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Secure Programming Cookbook for C and C++ by Matt Messier, John Viega

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11.7. Using an Entropy Gathering Daemon-Compatible Solution

Problem

Your application needs randomness, and you want it to be able to run on Unix-based platforms that lack the /dev/random and /dev/urandom devices discussed in Recipe 11.3—for example, machines that need to support legacy operating systems.

Solution

Use a third-party software package that gathers and outputs entropy, such as the Entropy Gathering and Distribution System (EGADS). Then use the Entropy Gathering Daemon (EGD) interface to read entropy. EGD is a tool for entropy harvesting and was the first tool to export this API.

When implementing our randomness API from Recipe 11.2, use entropy gathered over the EGD interface in places where entropy is needed; then, to implement the rest of the API, use data from that interface to seed an application-level cryptographic pseudo-random number generator (see Recipe 11.5).

Discussion

A few entropy collection systems exist as processes outside the kernel and distribute entropy through the EGD socket interface. Such systems set up a server process, listening on a Unix domain socket. To read entropy, you communicate over that interface using a simple protocol.

One such system is EGADS (described in the next recipe and available from http://www.securesoftware.com/egads). Another system is EGD itself, which we do not recommend as of this writing for several reasons, primarily because we think its entropy estimates are too liberal.

Such entropy collection systems usually are slow ...

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