Wednesday, September 25, 2013

ICMC: Understanding the FIPS Government Crypto Regulations for 2014

 Presented by Edwards Morris, co-founder Gossamer Security Solutions.

Looking forward to what new regulations are going to mean for older algorithms and the protocols that use them, right away there seems like there may be work for us to do.

Security strength of various algorithms are not straightforward to calculate, as it's based on how it's used and how big the key is, etc.

In May 19, 2005, DES is being sunset, because it has less than 80-bits of security.  Because this sunset applies to the bits of security, DH and RSA with key sizes smaller than 1024-bits are included.

Originally the DES transition gave people two years to migrate to AES or 3DES.

As a part of this, NIST released SP 800-57, which included recommendations for key management.

This was harder than anticipated, due to lack of standards, available 140-2 approved products and the sheer size of deployments - so then NIST 800-131A was born.

NIST 800-131A includes more details on the transitions, terminology and dates.  Some 80-bit crypto will be deprecated in 2013 and others in 2015.

The devil is in the details, of course,  SP 800-131A refers to SP800131B, which is in draft and ultimately because FIPS-140-2 Implementation Guidance.  Digging into all of these requirements, how can you tell if TLS can still be used?

Mr. Morris dug into  various protocols to help us interpret this standard.


IPsec is made up of so many RFCs, so getting the big picture is not an easy task. It also has so many possible options.  SP 800-57 Pat 3 details this guidance.  Three IPsec protocols allow a choice of algorithms: IKE (for key exchange), ESP and AH.

You can avoid using IKE by using manual keying (acceptable 2014+, but what a pain to configure/deploy), IKEv1 (unacceptable in 2014) and  IKEv3 (acceptable 2014+, if configured correctly).

For encryption in IPsec, you'll be okay with ENCR_3DES (in CBC mode), ENCR_AES_CBC (CBC mode only), and a few others.  You'll be able to use SHA1 as an HMAC, but not alone for signatures (wow, does this get twisted).

Mr. Morris continued through what would be acceptable for Pseudo-random functions, Integrity, Diffie-Hellman group and Peer Authentication - too quickly for me to type all of those algorithms, but I will try to update this if I can get access to the slide deck.

It's not as simple as which algorithm you use, but again how you use it, which sized keys, etc.

IPsec is well positioned for this - as long as you configure it correctly.


TLS is not the same things SSL v3.0. TLS is equivalent to SSL v 3.1.  TLS 1.0 is acceptable. SSL, though, is not allowed by CMVP.  Since 1.0 is acceptable, that essentially means that TLS 1.1 and 1.2 are also acceptable, as long it's configured correctly (seeing a theme here?).  For example, if you use pre-shared keys in lieu of certificates, ensure the key is greater or equal to 112 bits.

You won't be able to use the following key exchanges: *_anon, SRP_*, KRB5. (though Mr. Morris hasn't dug through the Kerberos standards, yet, to see where they will be with these 2014 requirements.


This is not covered by SP 800-57, so this is harder to figure out if it's okay or not. There are problems when the RFCs require things that are no longer considered secure: Single DES are required to be implemented, but by having them available in your implementation - this will be a problem.


Look for documentation and configuration guides that can help there, or get independent evaluations of the software that you're deploying (companies like Gossamer will look at how you're using even opensource software like Apache, OpenSSL, OpenSSH, etc)

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