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ARC4RANDOM(3)              Library Functions Manual              ARC4RANDOM(3)

     arc4random, arc4random_uniform, arc4random_buf, arc4random_stir,
     arc4random_addrandom - random number generator

     Standard C Library (libc, -lc)

     #include <stdlib.h>


     arc4random_uniform(uint32_t bound);

     arc4random_buf(void *buf, size_t len);


     arc4random_addrandom(unsigned char *buf, int len);

     The arc4random family of functions provides a cryptographic pseudorandom
     number generator automatically seeded from the system entropy pool and
     safe to use from multiple threads.  arc4random is designed to prevent an
     adversary from guessing outputs, unlike rand(3) and random(3), and is
     faster and more convenient than reading from /dev/urandom directly.

     arc4random() returns an integer in [0, 2^32) chosen independently with
     uniform distribution.

     arc4random_uniform() returns an integer in [0, bound) chosen
     independently with uniform distribution.

     arc4random_buf() stores len bytes into the memory pointed to by buf, each
     byte chosen independently from [0, 256) with uniform distribution.

     arc4random_stir() draws entropy from the operating system and
     incorporates it into the library's PRNG state to influence future

     arc4random_addrandom() incorporates len bytes, which must be nonnegative,
     from the buffer buf, into the library's PRNG state to influence future

     It is not necessary for an application to call arc4random_stir() or
     arc4random_addrandom() before calling other arc4random functions.  The
     first call to any arc4random function will initialize the PRNG state
     unpredictably from the system entropy pool.

     The arc4random functions provide the following security properties
     against three different classes of attackers, assuming enough entropy is
     provided by the operating system:

         1.   An attacker who has seen some outputs of any of the arc4random
              functions cannot predict past or future unseen outputs.

         2.   An attacker who has seen the library's PRNG state in memory
              cannot predict past outputs.

         3.   An attacker who has seen one process's PRNG state cannot predict
              past or future outputs in other processes, particularly its
              parent or siblings.

     One `output' means the result of any single request to an arc4random
     function, no matter how short it is.

     The second property is sometimes called `forward secrecy', `backtracking
     resistance', or `key erasure after each output'.

     The arc4random functions are currently implemented using the ChaCha20
     pseudorandom function family.  For any 32-byte string s, ChaCha20_s is a
     function from 16-byte strings to 64-byte strings.  It is conjectured that
     if s is chosen with uniform distribution, then the distribution on
     ChaCha20_s is indistinguishable to a computationally bounded adversary
     from a uniform distribution on all functions from 16-byte strings to
     64-byte strings.

     The PRNG state is a 32-byte ChaCha20 key s.  Each request to an
     arc4random function
            computes the 64-byte quantity x = ChaCha20_s(0),
            splits x into two 32-byte quantities s' and k,
            replaces s by s', and
            uses k as output.

     arc4random() yields the first four bytes of k as output directly.
     arc4random_buf() either yields up to 32 bytes of k as output directly,
     or, for longer requests, uses k as a ChaCha20 key and yields the
     concatenation ChaCha20_k(0) || ChaCha20_k(1) || ... as output.
     arc4random_uniform() repeats arc4random() until it obtains an integer in
     [2^32 % bound, 2^32), and reduces that modulo bound.

     The PRNG state is per-thread, unless memory allocation fails inside the
     library, in which case some threads may share global PRNG state with a
     mutex.  The global PRNG state is zeroed on fork in the parent via
     pthread_atfork(3), and the per-thread PRNG state is zeroed on fork in the
     child via minherit(2) with MAP_INHERIT_ZERO, so that the child cannot
     reuse or see the parent's PRNG state.  The PRNG state is reseeded
     automatically from the system entropy pool on the first use of an
     arc4random function after zeroing.

     The first use of an arc4random function may abort the process in the
     highly unlikely event that library initialization necessary to implement
     the security model fails.  Additionally, arc4random_stir() and
     arc4random_addrandom() may abort the process in the highly unlikely event
     that the operating system fails to provide entropy.

     rand(3), random(3), rnd(4), cprng(9)

     Daniel J. Bernstein, ChaCha, a variant of Salsa20,
     http://cr.yp.to/papers.html#chacha, 2008-01-28, Document ID:

     There is no way to get deterministic, reproducible results out of
     arc4random for testing purposes.

     The name `arc4random' was chosen for hysterical raisins -- it was
     originally implemented using the RC4 stream cipher, which has been known
     since shortly after it was published in 1994 to have observable biases in
     the output, and is now known to be broken badly enough to admit practical
     attacks in the real world.  Unfortunately, the library found widespread
     adoption and the name stuck before anyone recognized that it was silly.

     The signature of arc4random_addrandom() is silly.  There is no reason to
     require casts or accept negative lengths: it should take a void * buffer
     and a size_t length.  But it's too late to change that now.

     arc4random_uniform() does not help to choose integers in [0, n) uniformly
     at random when n > 2^32.

     The security model of arc4random is stronger than many applications need,
     and stronger than other operating systems provide.  For example,
     applications encrypting messages with random, but not secret,
     initialization vectors need only prevent an adversary from guessing
     future outputs, since past outputs will have been published already.

     On the one hand, arc4random could be marginally faster if it were not
     necessary to prevent an adversary who sees the state from predicting past
     outputs.  On the other hand, there are applications in the wild that use
     arc4random to generate key material, such as OpenSSH, so for the sake of
     NetBSD users it would be imprudent to weaken the security model.  On the
     third hand, relying on the security model of arc4random in NetBSD may
     lead you to an unpleasant surprise on another operating system whose
     implementation of arc4random has a weaker security model.

     One may be tempted to create new APIs to accommodate different security
     models and performance constraints without unpleasant surprises on
     different operating systems.  This should not be done lightly, though,
     because there are already too many different choices, and too many
     opportunities for programmers to reach for one and pick the wrong one.

NetBSD 10.99                   November 16, 2014                  NetBSD 10.99