What is FIPS 140-2 Certification?
The Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) Publication 140-2 (FIPS PUB 140-2), commonly referred as FIPS 140-2, is a US government computer security standard used to validate cryptographic modules. FIPS 140-2 was created by the NIST and, per the FISMA, is mandatory for US and Canadian government procurements. Many global organizations are also mandated to meet this standard.
FIPS 140-2 Overview
According to FIPS Publication 140-2:
[It] provides a standard that will be used by Federal organizations when these organizations specify that cryptographic-based security systems are to be used to provide protection for sensitive or valuable data. Protection of a cryptographic module within a security system is necessary to maintain the confidentiality and integrity of the information protected by the module. This standard specifies the security requirements that will be satisfied by a cryptographic module.
… The security requirements cover areas related to the secure design and implementation of a cryptographic module. These areas include cryptographic module specification; cryptographic module ports and interfaces; roles, services, and authentication; finite state model; physical security; operational environment; cryptographic key management; electromagnetic interference/electromagnetic compatibility (EMI/EMC); self-tests; design assurance; and mitigation of other attacks.
The US NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) and Canadian CSE (Communications Security Establishment) jointly participate as certification authorities in the CMVP (Cryptographic Module Validation Program) to provide validation of cryptographic modules to the FIPS 140-2 standard.