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Corporate Security Blog

Oracle Linux certified under Common Criteria and FIPS 140-2

Joshua Brickman
Director, Security Evaluations

Oracle Linux 7 has just received both a Common Criteria (CC) Certification which was performed against the National Information Assurance Partnership (NIAP) General Purpose Operating System Protection Profile (OSPP) v4.1 as well as a FIPS 140-2 validation of its cryptographic modules.  Oracle Linux is currently one of only two operating systems – and the only Linux distribution – on the NIAP Product Compliant List. 

U.S. Federal procurement policy requires IT products sold to the Department of Defense (DoD) to be on this list; therefore, Federal cloud customers who select Oracle Cloud Infrastructure can now opt for a NIAP CC-certified operating system that also includes FIPS 140-2 validated cryptographic modules, by making Oracle Linux 7 the platform for their cloud services solution.

Common Criteria Certification for Oracle Linux 7

The National Information Assurance Partnership (NIAP) is “responsible for U.S. implementation of the Common Criteria, including management of the NIAP Common Criteria Evaluation and Validation Scheme (CCEVS) validation body.”(See About NIAP at https://www.niap-ccevs.org/ )

The Operating Systems Protection Profile (OSPP) series are the only NIAP-approved Protection Profiles for operating systems. “A Protection Profile is an implementation-independent set of security requirements and test activities for a particular technology that enables achievable, repeatable, and testable (CC) evaluations.”  They are intended to “accurately describe the security functionality of the systems being certified in terms of [CC] and to define functional and assurance requirements for such products.”  In other words, the OSPP enables organizations to make an accurate comparison of operating systems security functions. (For both quotations, see NIAP Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) at https://www.niap-ccevs.org/Ref/FAQ.cfm)

In addition, products that certify against these Protection Profiles can also help you meet certain US government procurement rules.  As set forth in the Committee on National Security Systems Policy (CNSSP) #11, National Policy Governing the Acquisition of Information Assurance (IA) and IA-Enabled Information Technology Products (published in June 2013), “All [common off-the-shelf] COTS IA and IA-enabled IT products acquired for use to protect information on NSS shall comply with the requirements of the NIAP program in accordance with NSA-approved processes.”  

Oracle Linux is now the only Linux distribution on the NIAP Product Compliant List.  It is one of only two operating systems on the list.

You may recall that Linux distributions (including Oracle Linux) have previously completed Common Criteria evaluations (mostly against a German standard protection profile), these evaluations are now limited because they are only officially recognized in Germany and within the European SOG-IS agreement. Furthermore, the revised Common Criteria Recognition Arrangement (CCRA) announcement on the CCRA News Page from September 8th 2014, states that “After September 8th 2017, mutually recognized certificates will either require protection profile-based evaluations or claim conformance to evaluation assurance levels 1 through 2 in accordance with the new CCRA.”  That means evaluations conducted within the CCRA acceptance rules, such as the Oracle Linux 7.3 evaluation, are globally recognized in the 30 countries that have signed the CCRA. As a result, Oracle Linux 7.3 is the only Linux distribution that meets current US procurement rules.

It is important to recognize that the exact status of the certifications of operating systems under the NIAP OSPP has significant implications for the use of cloud services by U.S. government agencies.  The Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) website states that it is a “government-wide program that provides a standardized approach to security assessment, authorization, and continuous monitoring for cloud products and services.” For both FedRamp Moderate and High, the SA-4 Guidance states “The use of Common Criteria (ISO/IEC 15408) evaluated products is strongly preferred.

FIPS 140-2 Level 1 Validation for Oracle Linux 6 and 7

In addition to the Common Criteria Certification, Oracle Linux cryptographic modules are also now FIPS 140-2 validated. FIPS 140-2 is a prerequisite for NIAP Common Criteria evaluations. “All cryptography in the TOE for which NIST provides validation testing of FIPS-approved and NIST-recommended cryptographic algorithms and their individual components must be NIST validated (CAVP and/or CMVP). At a minimum an appropriate NIST CAVP certificate is required before a NIAP CC Certificate will be awarded.” (See NIAP Policy Letter #5, June 25, 2018 at https://www.niap-ccevs.org/Documents_and_Guidance/ccevs/policy-ltr-5-update3.pdf )

FIPS is also a mandatory standard for all cryptographic modules used by the US government. “This standard is applicable to all Federal agencies that use cryptographic-based security systems to protect sensitive information in computer and telecommunication systems (including voice systems) as defined in Section 5131 of the Information Technology Management Reform Act of 1996, Public Law 104-106.” (See Cryptographic Module Validation Program; What Is The Applicability Of CMVP To The US Government? at https://csrc.nist.gov/projects/cryptographic-module-validation-program ).

Finally, FIPS is required for any cryptography that is a part of a FedRamp certified cloud service. “For data flows crossing the authorization boundary or anywhere else encryption      is required, FIPS 140 compliant/validated cryptography must be employed. FIPS 140 compliant/validated products will have certificate numbers. These certificate numbers will be required to be identified in the SSP as a demonstration of this capability. JAB TRs will not authorize a cloud service that does not have this capability.” (See FedRamp Tips & Cues Compilation, January 2018, at https://www.fedramp.gov/assets/resources/documents/FedRAMP_Tips_and_Cues.pdf ).

Oracle includes FIPS 140-2 Level 1 validated cryptography into Oracle Linux 6 and Oracle Linux 7 on x86-64 systems with the Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel and the Red Hat Compatible Kernel. The platforms used for FIPS 140 validation testing include Oracle Server X6-2 and Oracle Server X7-2, running Oracle Linux 6.9 and 7.3. Oracle “vendor affirms” that the FIPS validation is maintained on other x86-64 equivalent hardware that has been qualified in its Oracle Linux Hardware Certification List (HCL), on the corresponding Oracle Linux releases.

Oracle Linux cryptographic modules enable FIPS 140-compliant operations for key use cases such as data protection and integrity, remote administration (SSH, HTTPS TLS, SNMP, and IPSEC), cryptographic key generation, and key/certificate management.

Federal cloud customers who select Oracle Cloud Infrastructure can now opt for a NIAP CC-certified operating system (that also includes FIPS 140-2 validated cryptographic modules) by making Oracle Linux 7 the bedrock of their cloud services solution.

Oracle Linux is engineered for open cloud infrastructure. It delivers leading performance, scalability, reliability, and security for enterprise SaaS and PaaS workloads as well as traditional enterprise applications. Oracle Linux Support offers access to award-winning Oracle support resources and Linux support specialists, zero-downtime updates using Ksplice, additional management tools such as Oracle Enterprise Manager and lifetime support, all at a low cost.

For a matrix of Oracle security evaluations currently in progress as well as those completed, please refer to the Oracle Security Evaluations.

Visit Oracle Linux Security to learn how Oracle Linux can help keep your systems secure and improve the speed and stability of your operations.