CNSA 2.0 Update Part 2: NIAP

On April 18th, 2024, the NSA released updates and clarifications to their CNSA 2.0 (Commercial National Security Algorithm Suite 2.0) advisory in the form of an FAQ. This is the second in a multipart series of postings about the questions and answers that we feel are most interesting and our reactions to them.

But first, some clarifications on terms and acronyms:

  • NIST SP 800-208 National Institute of Standard and Technology Special Publication 800-208 titled: Recommendation for Stateful Hash-Based Signature Schemes
  • NIAP: National Information Assurance Partnership: A United States government organization that oversees evaluations of commercial information technology products for use in national security systems
  • LMS: Leighton-Micali Signatures; a stateful hash-based signature scheme
  • XMSS: eXtended Merkle Signature Scheme; a stateful hash-based signature scheme
  • CAVP: The Cryptographic Algorithm Validation Program; provides guidelines for validation testing which is a pre-requisite for CMVP testing
  • CMVP: Cryptographic Module Validation Program; security accreditation program for cryptographic modules.

Q: As a commercial vendor, how do I know if my NIST SP 800-208 implementation meets CNSA 2.0?

A: NIAP validates products against its published Protection Profiles, which will start including quantum-resistant signatures in line with our published transition timelines. For commercial vendors, we do not anticipate NIAP Protection Profiles will perform signature generation within the Target of Evaluation (TOE) boundary, only signature verification. As signature generation is the component of LMS/XMSS that requires state management, if only signature verification is being performed, only CAVP validation (not CMVP) will be expected for such products.

Anyone who has been following wolfSSL’s progress with post-quantum algorithms knows we have our own implementations of LMS/HSS and XMSS/XMSS^MT and they are integrated into the wolfBoot product! wolfBoot only uses them to verify the signature of the firmware, therefore one only needs to build these algorithms with verification functionalities. Check out sections 17 and 20 of our wolfSSL INSTALL file.

Requiring only CAVP validation is an excellent bonus for our customers. It means that validation will be a simpler and easier process for our team to help you achieve. You can count on fast turnaround times and little if any paperwork.

Preparing for NIAP and need the best cryptography? If you have questions about any of the above, please contact us at or call us at +1 425 245 8247.

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