Feeds

FreeBSD abandoning hardware randomness

'Cannot trust them any more'

SANS - Survey on application security programs

In yet another washup from the Snowden revelations, the developers of FreeBSD have decided to take several steps backwards in their crypto work, to stop using hardware random number generators (RNGs).

The two hardware RNGs singled out by the FreeBSD developers in this post are Intel's RDRAND (in Ivy Bridge processors), and VIA's Padlock.

The decision was made at the FreeBSD Developer Summit, held in Malta in September, but the decision to pull the hardware RNGs didn't attract any attention at the time.

“For [FreeBSD] 10, we are going to backtrack and remove RDRAND and Padlock backends and feed them into Yarrow instead of delivering their output directly to /dev/random. It will still be possible to access hardware random number generators, that is, RDRAND, Padlock etc., directly by inline assembly or by using OpenSSL from userland, if required, but we cannot trust them any more”, the post states.

One solution on offer from Polish developer Pawel Jakub Dawidek, the post states, is to use the time it takes to attach devices at boot time, and feed these numbers into /dev/random: “it turns out that one can get about 4 good bits of entropy from each device”.

Among the many things Edward Snowden's documents have suggested is that the NIST's crypto standardisation efforts were nobbled by the NSA. This confirmed long-standing knowledge that the Dual Elliptic Curve Deterministic Random Bit Generator is weak, leading to RSA abandoning it in September.

Not everybody believes that RDRAND falls into the same category. Linus Torvalds, for example, dismissed concerns about the instruction, telling the author of an online petition to yank the command from Linux “we actually know what we're doing. You don't”.

In that debate, Torvalds pointed out that RDRAND isn't the only source of entropy for values streamed into /dev/random in a Linux implementation.

Last year, this paper was published by Cryptography assessing Intel's approach, and giving it a pass mark. The Register has approached Intel for comment. ®®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
Snowden-inspired crypto-email service Lavaboom launches
German service pays tribute to Lavabit
Mounties always get their man: Heartbleed 'hacker', 19, CUFFED
Canadian teen accused of raiding tax computers using OpenSSL bug
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Heartbleed exploit, inoculation, both released
File under 'this is going to hurt you more than it hurts me'
Arts and crafts store Michaels says 3 million credit cards exposed in breach
Meanwhile, Target investigators prepare for long process in nabbing hackers
prev story

Whitepapers

SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.