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Understanding FIPS Mode Terminology and Supported Cryptographic Algorithms

 

Use the definitions of FIPS terms and supported algorithms to help you understand Junos OS in FIPS mode.

FIPS Terminology

Critical security parameter (CSP)Security-related information—for example, secret and private cryptographic keys and authentication data such as passwords and personal identification numbers (PINs)—whose disclosure or modification can compromise the security of a cryptographic module or the information it protects. For details, see Understanding the Operational Environment for Junos OS in FIPS Mode.
Cryptographic moduleThe set of hardware, software, and firmware that implements approved security functions (including cryptographic algorithms and key generation) and is contained within the cryptographic boundary. For fixed-configuration switches, the cryptographic module is the switch case. For modular switches, the cryptographic module is the Routing Engine.
Crypto OfficerPerson with appropriate permissions who is responsible for securely enabling, configuring, monitoring, and maintaining Junos OS in FIPS mode on a switch. For details, see Understanding Roles and Services for Junos OS in FIPS Mode.
FIPSFederal Information Processing Standards. FIPS 140-2 specifies requirements for security and cryptographic modules. Junos OS in FIPS mode complies with FIPS 140-2 Level 1.
FIPS maintenance roleThe role the Crypto Officer assumes to perform physical maintenance or logical maintenance services such as hardware or software diagnostics. For FIPS 140-2 compliance, the Crypto Officer zeroizes the Routing Engine on entry to and exit from the FIPS maintenance role to erase all plain-text secret and private keys and unprotected CSPs.
Note

The FIPS maintenance role is not supported on Junos OS in FIPS mode.

KATsKnown answer tests. System self-tests that validate the output of cryptographic algorithms approved for FIPS and test the integrity of some Junos OS modules. For details, see Understanding FIPS Self-Tests.
SSHA protocol that uses strong authentication and encryption for remote access across a nonsecure network. SSH provides remote login, remote program execution, file copy, and other functions. It is intended as a secure replacement for rlogin, rsh, and rcp in a UNIX environment. To secure the information sent over administrative connections, use SSHv2 for CLI configuration. In Junos OS, SSHv2 is enabled by default, and SSHv1, which is not considered secure, is disabled.
ZeroizationErasure of all CSPs and other user-created data on a switch before its operation as a FIPS cryptographic module—or in preparation for repurposing the switch for non-FIPS operation. The Crypto Officer can zeroize the system with a CLI operational command. For details, see Understanding Zeroization to Clear System Data for FIPS Mode.

Supported Cryptographic Algorithms

Each implementation of an algorithm is checked by a series of known answer test (KAT) self-tests. Any self-test failure results in a FIPS error state.

The following cryptographic algorithms are supported in FIPS mode. Symmetric methods use the same key for encryption and decryption, while asymmetric methods use different keys for encryption and decryption.

AESThe Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), defined in FIPS PUB 197. The AES algorithm uses keys of 128, 192, or 256 bits to encrypt and decrypt data in blocks of 128 bits.
Diffie-HellmanA method of key exchange across a nonsecure environment (such as the Internet). The Diffie-Hellman algorithm negotiates a session key without sending the key itself across the network by allowing each party to pick a partial key independently and send part of that key to the other. Each side then calculates a common key value. This is a symmetrical method—keys are typically used only for a short time, discarded, and regenerated.
ECDHElliptic Curve Diffie-Hellman. A variant of the Diffie-Hellman key exchange algorithm that uses cryptography based on the algebraic structure of elliptic curves over finite fields. ECDH allows two parties, each having an elliptic curve public-private key pair, to establish a shared secret over an insecure channel. The shared secret can be used either as a key or to derive another key for encrypting subsequent communications using a symmetric key cipher.
ECDSAElliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm. A variant of the Digital Signature Algorithm (DSA) that uses cryptography based on the algebraic structure of elliptic curves over finite fields. The bit size of the elliptic curve determines the difficulty of decrypting the key. The public key believed to be needed for ECDSA is about twice the size of the security strength, in bits.
HMACDefined as “Keyed-Hashing for Message Authentication” in RFC 2104, HMAC combines hashing algorithms with cryptographic keys for message authentication.
SHA-256, SHA-384, and SHA-512Secure hash algorithms (SHA) belonging to the SHA-2 standard defined in FIPS PUB 180-2. Developed by NIST, SHA-256 produces a 256-bit hash digest, SHA-384 produces a 384-bit hash digest, and SHA-512 produces a 512-bit hash digest.
3DES (3des-cbc)Encryption standard based on the original Data Encryption Standard (DES) from the 1970s that used a 56-bit key and was cracked in 1997. The more secure 3DES is DES enhanced with three multiple stages and effective key lengths of about 112 bits. For Junos OS in FIPS mode, 3DES is implemented with cipher block chaining (CBC).