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CryptWare Board
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.
  
ISA-bus card with hardware security module (HSM)

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 DE-9/P connector.

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, Utimaco Belgium became a full daughter of Utimaco Germany and was finally closed in 2002.

  1. 16-bit ISA bus is also known as AT bus.
  2. The board was designed in 1986 by Utimaco Belgium (since 1995 a full daughter of Utimaco Germany).

PLEASE HELP — Further information about this product is currently unavailable. If you have any information about the use or operation of this device, such as usage examples, operating instructions or any technical documentation, please contact us.
ISA-bus card with hardware security module (HSM)
Other side of the card
Component side
Solder side
Visible components
Backup battery, DIP-switches and LED indicators
Engraved CryptWare logo
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ISA-bus card with hardware security module (HSM)
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Other side of the card
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Component side
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Solder side
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Visible components
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Backup battery, DIP-switches and LED indicators
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Engraved CryptWare logo

Block diagram
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.


Products
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
Components
Further information
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Crypto Museum. Created: Sunday 05 March 2023. Last changed: Sunday, 19 March 2023 - 08:05 CET.
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