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News

Hardware security modules for Microsoft rights management

Thales : 07 November, 2013  (Application Story)
Windows cloud-based Azure Rights Management Service is now using the nShield hardware security modules from security company Thales
Hardware security modules for Microsoft rights management

Thales' nShield hardware security modules (HSMs) have been deployed by Microsoft to provide enhanced security for Microsoft Rights Management service (Windows Azure RMS). The new online offering – a cloud-based digital rights management system – forms the core of a new secure collaboration service accessible from anywhere, by anyone and supporting a multitude of document formats.

Until now rights management has mainly focused on infrastructure deployed within the enterprise over which an organization had complete control. By shifting to a cloud-based model customers now have the ability to dramatically expand accessibility and ease of use – particularly when collaborating with parties outside their own network and across today’s highly dispersed organizations. However, the issue of control and security is still paramount.

The goal for any security-oriented cloud services is to convey confidence that sensitive data in the cloud is protected, confidence that different tenants are strongly segregated and that control over critical security assets such as cryptographic keys remains with the customer. Recognizing this, Microsoft went beyond simply using HSMs in the Windows Azure cloud to enhance the security of the RMS service by enabling customers to ‘bring your own key’ (BYOK). By using a Thales nShield HSM on-premise an organization can generate and securely transfer their critical Tenant Key (the customer’s master key) to Thales HSMs in Windows Azure where it is used to underpin the security of their RMS service. This gives organizations complete custody and visibility over the use of their master key and the reassurance that they can use the Microsoft service on their own terms.

Dan Plastina, Partner Group Program Manager, Microsoft says: “The Microsoft Rights Management service helps customer safeguard their data, both inside and outside of the organization. As a result of our collaboration with Thales, our customers can generate and upload their own master keys to a cloud-based HSM and keep complete control over their keys, giving them confidence that their data is protected.”

Richard Moulds, vice president strategy at Thales e-Security says: “The Windows Azure RMS service is a great example of where the unique properties of the cloud can be exploited to transform the usability and value of traditionally in-house security systems and therefore greatly promote their adoption. Innovative capabilities such as the ‘bring your own key’ philosophy and the use of HSMs can protect both the consumer and the cloud provider and build the confidence to trust the service with an organization’s most valuable assets. As organizations focus on moving their more sensitive data and applications to the cloud the issue of retaining control takes center stage and sound key management is an effective way of achieving that. The ability to release keys to cloud providers on a ‘need to use basis’ and to revoke them as necessary will be an increasingly powerful tool.”

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