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Introduction Software cryptography is coming into wider use Systems like Kerberos PEM PGP etc are maturing and becoming a part of the network landscape PEM These systems provide substantial protection against snooping and spoofing However there is a potential flaw At the heart of all cryptographic systems is the generation of secret unguessable ie random numbers For the present the lack of generally available facilities for generating such unpredictable numbers is an open wound in the design of cryptographic software For the software developer who wants to build a key or password generation procedure that runs on a wide range of hardware the only safe strategy so far has been to force the local installation to supply a suitable routine to generate random numbers To say the least this is an awkward error-prone and unpalatable solution It is important to keep in mind that the requirement is for data that an adversary has a very low probability of guessing or determining This will fail if pseudo-random data is used which only meets traditional statistical tests for randomness or which is based on limited range sources such as clocks Frequently such random quantities are determinable by an adversary searching through an embarrassingly small space of possibilities This informational document suggests techniques for producing random quantities that will be resistant to such attack It recommends that future systems include hardware random number generation or provide access to existing hardware that can be used for this purpose It suggests methods for use if such hardware is not available And it gives some estimates of the number of random bits required for sample Requirements Probably the most commonly encountered randomness requirement today is the user password This is usually a simple character string Obviously if a password can be guessed it does not provide security For re-usable passwords it is desirable that users be able to remember the password This may make it advisable to use
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