Appears AWS is phasing out 3DES, pointing back to NIST 800-131A that
reminds us 3DES moves to "disallowed after 2015."
Seems appropriate that we update our XCCDF and OVAL content to phase out
3DES. We'd be slightly ahead of the end of year, but any objections to
writing a patch to phase out 3DES from approved algorithms now?
-------- Forwarded Message --------
Subject: AWS GovCloud (US) Updates for FIPS 140-2 Compliance
Date: Fri, 4 Dec 2015 21:55:45 +0000
From: Amazon Web Services, Inc. <no-reply-aws(a)amazon.com>
To: Shawn Wells <shawn@.....>
Dear AWS Customer,
We are contacting you to explain some configuration changes to enhance FIPS 140-2 security
and system performance for the AWS GovCloud (US) region. Please review this information
carefully to determine whether your use of services will be affected, and if so what you
need to do.
Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS) are cryptographic protocols
that used to encrypt data sent over untrusted networks such as the Internet. The TLS
protocol is a newer version of the SSL protocol. In this documentation, we refer to both
SSL and TLS protocols as the SSL protocol.
In support of our customer’s requirements, AWS GovCloud (US) provides FIPS 140-2 compliant
SSL endpoints. NIST Special Publication sp800-131A specifies the approval status of the
3DES block cipher algorithm as "Restricted through 2015" and "Disallowed
after 2015" for FIPS 140-2 encryption. AWS GovCloud (US) currently supports AES-128
and AES-256 algorithms compliant with FIPS 140-2, and will be deprecating support for the
3DES algorithm on March 31, 2016. As an intermediate step, AWS GovCloud (US) has
deprioritized the 3DES algorithm to the least preferred position in the available cipher
options proffered by SSL endpoints.
For most customers there is no action required as a result of this change. However,
customers that have either configured their clients specifically to use only 3DES, or
which have clients that don’t support AES, will need to update their systems to avoid
impact prior to the 3DES deprecation date.
If your client is configured to prefer 3DES, but supports AES, it will continue to work
with no interruption in service after the deprecation date. The administrators of your
system or Information System Security Officer may know if you have specified 3DES as the
only acceptable cipher suite. In that case, you’ll need to make a configuration change to
accept AES if your system requires or desires compliance with FIPS 140-2 standards.
Software Load Balancers
AWS is transitioning the FIPS endpoint systems used for AWS GovCloud (US) from hardware
load balancers to software load balancers for SSL/TLS offloading. We have measured at
least a 4X improvement in performance for data downloads using FIPS approved software load
balancers over the current hardware implementation. The new software load balancer is
implemented using industry leading TLS 1.2 with AES cipher suites, which represents an
improvement in the security of connections to GovCloud while adhering to current
This transition changes the AWS GovCloud FIPS 140-2 implementation from Level 2 (hardware
required) to Level 1. Note that FIPS 140-2 Level 1 implements the same level of security
in the encryption as Level 2 and does not impact the AWS GovCloud (US) FedRAMP
authorization, as FedRAMP does not specify a required FIPS 140-2 Level. We recommend
however, that customers review and update their System Security Plans or other
documentation that may refer to AWS GovCloud (US) utilizing Level 2.
For more information, see the list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) below. Of course,
AWS Support is always available to assist and can be contacted at
. Remember to use the credentials for the standard
AWS account that you used to sign up for AWS GovCloud (US) to authenticate to the AWS
Thank you for being an AWS customer!
The AWS GovCloud (US) Team
Frequently Asked Questions: AWS GovCloud (US) Updates for FIPS 140-2 Compliance
Q. What is FIPS 140-2?
The Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) Publication 140-2 is a US government
security standard that specifies security requirements for cryptographic modules
protecting sensitive information. To support customers with FIPS 140-2 requirements, the
AWS GovCloud (US) region provides SSL terminations (a.k.a. service endpoints) that operate
using load balancers with FIPS 140-2 certified modules.
Q. Why is AWS deprecating support for the 3DES algorithm?
The 3DES algorithm (a.k.a. Triple DES, TDEA, and Triple Data Encryption Algorithm) is an
older data encryption standard that will no longer be recognized as a FIPs 140-2 approved
cipher after December 31, 2015. After this date, customers with FIPS 140-2 requirements
will not be compliant if they bind to the 3DES cipher. The 3DES algorithm was designed for
legacy generation hardware implementations and may be vulnerable to brute force attack
with increasingly powerful computing technology. AWS is therefore deprecating support for
the 3DES cipher in the AWS GovCloud (US) region. To support customers that don’t have FIPS
requirements, the region will continue to support the 3DES cipher until at least March 31,
2016. We recommend that customers review their applications to ensure appropriate use of
the latest ciphers.
Q. How do I determine if I’m using the 3DES cipher?
The algorithm used to encrypt data for transport is determined by your application and the
supported client configurations for your application. Your application may be supported by
legacy software components that do not support AES cipher suites (although this is not
common as AES has been a Federal Government standard since 2002). There are no customer
settings to configure for choosing your preferred cipher in AWS GovCloud (US). The FIPS
140-2 compliant load balancers are able to detect which suite is cipher is used.
Q. How do I migrate off of the 3DES cipher?
Customers with FIPS 140-2 requirements should review their applications and supported
clients to ensure appropriate support for the latest approved encryption ciphers.
Customers without FIPS 140-2 requirements can continue to use AWS GovCloud (US) by
utilizing the available non-FIPS SSL endpoints.
Q. Could anything break when I change from the 3DES cipher?
Customers will need to evaluate the impact of any changes to their application. For
example, their users may need to upgrade their web browser or other software dependencies
to ensure uninterrupted application availability.
Q. Why is AWS changing from FIPS Level 2 to FIPS Level 1? Is this a lower level of
FIPS 140-2 Level 1 implements the same level of security in the encryption as Level 2.
This change does not impact the AWS GovCloud (US) FedRAMP authorization, as FedRAMP does
not specify a required FIPS 140-2 Level. The updated software load balancers now operate
independent of any specific hardware device, which provides improved system performance,
easier upgrades, and more flexible scaling to meet the needs of AWS GovCloud (US)
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