“We cannot trust” Intel and Via’s chip-based crypto, FreeBSD developers say

This post was updated on December 16 to make clear that for most of FreeBSD's history, it wasn't possible to use RDRAND and Padlock as the sole source of random numbers fed to the /dev/random engine.

Developers of the FreeBSD operating system will continue preventing users from trusting processors manufactured by Intel and Via Technologies as the sole source of random numbers needed to generate cryptographic keys that can't easily be cracked by government spies and other adversaries.

That decision, which will be effective in the upcoming FreeBSD version 10.0, comes three months after secret documents leaked by former National Security Agency (NSA) subcontractor Edward Snowden said the US spy agency was able to decode vast swaths of the Internet's encrypted traffic. Among other ways, The New York Times, Pro Publica, and The Guardian reported in September, the NSA and its British counterpart defeat encryption technologies by working with chipmakers to insert backdoors, or cryptographic weaknesses, in their products.

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