CSEC and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) jointly announced the establishment of the Cryptographic Module Validation Program (CMVP) on July 17, 1995. NIST is a non-regulatory federal agency within the U.S. Commerce Department's Technology Administration (* Official Languages Notice). The CMVP validates commercial cryptographic modules to Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 140-2 and other cryptography based standards such as algorithms. The CMVP is jointly managed by NIST and CSEC. Products validated as conforming to FIPS 140-1 or FIPS 140-2 are accepted by the Federal agencies of both countries for the protection of sensitive information (United States) or Protected Information (Canada). The goal of the CMVP is to promote the use of validated cryptographic modules and provide Federal agencies with a security metric to use in procuring equipment containing validated cryptographic modules. In the CMVP, vendors of commercial cryptographic modules use independent, accredited Cryptographic and Security Testing (CST) laboratories to have their modules tested. Laboratories accredited by National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program (NVLAP) or by Standards Council of Canada (SCC) perform cryptographic module compliance/conformance testing.
Prior to May 25, 2002, commercial cryptographic modules were validated for conformance to the FIPS 140-1, Security Requirements for Cryptographic Modules. Effective May 26, 2002, this standard was superseded by the FIPS 140-2, Security Requirements for Cryptographic Modules. However, Agencies may continue to purchase, retain and use FIPS 140-1 validated products after May 25, 2002. The FIPS 140-2 specifies the security requirements that will be satisfied by a cryptographic module utilized within a security system protecting protected information. The standard provides four increasing, qualitative levels of security: Level 1, Level 2, Level 3 and Level 4. These levels are intended to cover the wide range of potential applications and environments in which cryptographic modules may be employed. The security requirements cover 11 areas related to the secure design and implementation of a cryptographic module. These areas include cryptographic module specification; cryptographic module ports and interfaces; roles, services and authentication; finite state model; physical security; cryptographic key management; electromagnetic interference/electromagnetic compatibility (EMI/EMC); self-tests; design assurance; and mitigation of other attacks. A FIPS 140-2 validation certificate is issued for each validated module.
An overall rating is issued for the cryptographic module, which indicates (1) the minimum of the independent ratings received in the areas with levels, and (2) fulfillment of all the requirements in the other areas. It is important for vendors and users of cryptographic modules to realize that the overall rating of a cryptographic module is not necessarily the most important rating. The rating of an individual area may be more important than the overall rating, depending on the environment in which the cryptographic module will be implemented (this includes understanding what risks the cryptographic module is intended to address).
Prior to using any cryptographic module, organizations should request the vendor to provide a copy of its FIPS 140-1 or FIPS 140-2 validation certificate, as evidence of CMVP validation, or, as a minimum, the validation certificate number. The version number of the deployed cryptographic module should be identical to the number listed for the claimed certificate, and it can be verified on-line.
The main website for the NIST/CSEC CMVP is hosted by NIST, and contains complete details on the program, all the related standards and documents, as well as the official lists of FIPS 140-1 and FIPS 140-2 validated cryptographic modules and FIPS 140-1 and FIPS 140-2 Vendors.
NVLAP accredited Cryptographic and Security Testing (CST) laboratories perform validation testing of cryptographic modules. Cryptographic modules are tested against requirements found in FIPS 140-2, Security Requirements for Cryptographic Modules. Cryptographic module validation testing is performed using the Derived Test Requirements for FIPS PUB 140-2 document. The document lists all of the vendor and tester requirements for validating a cryptographic module, and provides the basis of testing performed by the CST accredited laboratories.
CSEC and NIST have begun the review and update of FIPS 140-2 to keep the standard consistent with current technologies, to incorporate suggestions from federal departments as well as vendors, and to update and strengthen the requirements in key areas of the standard. FIPS 140-3 is expected to include significant changes in the areas of physical and software security, and module assurance. The discovery of new non-invasive attacks will be reflected in the new standard. The standard will also better define and strengthen the requirements for software modules.
For More Information
Government of Canada clients should contact CSEC for information on approved configuration and usage of validated modules.
For more information regarding the CMVP, please contact:
IT Security Client Services