Wednesday, September 25, 2013

ICMC: CAVP/CMVP Status - What's Next?

We were lucky to have three panelists from NIST: Sharon Keller, Randall Easter, and Carolyn French, so we can hear about what they are doing straight from the horses mouth, as it were.  This is a rare opportunity for vendors to get to interact directly with members of these validation programs.

Ms. Keller, CAVP - NIST, explained a bit of history about this body. CMVP and CAVP used to be one group, but they were separated in 2003, as their tasks could easily be broken up.  As noted yesterday, the validations done by CAVP is much more black and white - you've either passed the test suite, or failed.  The CAVP has automated this as much as possible, which also contributes to the speed.

In addition to these validations, CAVP writes the tests, provides documentation and guidance and provides clarification, as needed.  They also keep an up to date webpage that lists algorithm implementations.

The rate of incoming validations seems to be nearly logarithmic growth!  Already this year, they've already issued more algorithm certificates than in all of 2012.  This year, they added a new tests for algorithms like SHA512/t.

Mr. Easter said that NIST had originally planned to do a follow-on conference to their 2003 conference in 2006, once FIPS-140-3 was finalized.... oops!

The original ISO/IEC 19790 (March 2006) was a copy of FIPS-140-2, the latest draft contains improvements that were hoped to be in FIPS-140-3.

Because FISMA requires that the US Government use validated crypto, these standards have become very important.

Vendors should make sure they reference the Implementation Guidance (IG). Mr. Easter noted that the IG, in their opinion, does not contain  any new "shalls", but merely clarification of existing requirements. Though, asking many vendors here, apparently the original document was so murky that these IGs seem like completely new requirements.  Now that FIPS-140-2 is so old (12 years now), the IG document is larger than the standard itself!  This can

There are actually only 8 full time reviewers for the CMVP, and those same reviewers also have to do bi-annual audits of the 22 international labs, write Implementation Guidance, etc - you can see why they are busy!

Reports from labs show the greatest areas of difficulty for conformance are key management, physical security, self-tests and RNGs.  Nearly 50% of the vendor implementations have non-conformance issues (8% are algorithm implementation conformance issues).

Mr. Easter apologized for the  queue and noted that this is not what they want either: they want the US Government to be able to get the latest software and hardware, too!

Currently, there are 200 reports in the queue that are actively being tracked and worked - again, 8 reviewers.  Is adding more reviewers the answer? How many people can they steal from the labs ;-)

What can you do to help?  Labs should make sure the reports are complete, in good shape, with all necessary elements..   Vendors should try to answer any questions as fast as possible.  Help close the loop, make the jobs of the reviewers simple.

Unfortunately,  work on FIPS-140-3 seems to have stalled in the group that evaluates new algorithms, and Mr. Easter would like NIST instead to adopt ISO19790 as FIPS-140-3 (it's ready to go: fleshed out, DTRs) - asking us to help pressure NIST to get this standard adopted.

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