping the internal political lines smooth while ensuring the full cooperation of management.
The process of performing an in-depth examination of your existing encryption key environment provides the insights and knowledge required to define what your best practices should be moving forward. Keeping certificates clean both during and post-implementation means that you can set a best practice encryption key management policy that serves your HMS requirements while acting as an internal audit guide for the transition to HMS as a Service model and beyond and provides greater agility in global environments.
Why Use an HSM as a Service Model in Your Enterprise?
Developing an encryption key management and maintenance plan is a prime directive, especially when you seek to maintain a high degree of HSM effectiveness throughout the lifecycle of each encryption certificate. This includes managing your encryption keys across private and public networks, as well as hybrid mixes of physical and cloud-based HSM functions, to fully realize secure methods for keeping data safe. In order to meet the challenges that arise as part of the transition to HSM as a Service, you must achieve consistency across the board.
As you begin the process of moving away from a reliance on hardware to manage your encryption keys, you must plan for how you will keep your keys secure from intrusions without relying on physical security while maintaining high levels of infrastructure flexibility. As you work to define what each segment of your HSM as a service architecture must look like, integrating legacy control factors, such as APIs and lifecycle management, must be translated to meet cloud-based key management requirements for successful implementation to occur.
This will include understanding the functionalities around HSM as a Service that may include the integration of KMS service features. As KMS will provide you with a centralized method of managing encryption key lifecycles, as well as updating, moving, or removing keys, KMS may prove to be a vital piece of your HSM as a Service cog. Key management services are readily available by cloud service providers and as such can be leveraged as a security strength point when creating a dynamic HSM distributed security model.
With this in mind, defining your HSM environment with KMS in the mix gives you added peace of mind in terms of availability and the flexibility to scale your solution as your enterprise data stores increase. This provides you with the means to transcend the limitations of legacy HMS and KMS in cloud-based environments by leveraging the strengths of each and reducing the impact of their respective cloud computing limitations. HSM as a Service also allows you to properly address each moving piece of a distributed security setup without compromising the solution’s integrity. When properly defined in this way, you gain the consistency that comes with a higher degree of security that is fully scalable to your environment while reducing OpEx.
Realize the Full Potential of HSM as a Service Model
Utilizing HSM as a Service gives you a highly functional additional layer of security that eliminates the need for physical hardware devices to be located on-premise. Proper planning and preparation for transitioning from a legacy HSM architecture to an innovative HSM as a Service is a must-have if you are to effectively address encryption key management while ensuring high levels of security.
Seamless scalability and on-demand data encryption support are all at your fingertips with a concisely designed and properly driven project effort. Security around your encryption keys is heightened and inaccessible to unauthorized eyes. Lifecycle management is much less problematic thanks to advance alerting and monitoring capabilities. You achieve lower downtimes, reduced data loss due to corrupted or expired keys and have a solution that integrates easily into the cloud in an agnostic way.
Network and security engineers that are seeking to create a centralized, cloud-capable solution for the management of encryption keys and data security need look no further thanEquinix SmartKey. It’s an ideal solution that allows you to seize the full potential of utilizing HSM as a Service in all areas of data and security protections afforded by concise encryption key management.