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Status Under review
Categories Security
Created by Guest
Created on Nov 21, 2022

FIPS 140 validated cryptography for the product

We are in a bit of a bind.  IBM provides product to the US Federal government, and they require that all cryptography undergo CMVP evaluation as part of federal information processing standard 140.  Right now, the IBM cryptographic providers in use are generally based upon IBM® Crypto for C, and that has lost its active status.  The formal language says "The referenced cryptographic module should not be included by Federal Agencies in new procurements. Agencies may make a risk determination on whether to continue using this module based on their own assessment of where and how it is used."  The risk determination for the agency I work with most, GSA, has already made the determination that non-validated cryptography is a CISO "show stopper", so this is unlikely to fly, and in any event would not allow use of IBM software in new procurements.

Most of the IBM software has hooks to make it available to third party cryptographic providers, and B2B is no exception.  The problem is that we don't have a lot of experience with other providers, and so the support teams are not going to suggest it.  But this means that existing contracts, which specify FIPS 140, are at hazard.

The Aha idea is to spend some resources on supporting the third party products until the new Crypto for C product completes assessment, when we can return to our regular approach.  This probably won't go away -- the modern approach to crypto is to make it pluggable, and this will become increasingly important as technological changes like the rise of quantum computing will force rapid changes in the standard.  At the very least, providing limited support (and at least a recipe for how to enable it) will allow us to maintain validity in contracts and to bid IBM software to new procurements, even if we aren't completely successful and have to migrate back to Crypto for C in 2024.  Its a matter of spending limited resources to 'kick the can' and buy time to get back to the usual approach.

  • Guest
    Dec 19, 2022

    Happy to do so. Email address is

  • Admin
    Ryan Wood
    Dec 17, 2022

    Thank you for opening this. We would like to set up some time to discuss this with your sales representative.