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ISO/IEC 19790:2012 Information technology

ISO/IEC 19790:2012 Information technology
ISO/IEC 19790:2012

What is ISO/IEC 19790:2012 Information technology-Security techniques -Security requirements for cryptographic modules?

ISO/IEC 19790:2012 provides a set of security requirements and guidelines for evaluating the security of cryptographic modules used in various information technology systems.

Here are some key points and objectives of ISO/IEC 19790:2012:
  • Scope: The standard defines the security requirements that must be met by cryptographic modules to ensure the confidentiality and integrity of data and to protect against unauthorized access.
  • Cryptographic Modules: The standard primarily focuses on cryptographic modules, which are hardware or software components that perform cryptographic functions such as encryption, decryption, key management, and secure random number generation.
  • Security Levels: ISO/IEC 19790 specifies different security levels (e.g., Level 1, Level 2, Level 3, Level 4) based on the level of security assurance required for a particular application. These security levels help organizations select appropriate cryptographic modules for their needs.
  • Functional Requirements: The standard outlines functional requirements for cryptographic modules, including key management, authentication mechanisms, and cryptographic algorithm implementations. These requirements ensure that cryptographic modules operate securely and effectively.
  • Physical Security: Physical security requirements are also addressed in the standard to protect cryptographic modules from physical attacks and tampering.
  • Operational Environment: ISO/IEC 19790 considers the operational environment in which cryptographic modules are used and specifies requirements for security policies and procedures.
  • Documentation: The standard requires comprehensive documentation for cryptographic modules, including security policies, design documentation, and user manuals.
  • Testing and Validation: Cryptographic modules must undergo testing and validation to demonstrate compliance with the standard’s requirements. This includes functional testing, penetration testing, and vulnerability analysis.
  • Security Labels: The standard includes security labels that indicate the security level and functionality of cryptographic modules. These labels can help organizations make informed decisions when selecting modules for their specific security needs.

Overall, ISO/IEC 19790:2012 is an important reference for organizations and manufacturers involved in the development, implementation, and evaluation of cryptographic modules. It helps ensure that these modules meet established security standards and can be trusted for protecting sensitive information in various IT applications, including secure communication, digital signatures, and data encryption.

What are the requirements of ISO/IEC 19790:2012?

ISO/IEC 19790:2012 Information technology specifies a range of security requirements for cryptographic modules. These requirements are organized into several categories, including cryptographic algorithm requirements, key management, physical security, operational security, and documentation.

Here’s a summary of the key requirements of ISO/IEC 19790:2012:
  • Cryptographic Algorithm Requirements:
  • The standard defines requirements for the cryptographic algorithms used in the module, including the use of approved and appropriate algorithms.
  • It specifies that cryptographic algorithms should be implemented correctly and securely.
  • Key lengths and strengths must meet specified minimums, and the algorithms must provide the necessary security assurances.
  • Key Management Requirements:
  • Cryptographic modules must have robust key management systems, including key generation, storage, distribution, and destruction.
  • The standard emphasizes the need for secure key storage to protect against unauthorized access.
  • Requirements for secure key generation, key change, and key zeroization are also specified.
  • Physical Security Requirements:
  • The physical security of cryptographic modules is a critical aspect. Requirements include protection against tampering, intrusion detection, and response mechanisms.
  • The standard addresses security mechanisms to prevent unauthorized physical access, including locks, seals, and enclosures.
  • Modules must be designed to resist physical attacks and tampering, and mechanisms should be in place to detect and respond to such attacks.
  • Operational Security Requirements:
  • Operational security requirements cover a wide range of topics, including secure start-up and shutdown procedures, user authentication, and role-based access control.
  • Security policies and procedures for the module’s operation and maintenance should be well-defined and followed.
  • Secure auditing and logging are also specified to monitor and track security-relevant events.
  • Documentation Requirements:
  • Comprehensive documentation is a crucial aspect of cryptographic module security. This includes documentation of the module’s design, security policy, and user manuals.
  • Security documentation must clearly describe the module’s security features, capabilities, and limitations.
  • Security Labeling:
  • Cryptographic modules compliant with ISO/IEC 19790 are typically labeled with security levels (e.g., Level 1, Level 2, Level 3, Level 4) to indicate their level of security assurance.
  • Testing and Validation:
  • The standard requires cryptographic modules to undergo testing and validation to demonstrate compliance with the security requirements.
  • This may involve functional testing, penetration testing, and vulnerability analysis.

It’s important to note that ISO/IEC 19790:2012 defines different security levels (Levels 1 to 4) with increasing requirements and security assurances. The specific requirements a cryptographic module must meet depend on the desired security level, with higher levels requiring more stringent security measures.

Overall, these requirements are designed to ensure the security and reliability of cryptographic modules, which are essential components in securing information and communications systems. Organizations and manufacturers should carefully evaluate and implement these requirements to ensure the appropriate level of security for their specific applications.

What are the benefits of ISO/IEC 19790:2012 Information technology?

ISO/IEC 19790:2012 Information technology offers several benefits to organizations, manufacturers, as well as users of cryptographic modules. These benefits contribute to enhancing the security, reliability, and trustworthiness of cryptographic systems and their components.

Here are some of the key advantages of adhering to ISO/IEC 19790:2012:
  • Establishes Security Standards: ISO/IEC 19790 provides a standardized framework for assessing and ensuring the security of cryptographic modules. By following this standard, organizations can establish a common baseline for evaluating the security of different modules.
  • Increased Trust: Compliance with ISO/IEC 19790 can enhance the trustworthiness of cryptographic modules. Users and customers can have greater confidence that the modules meet recognized security requirements and have undergone rigorous testing and validation.
  • Interoperability: By adhering to the standard’s requirements, manufacturers can improve the interoperability of their cryptographic modules. This means that modules from different vendors can work together seamlessly, which is especially important in complex systems where multiple cryptographic components are used.
  • Risk Mitigation: ISO/IEC 19790 helps organizations mitigate security risks associated with cryptographic modules. It provides guidance on secure key management, protection against physical tampering, and other security measures that reduce vulnerabilities.
  • Security Levels: The standard defines different security levels (e.g., Level 1, Level 2, Level 3, Level 4) based on the level of security assurance required. This allows organizations to select cryptographic modules that align with their specific security needs and risk profiles.
  • Compliance and Certification: Compliance with ISO/IEC 19790 can be a prerequisite for certification and accreditation processes, especially in government and critical infrastructure sectors. Certification bodies may require modules to meet this standard to ensure their security.
  • Global Recognition: ISO/IEC standards are globally recognized and respected. Adherence to ISO/IEC 19790 can facilitate international trade and collaboration by demonstrating compliance with widely accepted security requirements.
  • Improved Security Policies: Organizations can benefit from the best practices and security policies outlined in the standard. It provides guidance on secure operational procedures, access control, and auditing, helping organizations strengthen their overall security posture.
  • Quality Assurance: Manufacturers can use ISO/IEC 19790 to implement quality assurance processes for cryptographic modules, ensuring that they are designed and built to meet security requirements consistently.
  • Consumer Confidence: Users and customers can trust that cryptographic modules that comply with ISO/IEC 19790 have been designed and evaluated with security in mind. This can be particularly important in applications where data security is critical, such as secure communications, financial transactions, and critical infrastructure protection.
  • Long-Term Relevance: While standards evolve over time, adhering to established standards like ISO/IEC 19790 can help ensure that cryptographic modules remain relevant and secure as security threats and technology change.

It’s important to note that ISO/IEC 19790 is not the only relevant standard for cryptographic security. Depending on the specific application and regulatory requirements, organizations may need to consider other standards and guidelines as well. However, ISO/IEC 19790 serves as a foundational reference for cryptographic module security and is widely recognized in the field of information security.

Who needs ISO/IEC 19790:2012?

ISO/IEC 19790:2012 Information technology is relevant to a variety of stakeholders, including organizations, manufacturers, regulatory bodies, and users of cryptographic modules. Here are the primary groups of entities that benefit from and may need to consider ISO/IEC 19790:

  • Manufacturers of Cryptographic Modules: Manufacturers or developers of cryptographic modules, whether they are hardware or software-based, are a key audience for ISO/IEC 19790. They need to ensure that their products meet the security requirements outlined in the standard. Compliance with ISO/IEC 19790 can enhance the trustworthiness of their modules and make them more marketable.
  • Organizations Using Cryptographic Modules: Organizations across various industries and sectors use cryptographic modules to secure their information and communication systems, these organizations can also include government agencies, financial institutions, healthcare providers, and businesses. ISO/IEC 19790 helps them select appropriate cryptographic modules based on their security needs and risk assessments.
  • Certification and Accreditation Bodies: Regulatory authorities and certification bodies responsible for assessing the security of cryptographic modules may require compliance with ISO/IEC 19790 as part of their certification or accreditation processes. This ensures that cryptographic modules meet recognized security standards.
  • Security Professionals: Information security professionals, including cybersecurity experts, IT managers, and security auditors, can use ISO/IEC 19790 as a reference when evaluating the security of cryptographic modules. It provides a framework for assessing as well as comparing the security features of different modules.
  • Government Agencies and Regulators: Government agencies, especially those responsible for national security and critical infrastructure protection, may mandate the use of ISO/IEC 19790-compliant cryptographic modules in certain applications. Compliance can be a regulatory requirement in some jurisdictions.
  • End Users and Consumers: Individuals and organizations that rely on cryptographic modules for securing their data and communications benefit from ISO/IEC 19790 indirectly. When they purchase or use cryptographic products, they can have confidence that modules complying with this standard meet recognized security requirements.
  • System Integrators: System integrators and solution providers who build or configure information systems for clients may need to consider ISO/IEC 19790 when selecting cryptographic modules as part of their solutions. Compliance with the standard can ensure that the integrated systems meet security expectations.
  • Researchers and Academics: Researchers and academics in the field of cryptography and information security can also use ISO/IEC 19790 as a reference in their studies and publications, as it provides a standardized framework for cryptographic module security.
  • International Trade and Collaboration: ISO/IEC standards, including ISO/IEC 19790, facilitate international trade and collaboration. Cryptographic modules that comply with globally recognized standards are more likely to be accepted and trusted in international markets.

Overall, ISO/IEC 19790 serves as a valuable reference for anyone involved in the design, development, implementation, evaluation, or use of cryptographic modules. Its guidelines and requirements help ensure the security, interoperability, and trustworthiness of these critical components in information and communication systems.

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