[openssl-users] FIPS mode restrictions and DES

Steve Marquess marquess at openssl.com
Tue Apr 14 13:29:50 UTC 2015

On 04/13/2015 01:30 PM, Jakob Bohm wrote:
> ..
>> With the very unique exception of the OpenSSL FIPS Object Module, there
>> are no FIPS 140-2 validated cryptographic modules that can be obtained
>> in source form and compiled by the end user. The fact that Red Hat (or
>> whomever) has taken open source code and obtained a FIPS 140-2
>> validation of binaries generated from that code does you no good unless
>> you have those specific binaries, which is to say you're a commercial
>> customer paying for a commercial license from that vendor.
>> Then, even for the OpenSSL FIPS module the validation imposes some
>> pretty perverse constraints (from the usual software engineering
>> perspective). You have to start with a snail-mailed CD, you have to
>> build the binary module in a very special way that will conflict with
>> whatever configuration management you use, etc.; you have to treat it
>> differently that all the other software components of your product. FIPS
>> 140-2 is the tail that wags the dog.
>> -Steve M.
> Of cause.
> One point is that if this is a delivery for someone
> subject to the FIPS-only procurementrequirement
> imposed on various US Government related entities,
> then whatever OS theyuse, MUST (by that requirement)
> have already passed this for its password handling.

This is *technically* true, in the narrow sense that supposedly any OS
used in DoD should be CC certified and so forth. Should not must.

In practice it is very common -- at FIPS 140-2 Level 1 -- for software
*products* to use FIPS 140-2 validated crypto on non-certified,
non-validated operating systems. Just take a look at Table 2 in the
OpenSSL FIPS Object Module Security Policy:


and note that of the 101 platforms ("OEs") appearing there, most of
those operating systems are neither CC certified nor have any other FIPS
140-2 validated crypto. Keep in mind that at Level 1 the validation
applies to the cryptographic module, not the calling application that
uses that module nor the operating system that runs it.

-Steve M.

Steve Marquess
OpenSSL Software Foundation, Inc.
1829 Mount Ephraim Road
Adamstown, MD  21710
+1 877 673 6775 s/b
+1 301 874 2571 direct
marquess at opensslfoundation.com
marquess at openssl.com
gpg/pgp key: http://openssl.com/docs/0x6D1892F5.asc

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