Cloudflare, along with a group of individual and academic partners, is forming a new coalition that will provide truly random, unpredictable numbers for a variety of applications, including election systems and lotteries. From a report: The problem of producing truly random numbers on a consistent basis has been a thorny one for cryptographers for many years. There have been plenty of efforts to establish sources of randomness, with some success, but one of the drawbacks is that any single randomness generator can be a target for abuse by privileged insiders or outside attackers. This is especially true in high-value applications that require random numbers, such as lottery or election systems. Also, if a given source of random numbers fails for any reason, the applications that rely on it can be crippled, as well.
To help address this problem, Cloudflare has teamed up with the University of Chile, the Ecole polytechnique federale de Lausanne, and several individual researchers to form a consortium of randomness beacons distributed around the world. The system is based on the drand randomness beacon developed by Nicholas Gailly, a researcher at Protocol Labs, a research lab for network protocols, and the aim is to have a distributed network of beacons that will always be available. "Our founding members are contributing their individual high-entropy sources to provide a more random and unpredictable beacon to generate publicly verifiable random values every sixty seconds. The fact that the drand beacon is decentralized and built using appropriate, provably-secure cryptographic primitives, increases our confidence that it possesses all the aforementioned properties," Dina Kozlov, a product manager at Cloudflare, said.
"This global network of servers generating randomness ensures that even if a few servers are offline, the beacon continues to produce new numbers by using the remaining online servers. Even if one or two of the servers or their entropy sources were to be compromised, the rest will still ensure that the jointly-produced entropy is fully unpredictable and unbiasable." Random numbers are vital to many kinds of systems and there are plenty of hardware and software-based random number generators. But more than one RNG has been found to have a bias, whether intentional or accidental, so randomness beacons emerged.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.