Why HSMs will be the key to the age of quantum computing and cryptography

We live in a digital world that is advancing rapidly. Today, the Internet is a sea of data and transactions; therefore, having security solutions that guarantee their protection is fundamental and very important. To fully understand why HSMs will be key in the era of quantum computing and cryptology, you first need to know what quantum computing and quantum cryptography is.

What is quantum computing and cryptography?

The first thing to keep in mind is that these technologies are not yet in use; now these techniques are not applied, therefore, to talk about them is to talk about the future, and to prepare ourselves for what is to come.

On the one hand, quantum computing is a branch of computer science that is based on the principles of superposition of matter and quantum entanglement to develop a different kind of computing than traditional computing. Quantum computing will process huge amounts of data at the same time and could lead to advances in cybersecurity. For example, in data encryption or in the new QKD system, also known as Quantum Key Distribution.

On the other hand, quantum cryptography is the application of quantum mechanics to cryptography. It encrypts messages, so that they can only be correctly decrypted by the intended recipient. If a hacker were to intercept the message, the information would be altered in such a way that it would be different from what was sent, changing completely the message. As a result, the person who has intercepted the message would not be able to decrypt it, thus protecting the information.

hardware security module

A potential threat

As we have seen, both could work as protection, but they could also be turned against us and be used to hack and attack data and messages. For example, quantum cryptography could be used to break cryptographic keys currently in use; quantum computing, in the wrong hands, could threat public key encryption. In fact, most web traffic is currently vulnerable to quantum computing attacks. If a hacker can discover the key set up at the beginning of an interaction, symmetric encryption will have been useless. So, there is a real threat.

How can we protect ourselves against this threat? This is one of the great challenges that lie ahead for both individuals and companies. Why? Because in the age of digitalization, we have to carry out the vast majority of our transactions over the Internet, and to do so we have to use our personal data, passwords, etc. This makes us a target for hackers. In this situation, HSMs become something fundamental and strategic in terms of cybersecurity, since it is necessary to take a series of precautions to avoid being vulnerable and cybercriminals can get hold of our data or our messages.

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REALSEC HSM for protection

This security gap and potential threat is where HSMs come in. These have been developed with the aim of defending any type of encryption key. In addition, they ensure that the mathematical algorithms involved in the information to be protected work properly. HSM devices, also called Hardware Security Module, are recognized as the most secure and effective alternative to protect digital certificates and keys. HSMs are physically separated from their servers because they are hardware and can be found in various places, such as on smart cards, on portable devices or in the cloud (HSM in cloud). What differentiates HSMs from other hardware is that HSMs have a cryptoprocessor. This cryptoprocessor is secure, tamper-resistant and designed to protect cryptographic keys. In addition, it also runs various encryption and decryption routines.

One of the tips to meet this challenge is to identify the correct HSMs. This is very important to protect the custom keys used in the Public Key Infrastructure or PKI. REALSEC and Utimaco have extensive experience in the sector and offers cybersecurity solutions for various environments. Among its products, we find a high performance and high security HSM, designed to offer data encryption and encryption services, regardless of the operating system.

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