Flaws in OpenSSL FIPS Object Module

Perry E. Metzger perry at piermont.com
Mon Dec 3 09:58:24 EST 2007

I don't know if people have been following this, but it is interesting
from the point of view of studying how the FIPS process does (or does
not) interact with the underlying goal of producing assured systems.

Begin Forwarded Message:

Return-Path: <owner-mmx-openssl-announce at mmx1.engelschall.com>
Message-ID: <47540D31.80002 at oss-institute.org>
Date: Mon, 03 Dec 2007 09:05:37 -0500
From: Steve Marquess <marquess at oss-institute.org>
To:  openssl-announce at openssl.org
Subject: Fwd: Flaw in OpenSSL FIPS Object Module v1.1.1 - Update

The vulnerability reported earlier
(http://openssl.org/news/secadv_20071129.txt) cannot be patched in the
usual way due to the requirements of the FIPS 140-2 validation program
(the CMVP).  Discussions on ways to craft a fix that will satisfy FIPS
140-2 with the least delay in approval have been underway for several days.

The situation is complicated by the fact that there is a second bug in
the FIPS 140-2 mandated continuous PRNG self-test.  This other bug does
not constitute a security vulnerability, but the CMVP understandably
requires that both bugs be corrected at the same time.  FIPS 140-2 has
the concept of an algorithm boundary around each separate algorithm
implementation in addition to the overall crypto module boundary.
Changes to code inside an algorithm boundary require considerably more
time and effort for approval.  We can implement a workaround for the
CVE-2007-5502 vulnerability outside of any algorithm boundary, but
cannot do the same for the self-test bug.

As a consequence approval of a new distribution will take longer.  How
long is hard to estimate, perhaps as little as a couple of weeks.

In the meantime the CMVP has effectively revoked the current v1.1.1
by declaring the PRNG as non-compliant.  Since essentially all
cryptographic applications utilize a PRNG the entire v1.1.1 module is
for all practical purposes revoked as well.  This means vendors of
software products using or based on the v1.1.1 PRNG will need to be
patched or updated with the new v1.1.2 of the OpenSSL FIPS Object Module
once that becomes available.  It would be prudent to anticipate
additional quasi-revocations of other validations for products derived
from the v1.1.1 baseline.

-Steve M.

Steve Marquess
Open Source Software Institute
marquess at oss-institute.org
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