AWS Security Blog

AWS-LC is now FIPS 140-3 certified

AWS Cryptography is pleased to announce that today, the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) awarded AWS-LC its validation certificate as a Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) 140-3, level 1, cryptographic module. This important milestone enables AWS customers that require FIPS-validated cryptography to leverage AWS-LC as a fully owned AWS implementation.

AWS-LC is an open source cryptographic library that is a fork from Google’s BoringSSL. It is tailored by the AWS Cryptography team to meet the needs of AWS services, which can require a combination of FIPS-validated cryptography, speed of certain algorithms on the target environments, and formal verification of the correctness of implementation of multiple algorithms. FIPS 140 is the technical standard for cryptographic modules for the U.S. and Canadian Federal governments. FIPS 140-3 is the most recent version of the standard, which introduced new and more stringent requirements over its predecessor, FIPS 140-2. The AWS-LC FIPS module underwent extensive code review and testing by a NIST-accredited lab before we submitted the results to NIST, where the module was further reviewed by the Cryptographic Module Validation Program (CMVP).

Our goal in designing the AWS-LC FIPS module was to create a validated library without compromising on our standards for both security and performance. AWS-LC is validated on AWS Graviton2 (c6g, 64-bit AWS custom Arm processor based on Neoverse N1) and Intel Xeon Platinum 8275CL (c5, x86_64) running Amazon Linux 2 or Ubuntu 20.04. Specifically, it includes low-level implementations that target 64-bit Arm and x86 processors, which are essential to meeting—and even exceeding—the performance that customers expect of AWS services. For example, in the integration of the AWS-LC FIPS module with AWS s2n-tls for TLS termination, we observed a 27% decrease in handshake latency in Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Amazon S3 TLS termination time after using AWS-LC

Figure 1: Amazon S3 TLS termination time after using AWS-LC

AWS-LC integrates CPU-Jitter as the source of entropy, which works on widely available modern processors with high-resolution timers by measuring the tiny time variations of CPU instructions. Users of AWS-LC FIPS can have confidence that the keys it generates adhere to the required security strength. As a result, the library can be run with no uncertainty about the impact of a different processor on the entropy claims.

AWS-LC is a high-performance cryptographic library that provides an API for direct integration with C and C++ applications. To support a wider developer community, we’re providing integrations of a future version of the AWS-LC FIPS module, v2.0, into the AWS Libcrypto for Rust (aws-lc-rs) and ACCP 2.0 libraries . aws-lc-rs is API-compatible with the popular Rust library named ring, with additional performance enhancements and support for FIPS. Amazon Corretto Crypto Provider 2.0 (ACCP) is an open source OpenJDK implementation interfacing with low-level cryptographic algorithms that equips Java developers with fast cryptographic services. AWS-LC FIPS module v2.0 is currently submitted to an accredited lab for FIPS validation testing, and upon completion will be submitted to NIST for certification.

Today’s AWS-LC FIPS 140-3 certificate is an important milestone for AWS-LC, as a performant and verified library. It’s just the beginning; AWS is committed to adding more features, supporting more operating environments, and continually validating and maintaining new versions of the AWS-LC FIPS module as it grows.

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Nevine Ebeid

Nevine Ebeid

Nevine is a Senior Applied Scientist at AWS Cryptography where she focuses on algorithms development, machine-level optimizations and FIPS 140-3 requirements for AWS-LC, the cryptographic library of AWS. Prior to joining AWS, Nevine worked in the research and development of various cryptographic libraries and protocols in automotive and mobile security applications.