AWS Key Management Service (KMS) now uses FIPS 140-2 validated hardware security modules (HSM) and supports FIPS 140-2 validated endpoints, which provide independent assurances about the confidentiality and integrity of your keys. Having additional third-party assurances about the keys you manage in AWS KMS can make it easier to use the service for regulated workloads.
The process of gaining FIPS 140-2 validation is rigorous. First, AWS KMS HSMs were tested by an independent lab; those results were further reviewed by the Cryptographic Module Validation Program run by NIST. You can view the FIPS 140-2 certificate of the AWS Key Management Service HSM to get more details.
AWS KMS HSMs are designed so that no one, not even AWS employees, can retrieve your plaintext keys. The service uses the FIPS 140-2 validated HSMs to protect your keys when you request the service to create keys on your behalf or when you import them. Your plaintext keys are never written to disk and are only used in volatile memory of the HSMs while performing your requested cryptographic operation. Furthermore, AWS KMS keys are never transmitted outside the AWS Regions they were created. And HSM firmware updates are controlled by multi-party access that is audited and reviewed by an independent group within AWS.
AWS KMS HSMs are validated at level 2 overall and at level 3 in the following areas:
- Cryptographic Module Specification
- Roles, Services, and Authentication
- Physical Security
- Design Assurance
You can also make AWS KMS requests to API endpoints that terminate TLS sessions using a FIPS 140-2 validated cryptographic software module. To do so, connect to the unique FIPS 140-2 validated HTTPS endpoints in the AWS KMS requests made from your applications. AWS KMS FIPS 140-2 validated HTTPS endpoints are powered by the OpenSSL FIPS Object Module. FIPS 140-2 validated API endpoints are available in all commercial regions where AWS KMS is available.