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SubjectRe: [PATCH 7/14] random: Remove SA_SAMPLE_RANDOM from network drivers
On Fri, May 05, 2006 at 12:24:26PM -0500, Matt Mackall wrote:
> I haven't seen such an analysis, scholarly or otherwise and my bias
> here is to lean towards the paranoid.
> Assuming a machine with no TSC and an otherwise quiescent ethernet
> (hackers burning the midnight oil), I think most of the
> hard-to-analyze bits above get pretty transparent.

As always, whether or not the packet arrival times could be guessable
and/or controlled by an attacker really depends on your threat model.
For someone who has an ethernet monitor attached directly to the
segment right next to your computer, it's very likely that they would
be successful in guessing the inputs into the entropy pool. However,
an attacker with physical access to your machine could probably do all
sorts of other things, such as install a keyboard sniffer, etc.

For a remote attacker, life gets much more difficult. Each switch,
router, and bridge effectively has a queue into which packets must
flow through, and that is _not_ known to a remote attacker. This is
especially true today, when most people don't even use repeaters, but
rather switches/bridges, which effectly make each ethernet connection
to each host its own separate collision domain (indeed that term
doesn't even apply for modern high-speed ethernets).

I've always thought the right answer is that whether or not network
packet arrival times should be used as entropy input should be
configurable, since depending on the environment, it might or might
not be safe, and for some hosts (particularly diskless servers), the
network might be the only source of entropy available to them.

- Ted

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