Hardware Security Module · 16-bit ISA-bus
CryptWare Board is a Hardware Security Module (HSM) for Personal Computers
(PC) with 16-bit ISA-bus 1 expansion slots, developed around 1997 by the German
company Utimaco. 2 It was used as part of a
computer system for secure exchange of messages and data, via
RS232 serial ports.
It superceedes earlier HSMs like SAFE-Board,
which did not contain a crypto engine.
The HSM is implemented as a full-size ISA-bus PC card of which most
space is occupied by a large rectangular metal block inside which the actual
HSM is located. The contents of the metal block are secret, which is why it
is cast in epoxy, so that its contents cannot easily be inspected by an
adversary or a competitor of the product.
Inside the HSM is another printed circuit board (PCB) that
is fitted to the ISA-bus card via two 33-pin headers.
It is likely that it contains some
kind of crypto-processor that is reponsible for the actual encryption
and decryption of the data.
Outside the HSM – towards the rear end of the board – are two 2KB
Static Random Access Memory (SRAM) chips for storage of key material
and passwords. The contents of these SRAM chips are retained by means of
a rechargeable Ni-MH battery that is fitted at the upper edge of the board.
The battery is routed via a jumper (J13) to allow an external ZEROIZE button
to be connected. This way, the contents of the SRAM can be purged quickly
in case of an emergency or compromise.
The board provides two RS232 serial ports for connection of the outside world
(the black side) and the local equipment (the red side),
each of which terminates in a 9-pin
Inside the HSM is a crypto-processor developed by the Belgian company
Cyptech — a spin-off from the University of Louvain's ESAT
Laboratory. In 1992, Utimaco Belgium
had acquired the rights to the Cryptech technology, after the company had run
into financial trouble. In 1995,
became a full daughter of
and was finally closed in 2002.
16-bit ISA bus
is also known as AT bus.
The board was designed in 1986 by Utimaco Belgium (since 1995 a
full daughter of Utimaco Germany).
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Below is the block diagram of the HSM. The dashed line marks the interface
between computer and the ISA-bus card. On the ISA-bus card is the actual
HSM-module and two external RS232 serial port interfaces; one for connection
to the outside world — also known as the BLACK side — and one for connection of
the local equipment that must be secured — known as the RED side.
Inside the HSM is the crypto engine and a non-volatile memory (SRAM) of
which the contents are retained by an external battery. The power from the
battery to the SRAM is passed via a jumper (J13) which can be replaced by
an external ZEROIZE button. This allows the contents of the SRAM (i.e.
the keys and passwords) to be destroyed in case of an emergency or security
compromise. Note that this is also possible when the computer is off.
This procedure is known as ZEROIZING.
The following products are based on the CryptWare HSM:
- CryptWare Authentication Toolkit
- CryptWare Board
- Cryptware CEBAMail
- CryptWare Certification Authority
- CryptWare CryptMail
- CryptWare DES Tool
- CryptWare DESToolkit
- CryptWare PKI
- CryptWare Server
- CryptWare Toolkit
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© Crypto Museum. Created: Sunday 05 March 2023. Last changed: Sunday, 19 March 2023 - 08:05 CET.