Next: , Up: Generalities


3.1 Controlling the library

— Function: gcry_error_t gcry_control (enum gcry_ctl_cmds cmd, ...)

This function can be used to influence the general behavior of Libgcrypt in several ways. Depending on cmd, more arguments can or have to be provided.

GCRYCTL_ENABLE_M_GUARD; Arguments: none
This command enables the built-in memory guard. It must not be used to activate the memory guard after the memory management has already been used; therefore it can ONLY be used before gcry_check_version. Note that the memory guard is NOT used when the user of the library has set his own memory management callbacks.
GCRYCTL_ENABLE_QUICK_RANDOM; Arguments: none
This command inhibits the use the very secure random quality level (GCRY_VERY_STRONG_RANDOM) and degrades all request down to GCRY_STRONG_RANDOM. In general this is not recommended. However, for some applications the extra quality random Libgcrypt tries to create is not justified and this option may help to get better performance. Please check with a crypto expert whether this option can be used for your application.

This option can only be used at initialization time.

GCRYCTL_DUMP_RANDOM_STATS; Arguments: none
This command dumps random number generator related statistics to the library's logging stream.
GCRYCTL_DUMP_MEMORY_STATS; Arguments: none
This command dumps memory management related statistics to the library's logging stream.
GCRYCTL_DUMP_SECMEM_STATS; Arguments: none
This command dumps secure memory management related statistics to the library's logging stream.
GCRYCTL_DROP_PRIVS; Arguments: none
This command disables the use of secure memory and drops the privileges of the current process. This command has not much use; the suggested way to disable secure memory is to use GCRYCTL_DISABLE_SECMEM right after initialization.
GCRYCTL_DISABLE_SECMEM; Arguments: none
This command disables the use of secure memory. If this command is used in FIPS mode, FIPS mode will be disabled and the function gcry_fips_mode_active returns false. However, in Enforced FIPS mode this command has no effect at all.

Many applications do not require secure memory, so they should disable it right away. This command should be executed right after gcry_check_version.

GCRYCTL_DISABLE_LOCKED_SECMEM; Arguments: none
This command disables the use of the mlock call for secure memory. Disabling the use of mlock may for example be done if an encrypted swap space is in use. This command should be executed right after gcry_check_version.
GCRYCTL_DISABLE_PRIV_DROP; Arguments: none
This command sets a global flag to tell the secure memory subsystem that it shall not drop privileges after secure memory has been allocated. This command is commonly used right after gcry_check_version but may also be used right away at program startup. It won't have an effect after the secure memory pool has been initialized. WARNING: A process running setuid(root) is a severe security risk. Processes making use of Libgcrypt or other complex code should drop these extra privileges as soon as possible. If this command has been used the caller is responsible for dropping the privileges.
GCRYCTL_INIT_SECMEM; Arguments: int nbytes
This command is used to allocate a pool of secure memory and thus enabling the use of secure memory. It also drops all extra privileges the process has (i.e. if it is run as setuid (root)). If the argument nbytes is 0, secure memory will be disabled. The minimum amount of secure memory allocated is currently 16384 bytes; you may thus use a value of 1 to request that default size.
GCRYCTL_TERM_SECMEM; Arguments: none
This command zeroises the secure memory and destroys the handler. The secure memory pool may not be used anymore after running this command. If the secure memory pool as already been destroyed, this command has no effect. Applications might want to run this command from their exit handler to make sure that the secure memory gets properly destroyed. This command is not necessarily thread-safe but that should not be needed in cleanup code. It may be called from a signal handler.
GCRYCTL_DISABLE_SECMEM_WARN; Arguments: none
Disable warning messages about problems with the secure memory subsystem. This command should be run right after gcry_check_version.
GCRYCTL_SUSPEND_SECMEM_WARN; Arguments: none
Postpone warning messages from the secure memory subsystem. See the initialization example, on how to use it.
GCRYCTL_RESUME_SECMEM_WARN; Arguments: none
Resume warning messages from the secure memory subsystem. See the initialization example, on how to use it.
GCRYCTL_USE_SECURE_RNDPOOL; Arguments: none
This command tells the PRNG to store random numbers in secure memory. This command should be run right after gcry_check_version and not later than the command GCRYCTL_INIT_SECMEM. Note that in FIPS mode the secure memory is always used.
GCRYCTL_SET_RANDOM_SEED_FILE; Arguments: const char *filename
This command specifies the file, which is to be used as seed file for the PRNG. If the seed file is registered prior to initialization of the PRNG, the seed file's content (if it exists and seems to be valid) is fed into the PRNG pool. After the seed file has been registered, the PRNG can be signalled to write out the PRNG pool's content into the seed file with the following command.
GCRYCTL_UPDATE_RANDOM_SEED_FILE; Arguments: none
Write out the PRNG pool's content into the registered seed file.

Multiple instances of the applications sharing the same random seed file can be started in parallel, in which case they will read out the same pool and then race for updating it (the last update overwrites earlier updates). They will differentiate only by the weak entropy that is added in read_seed_file based on the PID and clock, and up to 16 bytes of weak random non-blockingly. The consequence is that the output of these different instances is correlated to some extent. In a perfect attack scenario, the attacker can control (or at least guess) the PID and clock of the application, and drain the system's entropy pool to reduce the "up to 16 bytes" above to 0. Then the dependencies of the initial states of the pools are completely known. Note that this is not an issue if random of GCRY_VERY_STRONG_RANDOM quality is requested as in this case enough extra entropy gets mixed. It is also not an issue when using Linux (rndlinux driver), because this one guarantees to read full 16 bytes from /dev/urandom and thus there is no way for an attacker without kernel access to control these 16 bytes.

GCRYCTL_CLOSE_RANDOM_DEVICE; Arguments: none
Try to close the random device. If on Unix system you call fork(), the child process does no call exec(), and you do not intend to use Libgcrypt in the child, it might be useful to use this control code to close the inherited file descriptors of the random device. If Libgcrypt is later used again by the child, the device will be re-opened. On non-Unix systems this control code is ignored.
GCRYCTL_SET_VERBOSITY; Arguments: int level
This command sets the verbosity of the logging. A level of 0 disables all extra logging whereas positive numbers enable more verbose logging. The level may be changed at any time but be aware that no memory synchronization is done so the effect of this command might not immediately show up in other threads. This command may even be used prior to gcry_check_version.
GCRYCTL_SET_DEBUG_FLAGS; Arguments: unsigned int flags
Set the debug flag bits as given by the argument. Be aware that that no memory synchronization is done so the effect of this command might not immediately show up in other threads. The debug flags are not considered part of the API and thus may change without notice. As of now bit 0 enables debugging of cipher functions and bit 1 debugging of multi-precision-integers. This command may even be used prior to gcry_check_version.
GCRYCTL_CLEAR_DEBUG_FLAGS; Arguments: unsigned int flags
Set the debug flag bits as given by the argument. Be aware that that no memory synchronization is done so the effect of this command might not immediately show up in other threads. This command may even be used prior to gcry_check_version.
GCRYCTL_DISABLE_INTERNAL_LOCKING; Arguments: none
This command does nothing. It exists only for backward compatibility.
GCRYCTL_ANY_INITIALIZATION_P; Arguments: none
This command returns true if the library has been basically initialized. Such a basic initialization happens implicitly with many commands to get certain internal subsystems running. The common and suggested way to do this basic initialization is by calling gcry_check_version.
GCRYCTL_INITIALIZATION_FINISHED; Arguments: none
This command tells the library that the application has finished the initialization.
GCRYCTL_INITIALIZATION_FINISHED_P; Arguments: none
This command returns true if the command
GCRYCTL_INITIALIZATION_FINISHED has already been run.
GCRYCTL_SET_THREAD_CBS; Arguments: struct ath_ops *ath_ops
This command registers a thread-callback structure. See Multi-Threading.
GCRYCTL_FAST_POLL; Arguments: none
Run a fast random poll.
GCRYCTL_SET_RNDEGD_SOCKET; Arguments: const char *filename
This command may be used to override the default name of the EGD socket to connect to. It may be used only during initialization as it is not thread safe. Changing the socket name again is not supported. The function may return an error if the given filename is too long for a local socket name.

EGD is an alternative random gatherer, used only on systems lacking a proper random device.

GCRYCTL_PRINT_CONFIG; Arguments: FILE *stream
This command dumps information pertaining to the configuration of the library to the given stream. If NULL is given for stream, the log system is used. This command may be used before the initialization has been finished but not before a gcry_check_version.
GCRYCTL_OPERATIONAL_P; Arguments: none
This command returns true if the library is in an operational state. This information makes only sense in FIPS mode. In contrast to other functions, this is a pure test function and won't put the library into FIPS mode or change the internal state. This command may be used before the initialization has been finished but not before a gcry_check_version.
GCRYCTL_FIPS_MODE_P; Arguments: none
This command returns true if the library is in FIPS mode. Note, that this is no indication about the current state of the library. This command may be used before the initialization has been finished but not before a gcry_check_version. An application may use this command or the convenience macro below to check whether FIPS mode is actually active.
— Function: int gcry_fips_mode_active (void)

Returns true if the FIPS mode is active. Note that this is implemented as a macro.


GCRYCTL_FORCE_FIPS_MODE; Arguments: none
Running this command puts the library into FIPS mode. If the library is already in FIPS mode, a self-test is triggered and thus the library will be put into operational state. This command may be used before a call to gcry_check_version and that is actually the recommended way to let an application switch the library into FIPS mode. Note that Libgcrypt will reject an attempt to switch to fips mode during or after the initialization.
GCRYCTL_SET_ENFORCED_FIPS_FLAG; Arguments: none
Running this command sets the internal flag that puts the library into the enforced FIPS mode during the FIPS mode initialization. This command does not affect the library if the library is not put into the FIPS mode and it must be used before any other libgcrypt library calls that initialize the library such as gcry_check_version. Note that Libgcrypt will reject an attempt to switch to the enforced fips mode during or after the initialization.
GCRYCTL_SET_PREFERRED_RNG_TYPE; Arguments: int
These are advisory commands to select a certain random number generator. They are only advisory because libraries may not know what an application actually wants or vice versa. Thus Libgcrypt employs a priority check to select the actually used RNG. If an applications selects a lower priority RNG but a library requests a higher priority RNG Libgcrypt will switch to the higher priority RNG. Applications and libraries should use these control codes before gcry_check_version. The available generators are:
GCRY_RNG_TYPE_STANDARD
A conservative standard generator based on the “Continuously Seeded Pseudo Random Number Generator” designed by Peter Gutmann.
GCRY_RNG_TYPE_FIPS
A deterministic random number generator conforming to he document “NIST-Recommended Random Number Generator Based on ANSI X9.31 Appendix A.2.4 Using the 3-Key Triple DES and AES Algorithms” (2005-01-31). This implementation uses the AES variant.
GCRY_RNG_TYPE_SYSTEM
A wrapper around the system's native RNG. On Unix system these are usually the /dev/random and /dev/urandom devices.
The default is GCRY_RNG_TYPE_STANDARD unless FIPS mode as been enabled; in which case GCRY_RNG_TYPE_FIPS is used and locked against further changes.
GCRYCTL_GETT_CURRENT_RNG_TYPE; Arguments: int *
This command stores the type of the currently used RNG as an integer value at the provided address.
GCRYCTL_SELFTEST; Arguments: none
This may be used at anytime to have the library run all implemented self-tests. It works in standard and in FIPS mode. Returns 0 on success or an error code on failure.
GCRYCTL_DISABLE_HWF; Arguments: const char *name
Libgcrypt detects certain features of the CPU at startup time. For performance tests it is sometimes required not to use such a feature. This option may be used to disable a certain feature; i.e. Libgcrypt behaves as if this feature has not been detected. Note that the detection code might be run if the feature has been disabled. This command must be used at initialization time; i.e. before calling gcry_check_version.