NIST, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, is a United States Department of Commerce agency tasked with both the creation and maintenance of a country-wide measurement infrastructure. From their website: “From the smart electric power grid and electronic health records to atomic clocks, advanced nanomaterials, and computer chips, innumerable products and services rely in some way on technology, measurement, and standards provided by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Today, NIST measurements support the smallest of technologies to the largest and most complex of human-made creations—from nanoscale devices so tiny that tens of thousands can fit on the end of a single human hair up to earthquake-resistant skyscrapers and global communication networks.”
In 1995, NIST established a method for testing and validating cryptographic algorithms such as Rambus’ Crypto Accelerators and DPA Resistant Cores. Called the Cryptographic Algorithm Validation Program (CAVP), it provides validation testing of FIPS (Federal Information Processing Standards)-approved and NIST-recommended cryptographic algorithms and their individual components. Once successfully tested and validated, NIST adds this information to their publicly-available validation list.
The CAVP certification provides 3rd–party verification that a specific algorithm has been tested and has met independent standards for robustness. Consumers of cryptographic algorithms, generally chip designers, can rely on this certification as a determination of an algorithm’s effectiveness for their designs. Even designs for commercial applications often adopt FIPS certification as a means of ensuring robust security.
Rambus was recently notified that many of our algorithms have received CAVP FIPS 140-2 certification by NIST. Highlights include our Differential Power Analysis (DPA)-resistant and standard AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) and HMAC-SHA2 (Hash-based Message Authentication Code, Secure Hash Algorithm) cores. A full list of certifications can be found on the NIST website, along with the Crypto Accelerators and DPA Resistant Cores product pages on Rambus.com. Many of the certified algorithms are included in standard configurations of our CryptoManager Root of Trust family of products.
We see the CAVP certification as especially important for our most security-conscious customers, typically those designing SoCs for government, military and automotive use. However, the importance of this certification is not unique to those markets. Regardless of what use a chip might be destined, semiconductor designers understand the growing importance of security in any connected application. The certification of cryptographic algorithms and cores to the FIPS standard provides customers with assurance of the robustness, quality and applicability of cryptographic solutions.