ACVP Proxy
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ACVP Proxy

The ACVP Proxy allows the retrieving of test vectors from the ACVP servers. In addition, it allows the submission of test results to the ACVP servers and to retrieve the verdict of the test results.

The obtained test vectors stored in the files testvector-request.json are intended to be transferred to the test system hosting the cryptographic module to be tested. The JSON file must be inserted into the cryptographic module to produce the testvector-response.json file holding the responses according to the ACVP protocol specification. An example implementation that parses these JSON files, invokes the cryptographic implementation and generates the test response files, see the ACVP Parser.

Interaction of ACVP Proxy and ACVP Parser - First Steps

The ACVP Proxy and the ACVP Parser collaborate in a full ACVP test cycle as follows.

  1. Find the right cipher definition or create a new definition with the ACVP Proxy: acvp-proxy -l

  2. Download the ACVP test vectors for the chosen cryptographic module using the ACVP Proxy: acvp-proxy -m <cryptomodule> --request

  3. Send the entire testvectors data store to the IUT that is connected with the ACVP Parser. You may use the following command: tar -cvzf testvectors-<vendor>-<date>.tar.gz testvectors/

    You may also create a symbolic link to the testvectors directory from the ACVP Parser.

  4. Invoke the JSON files in the testvectors directory with the ACVP Parser: acvp-parser testvector-request.json testvector-response.json

    You may use the helper script helper/exec_*.sh in the ACVP Parser code to automate the processing of all JSON files.

  5. Load the generated testvector-response.json files into the testvectors/ data store of the ACVP Proxy. For example:

    a. Create the archive with the responses from ACVP Parser: tar -cvzf testvectors-<vendor>-response-<date>.tar.gz testvectors/

    b. Unpack the testvector-responses.json files into the ACVP Proxy testvectors/ directory: tar -xvfx testvectors-<vendor>-response-<date>.tar.gz *testvector-response.json

    You may skip this copying business if the ACVP Proxy and ACVP Parser both access the very same testvectors directory.

  6. Use the ACVP Proxy to submit the test responses and fetch the verdicts. acvp-proxy -m <cryptomodule>

  7. Check the verdict.json file in the testvectors directory for the ACVP server verdict.

Although the ACVP Proxy supports the entire ACVP v0.5 protocol, only the aforementioned steps are yet supported by the ACVP server.


The code is written in clean and plain C-99 and has the following dependencies:


  • if threading is enabled, support for the POSIX threading API must be present

  • SysV message queues if the TOTP server is compiled

Compile-time options can be specified in the lib/config.h file.

The ACVP Proxy requires the presence of the following libraries and the associated header files:

  • libcurl

With these limited prerequisites, the code can be compiled and executed at least on the following operating systems:

  • Linux

  • BSDs

  • Apple macOS

  • MS Windows

  • Solaris


The ACVP Proxy is used by compiling the command line configuration application acvp-proxy. This application is compiled by calling make.

To compile the ACVP Proxy standalone shared library, call make in the lib/ directory.

Compiling with make debug allows debugging of the code.

Configuration File

The ACVP proxy needs a configuration file as documented in apps/

Module Instantiation Configuration

The ACVP Proxy contains the module cipher operation as part of its C code.

However, the instantiation of a particular module cipher definition into a module is driven by configuration files. With the term instantiation, the combination of the cipher option with a module information, the operational environment and the vendor information is referred to.

To instantiate a particular module cipher definition, the ACVP Proxy uses information provided in a directory module_definitions in the current working directory. A different directory can be provided with a command line switch.

That directory must have the following structure:

    \---- oe
    \---- vendor
    \---- module_info
    \---- implementations

The implementations directory allows the specification of supported cipher definitions. The C code commonly defines as much cipher implementations as possible. However, some versions of the module (e.g. older ones) may not support one or the other cipher definitions. Thus, one or more JSON files in implementations can be defined that only define the supported cipher definitions.

Each of these directories must have JSON files providing the module definition. One JSON file holds one definition. It is permissible to have multiple JSON files in one directory. The ACVP Proxy will instantiate the module with all permutations of oe/vendor/module_info definitions that it finds.

The JSON files in the oe directory must contain the following JSON keywords:

  • oeEnvName: Name of the operation environment (such as operating system and its version)

  • cpe: UNKNOWN

  • manufacturer: Manufacturer of the underlying CPU executing the module.

  • procFamily: Processor family executing the module. Note, this string must match one processor of the module cipher definitions registered with the ACVP Proxy. See acvp-proxy -u for details. If the list contains an empty string for the processor, the JSON are not restricted in the processor information.

  • procName: Specific processor name executing the module.

  • procSeries: Processor series executing the module.

  • features: Feature defined by an OR of the OE_PROC_* definitions.

  • envType: Type of the execution environment which is a selection from enum def_mod_type.

The JSON files in the vendor directory must contain the following JSON keywords:

  • vendorName: Company name of the vendor.

  • vendorUrl: URL of the company.

  • contactName: Name of the contact person at the vendor.

  • contactEmail: Email address of the vendor's contact person.

The JSON files in the module_info directory must contain the following JSON keywords:

  • moduleName: Free-form name of the module. Note, this name must be identical to the cryptographic definitions name found in the variable algo_name that can be obtained with acvp-proxy -u. Note, when instantiating the module, that string is appended by the module crypto definition detailed reference specified with the variable impl_name found in the C code defining the cryptographic implementation. That implementation name can be shown with acvp-proxy -u.

  • moduleVersion: Version number of the module.

  • moduleDescription: Free-from description of the module.

  • moduleType: Type of the module which is a selection from enum def_mod_type.

The JSON files in the implementations directory must contain the following JSON keywords:

  • implementations: This keyword must point to an array or one or more supported names which match the impl_name variable in the algorithm definitions of the C code.


The ACVP Proxy has the following use cases:

  • The retrieval of test vectors from ACVP is the first use case. This use case is invoked by using the command line option of --request. The test vectors are stored in local directory documented below.

  • The submission of test results to ACVP and the fetching of the ACVP verdict for the test results is invoked by using the command line option of either --vsid <VSID> or --testid <TESTID>.

  • Register the meta information about the module with the ACVP server, including vendor information, module information and operational environment information.

  • Request the publication of the completed ACVP testing cycle to obtain an ACVP certificate.

NOTE: If neiter --request, nor --vsid <VSID> or --testid <TESTID> is specified, the application will try to send out all existing test results which have not yet been submitted and obtain a verdict for them.


The ACVP Proxy supports the following signals:

  • SIGHUP, SIGINT, SIGTERM: Stopping any outstanding requests and deleting the outstanding requests at the ACVP server (invoke the DELETE operation on the test session URL). The ACVP server is intended to cleanup all reference to the test session preventing any later retrieval.

  • SIGSTOP (commonly CTRL+\ ): Stopping any outstanding requests without deleting them on the ACVP server. This allows terminating the network connection and allow the retrieval of the test vector at a later time. Usually this is helpful if the ACVP server takes a long time where you do not want the ACVP Proxy to constantly retry downloading the vector. To resume the download of the test vectors, use --request --testid where is the test session ID printed out by the ACVP Proxy when receiving SIGSTOP.

The stopping and restarting of downloads applies to the download of testvectors (i.e. when --request is used) as well as to the download of verdicts after the upload of the test responses.

Directory Structure To Maintain Test Vectors and Test Results

The test vectors and results are stored in the directories with the following structure: testresults/<Module_Name>/<Module_Version>/<testsessionID>/<vsID>.

The <Module_Name>/<Module_Version> directory refers to the name and version of the cryptographic module under test.

The <testsessionID>/<vsID> is a unique number provided by the ACVP server for the respective test. This test session ID and vsID are the unique references for subsequent data exchange with the ACVP server regarding the particular obtained test vector.

In each <testsessionID>/<vsID> directory, the following files can be found, depending on the state of the communication with the ACVP server.

  • testvector-request.json: Test vector to be processed by the module implementation.

  • testvector-response.json: The test results returned by the module implementation must be provided in this file.

  • verdict.json: After submission of the test results to the ACVP server, the test verdict is provided in this file.

  • processed.txt: This file contains the time stamp when the test results were sent to the ACVP server and the verdict was received. Once this file is present, the ACVP Proxy will not submit the test results again.

In addition to the testresults directory, a shadow secure-datastore is maintained with the same directory structure. That shadow directory contains internal or sensitive data as follows:

  • jwt_authtoken.txt: JWT authorization token required for authentication with the ACVP server when exchanging subsequent messages for the vsID.

  • The *.debug files contain the respective server responses allowing to debug network communication problems. These files are not processed by the ACVP Proxy.

  • The request-<DATE>.json file contains the IUT register data sent to the ACVP server for requesting test vectors.

FIPS 140-2 Compliance

The ACVP Proxy uses the following cryptographic support:

  • TLS: This is provided by the TLS implementation used by CURL. Commonly this is provided by either OpenSSL or NSS. Those libraries are FIPS 140-2 validated and thus should be used according to the security policy.

  • TOTP: HMAC SHA-256 is used as the cipher for the TOTP operation. This implies that the ACVP Proxy implements a FIPS 140-2 cipher which must be subject to the power on self test. The known answer test for the HMAC SHA-256 is always executed. The integrity test is executed when the environment variable ACVPPROXY_FORCE_FIPS is set (or on Linux, when /proc/sys/crypto/fips_enabled contains a 1). In this case the integrity check with HMAC SHA-256 is enforced where the HMAC control file is searched in the same directory as the ACVP Proxy executable. When the HMAC control file does not exist, it is created.

Architecture of ACVP Proxy

The ACVP Proxy contains of the following components:

  • A small wrapper application allowing the user to provide command line options. This wrapper application does not contain any of the ACVP Proxy logic and can be replaced using the API of the library mentioned below.

  • The library implements the ACVP Proxy logic. It exports an API in acvpproxy.h that can be used by a wrapping application.

ACVP Proxy Library

The ACVP Proxy library provided in the lib/ directory contains the heavy lifting. This library also contains an internal structure. The core ACVP protocol handling uses the following extensions which can be replaced with a respective different implementation:

  • A network access backend implements the communication provider. The ACVP server requires HTTPS support which implies that the communication provider must implement HTTPS. The network access backend is provided by implementing the callbacks specified in struct acvp_netaccess_be. An example implementation based on libcurl is provided in request_curl.c.

  • A datastore backend implements the storage of the data retrieved from the ACVP server or must provide the data to be sent to the ACVP server. The datastore backend implements the callbacks defined by struct acvp_datastore_be. The example implementation storing the data in directories as outlined above is provided in request_datastore_file.c.

  • The JSON request generators for the different cipher types are implemented in the files request_sym.c and similar. To add a new generator for a new cipher type, create a data structure to hold all options in definition.h (like struct def_algo_sym) add add it to struct def_algo along with a new identifier. Finally, the entry function to the new generator must be invoked in the function acvp_req_set_algo. The JSON generator shall implement the generation of one entry for a particular cipher request only.

  • A definition for a particular module holds all supported cipher options. Such a definition instantiates the data structures defined by the different JSON generators. One example for such a definition is provided in definition_impl_openssl.c. Each definition must have a unique module name and version combination to allow a user to point to it.

Threading Support

Using the PTHREAD library support, threading is implemented. Concurrent threads are supported for the following operations:

  • Downloading of the test vectors: The test vectors of each individual vsID are downloaded in a separate thread.

  • Uploading of test responses and downloading the associated verdicts for each testsession ID and the assoicated vsID.


Compile with make debug to compile debug symbols for debugging.

Adddition of New Cipher Implementation Definitions

The library is written such that new cipher implementations can be added to generate the required register information with the CAVS servers.


A new cipher implementation is registered with the library using the API call of acvp_register_algo_map. This call should be made during the initialization of the library.

To allow isolating the module definition code into one C file, it is permissible to invoke the acvp_register_algo_map function from a constructor. For example, the following function is invoked autonomously from the loader of the library and does not require any changes to the library code itself in order to register the module specification:

static void libgcrypt_register(void)

Defining of Cipher Implementation Capabilities

The function acvp_register_algo_map requires a completely defined data structure tree which contains all details of the cipher implementation. Thus, for a new cipher definition, all data structures starting with struct definition must be filled in corresponding to the implementation details.

The header files defining the data structures contain the documentation how the data needs to be filled in.


Stephan Mueller Copyright (C) 2018