PKCS12 APIs with fips 3.0

Zeke Evans Zeke.Evans at
Wed Jan 27 00:47:53 UTC 2021

I understand that PKCS12 cannot be implemented in the fips provider but I'm looking for a suitable workaround, particularly something that is close to the same behavior as 1.0.2 with the fips 2.0 module.  

In my case, the default provider is loaded but I am calling EVP_set_default_properties(NULL, "fips=yes").  I can wrap calls to the PKCS12 APIs and momentarily allow non-fips algorithms (ie: "fips=no" or "provider=default") but that prevents the PKCS12 implementation from using the crypto implementations in the fips provider.  Is there a property string or some other way to allow PKCS12KDF in the default provider as well as the crypto methods in the fips provider?  I have tried "provider=default,fips=yes" but that doesn't seem to work.

Using the default provider is probably a reasonable workaround for reading in PKCS12 files in order to maintain backwards compatibility.  Is there a recommended method going forward that would allow reading and writing to a key store while only using the fips provider?

Zeke Evans
Micro Focus

-----Original Message-----
From: openssl-users <openssl-users-bounces at> On Behalf Of Dr Paul Dale
Sent: Tuesday, January 26, 2021 5:22 PM
To: openssl-users at
Subject: Re: PKCS12 APIs with fips 3.0

I'm not even sure that NIST can validate the PKCS#12 KDF.
If it can't be validated, it doesn't belong in the FIPS provider.


On 26/1/21 10:48 pm, Tomas Mraz wrote:
> On Tue, 2021-01-26 at 11:45 +0000, Matt Caswell wrote:
>> On 26/01/2021 11:05, Jakob Bohm via openssl-users wrote:
>>> On 2021-01-25 17:53, Zeke Evans wrote:
>>>> Hi,
>>>> Many of the PKCS12 APIs (ie: PKCS12_create, PKCS12_parse,
>>>> PKCS12_verify_mac) do not work in OpenSSL 3.0 when using the fips 
>>>> provider.  It looks like that is because they try to load PKCS12KDF 
>>>> which is not implemented in the fips provider.  These were all 
>>>> working in 1.0.2 with the fips 2.0 module.  Will they be supported 
>>>> in 3.0 with fips?  If not, is there a way for applications running 
>>>> in fips approved mode to support the same functionality and use 
>>>> existing stores/files that contain PKCS12 objects?
>>> This is an even larger issue: Is OpenSSL 3.x so badly designed that 
>>> the "providers" need to separately implement every standard or 
>>> non-standard combination of algorithm invocations?
>>> In a properly abstracted design PKCS12KDF would be implemented by 
>>> invoking general EVP functions for underlying algorithms, which 
>>> would in turn invoke the provider versions of those algorithms.
>> This is exactly the way it works. The implementation of PKCS12KDF 
>> fetches the underlying digest algorithm using whatever providers it 
>> has available. So, for example, if the PKCS12KDF implementation needs 
>> to use SHA256, then it will fetch an available implementation for it 
>> - and that implementation may come from the FIPS provider (or any 
>> other provider).
>> However, in 3.0, KDFs are themselves fetchable cryptographic 
>> algorithms implemented by providers. The FIPS module implements a set 
>> of KDFs - but PKCS12KDF is not one of them. Its only available from 
>> the default provider.
>> So, the summary is, while you can set things up so that all your 
>> crypto, including any digests used by the PKCS12KDF, all come from 
>> the FIPS provider, there is no getting away from the fact that you 
>> still need to have the default provider loaded in order to have an 
>> implementation of the PKCS12KDF itself - which will obviously be 
>> outside the module boundary.
>> There aren't any current plans to bring the implementation of 
>> PKCS12KDF inside the FIPS module. I don't know whether that is 
>> feasible or not.
> IMO PKCS12KDF should not be in the FIPS module as this is not a FIPS 
> approved KDF algorithm. Besides that KDF should not IMO be needed for 
> "modern" PKCS12 files. I need to test that though.

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