[openssl-project] Entropy seeding the DRBG

Richard Levitte levitte at openssl.org
Wed Apr 4 13:09:00 UTC 2018

In message <122B3C36-21AD-4904-A692-351ADE567B8B at akamai.com> on Wed, 4 Apr 2018 11:58:54 +0000, "Salz, Rich" <rsalz at akamai.com> said:

rsalz> Is it expected that the number of bits of seed must equal the
rsalz> number of bits in the key strength?

It is expected that the number of bits of entropy in the seed (the VMS
function declares 4 bits of entropy per byte, considering the sources
it uses) equals a requirement, and it seems that the requirement is to
have the DRBG strength (which is measure in number of entropy bits)
match the number of bits of the block cipher used to generate the
randomness bits.  If I understand things correctly...  and that does
seem to match what's specified in SP800-90A r1.  I suggest a quick
study of table 3 in section 10 (Definitions for the CTR_DRBG), seen on
page 58 in https://nvlpubs.nist.gov/nistpubs/specialpublications/nist.sp.800-90ar1.pdf
Very specifically, there's the row with the title "Seed length
(seedlen = outlen + keylen)" that very clearly says 384 bits for

"Seed length" itself is defined in section 8:

    8.6.4 Seed Length 
    The minimum length of the seed depends on the DRBG mechanism and the
    security strength required by the consuming application, but shall be
    at least the number of bits of entropy required. See the tables in
    Section 10.

rsalz> But at any rate, raising the seed size to 256 seems mildly
rsalz> tolerable, although I would prefer to keep it at 128.  Raising
rsalz> it to 384 is wrong.

Note that with a nonce, that'll be 192 bits, unless I'm thinking
wrong...  But I agree with you, at least from a very practical point
of view.

Richard Levitte         levitte at openssl.org
OpenSSL Project         http://www.openssl.org/~levitte/

More information about the openssl-project mailing list