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Date:	Thu, 17 Jul 2014 16:33:36 -0700
From:	"H. Peter Anvin" <>
To:	"Theodore Ts'o" <>,
	Linux Kernel Developers List <>,
CC:	Linus Torvalds <>
Subject: Re: [PATCH] random: limit the contribution of the hw rng to at most

On 07/17/2014 03:08 PM, Theodore Ts'o wrote:
> There was another complaint more recently, that wasn't related to
> nordrand.  And I was rather disturbed that in
> add_interrupt_randomness() 97% of the entropy was coming from RDSEED.
> I'm willing to have some of the entropy come from RDSEED by default,
> but 97% seems to really way too much.

OK, the that formula was Linus' suggestion.

> And the emergency refill code in random_read() was extremely
> problematic.  First of all, we're dropping 512 bytes on the stack,
> which is kind of bad, but hopefully all of the code paths which call
> random_read() won't have a terribly deep stack.

512 bytes is fine here (1K would possibly not have been.)

> Secondly, even after the emergency refill, we block anyway.

Not unless we don't get any data back.  For a nonzero return we loop
back to extract_entropy_user().

> Remember, regardless of whether or not you believe (as a former head
> of NSA's technology directorate recently claimed) that the DUAL-EC p
> and q were generated using NSA's standard high-quality HW RNG system
> which they use to generate all of their crypto variables, or (as the
> NIST advisory panel has recently concluded) that it was highly likely
> that DUAL-EC was backdoored, it's the optics that matter, because
> those of us without top-drawer SI security clearances can't prove
> things one way or another.

Dual-EC was also heavily criticized by the civilian cryptographic
community since at least 2006.

> And when 99.95% of the entropy when reading large quantities of keying
> material from /dev/random is coming from RDSEED, that just has
> terrible, terrible optics....

I just want to make sure we don't negatively impact the real security of
users because of "optics".  We already have a lot of problems with
people extracting long-living keys from /dev/urandom because /dev/random
is too slow.

I have no objection to the khwrngd route -- in fact, as you know, I have
been heavily encouraging the development of khwrngd with exactly this in
mind -- but it is just an issue of timing.


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