Overview of NSS
Open Source Crypto Libraries
Proven Application Security ArchitectureIf you want add support for SSL, S/MIME, or other Internet security standards to your application, you can use Network Security Services (NSS) to implement all your security features. NSS provides a complete open-source implementation of the crypto libraries used by AOL, Red Hat, Sun, and other companies in a variety of products, including the following:
- The Mozilla client products, including Mozilla Suite, Firefox, and Thunderbird.
- The Netscape browsers
- AOL Communicator and AOL Instant Messenger (AIM)
- Open source client applications such as Evolution, Gaim, and OpenOffice.org 2.0.
- Server products from Red Hat: Red Hat Directory Server, Red Hat Certificate System, and the mod_nss SSL module for the Apache web server.
- Server products from the Sun Java Enterprise System, including Sun Java System Web Server, Sun Java System Directory Server, Sun Java System Portal Server, Sun Java System Messaging Server, and Sun Java System Application Server.
NSS includes a framework to which developers and OEMs can contribute patches, such as assembler code, to optimize performance on their platforms. NSS 3.x has been certified on 18 platforms.
Source code for a Java interface to NSS is available in the Mozilla CVS tree. For details, see Network Security Services for Java.
NSS makes use of Netscape Portable Runtime (NSPR), a platform-neutral open-source API for
system functions designed to facilitate cross-platform development. Like NSS, NSPR has been
battle-tested in multiple products. For more information, see
NSPR Project Page.
Interoperability and Open Standards
You can use NSS to support a range of security standards in your application, including the following:
- SSL v2 and v3. The Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol allows mutual authentication between a client and server and the establishment of an authenticated and encrypted connection.
- TLS v1 (RFC 2246). The Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol from the IETF will eventually supersede SSL while remaining backward-compatible with SSL implementations.
- PKCS #1. RSA standard that governs implementation of public-key cryptography based on the RSA algorithm.
- PKCS #3. RSA standard that governs implementation of Diffie-Hellman key agreement.
- PKCS #5. RSA standard that governs password-based cryptography, for example to encrypt private keys for storage.
- PKCS #7. RSA standard that governs the application of cryptography to data, for example digital signatures and digital envelopes.
- PKCS #8. RSA standard that governs the storage and encryption of private keys.
- PKCS #9. RSA standard that governs selected attribute types, including those used with PKCS #7, PKCS #8, and PKCS #10.
- PKCS #10. RSA standard that governs the syntax for certificate requests.
- PKCS #11. RSA standard that governs communication with cryptographic tokens (such as hardware accelerators and smart cards) and permits application independence from specific algorithms and implementations.
- PKCS #12. RSA standard that governs the format used to store or transport private keys, certificates, and other secret material.
- S/MIME (RFC 2311 and RFC 2633). IETF message specification (based on the popular Internet MIME standard) that provides a consistent way to send and receive signed and encrypted MIME data.
- X.509 v3. ITU standard that governs the format of certificates used for authentication in public-key cryptography.
- OCSP (RFC 2560). The Online Certificate Status Protocol (OCSP) governs real-time confirmation of certificate validity.
- PKIX Certificate and CRL Profile (RFC 3280). The first part of the four-part standard under development by the Public-Key Infrastructure (X.509) working group of the IETF (known at PKIX) for a public-key infrastructure for the Internet.
- RSA, DSA, ECDSA, Diffie-Hellman, EC Diffie-Hellman, AES, Triple DES, DES, RC2, RC4, SHA-1, SHA-256, SHA-384, SHA-512, MD2, MD5, HMAC: Common cryptographic algorithms used in public-key and symmetric-key cryptography.
- FIPS 186-2 pseudorandom number generator.
FIPS 140 Validation and NISCC Testing
The NSS software crypto module has been validated three times for conformance to FIPS 140 at Security Levels 1 and 2. For more information, see the NSS FIPS page.
The NSS libraries passed the NISCC TLS/SSL and S/MIME test suites (1.6 million test cases of invalid input data).
Complete Software Development Kit
In addition to libraries and APIs, NSS provides
security tools required for debugging, diagnostics, certificate and key management, cryptography module
management, and other development tasks.
NSS comes with an extensive and growing set of documentation, including introductory material, API references, man pages for command-line tools, and sample code.
NSS is available as source and shared (dynamic) libraries. Every NSS release is backward compatible with previous releases, allowing NSS users to upgrade to the new NSS shared libraries without recompiling or relinking their applications.
Open-Source Licensing and Distribution
NSS is triple-licensed under the Mozilla Public License, the GNU General Public License, and the GNU Lesser General Public License. The latest source code is available for free worldwide from http://www.mozilla.org and its mirror sites.