Q

Increasing kernel security

What are some block and character devices available for increasing my kernel security?

The principal block and character devices related to kernel security are /dev/random and /dev/urandom. These devices allow the retrieval of random data for use in generating cryptographic keys and other applications that require secure random numbers. For example, they are used when generating SSH keys.

The /dev/random is a high entropy device that requires user-generated input for output randomness, like hitting the keyboard. If it can't get sufficient input, it will block until sufficient input is available. In comparison, if /dev/urandom hasn't got sufficient input, it will return a strong hash of what input it has. This is allegedly slightly less secure than the /dev/random model, but any attack that exploited it, while feasible, would be hard to initiate.

You can read about these devices in more detail here.

This was last published in November 2006

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