Thursday, May 16, 2019

ICMC19: KMIP vs PKCS#11: There is no Contest!

Tony Cox, VP Partners, Alliances and Standards, OASIS, Australia

Tony got a question in ICMC 2018 about "which of these two standards will win?" - the answer is BOTH.

The two standards have different scopes and areas of being useful, but both are standards based and should mean that they are vendor independent. Both standards have informative and normative documents updated by the technical committees.

Tony gave a good overview of the specifications, including goals and documents, explaining it all - like what are profiles and what do they mean? Profiles help prove interoperability and do some baseline testing.

KMIP 2.0 is full of loads of new features - hashed passwords, OTP, delegated login, Re-Encrypt (looking forward to post quantum crypto) and PKSC#11 operation... In addition to new features, lots of improvements as well.

PKCS#11 3.0 - out for public review any day now... also has loads of new things! New algorithms, support for Login of a user and AEAD, better functionality support for interaction with KMIP (Like Unique Identifiers). This started from V2.40 errata 1.

Key Manager uses KMIP and HSMs leverage PKCS#11... they work together. Key Manager is higher volume key management, key sharing. An HSM wants to keep the keys locked in.

PKCS#11 over KMIP is essentially giving a standardized way to do PKSC#11 over a network.

The two standards are quite complementary and have many of the same individuals or companies working on both. In the end, by following the standards we are giving the market freedom of choice.

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