General Technology Track Keynote: Hardware Security Modules (HSM), Past, Present and Future (G11a) Bruno Couillard, Crypto4A, Canada
Don't be offended if a product you worked on is not mentioned, this is not a complete history, but a start - we want to focus on where we are going!
If you go back in time before the 1970s, encryption was just for government - like weaponries. Not until DES (IBM) did cryptography come into the public space, followed closely by Diffie-Hellmen and RSA. ECC has actually been around since the early 1980s!
When the early 1990s came about, the rest of the world found out about this thing called the Internet. Suddenly we needed to solve problems of commerce leveraging PKI and SSL - we suddenly needed HSMs. The rate of change has accelerated with things like Cloud Computing, IoT and Blockchain.
The HSMs and FIPS 140-1 all popped up around the same time, a quick succession of product releases like Entrust, Verisign, nCiper, Chrysalis-ITS. RSA 1995 was the year of the HSM - this kick started the industry.
IBM had an HSM that was one of the first to go through the FIPS 140-1 validation. Then RSA started issuing certificates, but needed a secret keeper - SafeKeeper (rumor has it that it ran off of a car battery).
There were Chrysalis-ITS PCMCIA cards, and others made dongles, but then Smart Cards started coming into fashion (lighter and cheaper).
Around that time, nCipher saw another niche to enter - not just to keep the secrets safe, but to also accelerate. Faster vs higher security.
At one point there were desktop HSMs, they started going for tougher FIPS 140-1 levels.
Then nCipher/Luna/Utamaco/others started moving into the network attached HSM - since 2000, these are getting deployed in large volumes.
Many people working in HSMs were coming from a military background - they were considered weapons, hands on devices. We need to shift away from that high touch model - we can't expect people to go and hand configure 1000s of devices.
We need to look at the challenges of insider threats, security zoning and patch management. As we move into quantum computing as a reality, we need to think about baking in cryptographic agility now - prepare for over the air updates. These new algorithms will not likely look like what we have now - they may be bigger, have different attributes, etc.
Can we get to the point where we can have unattended or hostile deployments? How will this work with complex and sensitive application deployments?
Looking forward - we are shifting from a privacy challenge to an integrity challenge. I want to know that the software on my car came from the expected vendor and hasn't been modified. That the software running the elevator hasn't been tampered with. We must have a trusted supply chain.
We need things to be easier to deploy, think about a home security system - there will not usually be highly qualified IT experts in the home to deploy.
Can we do to the HSM what Apple has done for the cell phone? I think we can!
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