nShield Solo+

nShield Solo from Thales e-Security is a cost-effective, high assurance security solution delivered as a PCI or PCIe card designed for embedding in stand-alone servers or appliances. This server-embedded hardware security module (HSM) delivers dedicated cryptographic offload and acceleration capability to satisfy the highest performance requirements. nShield Solo provides dedicated physical and logical controls where software-based cryptography is inadequate. Because it utilizes the Security World architecture, nShield Solo provides an ideal combination of high assurance and operational ease. This makes it easier for you to define and enforce security policies such as dual controls while also automating burdensome and risk-prone administrative tasks.  

nShield Solo is fully compatible with the rest of the nShield HSM family, enabling mixed deployments and easy migration as performance requirements increase.  This independently-certified security platform, including a model optimized for high performance elliptic curve cryptography (ECC), performs key management and cryptographic operations such as encryption and digital signing on behalf of a wide range of commercial and custom-built business applications, protecting critical systems including public key infrastructures (PKIs), identity management systems, databases, web fabric, domain name system security extension (DNSSEC) deployments and code signing. nShield Solo is also ideal for use within security appliances to achieve FIPS grade security hardening. The security boundary of the nShield Solo family is certified up to FIPS 140-2 Level 3 and Common Criteria EAL4+.  

nShield Solo Brochure

Benefits of nShield Solo


  • HSMs overcome the inherent vulnerabilities of software-based cryptography.
  • Powerful key management architecture minimizes operational costs including compliance reporting.
  • Embedded form factor for dedicated performance enhancement.
  • Isolates critical security functions and minimizes IT interdependencies.
  • Provides FIPS 140-2 certification for appliance vendors with high assurance requirements.

Physical security measures

  • A dedicated appliance that isolates cryptographic processes and keys from applications and host operating systems—accessible only through tightly controlled cryptographic APIs.
  • Optional capability, through the use of the CodeSafe feature, to migrate security critical portions of application code from the host server and to execute securely within a tamper-resistant application ‘sandbox’ that is protected by the HSM’s physical security.
  • Custom built chassis to guard against physical attack including the use of epoxy potting to shield internal circuitry and security labels to expose attempts to tamper with the device.
  • Monitoring of environmental conditions including the integrity of the chassis, power supplies and temperature to detect potential attack.

Logical security measures

  • All administrators and users that directly access the HSM are strongly and individually authenticated using smart cards that are issued and managed by the HSM itself—avoiding the need to rely on weak and often shared passwords managed within other systems or exposed to other applications.
  • Clear separation of duties that distinguish between HSM administrators and key custodians that approve the use of HSM protected keys in contrast to software based systems where application ‘super-users’ or root level administrators might enjoy widespread entitlements.
  • Dual controls where multiple administrators or operators might be required to operate as a quorum to perform particularly sensitive tasks such as key recovery. This approach to mutual supervision is common as a way to minimize the threat of malicious insiders and is highly configurable and strongly enforced within the HSM.
  • Strong integrity validation and policy enforcement for CodeSafe protected applications (option).

Operational Features

In the past, high-security features tended to be cumbersome, adding effort and affecting performance. As a result, administrators were forced to make unfortunate tradeoffs between security on the one hand and performance and efficiency on the other. The nShield family of HSMs and its Security World key management architecture deliver both security and convenience by automating a number of important key management tasks and removing restrictions that would otherwise limit capacity or performance. These include:

  • The power to utilize existing data backup, replication and file sharing practices to safely and automatically perform application key sharing, distribution, and back up—dramatically simplifying HSM deployment and management tasks by minimizing the need to establish costly HSM specific practices.
  • Standard application interfaces to support the widest range of applications and systems and an extensive pre-testing program with leading application vendors to minimize deployment risk.
  • Cryptographic acceleration and off-load to remove resource intensive operations from client machines, boosting overall performance and maximizing capacity.
  • Unlimited capacity for protected key storage, increasing overall scalability.
  • Back up techniques that avoids the need to archive keys in dedicated hardware or costly backup HSMs.
  • Fault-tolerant chassis design includes dual hot-swap power supplies and redundant field-serviceable fans.
  • The ability to combine multiple HSMs to create a highly resilient network for load balancing and failover.
  • Remote control to enable key custodians and administrators to perform duties in a secure fashion, reducing cost and inconvenience.
  • Remote provisioning of CodeSafe-protected applications (option).

Developer Software & Options

Form Factors 

The nShield Solo is available in PCIe form factors.


The nShield Solo is available in multiple performance variants: the 500, 2000, 4000, and 6000, which indicate their signing transactions per second for 1024 bit RSA.  Additionally, model PCIe 6000+ is optimized for high performance elliptic curve cryptography (ECC).  Please consult the nShield Solo data sheet for additional performance data.


The nShield Solo is available in FIPS 140-2 Level 2 and FIPS 140-2 Level 3 variants.


CodeSafe Datasheet

CodeSafe enables application developers to write programs that are securely loaded within the secure environment of an nShield HSM, protecting them from threats such as insider attacks, malware and Trojans that they would otherwise face on typical server platforms. CodeSafe provides an application “sand box” where code can be validated for integrity and authorized to execute in a tamper-resistant manner—ideal for applications residing in untrusted locations. The secure execution capability provides additional security features to enable fine-grained access control and authorization for the use of security critical resources that are protected on the device, such as private keys, non-volatile user memory, and hardware-secured time. Examples include digital meters, authentication agents, time-stamp engines, audit loggers, digital signature agents, and custom encryption processes. CodeSafe is available for all nShield FIPS 140-2 Level 3 certified HSMs excluding the nShield Edge.

 nShield Edge Datasheet

CipherTools Developer Toolkit 

With the CipherTools Developer Toolkit, developers can take full advantage of the advanced capabilities offered by the nShield HSM family when integrating HSMs with custom applications. It includes detailed tutorials and reference documentation, sample programs written in a range of high level languages, and additional versions of libraries to expand capabilities for integration with business applications beyond those that can be achieved by the standard application program interfaces (APIs). 

Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) Activation

nShield HSMs offer a large number of cryptographic algorithms as part of the standard feature set, including AES, DSA and RSA. For organizations wishing to use elliptic curve cryptography (ECC), an ECC Activation license is available. The optional activation license enables ECC operation on allnShield Solo and Connect models. For organizations that require significantly accelerated ECC, two additional nShield models are also available.  The nShield Solo PCIe 6000+ and nShield Connect 6000+ deliver hardware-optimized ECC performance and come bundled with the ECC Activation license.

Database Security Option Pack

Databases often contain an organization's most sensitive data. As a result, major database vendors have implemented native encryption in their database server products. The nShield Database Security Option Pack adds support for Microsoft’s Extensible Key Management (EKM) API. It enables organizations to better protect keys that protect sensitive data in Microsoft SQL Server 2008 deployments utilizing Transparent Data Encryption (TDE), manage keys across multiple databases and systems, and separate key management and database administration. Users of Oracle 11g TDE can take advantage of these features without requiring this option pack.

payShield Cardholder Authentication for nShield

To protect against credit card and online banking fraud, many financial institutions have implemented additional security measures for card-not-present transactions. payShield Cardholder Authentication for nShield complements other Thales payments products by enabling organizations to authenticate the cardholder through various means, such as Chip and PIN (CAP) authentication for online banking transactions and 3-D Secure, also known as Verified by Visa and MasterCard SecureCode. This option integrates with cardholder authentication solutions including ActivIdentity, Arcot, Bell ID and Gemalto.

Remote Operator

HSMs typically run in physically secure, lights-out data centers, often at several, redundant sites. Many organizations therefore find it impractical to gain physical access to the HSM for day-to-day operations. Remote Operator saves time and reduces travel costs by enabling users to present credentials to a remote HSM in a secure manner directly from their workstation.

KCDSA Activation

Highly sensitive areas of government and enterprises with a strong interest in national security sometimes prefer to use proprietary, national cryptographic algorithms to protect their most sensitive information. Given these security concerns, it is advantageous to run such algorithms on a secure HSM platform. The KCDSA Activation enables South Korean agencies to use the Korean Certificate-based Digital Signature Algorithm (KCDSA) on an nShield HSM. Thales recommends CodeSafe technology to organizations that wish to implement their own national algorithms on the protected HSM platform. 


Smart Card Reader Rackmount

For organizations deploying one or more nShield Solo modules in a 19" rack, the optional nShield Smart Card Reader Rackmount provides a practical and tidy solution to attach card readers in the data center. The nShield Smart Card Reader Rackmount is 1U in height and can be equipped with up to four smart card readers, which are shipped as standard with nShield Solo cards. Each unit is shipped with three blanking plates to cover any unused slots.

nShield Solo Specifications

Cryptographic algorithms supported:


  • Symmetric
    • AES (128, 192, and 256 bit)
    • Aria (128, 192, and 256 bit)
    • Camelia (128, 192, and 256 bit)
    • Triple DES (112, 168 bit)
  • Asymmetric
    • RSA (1024, 2048, 4096, 8192 bit)
    • Diffie-Hellman
    • DSA
    • ECC Suite B
  • Hashing
    • SHA-1, SHA-2 (224, 256, 384, and 512 bit)



  • FIPS 140-2 Level 3
  • Common Criteria EAL 4+
  • UL, CE, FCC
  • RoHS, WEEE

Operating systems supported:


  • Windows
  • Linux
  • Solaris
  • HP-UX

APIs supported:


  • PKCS#11
  • Open SSL
  • Java (JCE)
  • Microsoft CAPI and CNG

Below is a non-exhaustive list of applications that utilize these APIs and have been tested by Thales partners and/or customers.

  • Aconite Affina
  • ActivIdentity Card Management System, 4Tress, Validations Authority
  • Apache
  • Axway Validation Authority
  • Bell ID Token Manager, EMV Data Preparation
  • CA Application Performance Manager
  • CyberArk Digital Vault
  • EfficientIP SolidServer
  • Entrust Authority Security Manager
  • IBM Tivoli Access Manager, Websphere
  • Imperva SecureSphere
  • Infoblox IPAM Appliance
  • Insta Certifier Certificate Authority
  • Intercede MyID
  • Lieberman Software Enterprise Random Password Manager
  • Keynectis OpenTrust PKI
  • McAfee Iron Mail, Web Gateway
  • Microsoft Active Directory Federated Services (ADFS), Active Directory Certificate Services (ADCS), Forefront Identity Manager (FIM), Internet Services Accelerator (ISA), Rights Management Services (RMS), Internet Information Services (IIS), BizTalk Server, Authenticode, Hyper-V, SQL Server, Mediaroom
  • nuBridges Protect
  • PingIdentity PingFederate
  • Prime Factors EncryptRIGHT
  • PrimeKey EJBCA
  • Protegrity Data Security Platform
  • Red Hat Certificate System
  • Riverbed Stingray
  • RSA Certificate Manager, Data Protection Manager
  • Totemo Trustmail
  • Vasco Vacman
  • Verisec Hnossa
  • Voltage SecureData

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