Overview of NSS
Open Source Crypto Libraries
If you want to 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, Google, and other companies in a variety of products, including the following:
- Mozilla products, including Firefox, Thunderbird, SeaMonkey, and Firefox OS.
- AOL Instant Messenger (AIM)
- Open source client applications such as Evolution, Pidgin, Apache OpenOffice, and LibreOffice.
- 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 Oracle (formerly Sun Java Enterprise System), including Oracle Communications Messaging Server and Oracle Directory Server Enterprise Edition.
- SUSE Linux Enterprise Server supports NSS and the mod_nss SSL module for the Apache web 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 the NSPR Project Page.
You can use NSS to support a range of security standards in your application, including the following:
- SSL 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 v1.3 (RFC 8446), TLS v1.2 (RFC 5246), TLS v1.1 (RFC 4346), TLS v1 (RFC 2246). The Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol from the IETF that supersedes SSL.
- 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.
For complete details, see Encryption Technologies.
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 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.