FIPS Compatibility and Compliance

FIPS Compliance is often a requirement not just for organizations conducting business with the US Federal Government, but also for other highly regulated industries seeking to meet security compliance targets. The Foundation has, in fact, been approached by cloud vendors attempting to run refstack on FIPS enabled systems.

There are two distinct goals for FIPS: FIPS Compatibility and FIPS Compliance.

FIPS Compatibility

The main effect of turning on FIPS mode in the kernel is to set the kernel cryptographic modules to disallow certain cryptographic operations, ciphers and algorithms, or to only allow their use within certain contexts. More precise details can be obtained from the FIPS spec. [1]

The goal of FIPS Compatibility is ensure that OpenStack functions correctly when the control plane nodes are running with FIPS mode enabled.

A lot of work has already been done to advance the FIPS compatibility goal. Making this a community goal would raise awareness of this effort and would ensure that all projects, as well as third party vendors, test their functionality under FIPS.

We would also be able to identify dependencies that need to be updated to work under FIPS. [2]

Moreover, there are problems that are common to many projects, which could be better solved with a standard approach.

FIPS Compliance

The goal of FIPS Compliance is to ensure that any crypto operations that are performed are done using crypto libraries that are FIPS certified. To complete this goal, we will need to:

  • Audit the cryptographic libraries used within OpenStack.

  • Replace if possible, or document as a limitiation, libraries which are not FIPS certified.

Goal Checklist

Is design finalized? Status: YES

The plan is simply to create voting CI jobs with FIPS enaled in all the OpenStack projects, and fix or document any issues that arise. This work has been underway for some time, and you can see the status (and the work that has been completed) in the “Current Status” section below.

Some design work will be needed when deciding how to replace/fix paramiko, but this work is explicitly called out to be completed by the end of the Zed release.

Is implementation finalized? Status: YES

The jobs that have been completed or are in progress are listed in [10].

Is there any dependency or blocker? Status: YES

Having voting CI jobs depends on either centOS-9-stream jobs becoming stable or being able to use FIPS-enabled Ubuntu images.

Achieving FIPS compliance will necessarily require an audit to determine which external software implements cryptography, and whether it is FIPS compliant. An initial audit was conducted in [14]. So far, only a few software modules are of concern.

Part of this goal is to identify any issues with external software and address it by BB.


  1. Ade Lee <> (alee)

Gerrit Topic

To facilitate tracking, commits related to this goal should use the gerrit topic:

fips-compatibility or fips-compliance

Completion Criteria

Milestone 1: Zed-cycle release:

  1. Projects that curently have FIPS CI jobs in-flight should have these jobs merged. These jobs should be sufficient to test base functionality and in particular those areas expected to be affected by FIPS. The tests should pass. Any limitations uncovered should be documented.

  2. The current role to enable FIPS mode should be enhanced to allow FIPS to be enabled on Ubuntu environments. Jobs using Ubuntu will need to be tested using Python 3.9, as this is the earliest release that supports the usedforsecurity parameter on hashlib.md5().

  3. The ultimate goal is to have the FIPS CI jobs running as voting in the check/gate pipelines. At this point, though, the FIPS jobs are only available on CentOS-9-stream, which has not been stable. Until the centos-9-stream jobs become stable or the FIPS jobs are moved to Ubuntu, it is acceptable to have the jobs running in the periodic pipeline.

  4. These jobs should run from Zed onwards. There have been requests to add these jobs to the stable branches - as far back as wallaby. This would be considered a good-to-have.

  5. A review of crypto used within OpenStack should be completed. This review should identify crypto that is not FIPS certified and propose alternatives. Depending on which libraries are identified and the projected impact, a schedule for replacement can be decided at that time. An initial review of crypto in OpenStack is documented here. [14]

  6. A plan should be formulated to provide a FIPS compliant replacement option to paramiko across OpenStack projects.

Milestone 2: AA-cycle release:

  1. All OpenStack projects should have at least one job to test functionality when FIPS is enabled. These tests should pass with limitations documented. This job should be in the check/gate pipelines as a voting job.

  2. Run the relevant integrated tempest tests in FIPS mode. These tests should pass. It is expected that some FIPS specific configuration may be required [3], or that some tests/features would be invalid under FIPS [4]. These configurations and limitations should be well documented.

  3. A FIPS compliant replacement for paramiko should be implemented as an option across the major OpenStack projects. See details under “Current Issues” below.

Milestone 3: BB-cycle-release:

  1. A FIPS compliant replacement for paramiko should be implemented as an option across all OpenStack projects.

Current Status

A lot of work has already been done to advance the FIPS compatibility goal. Making this a community goal will ensure that all projects as well as third party vendors test their functionality under FIPS, as well as providing an opportunity to solve common problems with a standard approach.

FIPS biggest effect on OpenStack services so far has been in disallowing the use of MD5. Under FIPS, hashlib.md5() will fail unless it is annotated as not being used in a security context using a special annotation (usedforsecurity) that was introduced in python 3.9 [5]. This annotation has been backported by some distributions.

To take advantage of this annotation, an adapter for hashlib.md5() was added to oslo.utils() [6], and patches were added to Keystone, Barbican, Nova, Glance, Octavia, Neutron and other projects to take advantage of this annotation. [7] A similar wrapping was added to swift [8].

An ansible role has been added to zuul-jobs to enable FIPS mode in CI jobs [9]. Right now, this role only works for RHEL/Fedora/Centos systems.

Using this role, a whole slew of CI FIPS jobs have been proposed. [10] The vast majority of the tempest tests in these jobs currently pass.

Current Issues

  • Tempest currently uses paramiko to ssh to instances. This currently fails because of a call to md5() to generate fingerprints that are written to log files. This use of md5() is valid under FIPS and so we can patch paramiko to either allow the usage [11] or to use a different algorithm [12].

  • Paramiko also uses md5() in generating a key from a password while reading an encrypted PEM file that is not in the newer OpenSSH format. We can get around that by simply making sure that relevant encrypted key files are generated by OpenSSH.

  • Paramiko is not FIPS compliant and so will ultimately need to be replaced across OpenStack for compliance. This should be co-ordinated across projects so it can be done consistently. Ideally, a library could be found that can be configured to FIPS compliant and also support algorithms like ed25519. Alternatively, projects should be changed to allow the selection of either paramiko (as default) or a FIPS certified library at run-time.

  • A patch has been proposed to replace paramiko with libssh instead as this library uses FIPS certified crypto [13]. Ultimately, a different library may need to be selected.


  1. FIPS Spec:

  2. So far, packages that we have found to require FIPS updates include django, certmonger paramiko and sphinx.

  3. Some required setting include: iscsi chap algorithms: snmp_auth_type:

  4. Features and tests that come to mind include: volume encryption using plain encryptor:

  5. hashlib.MD5() issue in Python 3.9:

  6. Change to oslo.utils to use usedforsecurity:

  7. Patches to various projects to use oslo.utils adapter for hashlib.md5 (as examples): glance: nova: nova: os-brick: oslo: tooz: opensdk: octavia: designate: glance_store:

  8. Swift patch to handle hashlib.md5

  9. Ansible role in zuul-jobs

  10. Current proposed and merged CI jobs (as of zed) (as of yoga)

  11. This change is relatively small. Until it passes, we have added a monkey-patch for paramiko in



  14. Tempest patches:

  15. Initial audit of crypto libraries in OpenStack: The audit indicates that very few libraries are of concern, the most prominent being paramiko.