[lkml]   [2003]   [Aug]   [16]   [last100]   RSS Feed
Views: [wrap][no wrap]   [headers]  [forward] 
Messages in this thread
SubjectRe: [RFC][PATCH] Make cryptoapi non-optional?
On Fri, Aug 15, 2003 at 05:05:32PM -0700, Andrew Morton wrote:
> Matt Mackall <> wrote:
> >
> > I'm pretty sure there was never a time when entropy
> > accounting wasn't racy let alone wrong, SMP or no (fixed in -mm, thank
> > you).
> Well is has been argued that the lack of locking in the random driver is a
> "feature", adding a little more unpredictability.

> Now I don't know if that makes sense or not, but the locking certainly has
> a cost. If it doesn't actually fix anything then that cost becomes a
> waste.
> IOW: what bug does that locking fix?

Ok, the brief summary is that we're keeping a count of the number of
bits of unguessable environmental data (aka entropy) we've collected.
If we never give out more bits than we take in, we are immune to even
brute force attacks on the state of the pool and therefore the outputs
are unguessable as well (which is why /dev/random blocks where
/dev/urandom does not). If we fail to account for outputs properly, we
lose this property.

a) extract_entropy (pool->lock)

This can be called simultaneously from different contexts and a race
will result in extracting more bits from the pool than are accounted
for or available. This could also underflow. I use the new pool lock
here to cover the accounting - we rely on the hashing and mixing to
evenly distribute bits in the extraction itself and we have feedback
during the extraction as well.

For nitpickers, there remains a vanishingly small possibility that
two readers could get identical results from the pool by hitting a
window immediately after reseeding, after accounting, _and_ after
feedback mixing. I have another patch I'm still playing with that
addresses this by hashing a different subset of the pool on each call
rather than the entire pool, with the position covered by the pool
lock during accounting. (This has the controversial side effect of
doubling bandwidth.)

Note that I added a flag here to limit the amount of entropy pulled
to what's available. Random_read() formerly would check for the
number of available bits and then ask for them, and extract_entropy
would copy out that many bits even if an intervening caller raced and
depleted the pool.

The possible contention issue here is that /dev/random and
/dev/urandom+get_random_bytes() currently share the same pool and
get_random_bytes gets called moderately frequently by things like
sequence number generation by numerous places in the network layer
and various things in filesystems. I suspect this won't ever be a
noticeable lock but see below.

[There was also a cute sleeping problem here with random_read.
random_read used old-style open-coded sleeping, marked itself
TASK_INTERRUPTIBLE, then called extract_entropy, which would do a
conditional reschedule, and fall asleep until the next wake up,
despite having enough entropy to fulfill the request.]

b) add_entropy_words (pool->lock)

This function folds new words into the pool. The pool lock is taken
to prevent a race whereby both callers read the same value of for the
add_ptr and mix on top of each other, again causing an overestimate
of the entropy in the pool. The lock could be taken and released
inside the loop, but this tends to get called for a small number of
words (usually <=8).

c) credit_entropy_store (pool->lock)

Locking here actually prevents underaccounting, but it also prevents
overflow. Short and sweet.

d) RNDGETPOOL ioctl (pool->lock)

The intent of this ioctl is to take an atomic snapshot of the entropy
pool, entropy count, etc., presumably for debugging purposes. For
purpose of getting random data, one should simply read(). With the
addition of a second pool, it's no longer useful for debugging, but
could be useful for attackers and I'd it to just return -ENOTTY. For
now, it takes the pool lock. Should be no users, shouldn't increase

e) batch_entropy_store && batch_entropy_process (batch_lock)

This gets really messy without locking. This is a circular buffer
that gets filled typically from interrupts and emptied by a
workqueue. Lack of locking here could cause tail to pass head, etc.,
dropping samples on the ground or replaying a whole buffer worth old
samples. Rather than hold the lock while we mix the queue, we copy
the sample ring. (I have a better patch to do this with a flip

[By the way, whoever did the workqueue conversion for 2.5 changed this
code to wakeup the processing worker when the sample pool was half
full rather on every sample but got the test not quite right. I had
to stare at this for a bit:

new = (batch_head+1) & (batch_max-1);
if ((unsigned)(new - batch_tail) >= (unsigned)(batch_max / 2))

There was a further problem where extract_entropy was adding zero
entropy timing samples and filling the sample buffer with useless
samples. Occassionally the above bug would keep it from scheduling
batch processing in this case and the code could block permanently,
throwing out all new samples. Ouch.]

f) change_poolsize (queued for resend)

The /proc/sys/kernel/random sysctl is writable and lets you change
the pointer to the input pool out from under callers (boom). Short of
expanding the pool lock to cover all operations on the pool, there's
no clean fix for this. And it's not really worth the trouble. As it takes
quite a number of transactions to empty the 4k+1kbits of entropy we can
currently hold (enough for dozens of strong keys), if we end up
waiting for entropy regularly, queueing theory tells us we're
exceeding our input rate and we're going to lose no matter how big
the buffer is.

On the other hand, the input pool is only 4kbits and rather than keep
this feature I can save most of those 512 bytes for everyone by deleting the
resizing code.

g) urandom starves/races random (queued for resend)

Readers of /dev/urandom and get_random_bytes (both nonblock) pull from
the same pool as /dev/random readers and without limit. As there are
numerous users of get_random_bytes as pointed out above, /dev/random
readers can easily be starved (and previously, race on wakeup), even
by remote readers. This is rather a problem for the classic
entropy-source-limited headless web server which may very well be
trying to use both in, for example, a departmental certificate

My solution is to clean up the pool creation code and add a second
output pool for nonblocking users. The pool reseeding logic is
cleaned up to address a bunch of corner cases and has a low watermark
parameter so that the nonblocking users can avoid draining the input
pool entirely. The current default is to not let nonblocking readers
draw the input pool below the point where blocking readers can do two
catastrophic reseeds.

The cleanup of the pool code lets this easily become per_cpu output
pools for the non-blocking readers with about 10 lines of code if the
above-mentioned contention is an issue. I haven't tried this yet, but
I already did per_cpu for the cryptoapi stuff and it should be about
the same.

We could go completely lockless for the nonblocking pool also, but
that would require some code duplication.

I can detail some of the non-race accounting issues I fixed but that
message would be similarly long and more tedious.

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:0.263 / U:0.576 seconds]
©2003-2020 Jasper Spaans|hosted at Digital Ocean and TransIP|Read the blog|Advertise on this site