Gemalto Partners With Ledger to Bring HSMs to Crypto-Currency

Under the partnership Gemalto's Hardware Security Module will be integrated with Ledger's Blockchain Open Ledger Operating System to improve security for crypto-currency and blockchain data assets.

The use of blockchain-based crypto-currencies has grown in recent years and with it has come a need to improve security. To that end, Blockchain infrastructure solutions startup Ledger announced on Oct.4 that it is partnering with Hardware Security Module (HSM) vendor Gemalto to help bolster the security of crypto-currency transactions.

The partnership integrates Gemalto's SafeNet HSM with Ledger's Open Ledger Operating System (BOLOS).

"BOLOS is an operating system that has been designed to secure crypto-currency," Eric Larchevêque, CEO at Ledger, told eWEEK. "BOLOS is an alternative to Java Card, which is the dominant operating system for smart cards."

BOLOS is a proprietary operating system for embedded systems that Larchevêque said is simpler than Linux. Larchevêque explained that BOLOS has been designed to provide full isolation for applications and supports modern cryptographic stacks to enable digital signatures for any blockchain or crypto-currency transactions. Ledger's products today include hardware wallets for crypto-currencies.

"Our customers buy the wallets to secure their digital assets," Larchevêque said. "We are also providing security infrastructure solutions for financial institutions so they can manage crypto-currency and that's what we're doing with Gemalto."

By definition, crypto-currencies are already using cryptography, though that doesn't mean that the storage of the currencies is secure. Larchevêque said that hedge funds and some financial institutions want to integrate crypto-currency services into their offerings. 

"The question is how do you manage crypto-currency assets?" Larchevêque said. "In the cryptocurrency world, key management is critical and there needs to be hardware solutions."

That's where the integration with Gemalto's HSM comes into play, as a secure hardware device for key management. Joseph Pindar, director of  strategy, CTO Office at Gemalto explained that his company worked with Ledger to provide a secure environment in which BOLOS can operate by adapting existing Gemalto technology. 

"Part of our blockchain strategy is making it easy and efficient for blockchain or crypto-currency wallet companies like Ledger to be able to implement our core HSM technologies and access markets that require high-levels of security," Pindar told eWEEK.

Pindar said that Ledger and other blockchain companies are interested in the Gemalto HSM's functional module, which allows for rapid prototyping. He noted that the functional module allows Ledger to add specific security processes inside HSM to address crypto-currency use-cases. Hedge funds, banks and financial organizations often have to comply with stringent regulation requirements, which is why there is a need for the Ledger Gemalto offering, Pindar said.  He commented that organizations recognize and realize the need for private keys to help improve the fundamental security of crypto-currency and blockchain.

"Financial organizations are looking for companies that are integrating and embedding existing security technologies, like HSMs, to help them take advantage of the market for digital currencies as tradeable assets," Pindar said.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner is an Internet consultant, strategist, and contributor to several leading IT business web sites.