Wheel of Fortune

Analyzing Embedded OS Random Number Generators

Jos Wetzels and Ali Abbasi

Secure random number generators play a crucial role in the wider security ecosystem. In the absence of a dedicated hardware True Random Number Generator (TRNG), computer systems have to resort to a software (cryptographically secure) Pseudo-Random Number Generator (CSPRNG). Since the (secure) design of a CSPRNG is an involved and complicated effort and since randomness is such a security-critical resource, many operating systems provide a CSPRNG as a core system service and many popular security software products assume their presence. The constraints imposed by the embedded world, however, pose a variety of unique challenges to proper OS (CS)PRNG design and implementation which have historically resulted in security failures. In this talk we will discuss these challenges, how they affect the quality of (CS)PRNGs in embedded operating systems and illustrate our arguments by means of the first public analysis of the OS random number generators of several popular embedded operating systems.



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