listen to this article:

It is with great pleasure that we announce the Unbound CORE platform, our next generation solution offering that delivers comprehensive cryptography orchestration for enterprises. This new offering marks a major shift in our approach as a company and how we support the evolution of cryptographic security for the enterprise. Unbound began by utilizing breakthroughs in MPC technology in order to provide solutions for key management and key protection in 3 different product lines: UKC – providing key management and a virtual HSM to address challenges using legacy solutions in today’s computing environments, CoT – an SDK providing key protection on mobiles and workstations to replace OTP and other 2FA solutions that have usability and/or security issues, and CASP – a comprehensive crypto-asset protection solution.

Unbound’s next generation offering, called Unbound CORE, continues to capitalize on our core technological advantages, but brings something very new and different to the world of cryptographic infrastructure for enterprises. However, to fully understand the agility, flexibility, and advanced protection it offers organizations it’s important to understand the gaps in legacy key management.

Legacy Key Protection

An extremely important aspect of any cryptographic deployment is the protection and management of keys. If these keys are not well protected, then the security of the entire solution comes under question. This means that storing keys as plain files on computers (e.g., on the database server that it encrypts, or on the build server where code is signed) is extremely problematic. The solution to this problem is to use a “key store” that provides strong protection of cryptographic keys. As part of CORE, Unbound continues to offer its software only MPC key store with high security and all the benefits of software in modern environments. However, Unbound CORE provides far more.

Orchestration for All Keys Everywhere – An Inclusive Approach

There are a number of key stores on the market for managing and protecting keys, including physical HSMs (hardware security modules), cloud HSMs and cloud key management systems like AWS KMS and Azure Vault. In the past, Unbound’s products were yet another choice as a solution, and our MPC key store was yet another key store (albeit with many advantages). Today, at Unbound we have made a major shift in our approach, from a competitive or exclusive approach to a fully inclusive approach. We appreciate that different organizations have preferences for different key stores in different settings, sometimes driven by internal or external regulation (like FIPS 140-2 level 3 or 4 hardware), sometimes due to specific benefits of the key store (like cloud-native functionality that may work only with a local cloud KMS) and sometimes just because it takes time to transition applications from legacy to new solutions. Rather than the “us versus them” approach of the past, Unbound has adopted an “all of us together” approach. Imagine the power of a single platform that orchestrates cryptographic keys of all types in all key stores, instead of the existing fragmented landscape with siloed management systems and distinct interfaces. That is our new approach with Unbound CORE. Unbound CORE will manage keys in our FIPS 140-2 Level 2 MPC key store, in physical HSMs, and in cloud HSMs and cloud KMSs, finally enabling enterprises to work in a single uniform way in all environments and with any key store. Unbound CORE’s orchestration includes the following benefits:

  • Management: A proven single pane of glass for managing all keys in all environments, via a modern web UI. Unbound CORE key management includes key rotation, key synchronization across key stores of all kinds, ACL enforcement, cryptographic policy enforcement, and everything you expect from a rich key management solution.
  • Central audit: Instead of a different audit log for each key store and environment (with different formats), a single unified audit log with a single format for all.
  • Advanced authentication and authorization: Integration to OpenID Connect and OAUTH for both administration and for clients consuming cryptographic services.
  • A virtual HSM, providing a single access point for cryptographic services with universal APIs: Instead of consuming cryptographic services differently in different key stores and different environments, Unbound CORE provides a virtual HSM that is a single access point through which all key stores can be utilized. Unbound’s virtual HSM separates the cryptographic interface and functionality from the specific key store being used, in the same way as virtual machines work independently of the bare metal they are run on. Unbound CORE’s virtual HSM is compatible with all standard libraries (PKCS11, JCA, CNG, OpenSSL and KMIP) as well as having a modern REST API. Thus, all of these interfaces can be used, irrespective of what API is supported by any specific key store. Thus, HSMs that use PKCS11 and don’t support KMIP can be accessed via KMIP, a cloud KMS that only supports the cloud’s REST API can be used with PKCS11, and so on. This greatly simplifies deployment and application development, and aids with cloud migration since the same modus operandi can be used everywhere.
  • Unified integrations: Once Unbound CORE has an integration into a higher-level cryptographic application, it can be used with any key store and in any environment. For just some examples, Unbound CORE has integrations for code signing (with almost all development platforms), infrastructure encryption (e.g., VMWare, NetApp, database encryption via TDE, secrets vaults, etc.), PKI (protecting CA certificates), and more. All of these can be accessed and used in the same way, independently of the key store in question.

The above, together with Unbound’s built-in software MPC key store, makes Unbound CORE a unique offering in the market that supports the expanding needs of any enterprise.

Lean more on FIPS 140-2 Certification Levels Security & Compliance Regulations in our WhitePaper.

One unified product

As we have mentioned, in the past Unbound provided three different products for three different classes of problems. In contrast, Unbound CORE is a single unified product that incorporates all of an enterprise’s cryptographic infrastructure needs. Keys in physical HSMs, cloud KMSs and Unbound’s MPC key store are managed together with keys used for authentication and transaction signing on user mobiles or workstations, as well as keys for crypto assets. Unbound CORE is designed to grow with an enterprise, supporting business growth with fast and agile cryptographic support for new initiatives.

A virtual mesh of cryptographic key stores

One of the challenges working with fragmented and legacy solutions is that they just do not “talk to each other.” This means that policies have to be defined separately on each system, keys need to be manually synchronized between stores, and so on. Unbound CORE generates a virtual mesh of cryptographic key stores, reducing the manual overhead of management and the risk of error. Complicated tasks like synchronizing keys between key stores are automatically taken care of.

The World’s First Cryptography Firewall for Key Misuse Prevention

A firewall is a tool used to monitor access to a network and ensure that only authorized traffic is allowed. Unbound CORE provides key misuse prevention and so serves as a cryptography firewall, monitoring usage of cryptographic keys of all types, and ensuring that only legitimate operations are allowed. This is achieved via a combination of cryptographically enforced quorum approval of operations, together with a powerful and dynamic policy engine that includes basic checks like time of day, location of client and rate limiting to advanced checks like KYC and AML for financial transactions, fraud detection, anomaly detection tools (queried before and not after the operation), and any other security technology or tool. It is no longer enough to merely protect keys from theft, as attackers who breach authorized clients can carry out the same cryptographic operations as the legitimate client. A single valid signature on malicious code is enough to carry out a devastating attack, and a single fraudulent signature on a transaction is all that is needed to steal all of the crypto assets protected by a key. The threat of key misuse is well known but has not been dealt with in the past. Unbound CORE fills this gaping hole in cryptographic key protection.

No Single Point of Failure

Unbound continues to provide security mechanisms that avoid the single point of security failure that occurs when an attacker breaches a critical machine. This includes built-in quorum administration, quorum approval of operations to prevent key misuse, tamper resistant audits gathered at multiple machines independently, and the ability to combine protection mechanisms, like MPC and secure enclaves.

A new collaborative world of inclusion. The world of security products should not be viewed as a zero-sum game. At Unbound we believe that far more value is brought through inclusion than exclusion and enabling organizations to work in a unified approach irrespective of the key store being used is beneficial both for ease of operations as well as for security itself. The result is that enterprises can universally enjoy Unbound’s unique features, while maintaining the freedom to choose the key store that best suits their policies, depending on the specific environment. Physical HSMs, cloud HSMs and KMSs, secure enclaves and Unbound’s MPC key store can be used together under one umbrella, bringing the best of all worlds together.

For more details on Unbound CORE, please read the Unbound CORE white paper.