[lkml]   [2003]   [Aug]   [10]   [last100]   RSS Feed
Views: [wrap][no wrap]   [headers]  [forward] 
Messages in this thread
SubjectRe: [RFC][PATCH] Make cryptoapi non-optional?
On Mon, Aug 11, 2003 at 03:09:19AM +0100, Jamie Lokier wrote:
> [Ted T'so added to recipients because he wrote this thing :)]
> Matt Mackall wrote:
> > The idea with the folding was that we can cover up any systemic
> > patterns in the returned hash by xoring the first half of the hash
> > with the second half of the hash. While this might seem like a good
> > technique intuitively, it's mathematically flawed.
> >
> > Let's assume the simplest case of a two bit hash xy. "Patterns" here
> > are going to translate into a correlation between otherwise
> > well-distributed x and y. A perfectly uncorrelated system xy is going
> > to have two bits of entropy. A perfectly correlated (or
> > anti-correlated) system xy is going to have only 1 bit of entropy.
> >
> > Now what happens when we fold these two bits together z=x^y? In the
> > uncorrelated case we end up with a well-distributed z. In the
> > correlated case, we end up with 0 or 1, that is z=x^x=0 or z=x^-x, and
> > we've eliminated any entropy we once had. If correlation is less than
> > 100%, then we get somewhere between 0 and 1 bits of entropy, but
> > always less than if we just returned z=x or z=y. This argument
> > naturally scales up to larger variables x and y.
> >
> > Ok, so that explains taking out the xor. But I also return xy and not
> > just x. With the former, every bit of input goes through SHA1 twice,
> > once in the input pool, and once in the output pool, along with lots
> > of feedback to foil backtracking attacks. In the latter, every output
> > bit is going through SHA four times, which is just overkill. If we
> > don't trust our hash to generate uniform, non-self-correlating output,
> > running additional rounds does not guarantee that we aren't magnifying
> > the problem. And it is of course making everything twice as expensive.
> If you return xy, you are returning a strong digest of the pool state.
> Even with the backtrack-prevention, if the attacker reads 20 bytes
> from /dev/random and sees a _recognised_ pattern, they immediately
> know the entire state of the secondary pool.

Except we're only ever hashing part of the pool.

> This can happen if, for example, a machine has just rebooted and
> hasn't had time to collect much entropy since the initial state.

In this case /dev/random simply won't generate output. Of course
/dev/urandom has an issue here, which is why it's always been recommended
practice to reseed the pool at boot as well.

> (In general, recognising the output of a cryptographic hash tells you
> the input, because even though there are many possible inputs for that
> output, it's far more likely that a systemic error is the cause of the
> recognised output, rather than the cause being randomness).

This is just as true of the folded 80 bits as it is of the full 160,
of course.

> This means that, for a short time after, they can predict further
> output bits exactly. "Catastrophic reseeding" from the primary pool
> limits how many bits they can predict like this - unless, if they're
> lucky, it tells them the state of the primary pool too.

That limit is currently 64 bits and in practice is probably zero
because we've just pulled more entropy from the input pool so we
actually can't guess the other half of the output pool even if have
scored a hash hit.

> When you output less of the hash, this reduces the information
> available to predict the state of the pool. However, SHA1 is large
> enough that even half of the hash is a strong predictor, so returning
> half of the hash still has this weakness.
> (Ironically, a much weaker hash would prevent this mode of data leakage).

Yes, the ideal implementation is to use a regular 1:1 block cipher
here. I've been looking at doing that for the output pool(s).

> As far as I can tell, folding the hash result doesn't help, because
> that simply creates a different kind of hash which can also be
> recognised, and which is large enough to predict the pool state.
> Which leaves...
> I have just convinced myself of a flaw in the existing random.c -
> which still holds in your patched version. Folding the result of the
> strong hash is useless. Instead, the _input_ to the strong hash
> should be folded, so that a single hash result (whether folded or not)
> doesn't reveal the pool state even when it is recognised.

Actually, "folding" it is the opposite of what you're looking for:

> In other words, the hash should be calculated over fewer than all of
> the pool bits each time. The set of pool bits used, or how multiple
> bits are folded, needs to be varied in such a way that many hash
> results would need to be all recognised to determine the pool state.

And we're safe here. The default pool size is 1024 bits, of which we
hash 512. I could hash even fewer, say, 480 (and this would deal with the
cryptoapi padding stuff nicely).

> I think this equivalent to saying that the effective hash function
> needs to be weak enough not to reveal the pool state when it is
> recognised, due to the pool state being recognisably "special"
> (e.g. limited time after booting), while at the same time the hash
> needs to be strong enough that it does not reveal the pool state when
> the pool is random.
> Enjoy,

Matt Mackall : : of or relating to the moon
To unsubscribe from this list: send the line "unsubscribe linux-kernel" in
the body of a message to
More majordomo info at
Please read the FAQ at

 \ /
  Last update: 2005-03-22 13:47    [W:0.163 / U:0.524 seconds]
©2003-2020 Jasper Spaans|hosted at Digital Ocean and TransIP|Read the blog|Advertise on this site