arc4random(9) is a generic-purpose random number generator based on the key stream generator of the RC4 cipher. It is expected to be cryptographically strong, and used throughout the FreeBSD kernel for a variety of purposes, some of which rely on its cryptographic strength.

arc4random(9) is periodically reseeded with entropy from the FreeBSD kernel’s Yarrow random number generator, which gathers entropy from a variety of sources including hardware interrupts. During the boot process, additional entropy is provided to the Yarrow random number generator from userland, helping to ensure that adequate entropy is present for cryptographic purposes.

Problem description

When the arc4random(9) random number generator is initialized, there may be inadequate entropy to meet the needs of kernel systems which rely on arc4random(9); and it may take up to 5 minutes before arc4random(9) is reseeded with secure entropy from the Yarrow random number generator.

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