The Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS), issued by the US National Institute of Standards and Technologies, specifies the security requirements for a cryptographic module used in a security system. The NetScaler FIPS appliance complies with the second version of this standard, FIPS-140-2.
Note: Henceforth, all references to FIPS imply FIPS-140-2.
The FIPS appliance is equipped with a tamper-proof (tamper-evident) cryptographic module—and a Cavium CN1620-NFBE3-2.0-G on the MPX 9700/10500/12500/15500 FIPS appliances—designed to comply with the FIPS 140-2 Level-2 specifications. The Critical Security Parameters (CSPs), primarily the server's private-key, are securely stored and generated inside the cryptographic module, also referred to as the Hardware Security Module (HSM). The CSPs are never accessed outside the boundaries of the HSM. Only the superuser (nsroot) can perform operations on the keys stored inside the HSM.
The following table summarizes the differences between standard NetScaler and NetScaler FIPS appliances.
Configuring a FIPS appliance involves configuring the HSM immediately after completing the generic configuration process. You then create or import a FIPS key. After creating a FIPS key, you should export it for backup. You might also need to export a FIPS key so that you can import it to another appliance. For example, configuring FIPS appliances in a high availability (HA) setup requires transferring the FIPS key from the primary node to the secondary node immediately after completing the standard HA setup.
You can upgrade the firmware version on the FIPS card from version 4.6.0 to 4.6.1, and you can reset an HSM that has been locked to prevent unauthorized logon. Only FIPS approved ciphers are supported on a NetScaler FIPS appliance.