Run FIPS-compliant applications on Open Liberty
The Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 140-2 is a US government security standard for cryptographic modules. Although FIPS compliance is determined by your underlying Java virtual machine (JVM), you can enable Open Liberty to run on a FIPS-compliant JVM.
FIPS enablement is important for many users, particularly if you work for or with US government agencies. Running your Open Liberty servers on a FIPS-compliant JVM ensures that only FIPS certified cryptography is used when an application uses Java security libraries or APIs. FIPS-compliant JVM options for Open Liberty are included in both IBM SDK, Java Technology Edition and IBM Semeru Runtimes.
For more information about enabling FIPS for Liberty with the IBM SDK, Java Technology Edition, see Setting up Liberty for FIPS compliance in the WebSphere Liberty documentation. The configuration is the same for both WebSphere Liberty and Open Liberty.
Enable FIPS for Open Liberty on IBM Semeru Runtimes
You can enable either IBM Semeru Runtime Certified Edition or Open Edition in FIPS mode in version 11.0.16 and later for Java 11 and version 17.0.4 and later for Java 17. Java 11 and 17 support for FIPS with Semeru Runtimes is available only on Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 8 on x86 platforms. The RHEL 8 operating system must be running in FIPS mode because the IBM Semeru Runtimes rely on the operating system’s underlying Network Security Services (NSS) FIPS 140-2 certification. To run Open Liberty on IBM Semeru Runtimes in FIPS mode, Open Liberty version 18.104.22.168 or later is recommended. In FIPS mode, Semeru Runtimes does not support file-based keystores like JKS and PKCS#12. Certificates in your file-based keystores must be imported into the NSS database.
Complete the following steps to configure your Open Liberty server to run on Semeru Runtimes in FIPS mode and to add your keys and certificates to the NSS database.
Confirm that your RHEL operating system is installed in FIPS mode.
If your RHEL operating system was not installed in FIPS mode, you must switch it to FIPS mode. For more information about how to enable or check the FIPS status for your RHEL operating system, see Switching the system to FIPS mode in the RHEL documentation.
Specify system properties to enable FIPS mode for the JVM and, optionally, to enable debug tracing.
-Dsemeru.fips=trueproperty specifies that the JVM uses only FIPS certified cryptography, and ensures that the TLS and SSL protocols use only FIPS certified algorithms. The optional
-Djava.security.debug=semerufipsproperty enables debug tracing. Add these properties to the
jvm.optionsfile in your Open Liberty server configuration directory, one property per line, as shown in the following example.
Create a Liberty configuration file that contains the NSS library that is required for reading a
The file must be in a location that is accessible to Liberty and must contain the following information.
name = NSS-FIPS library = /usr/lib64/libsoftokn3.so slot = 3 showInfo = true
This file is referenced by the keystore
locationconfiguration attribute in step 5 as
Import your keys and certificates to the NSS database.
In FIPS mode, Semeru Runtimes does not support file-based keystores like JKS and PKCS#12. Certificates in your file-based keystores must be imported into the NSS database.
You can import and manage your keys and certificates in the NSS database by using the NSS pk12util and certutil commands.
To import keys from your keystore to the NSS database, use the
pk12utilcommand. In the following example,
key.p12is the keystore file and
Libertyis the keystore password.
pk12util -I key.p12 -W Liberty -d /etc/pki/nssdb
You can import trusted certificates in the same way, as shown in the following example, where
trust.p12is the file that contains the certificate entries.
pk12util -I trust.p12 -W Liberty -d /etc/pki/nssdb
Trusted certificates must be marked as a trusted certificate authority (CA), with complete trust for both client and server certificates. You apply the CA by running the
certutilcommand, as shown in the following example, where the
-targument specifies complete trust with the
certutil -M -n trustCert -t “CT, CT, CT” -d /etc/pki/nssdb
You can also use the
certutilcommand to look at the contents of the NSS database, as shown in the following example.
certutil -L -d /etc/pki/nssdb
keystoreentry in your
server.xmlfile that references the NSS database where you imported your keys and certificates.
server.xmlexample shows the keystore configuration to run Open Liberty in FIPS mode on Semeru Runtimes. In this example,
location=“/tmp/pkcs11cfg.cfg”specifies the path to the Liberty configuration file that you created in step 3.
<featureManager> <feature>transportSecurity-1.0</feature> </featureManager> <ssl id=“defaultSSLConfig" keyStoreRef="defaultKeyStore" sslProtocol=“TLSv1.2” /> <keyStore id="defaultKeyStore" password="Liberty" location=“/tmp/pkcs11cfg.cfg” type=“PKCS11” fileBased=“false” provider=“SunPKCS11-NSS-FIPS” />
In this example, the keystore
typeattribute is set to
PKCS11-NSS-FIPSis also a valid value. This configuration instructs Open Liberty to use the NSS PKCS#11-based keystore instead of a file-based keystore.
You can now start your Open Liberty server in FIPS mode.
For more information about Semeru Runtimes in FIPS mode, see FIPS certified cryptography in IBM Semeru Runtimes. For more information about Open Liberty TLS configuration, see Secure communication with TLS and the Transport Security feature.