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From: Eric Biggers <>
To: Theodore Ts'o <>, "Jason A . Donenfeld " <>
Subject: [PATCH] random: avoid mis-detecting a slow counter as a cycle counter
Date: Thu, 21 Apr 2022 12:29:39 -0700	[thread overview]
Message-ID: <> (raw)

From: Eric Biggers <>

The method that try_to_generate_entropy() uses to detect a cycle counter
is to check whether two calls to random_get_entropy() return different
values.  This is uncomfortably prone to false positives if
random_get_entropy() is a slow counter, as the two calls could return
different values if the counter happens to be on the cusp of a change.
Making things worse, the task can be preempted between the calls.

This is problematic because try_to_generate_entropy() doesn't do any
real entropy estimation later; it always credits 1 bit per loop
iteration.  To avoid crediting garbage, it relies entirely on the
preceding check for whether a cycle counter is present.

Therefore, increase the number of counter comparisons from 1 to 3, to
greatly reduce the rate of false positive cycle counter detections.

Fixes: 50ee7529ec45 ("random: try to actively add entropy rather than passively wait for it")
Signed-off-by: Eric Biggers <>
 drivers/char/random.c | 14 +++++++++++---
 1 file changed, 11 insertions(+), 3 deletions(-)

diff --git a/drivers/char/random.c b/drivers/char/random.c
index bf89c6f27a192..9647c61345573 100644
--- a/drivers/char/random.c
+++ b/drivers/char/random.c
@@ -1382,12 +1382,20 @@ static void try_to_generate_entropy(void)
 		unsigned long entropy;
 		struct timer_list timer;
 	} stack;
+	int i;
 	stack.entropy = random_get_entropy();
-	/* Slow counter - or none. Don't even bother */
-	if (stack.entropy == random_get_entropy())
-		return;
+	/*
+	 * We must not proceed if we don't actually have a cycle counter.  To
+	 * detect a cycle counter, check whether random_get_entropy() returns a
+	 * different value each time.  Check it multiple times to avoid false
+	 * positives where a slow counter could be just on the cusp of a change.
+	 */
+	for (i = 0; i < 3; i++) {
+		if (stack.entropy == random_get_entropy())
+			return;
+	}
 	timer_setup_on_stack(&stack.timer, entropy_timer, 0);
 	while (!crng_ready() && !signal_pending(current)) {

base-commit: 939ee380b17589d026e132a1be91199409c3c934

             reply	other threads:[~2022-04-21 19:30 UTC|newest]

Thread overview: 5+ messages / expand[flat|nested]  mbox.gz  Atom feed  top
2022-04-21 19:29 Eric Biggers [this message]
2022-04-21 20:20 ` [PATCH] random: avoid mis-detecting a slow counter as a cycle counter Jason A. Donenfeld
2022-04-21 20:49   ` Eric Biggers
2022-04-21 22:59     ` Jason A. Donenfeld
2022-04-21 23:14       ` Eric Biggers

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