Random Number Generators¶
The base class for all RNG objects, is declared in
randomize(uint8_t *output_array, size_t length)¶
Places length random bytes into the provided buffer.
randomize_with_input(uint8_t *data, size_t length, const uint8_t *extra_input, size_t extra_input_len)¶
Like randomize, but first incorporates the additional input field into the state of the RNG. The additional input could be anything which parameterizes this request. Not all RNG types accept additional inputs, the value will be silently ignored when not supported.
randomize_with_ts_input(uint8_t *data, size_t length)¶
Creates a buffer with some timestamp values and calls
When RDRAND is enabled and available at runtime, instead of timestamps the output of RDRAND is used as the additional data.
Generates a single random byte and returns it. Note that calling this function several times is much slower than calling
randomizeonce to produce multiple bytes at a time.
add_entropy(const uint8_t *data, size_t length)¶
Incorporates provided data into the state of the PRNG, if at all possible. This works for most RNG types, including the system and TPM RNGs. But if the RNG doesn’t support this operation, the data is dropped, no error is indicated.
This function returns
falseif it is known that this RNG object cannot accept external inputs. In this case, any calls to
RandomNumberGenerator::add_entropywill be ignored.
Several different RNG types are implemented. Some access hardware RNGs, which are only available on certain platforms. Others are mostly useful in specific situations.
Generally prefer using either the system RNG, or else
AutoSeeded_RNG which is
intended to provide best possible behavior in a userspace PRNG.
On systems which support it, in
system_rng.h you can access a shared
reference to a process global instance of the system PRNG (using interfaces such
There is also a wrapper class
System_RNG which simply invokes on
the return value of
system_rng(). This is useful in situations where
you may sometimes want to use the system RNG and a userspace RNG in others,
std::unique_ptr<Botan::RandomNumberGenerator> rng; #if defined(BOTAN_HAS_SYSTEM_RNG) rng.reset(new System_RNG); #else rng.reset(new AutoSeeded_RNG); #endif
Unlike nearly any other object in Botan it is acceptable to share a single
System_RNG between threads, because the underlying RNG is itself
thread safe due to being serialized by a mutex in the kernel itself.
AutoSeeded_RNG is type naming a ‘best available’ userspace PRNG. The exact definition of this has changed over time and may change in the future, fortunately there is no compatibility concerns when changing any RNG since the only expectation is it produces bits indistinguishable from random.
Like most other classes in Botan, it is not safe to share an instance
AutoSeeded_RNG among multiple threads without serialization.
The current version uses HMAC_DRBG with either SHA-384 or SHA-256. The initial seed is generated either by the system PRNG (if available) or a default set of entropy sources. These are also used for periodic reseeding of the RNG state.
HMAC DRBG is a random number generator designed by NIST and specified in SP 800-90A. It seems to be the most conservative generator of the NIST approved options.
It can be instantiated with any HMAC but is typically used with SHA-256, SHA-384, or SHA-512, as these are the hash functions approved for this use by NIST.
HMAC_DRBG’s constructors are:
HMAC_DRBG(std::unique_ptr<MessageAuthenticationCode> prf, RandomNumberGenerator &underlying_rng, size_t reseed_interval = BOTAN_RNG_DEFAULT_RESEED_INTERVAL, size_t max_number_of_bytes_per_request = 64 * 1024)¶
Creates a DRBG which will automatically reseed as required by making calls to
underlying_rngeither after being invoked
reseed_intervaltimes, or if use of
forksystem call is detected.
You can disable automatic reseeding by setting
reseed_intervalto zero, in which case
underlying_rngwill only be invoked in the case of
The specification of HMAC DRBG requires that each invocation produce no more than 64 kibibytes of data. However, the RNG interface allows producing arbitrary amounts of data in a single request. To accommodate this,
HMAC_DRBGtreats requests for more data as if they were multiple requests each of (at most) the maximum size. You can specify a smaller maximum size with
max_number_of_bytes_per_request. There is normally no reason to do this.
HMAC_DRBG(std::unique_ptr<MessageAuthenticationCode> prf, Entropy_Sources &entropy_sources, size_t reseed_interval = BOTAN_RNG_DEFAULT_RESEED_INTERVAL, size_t max_number_of_bytes_per_request = 64 * 1024)¶
Like above function, but instead of an RNG taking a set of entropy sources to seed from as required.
HMAC_DRBG(std::unique_ptr<MessageAuthenticationCode> prf, RandomNumberGenerator &underlying_rng, Entropy_Sources &entropy_sources, size_t reseed_interval = BOTAN_RNG_DEFAULT_RESEED_INTERVAL, size_t max_number_of_bytes_per_request = 64 * 1024)¶
Like above function, but taking both an RNG and a set of entropy sources to seed from as required.
Creates an unseeded DRBG. You must explicitly provide seed data later on in order to use this RNG. This is primarily useful for deterministic key generation.
Since no source of data is available to automatically reseed, automatic reseeding is disabled when this constructor is used. If the RNG object detects that
forksystem call was used without it being subsequently reseeded, it will throw an exception.
HMAC_DRBG(const std::string &hmac_hash)¶
Like the constructor just taking a PRF, except instead of a PRF object, a string specifying what hash to use with HMAC is provided.
This is a very fast userspace PRNG based on ChaCha20 and HMAC(SHA-256). The key for ChaCha is derived by hashing entropy inputs with HMAC. Then the ChaCha keystream generator is run, first to generate the new HMAC key (used for any future entropy additions), then the desired RNG outputs.
This RNG composes two primitives thought to be secure (ChaCha and HMAC) in a simple and well studied way (the extract-then-expand paradigm), but is still an ad-hoc and non-standard construction. It is included because it is roughly 20x faster then HMAC_DRBG (basically running as fast as ChaCha can generate keystream bits), and certain applications need access to a very fast RNG.
One thing applications using
ChaCha_RNG need to be aware of is that for
performance reasons, no backtracking resistance is implemented in the RNG
design. An attacker who recovers the
ChaCha_RNG state can recover the output
backwards in time to the last rekey and forwards to the next rekey.
An explicit reseeding (
providing any input to the RNG
RandomNumberGenerator::randomize_with_input) is sufficient to cause
a reseeding. Or, if a RNG or entropy source was provided to the
constructor, then reseeding will be performed automatically after a certain
interval of requests.
This RNG type directly calls the x86
rdrand instruction. If the instruction
is not available it will throw at runtime, you can check beforehand by calling
This RNG type allows using the RNG exported from a TPM chip.
This RNG type allows using the RNG exported from a hardware token accessed via PKCS11.
EntropySource is an abstract representation of some method of
gather “real” entropy. This tends to be very system dependent. The
only way you should use an
EntropySource is to pass it to a PRNG
that will extract entropy from it – never use the output directly for
any kind of key or nonce generation!
EntropySource has a pair of functions for getting entropy from
some external source, called
pass a buffer of bytes to be written; the functions then return how
many bytes of entropy were gathered.
Note for writers of
EntropySource subclasses: it isn’t necessary
to use any kind of cryptographic hash on your output. The data
produced by an EntropySource is only used by an application after it
has been hashed by the
RandomNumberGenerator that asked for the
entropy, thus any hashing you do will be wasteful of both CPU cycles
The following entropy sources are currently used:
- The system RNG (
- RDRAND and RDSEED are used if available, but not counted as contributing entropy
/dev/urandom. This may be redundant with the system RNG
getentropy, only used on OpenBSD currently
/procwalk: read files in
/proc. Last ditch protection against flawed system RNG.
- Win32 stats: takes snapshot of current system processes. Last ditch protection against flawed system RNG.
On Unix platforms, the
clone() system calls can
be used to spawn a new child process. Fork safety ensures that the
child process doesn’t see the same output of random bytes as the
parent process. Botan tries to ensure fork safety by feeding the
process ID into the internal state of the random generator and by
automatically reseeding the random generator if the process ID
changed between two requests of random bytes. However, this does
not protect against PID wrap around. The process ID is usually
implemented as a 16 bit integer. In this scenario, a process will
spawn a new child process, which exits the parent process and
spawns a new child process himself. If the PID wrapped around, the
second child process may get assigned the process ID of it’s
grandparent and the fork safety can not be ensured.
Therefore, it is strongly recommended to explicitly reseed any userspace random generators after forking a new process. If this is not possible in your application, prefer using the system PRNG instead.