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Randomness Recommendations for Security (RFC1750)

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000004001D
Original Publication Date: 1994-Dec-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2019-Feb-12
Document File: 30 page(s) / 46K

Publishing Venue

Internet Society Requests For Comment (RFCs)

Related People

D. Eastlake 3rd: AUTHOR [+2]

Related Documents

10.17487/RFC1750: DOI

Abstract

Choosing random quantities to foil a resourceful and motivated adversary is surprisingly difficult. This paper points out many pitfalls in using traditional pseudo-random number generation techniques for choosing such quantities. It recommends the use of truly random hardware techniques and shows that the existing hardware on many systems can be used for this purpose. This memo provides information for the Internet community. This memo does not specify an Internet standard of any kind.

This text was extracted from a PDF file.
This is the abbreviated version, containing approximately 6% of the total text.

Network Working Group D. Eastlake, 3rd Request for Comments: 1750 DEC Category: Informational S. Crocker Cybercash J. Schiller MIT December 1994

Randomness Recommendations for Security

Status of this Memo

This memo provides information for the Internet community. This memo does not specify an Internet standard of any kind. Distribution of this memo is unlimited.

Abstract

Security systems today are built on increasingly strong cryptographic algorithms that foil pattern analysis attempts. However, the security of these systems is dependent on generating secret quantities for passwords, cryptographic keys, and similar quantities. The use of pseudo-random processes to generate secret quantities can result in pseudo-security. The sophisticated attacker of these security systems may find it easier to reproduce the environment that produced the secret quantities, searching the resulting small set of possibilities, than to locate the quantities in the whole of the number space.

Choosing random quantities to foil a resourceful and motivated adversary is surprisingly difficult. This paper points out many pitfalls in using traditional pseudo-random number generation techniques for choosing such quantities. It recommends the use of truly random hardware techniques and shows that the existing hardware on many systems can be used for this purpose. It provides suggestions to ameliorate the problem when a hardware solution is not available. And it gives examples of how large such quantities need to be for some particular applications.

Eastlake, Crocker & Schiller [Page 1]

RFC 1750 Randomness Recommendations for Security December 1994

Acknowledgements

Comments on this document that have been incorporated were received from (in alphabetic order) the following:

David M. Balenson (TIS) Don Coppersmith (IBM) Don T. Davis (consultant) Carl Ellison (Stratus) Marc Horowitz (MIT) Christian Huitema (INRIA) Charlie Kaufman (IRIS) Steve Kent (BBN) Hal Murray (DEC) Neil Haller (Bellcore) Richard Pitkin (DEC) Tim Redmond (TIS) Doug Tygar (CMU)

Table of Contents

1. Introduction........................................... 3 2. Requirements........................................... 4 3. Traditional Pseudo-Random Sequences.................... 5 4. Unpredictability....................................... 7 4.1 Problems with Clocks and Serial Numbers............... 7 4.2 Timing and Content of External Events................ 8 4.3 The Fallacy of Complex Manipulation.................. 8 4.4 The Fallacy of Selection from a Large Database....... 9 5. Hardware for Randomness............................... 10 5.1 Volume Required...................................... 10 5.2 Sensitivity to Skew.................................. 10 5.2.1 Using Stream Parity to De-Skew..................... 11 5.2.2 Using Transition Mappings to De-Skew............... 12 5.2.3 Using FFT to De-Skew............................... 13 5.2.4 Using Compression to De-Skew....................... 13 5.3 Existing Har...

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