FIPS (Federal Information Processing Standards) are publicly announced standards developed by the United States Federal Government for use in computer systems by non-military government agencies and government contractors.* They’ve been developed to ensure computer security and interoperability.
The 140 series of FIPS are the standards that deal with computer cryptographic modules, which involves both hardware and software components used by the departments and agencies of the United States Federal Government. FIPS 140-2 is the standard that’s currently in use. FIPS 140-2 has levels 1 through 4, with each level being more stringent than the previous one. FIPS 140-2 provides regulations for physical tamper-resistance, role-based authentication, and physical and logical separation of interfaces through which “critical security parameters” pass.