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