HSM Support


hsm support Two notary workers and their relevant cryptographic keys used for P2P messaging and transaction signing. The red rectangles represent the Corda notary worker services. The distinct identity keys are represented by rectangles in green and yellow and the shared key of the notary service identity is drawn in blue. Their cryptographic keys are held in two HSMs.

Notary workers hold three private key entries in their keystore.

  • cordaclientca, the node certificate authority, issuing the legal identity and TLS keys.
  • identity-private-key, the legal identity used to sign transactions.
  • distributed-notary-private-key, used to notarise transactions.

The cordaclientca and distributed-notary-private-key are issued by the Identity Manager of the Enterprise Network Map, see https://docs.corda.net. The cordaclientca is issuing the identity-private-key.

The identity-private-key is used for P2P messaging, whereas a single distributed-notary-private-key is used by all the notary workers of the CFT notary cluster to sign valid transactions. The distributed-notary-private-key can be copied to all notary workers, or a single highly available HSM can be used to hold the key. This HSM is then accessed by all the notary workers for transaction signing.

See the certificates-hierarchy design doc for more information on the key hierarchies used by Corda.

At present the notary workers have to utilise distinct HSMs, all of which hold a copy of the key of the service identity. This requires a mechanism to copy the key from one HSM instance to the next, a feature that several HSM vendors implement.

Currently Corda Enterprise only supports Azure Key Vault. Please read the section below for setup instructions.

Detailed instructions to deploy to Azure Key Vault

Obtain one Azure Key Vault per notary worker. Other HSM types are not supported at the moment. Create a service principal and extract the appId from the response of the Azure client utility and backup the private key to authenticate your requests to the HSM. Give your principal permissions to access your keyvault.

Add the following entries to your node.conf file

"cryptoServiceName": "AZURE_KEY_VAULT"
"cryptoServiceConf": "<path to the crypto service configuration file>"

Create a crypto service config file with the following content.

path: <path to saved pkcs12 file>
alias: "1"
password: "<password used in the key vault creation>"
keyVaultURL: "https://<key vault name>.vault.azure.net/"
clientId: "<app id from creation of the service principle>"
protection: "SOFTWARE"

When the configuration files are ready, register the notary service identity using the notary registration tool.

java -jar notary-registration.jar register \
     --config-file=node.conf \
     --network-root-truststore=<trust store> \

After successful registration, a keystore file is created by the tool in certificates/nodekeystore.jks this keystore contains the service identity key that all notary workers of this notary cluster share. Copy the file before registering the individual identity of the notary, to be able to distribute the file to all other notary workers.

cp certificates/nodekeystore.jks notary-service-keystore.jks

Register the individual identity of the notary using the corda jar and the following command.

java -jar corda.jar initial-registration \
    --network-root-truststore-password=<password> \
    --network-root-truststore=<trust store>

To register a second notary worker, copy the notary-service-keystore.jks to the certificates directory of the next notary worker as certificates/nodekeystore.jks and repeat the above command.


In case the tool returns an error code, you can obtain more information by providing the following log4j config file and updating the command line as shown below.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
  <Configuration status="INFO">
          <Logger name="notary-registration" additivity="false" level="INFO">
          <AppenderRef ref="RollingFile-Appender"/>

Assuming you have stored the above snippet in a file named notary-tool-log4j.xml specify this file as the log4j config file to see the exception in the console as shown below.

java -Dlog4j.configurationFile=notary-tool-log4j.xml \
     -jar notary-registration.jar register \
     --config-file=node.conf \
     --network-root-truststore=<trust store> \