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HomeBlogHow To Choose The Right Payment HSM to Secure Your Payment Transactions Data – Part 3 

How To Choose The Right Payment HSM to Secure Your Payment Transactions Data – Part 3

In the first two parts (part 1 and part 2) of this three-part series on the 9 must-have features in an ideal Payment Hardware Security Module (HSM), we covered 6 crucial features and the pivotal role they play in securing payment transactions’ data.  

Below is a quick gist of these 6 critical features that organizations should look for when choosing the right Payment HSM: 

1) Dual Functionality: General-purpose data protection as well as payment processing using the same HSM device. 

2) Blazing-fast Processing Speeds: Seamless support for up to 50,000 transactions per second (TPS) for unhindered business continuity even during peak times. 

3) Multiple Authentication Mechanisms: Such as smartcards, passwords, and FIDO tokens. 

4) HSM Virtualization: For enhanced operational efficiency and cost savings. 

5) Integrated Working Key Storage: To ensure the secure storage and rotation of working keys for optimal security and PCI-DSS compliance. 

6) HSM Partitioning: For quick segregation of duties and data among different business applications for seamless security and scalability.  

In this concluding part, let’s look at the additional three features that every Payment HSM should offer.  

7) Key Backup Approach 

When it comes to key backups, most Payment HSMs available in the market today offer only smartcard-based backups which can be an impediment to a robust key backup strategy. 

Since smartcards have a limited storage capacity, they can pose a major challenge in high-volume payment transactions that involve a very large number of cryptographic keys. Additionally, smartcards warrant physical handling for key backup and restoration, which inherently increases the risk of human error and physical losses.  

For optimal data protection, in addition to the conventional smartcard-based key backup, an ideal Payment HSM should also offer alternative backup mechanisms like a USB-based backup or encrypted file backups leveraging PKIs.  

8) Remote Management and Automation 

Most Payment HSMs available in the market today offer remote management only through web interface mechanisms. However, such mechanisms are prone to multiple vulnerabilities arising from stolen or compromised credentials that have become very common in today’s era.  

The same goes with key management. Legacy Payment HSMs often do not offer automated key management which makes users rely on manual processes for key migration, key backup, and key retrieval. This not only makes the entire process cumbersome and time-consuming, but also relatively unsecure.     

To ensure cohesive data protection, an ideal Payment HSM should offer multiple alternatives when it comes to remote and automated key management.  

9) Segregation of Duties  

One of the key features often left wanting in today’s Payment HSMs is the quick creation and management of multiple user roles.  

Most Payment HSMs available in the market today allow organizations to create only a single authorizing (Administrator) role with no provision to assign separate duties to individual users. Without the ability to create and manage multiple user roles, organizations are constrained to effectively distribute responsibilities or limit access to sensitive cryptographic operations. This in turn, significantly increases the risk of unauthorized access as a single Administrator gets unrestricted control over the Payment HSM.  

An ideal Payment HSM should inherently allow organizations to seamlessly create and manage multiple user roles that would not only help in segregation of duties leading to enhanced access controls but also tangible auditability in tracking actions to specific users. 

Futurex’s Payment HSMs: A Cut Above The Rest 

For the last many years, Futurex’s Excrypt Plus and Excrypt SSP Enterprise v.2 Payment HSMs are considered as the gold standard for cryptographic processing of payment transactions’ data.  

With Futurex’s FIPS 140-2 Level 3 and PCI-validated Payment HSMs, organizations can easily create and manage multiple user roles like Administrator, Operator, Settings Manager, Key Manager, Key Exporter, etc. This not only helps in easy segregation of duties but also enhances security by decentralizing duties across multiple users.    

When it comes to automated key management, in addition to an intuitive web-based interface, Futurex provides ‘Excrypt Touch’ – a dedicated PCI-certified tablet device that helps in the remote loading and management of encryption keys on Futurex HSMs hosted anywhere in the world. This not only enhances operational ease but also helps organizations maintain robust cryptographic security by eliminating the need for physical access to the HSMs. 

Lastly, in addition to smartcard-based backups, Futurex’s Payment HSMs also offer USB-based key backups and encrypted file backups (through PKIs) that make backups an easy and fast task. 

Summing Up 

In today’s ever-expanding threat landscape, choosing the right Payment HSM is not only critical for optimal data security but also from the standpoint of adhering to industry standards like PCI-DSS.  

The 9 features discussed in this series are not just ‘good-to-have’ but a ‘must-have’ to ensure robust, efficient, and secure cryptographic operations.  

Futurex’s Excrypt Plus and Excrypt SSP Enterprise v.2 Payment HSMs stand out from the rest as they offer all these 9 essential features, and many more.   

To learn how Futurex can help you future-proof your payment transactions’ data, please get in touch with us at  

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Author Futurex

For over 40 years, Futurex has been a trusted provider of hardened, enterprise-class data security solutions. More than 15,000 organizations worldwide have used Futurex’s innovative hardware security modules, key management servers, and cloud HSM solutions to address mission-critical data encryption and key management needs.

Securing the world's most sensitive data.