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Every news site has headlines daily about hacks, ransomware, or loss of confidential customer and company data. In the current digital climate, maintaining IT infrastructure security is paramount, and yet most organizations struggle with maintaining IT infrastructure security. Which servers should be acquired? Which security protections will help meet the requirements flawlessly? How to prevent making the wrong decisions?

IT staff responsible for enterprise infrastructure must be right about such challenges 100 percent of the time. This requires investing in products with the right security and validation to provide the priceless assurance of bullet-proof security.

The FIPS U.S. standard is a key component of infrastructure security for government agencies, military, health care, financial, and other security conscious organizations. FIPS sets specific rules about how information is handled by entities such as desktop computers, servers, and even people. One iteration of FIPS—FIPS 140-2—sets the rules for encryption and cryptographic services, making sure they're secure enough to protect sensitive information.

FIPS Defined and Benefits

FIPS is a U.S. government standard for a range of security functions. It is administered by agencies within the U.S. and Canadian governments, specifically the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Communications Security Establishment (CSE) in Canada.

The FIPS requirement most applicable to network and cloud security is FIPS 140-2, which applies to cryptographic module security certification, the validation and certification of the security for the combination of hardware, software, and firmware executing cryptographic functions. Many U.S. federal and Canadian government agencies – in addition to security-conscious enterprises – require that their network and security equipment adhere to and are compliant with FIPS 140-2.

Within FIPS 140-2, there are four additional security levels, ranging from Level 1, which requires approved ciphers, defined security boundaries within the system, and validation of initialization of crypto components, to Level 4, which, in addition to including the requirements of the three other levels, adds atmospheric and other physical protections to a security hardened physical enclosure where the keys are reset if a physical attack is detected.

The most commonly applied standards are FIPS 140-2 Level 2, which requires tamper-evident means to indicate physical access to cryptographic keys or a security parameter; and, FIPS 140-2 Level 3, which adds tamper-resistance, an additional means of detection to the tamper-evident methods of Level 2, as well as a response to physical access attempts, or to cryptographic module use or tampering. Basically, these levels of FIPS security help IT networking staff know if malicious actor has had (or tried to gain) access to your crypto keys.

To government agencies and security-focused enterprises in the financial services, government cyber security, defense, legal and healthcare markets, FIPS is important because of its cryptographic key and security parameter protection, and its inherent threat defense. FIPS compliance ensures that federal agencies and secure businesses maintain compliance with government and industry regulations, such as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), and more. It delivers multi- layered, physical and logical security, and protects data against theft and attacks at layer 3 and layer 4 (including network and DNS attacks), and layer 7 (SSL and HTTP attacks).

Interface Masters Technologies: Embedded Appliances Protecting Workloads by Design

Interface Masters Technologies is determined to be second to none when it comes to security leadership and systems innovation for its line of embedded appliances. Interface Masters’ embedded appliances provide an unbeatable foundation for security including effective protection, reliable tamper detection, and rapid recovery of the entire system against numerous forms of attacks including firmware, unauthorized remote access, and unauthorized changes. These include FIPS 140-2 certification when used with self-encrypting drives and having the FIPS 140-2 certified TPM (Trusted Platform Module) with signed firmware updates.

Because they are the most secure in the industry, Interface Masters’ embedded appliances provide extensive data-at-rest protection using data encryption and data loss prevention technologies along with self-encrypting drives for storage. While in transit, embedded appliances can authenticate and encrypt data packets in flight. Data can also be securely erased when an appliance is decommissioned. The underlying security features of embedded appliances have been expanding over time, with each generation improving the construction as new protection methods are tested and proven.

Interface Masters Technologies has for over 20 years been providing off-the-shelf innovative network security solutions with customization services to OEMs, Fortune 100 and startup companies. Our headquarters are located in San Jose, California in the heart of Silicon Valley where we are proud to design and manufacture all of our products.  Based on MIPS, ARM, PowerPC and x86 processors, Interface Masters appliance models enable OEMs to significantly reduce time-to-market with reliable, pre-tested and pre-integrated networking solutions that can meet the most challenging security requirements.