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Government Regulations

Federal Information Processing Standard

(FIPS 140-2 and 140-3)

Overview, Goals, and Classification


FIPS are standards and guidelines for federal computer systems developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). FIPS 140-2 and 140-3 are information technology standards used to validate cryptographic modules in commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) products.  FIPS 140-2 and 140-3 validation projects are overseen by the Cryptographic Module Validation Program (CMVP), a joint U.S. and Canadian government program.


FIPS 140-2 and 140-3 provide a framework to ensure the confidentiality and integrity of the information protected by a cryptographic module. The cryptographic modules are developed by private sector vendors or open-source projects for use by public sector entities and regulated industries such as financial, healthcare, and energy.  


Fortinet currently validates products to FIPS 140-2 Levels 1 and 2. FIPS 140-2 indicates the second revision of the standard. FIPS 140-2 submissions will be accepted until the fall of 2021. Fortinet’s transition to FIPS 140-3 will start in 2021 with the first FIPS 140-3 based certificates expected in 2022. FIPS 140 defines four levels of security:

  • FIPS 140-2 Level 1 applies to the firmware or software (e.g., FortiOS. A Level 1 certificate applies to effectively all the models supported by the certified build(s).
  • FIPS 140-2 Level 2 includes hardware (e.g., the FortiGate appliance, the FortiASIC chips) – a Level 2 certificate applies to the exact combination of the certified build(s) and hardware model.
  • FIPS 140-2 Level 3 and FIPS 140-2 Level 4 add requirements such as physical tamper switches on the chassis, automatic zeroization of keys when the chassis is opened, etc. 

Note: FIPS 140 refers to “validated” products instead of “certified” products.

Key Principles

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Ensure information systems meet the latest encryption standards defined by the government.

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Enable organizations to build trust and credibility with government-approved security standards and compliant solutions.

Top Rated


Provide a security metric to use in the procurement of equipment containing cryptographic modules.


Security Policies

The public document that describes a FIPS-validated (-certified) product is called the FIPS Security Policy (SP). The SP describes the product and includes instructions for deploying the product in a FIPS-compliant manner. The SP also states exactly what configuration(s) of the product are validated, e.g. hardware versions, firmware/software versions, etc.

FIPS 140-2 validation list: