Groundbreaking random number algorithm may be boon for online security

random number generator verification algorithm njpaa1fa8f2 hr
Generating a string of random numbers is easy. The hard part is proving that they’re random. As Dilbert creator Scott Adams once pointed out, “that’s the problem with randomness: you can never be sure.”

While this might sound like the kind of brain-teasers algorithm geeks play around with over a beer on a Friday night, however, it’s not purely an academic problem. When it comes to security, our faith in encryption services relies on people knowing for certain that the long strings of seemingly random numbers generated can’t be decoded by potential adversaries.

But don’t worry: there’s hope — and it comes in the form of quantum mechanics.

“The idea boils down to dividing the hardware in two parts, placing them in different locations and looking for correlations that can be only explained by quantum mechanics — which is intrinsically random theory,” Marcin Pawłowski, a researcher at Poland’s University of Gdańsk, tells Digital Trends. “The problem is that you have to have really state-of-the-art hardware and even then you only get a tiny amount of random numbers per hour which makes the whole thing unpractical.”

This is where the work of Pawłowski and his colleagues — summarized in a new paper in the New Journal of Physics — comes in. What they have created is an algorithm which ensures that seemingly random numbers really are as random as they look. “We believe, and our paper proves, that in quantum experiments much more randomness is generated than was certified using previously known methods,” Pawłowski continues.

Unlike the “pseudorandom” numbers thrown out by computer algorithms, this method utilizes the randomness of physical systems — in this instance a laser and some crystals, mirrors and other optical elements, as well as a photon detector. The result is considerably more efficient than other methods: not only faster, but also more cost effective since it doesn’t require too much expensive hardware to pull off.

“It is possible to build a practical device based on the experiment that we report on in the paper,” Pawłowski concludes. “Then you can use our new method for randomness certification and one can make true random numbers — and hence secure communication — available. I say this honestly: I really believe we can improve the security of communication for everyone.”

Where do we sign up?

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Gaming

Relive Nintendo’s handheld golden age with the 25 best Game Boy Advance games

The Game Boy Advance was the swan song of the Game Boy era. It also happened to have a boatload of amazing games. We decided to countdown our 25 favorite GBA games. Check it out and let us know your favorites in the comments below!
Photography

MIT science photographer isn’t an artist, but her work could fill galleries

Felice Frankel is an award-winning photographer, but she doesn't consider herself an artist. As a science photographer, she has been helping researchers better communicate their ideas for nearly three decades with eye-catching imagery.
Computing

Having enough RAM is important, but stick to these guidelines to save some money

Although not quite as exciting as processors and graphics cards, RAM is one of the most important parts of your PC. Not having enough can hurt performance. So, how much RAM do you need?
Emerging Tech

It’s no flying car, but the e-scooter had a huge impact on city streets in 2018

Within just a year, electric scooters have fundamentally changed how we navigate cities. From San Francisco to Paris, commuters have a new option that’s more fun than mass transit, easier than a bike, and definitely not a car.
Emerging Tech

Intel wants its fleet of drones to monitor America’s aging, unsafe bridges

Intel has signed a deal to use its Falcon 8+ drones to carry out bridge inspections. The hope is that these drones will be useful in spotting potential problems before they become serious.
Giveaways

Print your heart’s desire: Enter our giveaway to win a free Monoprice 3D printer

We’re giving away a $400 Monoprice MP Voxel 3D Printer. It's easy to use, especially for beginners, with its simple menu system and touchscreen display. It comes fully assembled so you can spend more time printing instead of setting up.
Emerging Tech

Transplanted pig hearts show promise in baboon trials. Are humans next?

Researchers in Germany have successfully transplanted modified pig hearts into baboons. The results take us one step closer to ending organ transplant waiting lists for good. Here's why.
Emerging Tech

An A.I. cracks the internet’s squiggly letter bot test in 0.5 seconds

How do you prove that you’re a human when communicating on the internet? The answer used to be by solving a CAPTCHA puzzle. But maybe not for too much longer. Here is the reason why.
Emerging Tech

Makerbot is back with a new 3D printer that’s faster and more precise than ever

MakerBot's new Method 3D printer aims to bridge the gap between home 3D printers and more industrial 3D printing tech. Here are a few of the tantalizing things you can expect from it.
Emerging Tech

Warm ski beanie instantly hardens into a head-protecting helmet upon impact

Wool hats are way more comfortable than hard helmets. You know what they're not? Safer. That could soon change, thanks to an innovative new ski beanie which instantly hardens upon impact.
Deals

Take to the skies with these 5 drones on sale for under $50

On the hunt for some cool tech for under $50? We've rounded up 5 drones under $50 that you can still get before Christmas. These models are great for kids, adults, and anyone just getting started with drones.
Emerging Tech

With this robotic garage, retrieving your car is like using a vending machine

Remembering where we parked our cars can be a real pain. But what if our cars came to find us, rather than the other way around? A new automated robot parking valet system aims to help.
Cars

Best Products of 2018

Our reception desk has so many brown boxes stacked up, it looks like a loading dock. We’re on a first-name basis with the UPS guy. We get new dishwashers more frequently than most people get new shoes. What we’re trying to say is: We…