[Openswan dev] Openswan + FIPS thoughts

Paul Wouters paul at xelerance.com
Mon Oct 29 20:26:23 EDT 2007

On Tue, 30 Oct 2007, David McCullough wrote:

> We are just starting out on a FIPS certification for some of our
> products,  and they will include Openswan.  So far we can see no
> problems with getting the certification,  but we are interested in some
> feedback on the changes we need to make to get this through.

We have had inquieries in the past. Usually couped with "openssl is
already paid for with FIPS, and so is NETKEY, can we change pluto to
only use openssl with NETKEY".

> We are considering two possible approaches:
> 	1) Replace all the libgmp/crypto code in Openswan user space to use
> 	   libssl/openssl exclusively.  This will mean we have a single
> 	   point of testing/implementation for FIPS.  It also means that
> 	   OpenSwan will continue to use OCF for user space as appropriate,
> 	   but can also take advantage of the many other openssl engines and
> 	   accelerators.

We found that hw accelerators for userland was hardly worth it (and at
times slower then using hardware)

> 	2) The second,  perhaps not so pretty solution,  is to hook
> 	   everything in openswan userspace as has been done already for
> 	   OCF, but to do it for everything that FIPS cares about.
> I am not sure of the history here,  so perhaps there is a reason why it
> should or shouldn't be done this way or that.

Part is probably history (openssl didnt have the functionality needed).
Part is bloat (openssl is huge)
Part of it was security (openssl is vulnerable on a weekly basis to something)

While it may satisy FIPS, it might not actually be more secure.

> Would switching from libgmp/ouwn crypto to a completely libssl solution
> for the big num and user space crypto code be attractive to the openswan
> community ?

I guess ideally, we could allow either one.

Michael has more intimate knowledge about the aceleration issues.


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