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Subject[PATCH 4.19 007/234] random: document get_random_int() family
Date
From: George Spelvin <lkml@sdf.org>

commit 92e507d216139b356a375afbda2824e85235e748 upstream.

Explain what these functions are for and when they offer
an advantage over get_random_bytes().

(We still need documentation on rng_is_initialized(), the
random_ready_callback system, and early boot in general.)

Signed-off-by: George Spelvin <lkml@sdf.org>
Signed-off-by: Theodore Ts'o <tytso@mit.edu>
Signed-off-by: Jason A. Donenfeld <Jason@zx2c4.com>
Signed-off-by: Greg Kroah-Hartman <gregkh@linuxfoundation.org>
---
drivers/char/random.c | 83 +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++-----
1 file changed, 76 insertions(+), 7 deletions(-)

--- a/drivers/char/random.c
+++ b/drivers/char/random.c
@@ -101,15 +101,13 @@
* Exported interfaces ---- output
* ===============================
*
- * There are three exported interfaces; the first is one designed to
- * be used from within the kernel:
+ * There are four exported interfaces; two for use within the kernel,
+ * and two or use from userspace.
*
- * void get_random_bytes(void *buf, int nbytes);
- *
- * This interface will return the requested number of random bytes,
- * and place it in the requested buffer.
+ * Exported interfaces ---- userspace output
+ * -----------------------------------------
*
- * The two other interfaces are two character devices /dev/random and
+ * The userspace interfaces are two character devices /dev/random and
* /dev/urandom. /dev/random is suitable for use when very high
* quality randomness is desired (for example, for key generation or
* one-time pads), as it will only return a maximum of the number of
@@ -122,6 +120,77 @@
* this will result in random numbers that are merely cryptographically
* strong. For many applications, however, this is acceptable.
*
+ * Exported interfaces ---- kernel output
+ * --------------------------------------
+ *
+ * The primary kernel interface is
+ *
+ * void get_random_bytes(void *buf, int nbytes);
+ *
+ * This interface will return the requested number of random bytes,
+ * and place it in the requested buffer. This is equivalent to a
+ * read from /dev/urandom.
+ *
+ * For less critical applications, there are the functions:
+ *
+ * u32 get_random_u32()
+ * u64 get_random_u64()
+ * unsigned int get_random_int()
+ * unsigned long get_random_long()
+ *
+ * These are produced by a cryptographic RNG seeded from get_random_bytes,
+ * and so do not deplete the entropy pool as much. These are recommended
+ * for most in-kernel operations *if the result is going to be stored in
+ * the kernel*.
+ *
+ * Specifically, the get_random_int() family do not attempt to do
+ * "anti-backtracking". If you capture the state of the kernel (e.g.
+ * by snapshotting the VM), you can figure out previous get_random_int()
+ * return values. But if the value is stored in the kernel anyway,
+ * this is not a problem.
+ *
+ * It *is* safe to expose get_random_int() output to attackers (e.g. as
+ * network cookies); given outputs 1..n, it's not feasible to predict
+ * outputs 0 or n+1. The only concern is an attacker who breaks into
+ * the kernel later; the get_random_int() engine is not reseeded as
+ * often as the get_random_bytes() one.
+ *
+ * get_random_bytes() is needed for keys that need to stay secret after
+ * they are erased from the kernel. For example, any key that will
+ * be wrapped and stored encrypted. And session encryption keys: we'd
+ * like to know that after the session is closed and the keys erased,
+ * the plaintext is unrecoverable to someone who recorded the ciphertext.
+ *
+ * But for network ports/cookies, stack canaries, PRNG seeds, address
+ * space layout randomization, session *authentication* keys, or other
+ * applications where the sensitive data is stored in the kernel in
+ * plaintext for as long as it's sensitive, the get_random_int() family
+ * is just fine.
+ *
+ * Consider ASLR. We want to keep the address space secret from an
+ * outside attacker while the process is running, but once the address
+ * space is torn down, it's of no use to an attacker any more. And it's
+ * stored in kernel data structures as long as it's alive, so worrying
+ * about an attacker's ability to extrapolate it from the get_random_int()
+ * CRNG is silly.
+ *
+ * Even some cryptographic keys are safe to generate with get_random_int().
+ * In particular, keys for SipHash are generally fine. Here, knowledge
+ * of the key authorizes you to do something to a kernel object (inject
+ * packets to a network connection, or flood a hash table), and the
+ * key is stored with the object being protected. Once it goes away,
+ * we no longer care if anyone knows the key.
+ *
+ * prandom_u32()
+ * -------------
+ *
+ * For even weaker applications, see the pseudorandom generator
+ * prandom_u32(), prandom_max(), and prandom_bytes(). If the random
+ * numbers aren't security-critical at all, these are *far* cheaper.
+ * Useful for self-tests, random error simulation, randomized backoffs,
+ * and any other application where you trust that nobody is trying to
+ * maliciously mess with you by guessing the "random" numbers.
+ *
* Exported interfaces ---- input
* ==============================
*

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