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Enhancing PKCS #11 standard for cryptographic tokens controlling authentication information (personal identity, cryptographic keys, certificates, digital signatures, biometric data)

Tony Cox, tony.cox@cryptsoft.com, Chair
Robert Relyea, rrelyea@redhat.com, Chair
Valerie Fenwick, valerie.fenwick@intel.com, Secretary

Table of Contents


Latest Advances in OASIS KMIP and PKCS #11 Encryption and Cryptographic Standards Demonstrated by 10 Companies at RSA Conference 2018: Cryptsoft, Fornetix, IBM Security, Kryptus, Micro Focus, P6R, Quintessence Labs, Thales eSecurity, Unbound Tech, and Utimaco Demo KMIP Interoperability and/or PKCS #11 Support; 16 April 2018

The PKCS #11 TC has published Approved Errata for PKCS #11 Cryptographic Token Interface Base Specification, Current Mechanisms Specification, and Historical Mechanisms Specification, all Version 2.40. The Base Specification includes the new normative computer language definition files (aka "header files"). For details and links, see the announcement at https://www.oasis-open.org/news/announcements/pkcs-11-v2-40-approved-erratas-published-by-pkcs-11-tc. [28 June 2016]

The PKCS#11 Technical Committee passed a motion to recognize Bob Griffin as Chair Emeritus. Thank you, Bob, for all your hard work to get this committee started!

OASIS Press Release: PKCS #11 Cryptographic Token Interface Base Specification, Interface Profiles, Current Mechanisms Specification, and Historical Mechanisms Specification Versions 2.40 become OASIS Standards.

Participation in the OASIS PKCS 11 TC is open to all interested parties. Contact join@oasis-open.org for more information.


The OASIS PKCS 11 Technical Committee develops enhancements to improve the PKCS #11 standard for ease of use in code libraries, open source applications, wrappers, and enterprise/COTS products: implementation guidelines, usage tutorials, test scenarios and test suites, interoperability testing, coordination of functional testing, development of conformance profiles, and providing reference implementations.

The updated standard provides additional support for mobile and cloud computing use cases: for distributed/federated applications involving key management functions (key generation, distribution, translation, escrow, re-keying); session-based models; virtual devices and virtual keystores; evolving wireless/sensor applications using near field communication (NFC), RFID, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi.

TC members are also designing new mechanisms for API instrumentation, suitable for use in prototyping, profiling, and testing in resource-constrained application environments. These updates enable support for easy integration of PKCS #11 with other cryptographic key management system (CKMS) standards, including a broader range of cryptographic algorithms and CKMS cryptographic service models.

For more information on the PKCS 11 TC, see the TC Charter.


PCKS 11 Interoperability Subcommittee

TC Liaisons

Tim Hudson (Cryptsoft) has been appointed by the PKCS 11 TC as liaison to the OASIS KMIP TC.

Technical Work Produced by the Committee

Wiki for OASIS PKCS 11 TC member collaboration

This Technical Committee has produced four new OASIS standards, encompassing PKCS11 version 2.40.

Also, the PKCS #11 V2.30 principal input specification referenced in the TC Charter was contributed on 2013-03-04.

PKCS #11 V2.40

The latest documents for PKCS #11 V2.40 are official OASIS standards as of April 2015. This standard builds on the foundation of PKCS #11 V2.30, and is backwards compatible to PKCS #11 V2.20. Additionally, there is a Usage Guide to accompany those specifications. The Usage Guide is a Committee Note.

PKCS #11 V2.40 Approved Errata

The PKCS11 TC has published Approved Errata for PKCS #11 V2.40. See the announcement at https://www.oasis-open.org/news/announcements/pkcs-11-v2-40-approved-erratas-published-by-pkcs-11-tc or use the links below.

Expository Work Produced by the Committee

External Resources

The header files can be found in the PKCS#11 git repo: https://github.com/oasis-tcs/pkcs11

If you do not want to do a pull, but just review the header files, you may access the versioned working files here:

Mailing Lists and Comments

pkcs11: the discussion list used by TC members to conduct Committee work. TC membership is required to post, and TC members are automatically subscribed. The public may view the list archives, also mirrored by MarkLogic at MarkMail.org.

pkcs11-comment: a public mailing list for providing feedback on the technical work of the OASIS PKCS 11 TC. Send a comment or view the comment list archives, also mirrored by MarkLogic at MarkMail.org.

Press Coverage and Commentary

Technical Committee Standing Rules

  1. PKCS11 Technical Committee Standing Rule on Identifier Allocation

    The PKCS11 technical specifications have several constants defined throughout the standard. Those constants are then used to create the header files for each version of the standard. There is a need for these values to be stable in order to maintain compatibility between various versions of the standard, and interoperability between various vendors and applications.

    To assist developers who are working on testing new additions to the standard and for interoperability testing, it is important to stabilize the identifiers used for these constants as early in the process as possible.

    After a proposal has gone through its review process, but before it goes to ballot or voice vote, the proposal author(s) should seek identifier values for all of their constants from the technical committee co-chairs before the ballot is opened.

    If a proposal is not approved by the technical committee, it will be the co-chairs discretion whether or not to reuse those constant identifier values for a future proposal.

Additional Information

Providing Feedback: OASIS welcomes feedback on its technical activities from potential users, developers, and others to better assure the interoperability and quality of OASIS work.