[openssl-users] FIPS Linux kernel documentation ?

Jakob Bohm jb-openssl at wisemo.com
Thu Mar 26 17:41:00 UTC 2015

On 26/03/2015 16:56, Steve Marquess wrote:
> On 03/26/2015 11:30 AM, John Foley wrote:
>> We looked at this very briefly a couple of years ago.  In theory, there
>> may be a way to achieve the goal as a loadable kernel module (a.k.a.
>> device driver).  The idea would be to have a kernel module that provides
>> crypto support.  This kernel module would be the FIPS object module,
>> with the FIPS boundary drawn around the kernel module.  This would be
>> loaded at run time like any other device driver when FIPS mode needed to
>> be enabled.
>> There is likely some kernel work required to allow the ciphers in the
>> kernel module to be injected into the crypto flow within the kernel.
>> The other issue is getting the kernel to automatically run the FIPS
>> integrity test on the module at load time.
> We looked at it in quite a bit of detail about two years ago also, to
> the point of developing a formal proposal for a prospective sponsor.
> Yes, a loadable module is the way to go. We had worked out how to do the
> POST at module load (including an actual implementation).
> But, as with any open source based FIPS validation it would have been
> expensive and risky, and the end result would still have been fossilized
> code that would always be a painfully awkward fit in the Linux
> ecosystem. We'd still consider tackling that, with financial
> sponsorship, but we have no prospects for such.
> -Steve M.
Hypothetically speaking, would it be possible to use the
OpenSSL FIPS module with an appropriate "outside the boundary"
kernel module wrapper around it to form "yet another platform"
for one of the validation numbers?

Technically, the kernel module wrapper would interact with the
same blob "API" that a FIPS-enabled OpenSSL uses, so there
would be little or no change to FIPS module build and "security
guide" for such additional kernel mode platforms.  "Inside the
boundary" changes would be needed only to the extent that the
FIPS blob makes direct system calls, since the kernel is not a
normal POSIX-like environment when seen from a kernel mode

If the CMVP bureaucracy insists on a specific kernel version
for the platform number, this should be one of the "Long Term
Support" kernel releases to maximize longevity (assuming that
regular OS patching within a version number is still accepted
as "same platform").


Jakob Bohm, CIO, Partner, WiseMo A/S.  http://www.wisemo.com
Transformervej 29, 2860 Søborg, Denmark.  Direct +45 31 13 16 10
This public discussion message is non-binding and may contain errors.
WiseMo - Remote Service Management for PCs, Phones and Embedded

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