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CMVP Announcements

[02-26-2014] FIPS 140-2 Annex D: Approved Key Establishment Techniques [ PDF ] has been updated.

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CMVP Notices

[04-24-2014] -- Heartbleed Vulnerability

[04-24-2014] -- The Second International Cryptographic Module Conference ICMC 2014

Bringing experts together from around the world to confer on the topic of cryptographic modules.

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Cryptographic Module Validation Program (CMVP)

What is the purpose of the CMVP?

On July 17, 1995, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) established the Cryptographic Module Validation Program (CMVP) that validates cryptographic modules to Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS)140-1 Security Requirements for Cryptographic Modules, and other FIPS cryptography based standards. The CMVP is a joint effort between NIST and the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC). FIPS 140-2, Security Requirements for Cryptographic Modules, was released on May 25, 2001 and supersedes FIPS 140-1.

Modules validated as conforming to FIPS 140-1 and FIPS 140-2 are accepted by the Federal Agencies of both countries for the protection of sensitive information.

Vendors of cryptographic modules use independent, accredited Cryptographic and Security Testing (CST) laboratories to test their modules. The CST laboratories use the Derived Test Requirements (DTR), Implementation Guidance (IG) and applicable CMVP programmatic guidance to test cryptographic modules against the applicable standards.. NIST's Computer Security Division (CSD) and CSEC jointly serve as the Validation Authorities for the program, validating the test results and issuing certificates.

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What is the applicability of CMVP to the US government?

FIPS 140-1 became a mandatory standard for the protection of sensitive data when the Secretary of Commerce signed the standard on January 11, 1994. FIPS 140-2 supersedes FIPS 140-1 and the standard was signed on May 25, 2001. The applicability statement from FIPS 140-2 (page iv):

7. Applicability. This standard is applicable to all Federal agencies that use cryptographic-based security systems to protect sensitive information in computer and telecommunication systems (including voice systems) as defined in Section 5131 of the Information Technology Management Reform Act of 1996, Public Law 104-106. This standard shall be used in designing and implementing cryptographic modules that Federal departments and agencies operate or are operated for them under contract. Cryptographic modules that have been approved for classified use may be used in lieu of modules that have been validated against this standard. The adoption and use of this standard is available to private and commercial organizations.

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Use of Unvalidated Cryptographic Modules by Federal Agencies and Departments

FIPS 140-2 precludes the use of unvalidated cryptography for the cryptographic protection of sensitive or valuable data within Federal systems. Unvalidated cryptography is viewed by NIST as providing no protection to the information or data - in effect the data would be considered unprotected plaintext. If the agency specifies that the information or data be cryptographically protected, then FIPS 140-2 is applicable. In essence, if cryptography is required, then it must be validated.

With the passage of the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) of 2002, there is no longer a statutory provision to allow for agencies to waive mandatory Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS). The waiver provision had been included in the Computer Security Act of 1987; however, FISMA supersedes that Act. Therefore, the references to the "waiver process" contained in many of the FIPS listed below are no longer operative.

As background, below is a list of facts found in FIPS 140-2 and other supporting NIST documents:

  • Cryptography: The discipline which embodies principles, means and methods for the transformation of data to hide its information content, prevent its undetected modification, prevent its unauthorized use or a combination thereof. [ANSI X9.31]
    Cryptography deals with the transformation of ordinary text (plaintext) into coded form (ciphertext) by encryption and transformation of ciphertext into plaintext by decryption. [NIST SP 800-2]
  • The selective application of technological and related procedural safeguards is an important responsibility of every Federal organization in providing adequate security in its computer and telecommunication systems. This standard [FIPS 140-2] provides a standard that will be used by Federal organizations when these organizations specify that cryptographic-based security systems are to be used to provide protection for sensitive or valuable data. [FIPS 140-2]
  • The FIPS 140-2 standard is applicable to all Federal agencies that use cryptographic-based security systems to protect sensitive information in computer and telecommunication systems (including voice systems) as defined in Section 5131 of the Information Technology Management Reform Act of 1996, Public Law 104-106. [FIPS 140-2]
  • FIPS 140-2 shall be used in designing and implementing cryptographic modules that Federal departments and agencies operate or are operated for them under contract. [FIPS 140-2]
  • With the passage of the Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002, there is no longer a statutory provision to allow for agencies to waive mandatory Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS). The waiver provision had been included in the Computer Security Act of 1987; however, FISMA supersedes that Act. Therefore, the references to the "waiver process" contained in many of the FIPS are no longer operative. For further information, please go to the CMVP FAQs Section 3.2.
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What is the status of modules validated to FIPS 140-1?

FIPS 140-1 became a mandatory standard for the protection of sensitive data when the Secretary of Commerce signed the standard on January 11, 1994. FIPS 140-2 supersedes FIPS 140-1 and the standard was signed on May 25, 2001. The Implementation Schedule statement from FIPS 140-2 (page v):

14. Implementation Schedule. This standard (FIPS 140-2) becomes effective six months after approval by the Secretary of Commerce. A transition period from November 25, 2001 until six months after the effective date is provided to enable all agencies to develop plans for the acquisition of products that are compliant with FIPS 140-2. Agencies may retain and use FIPS 140-1 validated products that have been purchased before the end of the transition period. After the transition period, modules will no longer be tested against the FIPS 140-1 requirements. After the transition period, all previous validations against FIPS 140-1 will still be recognized.

The CMVP posted a clarification to the implementation schedule on February 04, 2002 which was posted in the CMVP FAQ Section 1 Overview:

FIPS 140-2, Security Requirements for Cryptographic Modules, was released on May 25, 2001 and supersedes FIPS 140-1. However, agencies may continue to purchase, retain and use FIPS 140-1 validated modules after May 25, 2002. Modules validated as conforming to FIPS 140-1 and FIPS 140-2 are accepted by the Federal Agencies of both countries for the protection of sensitive information. However, a federal agency may choose to only procure a FIPS 140-2 validated module.

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How does Common Criteria (CC) relate to FIPS 140-2?

If the operational environment is a modifiable operational environment, the operating system requirements of the Common Criteria are applicable at Security Levels 2 and above.

FIPS 140-1 required evaluated operating systems that referenced the Trusted Computer System Evaluation Criteria (TCSEC) classes C2, B1 and B2. However, TCSEC is no longer in use and has been replaced by the Common Criteria. Consequently, FIPS 140-2 now references the Common Criteria for Information Technology Security Evaluation (CC), ISO/IEC 15408:1999.

The Common Criteria (CC) and FIPS 140-2 are different in the abstractness and focus of tests. FIPS 140-2 testing is against a defined cryptographic module and provides a suite of conformance tests to four security levels. FIPS 140-2 describes the requirements for cryptographic modules and includes such areas as physical security, key management, self tests, roles and services, etc. The standard was initially developed in 1994 - prior to the development of the CC. CC is an evaluation against a created protection profile (PP) or security target (ST). Typically, a PP covers a broad range of products.

A CC evaluation does not supersede or replace a validation to either FIPS 140-1 or FIPS 140-2. The four security levels in FIPS 140-1 and FIPS 140-2 do not map directly to specific CC EALs or to CC functional requirements. A CC certificate cannot be a substitute for a FIPS 140-1 or FIPS 140-2 certificate.

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