11.2. Using a Generic API for Randomness and Entropy

Problem

You would like to have a standard API for getting cryptographic randomness or entropy, which you can then bind to any underlying implementation. Many recipes in this book rely on random numbers and use the API in this recipe without concern for what implementation is behind it.

Solution

The API in this recipe is exactly what you need. In this recipe, we show the API and how to use it. In the next few recipes, we discuss how to bind it to third-party randomness infrastructures.

Discussion

At an API level, this recipe is only going to look at how to fill a buffer with random bytes. To get random values for other data types, see Recipe 11.10 through Recipe 11.14.

Here we are going to build a random number generation API where there is only a single generator per application, or perhaps even a single generator for the entire machine. Either way, we expect that the application will have to initialize the API. Note that the initialization may need to seed a cryptographic pseudo-random number generator, so the initialization part might hang. If that is a problem, launch a thread to call the initialization routine, but be aware that asking for any cryptographically strong pseudo-random numbers at all will cause your program to abort if the system has not been initialized. The initialization routine is simply:

void spc_rand_init(void);

Because we know well that people will often forget to perform initialization, implementations of this ...

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