In my previous blog on the insights gleaned from this year’s Entrust Global Encryption Trends Study, I looked at the apparent disconnect between the recognized importance of customer data protection and the prioritization of encrypting that information. In this blog, we’ll look at the changing shape of the encryption landscape and the role of hardware security modules (HSMs) to help manage that evolution.

Hardware security modules (HSMs) are on the rise

According to two-thirds (66%) of respondents, the implementation of encryption applications together with hardware security modules (HSMs) is critical to an enterprise’s encryption and key management strategy.

HSMs continue to serve traditional applications such as TLS/SSL, application encryption and PKI, but are integral for other use cases, including:

  • Container encryption/signing services
  • Public cloud encryption including Bring Your Own Key (BYOK)
  • Secrets management
  • Privileged access management

In particular, secrets management now ranks as a top 10 — and growing — HSM use case because trust is essential when collecting authentication credentials, keys and other secrets into a common location.

Similar to how the use of HSMs has grown for encryption, key management, and privileged access management, their use with secrets management solutions is a nod not only to the increased risk of collecting all this sensitive data in one location, but also to the importance of enforcement of tight access controls and compliance auditing.

The future of encryption technology

Respondents don’t predict big changes any time soon as far as new encryption methods. Multi-party computation remains the first solution that respondents think will reach mainstream adoption with homomorphic encryption expected soon after — yet respondents predict both are at least five years away.

However, respondents are slightly more optimistic about the timing of quantum algorithms than they were in 2020, expecting to see them in just under eight years — six months earlier than previously anticipated.

Blockchain technology, on the other hand, is farther up the curve, with more advanced current usage, and mainstream adoption expected on average in less than three years. While blockchain is currently used mainly as the foundation for cryptocurrency, enterprises envision use cases will expand to include:

  • Cryptocurrency/wallets (59%)
  • Asset transactions/management (52%)
  • Identity (45%)
  • Supply chain (37%)
  • Smart contracts (35%)

As the world continues to digitally transform, encryption technology — and the way enterprises use it — is more relevant than ever. While encryption and key management is complex, it is essential for enterprises to thrive amid expanding threats. Careful attention to key protection, and diligent discovery of new locations that sensitive data is finding its way to, are critical to a successful data protection strategy.

Check out part one of this series here and read the full 2021 Global Trends Study to learn more.