AOH :: HP Unsorted B :: B06-1356.HTM

Bash - flaw in commonly used random seed method



Flaw in commonly used bash random seed method
Flaw in commonly used bash random seed method



I think I just discovered a flaw in what appears to be a common way to
see bash's $RANDOM function. bash provides a pseudo-random number,
from 0-32767, using the $RANDOM function. You can seed this by setting
RANDOM=42 or some other number. Otherwise it is seeded by the process
id and time.

There are a plethora of usenet and web posts that suggest using the
following to seed the function:
SEED=$(head -1 /dev/urandom | od -N 1 | awk '{ print $2 }')

But look at the output, and the manpage for od. All this is doing is
reading 1 line of /dev/urandom (a binary stream), passing it to od
which is taking 1 byte and converting it to octal and printing it with
awk. What's wrong with this picture? You've just taken a random source
and turned it into a number from 0-255!

I hope you haven't been generating your password lists with any of the
scripts using that seed method.

Here is a better way:

SEED=$(head -c4 /dev/urandom | od -t u4 | awk '{ print $2 }')

This reads 4 bytes from /dev/urandom, passed it to od which converts
it into a unsigned 4 byte integer and prints it. This should have a
range of 2**32 (4294967296L) which is a bit more secure than 0-255.

.cp

The entire AOH site is optimized to look best in Firefox® 3 on a widescreen monitor (1440x900 or better).
Site design & layout copyright © 1986-2014 AOH
We do not send spam. If you have received spam bearing an artofhacking.com email address, please forward it with full headers to abuse@artofhacking.com.