Frequently Asked Question

In P2PE Hardware/Hybrid solutions, what is a Host System?

Host systems are used in hybrid decryption environments to decrypt account data for the purpose of processing payments. A Host system is a computer or other device that is not considered a secure cryptographic device (SCD). In the context of the P2PE standard, the Host system is defined as a combination of software and hardware components used for the purpose of decrypting account data. Host systems may also be used for transaction processing.
Characteristics of a Host system include:
  • Host systems are not secure cryptographic devices (SCDs)
  • Host systems perform decryption of account data
  • Host systems temporarily retain data decryption keys (DDKs) in volatile memory.
  • Host systems do not perform key generation, key loading, key injection or key distribution    functions — these must be performed by an HSM or other SCD
  • Host systems do not share, output or transmit any cryptographic key (either encrypted or in clear text) to any process, application or system outside of the transaction processing function
Last updated: June 2016
Originally published: May 2013
Article Number: 1249

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