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Security and Hardening Guide / Regulations and Compliance / Enabling compliance with FIPS 140-3
Applies to openSUSE Leap 15.4

28 Enabling compliance with FIPS 140-3

If your organization does any work for the United States federal government, it is likely that your cryptography applications (such as openSSL, GnuTLS, and OpenJDK) will be required to be in compliance with Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) 140-3. FIPS 140-3 is a security accreditation program for validating cryptographic modules produced by private companies. If your organization is not required by compliance rules to run SUSE Linux Enterprise in FIPS mode, it is most likely best to not do it. This chapter provides guidance on enabling FIPS mode, and links to resources with detailed information.

Important: openSUSE Leap 15.4 and FIPS 140-3

openSUSE Leap 15.4 is in the process of implementing the FIPS 140-3 standard. The relevant binaries are undergoing certification and will be updated in the near future.

For further details, contact your SUSE sales representative.

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 openSUSE Leap 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.