1st Feb 2017

One small step for security…

By today’s standard, the computer technology used to guide Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins to the moon and back is pretty archaic.

The Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) used on board the Apollo manned lunar programme in 1969 was less powerful than any of today’s smartphone or mobile devices. Yet it managed to steer a three man crew on this iconic journey.

The entire 356,000 km voyage was automated. Basically, AGC provided Apollo 11 with all the accurate navigation and control it required to ensure a safe and secure journey from Earth to the Moon.

Did you know? Margaret H. Hamilton, a pioneering computer scientist and former head of the Software Engineering Division of MIT‘s Instrumentation Laboratory who led the software development team for the Apollo Space Missions, received the “Presidential Medal of Freedom”, United States’ highest civilian honour.

So how does this relate to what we do today?

In this tech obsessed world, where we’re too digitally-drunk to appreciate ingenious computer technology. In other words, we often forget that not only did AGC put man on the moon, it also influenced a way of thinking.

While I’m sure the astronauts would have preferred to fly the shuttle manually, what AGC did was remove the need for any human intervention. This reduced the risk of getting lost in space – or even ending up on Mars.

The payments arena already hosts aspects of this particular technology. Specifically, within Hardware Security Module (HSM) technology.

What is a Hardware Security Module?

Financial institutions, banks, public sector bodies, education establishments and corporates use a Hardware Security Module to generate, store and protect cryptographic keys. Essentially, this allows them to prevent fraudulent activity when processing high frequency payments.

More robust and secure than smartcards or tokens, HSM provides all the security encryption required to access payment portals and process payments and collections. This removes the need for manual intervention when submitting files.

Will it take me to the Moon?

Unfortunately, if you are looking for a way to get to the moon. HSM is not for you. But what it will do is:

  • Enable anywhere, anytime remote access.
  • Improve efficiency and reduces manual input.
  • Completely automate submissions with no manual processes.
  • Provide tamper-proof secure hardware.
  • Deliver high security encryption.

How close to the moon can I get?

Unlike the AGC which was embedded within the computers on-board Apollo 11, a HSM doesn’t need to be stored on your network. Well at least with AccessPay it doesn’t.

On-premise payment solutions providers that offer HSM will usually dictate that you not only have to purchase one of these devices (or two for ultimate contingency) but you must host and maintain the device on your internal network. This means your IT team is responsible for managing the infrastructure and maintenance of the HSM.

With AccessPay’s cloud-based Hardware Security Module service on the other hand, you only need to purchase a certificate from your bank. So, you can access all the security and automation benefits of a HSM with none of the hassle.

*We hope you’ll appreciate how difficult it was to resist the temptation to link the Apollo 11 Lunar mission with the fact that AccessPay uses enterprise-grade Luna devices.