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2.6 How to enable the FIPS mode

Libgcrypt may be used in a FIPS 140-2 mode. Note, that this does not necessary mean that Libcgrypt is an appoved FIPS 140-2 module. Check the NIST database at to see what versions of Libgcrypt are approved.

Because FIPS 140 has certain restrictions on the use of cryptography which are not always wanted, Libgcrypt needs to be put into FIPS mode explicitly. Three alternative mechanisms are provided to switch Libgcrypt into this mode:

In addition to the standard FIPS mode, Libgcrypt may also be put into an Enforced FIPS mode by writing a non-zero value into the file ‘/etc/gcrypt/fips_enabled’ or by using the control command GCRYCTL_SET_ENFORCED_FIPS_FLAG before any other calls to libgcrypt. The Enforced FIPS mode helps to detect applications which don’t fulfill all requirements for using Libgcrypt in FIPS mode (see section Description of the FIPS Mode).

Once Libgcrypt has been put into FIPS mode, it is not possible to switch back to standard mode without terminating the process first. If the logging verbosity level of Libgcrypt has been set to at least 2, the state transitions and the self-tests are logged.

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