Wow, it’s months I spend not saying anything about computer security, and then there are two in a row.  Technology Review reports today that engineers at Intel have come up with a way to put a true random number generator on the processor die.  This has implications for a number of cryptographic techniques that rely on random numbers to function.

Finding randomness in computers is surprisingly difficult, and over the years people have tried everything from dedicated hardware-based random number generator hardware to using a webcam with the cap left on, to lava lamps of all things as a source of randomness.  In the past, the National Security Agency went so far as to use white noise from space to generate their random numbers, capturing the noise using radio telescopes.

The inclusion of this sort of random number generator strengthens protocols such as RSA, and HTTPS/SSL with the introduction of true, rather than pseudo-randomness. With the advances in quantum  cryptography in the last few years however, we may soon see the end of this class of cryptography, as quantum computers would theoretically be able to break these protocols instantly.


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