When it comes to AWS cryptography services, it is important that you choose the right tool for the job. Choosing the right tool will require that you understand the landscape of the cloud HSM service. AWS cryptography builds services that make life easy for customers.
Here is what to know:
AWS cryptography services
AWS cryptography gives you a range of options so you can choose the tool that works best for you. One end of the spectrum has services where most of the stack is managed by AWS. The other end offers you full control, and there is no much involvement by Amazon. KMS features managed services while Cloud HSM offers you more control. The main AWS cryptography services are Key Management Service, Private Certificate Authority, Secrets Manager, and Cloud HSM. However, all these services are based on HSMs.
Creating a public key infrastructure to authenticate internal servers
There are several things to know when creating a PKI to authenticate servers or devices. The ACM Private CA makes it easy for you to stand up through PKI and use it on the cloud. PCA is full-stack, a factor that allows you more control in terms of identity and access management.
The ACM Private CA offers customers many benefits. For example, you will not have to worry about vulnerabilities or migration because the creation of certificates is automated.
Managing the life cycle of secrets
Often, some people hard-code their secrets into applications are act surprised when the secrets are compromised. The AWS Secrets Manager is a solution that allows you to store secrets. These secrets are then encrypted using KMS keys that you control. You can also rotate your secrets safely, audit, and monitor the secrets to reduce the time that you may be exposed. Whenever a secret is accessed or modified, you will get an AWS cloud trail of the activities. If you have turned on guard duty, you will receive alerts when something unusual happens.
Direct access to a Level 3 HSM you can control
When none of these solutions has met your needs and you need direct access to Level 3 HSM, this option can give you the control you desire. The main aspects of control in Cloud HSM are algorithms and key lengths, user management, compliance, and application development. The downside is that it will be difficult to get help if you lose your credentials. As such, you should be careful not to create the security issues you are trying to avoid.
The control that HSM gives you comes with great responsibility. Part of your responsibilities will be high availability, provisioning, HSM maintenance, user management, application integration, and backups. Cloud HSM simplifies some of the management tasks, so you do not have to do the heavy lifting. The service will automatically take a backup of the HSM once a day but cannot see what you do on your HSM.
The operations you conduct in your HSM will not show up in the cloud trail because AWS cannot see your HSM transactions. However, it is important that you understand your responsibilities when using HSM. As a customer, you will be responsible for development and integration, compliance, user and credential management, monitoring, configuration and management, performance, key management, and scaling.
Lastly, you need to familiarize yourself with best practices for cost management. For development and test workloads, you can delete HSM instances at the end of your workday and resume work from where you left off. For production workloads, you should leverage elasticity, maximize utilization, and optimize storage. Also, the decision over whether to use KMS or Cloud HSM will depend on your needs. Making sure you achieve your security goals with AWS Cloud HSM will help minimize your exposure.
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