Product security certifications, validations, and guidance for SEP: Secure Key Store

This article contains references for key product certifications, cryptographic validations, and security guidance for Secure Enclave Processor (SEP): Secure Key Store. Contact us at if you have any questions.

Secure Enclave Processor

The Secure Enclave is a coprocessor fabricated within the system on chip (SoC). It uses encrypted memory and includes a hardware random-number generator. The Secure Enclave provides all cryptographic operations for Data Protection key management and maintains the integrity of Data Protection even if the kernel has been compromised. Communication between the Secure Enclave and the application processor is isolated to an interrupt-driven mailbox and shared memory data buffers.

The Secure Enclave includes a dedicated Secure Enclave Boot ROM. Similar to the application processor Boot ROM, the Secure Enclave Boot ROM is immutable code that establishes the hardware root of trust for the Secure Enclave.

The Secure Enclave runs a Secure Enclave OS based on an Apple-customized version of the L4 microkernel. This Secure Enclave OS is signed by Apple, verified by the Secure Enclave Boot ROM, and updated through a personalized software update process.

An example of some built-in services that utilize the hardware protected Secure Key Store:

  • Unlock of device or account (Password & Biometric)
  • Hardware Encryption / Data Protection / FileVault (Data-at-Rest)
  • Secure Boot (Firmware and OS Trust and Integrity)
  • Hardware control of camera (FaceTime)

Cryptographic module validations

All Apple FIPS 140-2 Conformance Validation Certificates are on the CMVP vendor page. Apple actively engages in the validation of the CoreCrypto and CoreCrypto Kernel modules for each major release of macOS. Validation can only be performed against a final module release version and formally submitted upon OS public release. CMVP now maintains validation status of cryptographic modules under two separate lists depending on their current status. The modules begin in the Implementation Under Test List and then proceed to the Modules in Process List.

The Hardware Cryptographic Module — Apple SEP Secure Key Store Cryptographic Module — comes embedded in Apple System-On-Chip A for iPhone / iPad, S for Apple Watch Series, and T for the T Security Chip found in Mac systems starting with iMac Pro introduced in 2017.

FIPS 140-2 Level 1 (iOS 11, tvOS 11, watchOS 4, and T2 Firmware - macOS High Sierra 10.13)

Synchronized with the validation of the software cryptographic modules with the operating systems released in 2017: iOS 11, tvOS 11, watchOS 4, and macOS Sierra 10.13. The hardware cryptographic module identified as the Apple SEP Secure Key Store Cryptographic Module v1.0 was initially validated against FIPS 140-2 Level 1 requirements.

FIPS 140-2 Level 2 (iOS 12, tvOS 12, watchOS 5, and T2 Firmware - macOS Mojave 10.14)

Apple has also validated the hardware module against the FIPS 140-2 Level 2 requirements and updated the module version identifier to v9.0 to remain in sync with the corresponding software module validations.  

The Apple SEP Secure Key Store Cryptographic Module v9.0 has been validated against FIPS 140-2 Level 2 requirements with the operating systems released in 2018: iOS 12, tvOS 12, watchOS 5, and the T2 Firmware bundled with macOS Mojave 10.14.

FIPS 140-2 Level 3

Apple will pursue FIPS 140-2 Level 3 for the secure key store cryptographic module used by future operating system releases and devices. As noted earlier, the modules begin their validation life in the Implementation Under Test List and then proceed to the Modules in Process List prior to finally appearing on the Validated Modules List. Check back for updates.

Security certifications

A list of Apple's publicly identified, active, and completed certifications.

Common Criteria Certification

The goal, as stated by the Common Criteria community, is for an internationally approved set of security standards to provide a clear and reliable evaluation of the security capabilities of Information Technology products. By providing an independent assessment of a product's ability to meet security standards, Common Criteria Certification gives customers more confidence in the security of Information Technology products and leads to more informed decisions.

Through a Common Criteria Recognition Arrangement (CCRA), member countries and regions have agreed to recognize the certification of Information Technology products with the same level of confidence. Membership along with the depth and breadth of Protection Profiles continues to grow on a yearly basis to address emerging technology. This agreement permits a product developer to pursue a single certification under any one of the Authorizing Schemes.

Previous Protection Profiles (PP) were archived and have begun to be replaced with the development of targeted Protection Profiles focusing on specific solutions and environments. In a concerted effort to ensure continued mutual recognition across all CCRA members, the International Technical Community (iTC) continues to drive all future PP development and updates towards Collaborative Protection Profiles (cPP) which are developed from the start with involvement from multiple schemes.

Apple began pursuing certifications under this new Common Criteria restructure with selected PPs starting in early 2015.

Operating system certifications

Learn more about product security, validations, and guidance for:

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