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documentation.suse.com / SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop Documentation / Security and Hardening Guide / Regulations and Compliance / Enabling compliance with FIPS 140-3
Applies to SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 15 SP5

28 Enabling compliance with FIPS 140-3

FIPS 140-3 is a security accreditation program for validating cryptographic modules produced by private companies. The Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) Publication 140 is a series of computer security standards developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to ensure the quality of cryptographic modules.

If your organization does any work for the United States federal government, your cryptography applications (such as openSSL, GnuTLS and OpenJDK) may be required to comply with Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) 140-3. If your organization is not required by compliance rules to run SUSE Linux Enterprise in FIPS mode, it is best to not do it. This chapter provides guidance on enabling FIPS mode, and links to resources with detailed information.

Important: SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 15 SP5 and FIPS 140-3

SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 15 SP5 can run certified binaries of SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 15 SP4. This process is not automated. You need to install the exact certified version of the packages and make sure not to update them. The certified packages are available in the regular repositories and/or in the Certifications module.

These cryptographic modules, if compatible between both operating systems, are vendor-affirmed, based on the FIPS 140-3 Module Validation Program Management Manual, see section 7.9.1 Vendor, subitem 1.a, i.

28.1 FIPS overview

Every vendor that develops and maintains cryptographic applications and wants them to be tested for FIPS compliance must submit them to the Cryptographic Module Validation Program (CMVP) (see https://csrc.nist.gov/projects/cryptographic-module-validation-program).

The latest FIPS 140-3 standard was approved in March 2019 and replaces 140-2.

28.2 When to enable FIPS mode

Warning: FIPS requires expertise

Administering FIPS is complex and requires significant expertise. Implementing it correctly, testing and troubleshooting all require a high degree of knowledge.

Only run your SLED in FIPS mode when it is required to meet compliance rules. Otherwise, we do not recommend running your systems in FIPS mode.

Below are some reasons to not use FIPS mode (if not required explicitly):

  • FIPS is restrictive. It enforces the use of specific validated cryptographic algorithms and specific certified binaries that implement these validated algorithms. You must use only the certified binaries.

  • Upgrades may break functionality.

  • The approval process is very long, so certified binaries are always several releases behind the newest release.

  • Certified binaries, such as ssh, sshd and sftp-server, run their own self-checks at start-up and run only when these checks succeed. This creates a small performance degradation.

  • Administering FIPS is complex and requires significant expertise.

28.3 MD5 not supported in Samba/CIFS

According to the FIPS standards, MD5 is not a secure hashing algorithm, and it must not be used for authentication. If you run a FIPS-compliant network environment, and you have clients or servers that run in FIPS-compliant mode, you must use a Kerberos service for authenticating Samba/CIFS users. This is necessary as all other Samba authentication modes include MD5.

28.4 More information

For more information, refer to:

  • Man 8 fips-mode-setup

  • Man 8 fips-finish-install

  • Man 7 crypto-policies

  • Man 8 update-crypto-policies