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Understanding Junos OS in FIPS Mode


Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) 140-2 defines security levels for hardware and software that perform cryptographic functions. By meeting the applicable overall requirements within the FIPS standard, Juniper Networks EX Series Ethernet switches running the Juniper Networks Junos operating system (Junos OS) in FIPS mode comply with the FIPS 140-2 Level 1 standard.

Operating EX Series Ethernet switches in a FIPS 140-2 Level 1 environment requires enabling and configuring FIPS mode on the switches from the Junos OS CLI.

The Crypto Officer enables FIPS mode in Junos OS and sets up keys and passwords for the system and other FIPS users who can view the configuration.

Best Practice

Be sure to verify the secure delivery of your switch and apply tamper-evident seals to its vulnerable ports.

About the Cryptographic Boundary on Your EX Series Switch

FIPS 140-2 compliance requires a defined cryptographic boundary around each cryptographic module on a switch. Junos OS in FIPS mode prevents the cryptographic module from executing any software that is not part of the FIPS-certified distribution, and allows only FIPS-approved cryptographic algorithms to be used. No critical security parameters (CSPs), such as passwords and keys, can cross the cryptographic boundary of the module unencrypted format.

For the Juniper Networks EX Series switches that are certified at FIPS-140-2 Level 1, the cryptographic boundary of the module is determined by the chassis type. For a list of FIPS-certified switches and the cryptographic boundary of each switch, see Table 1.

Table 1: Cryptographic Boundaries on FIPS-Certified EX Series Switches


Chassis Type

Cryptographic Boundary


Fixed configuration

Switch case


FIxed configuration

Switch case


Virtual Chassis features are not supported in FIPS mode—they have not been tested by Juniper Networks. Do not configure a Virtual Chassis in FIPS mode.

How FIPS Mode Differs from Non-FIPS Mode

Unlike Junos OS in non-FIPS mode, Junos OS in FIPS mode is a non-modifiable operational environment. In addition, Junos OS in FIPS mode differs in the following ways from Junos OS in non-FIPS mode:

  • Self-tests of all cryptographic algorithms are performed at startup.

  • Self-tests of random number and key generation are performed continuously.

  • Weak cryptographic algorithms such as Data Encryption Standard (DES) and Message Digest 5 (MD5) are disabled.

  • Weak or unencrypted management connections must not be configured.

  • Passwords must be encrypted with strong one-way algorithms that do not permit decryption.

  • Administrator passwords must be at least 10 characters long.

For specific configuration limitations and restrictions, see Understanding Configuration Limitations and Restrictions on Junos OS in FIPS Mode.

Validated Version of Junos OS in FIPS Mode

To determine whether a Junos OS release is NIST-validated, see the compliance adviser page on the Juniper Networks Web site (