Cloudflare Now Uses A Wall Of Lava Lamps To Encrypt Data


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(Source: Interesting Engineering)
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Lava lamps might not be dead after all. Cloudflare, a San-Francisco based web performance and security company is using a hundred of these lava lamps to generate a code that is not only unique and difficult to predict but keeps the hackers at bay.

The plan is to use the technique to support large, yet finite, work of random number generation carried out by most computers. It shows results of a 10% encryption rate of the internet passing through the targeted sites. These sites include Fitbit, OkCupid, and Uber among others.

Cloudflare’s Head of Cryptology Nick Sullivan shared the details about the process: “We videotape these lava lamps, take these pictures and turn it into a stream of random unpredictable byte. This is what we use to create the keys that encrypt the data that passes through our network. This is not just a stunt; it’s feeding into our real systems.” 

Cloudflare believes that these lava lamps can be used as an alternative to traditional algorithm-generated code. They provide the perfect randomness that is required in cryptography. They said, “Obtaining true random values is usually expensive and slow, so using them directly in cryptographic algorithms is impractical. Instead, we use pseudorandomness. Pseudorandomness is generated through the use of a deterministic algorithm that takes as input some other random value called a seed and produces a larger amount of random output.”

In its blog, the company wrote, “The flow of the ‘lava’ in a lava lamp is very unpredictable, and so the entropy in those lamps is incredibly high. Even if we conservatively assume that the camera has a resolution of 100×100 pixels (of course it’s actually much higher) and that an attacker can guess the value of any pixel of that image to within one bit of precision (e.g., they know that a particular pixel has a red value of either 123 or 124, but they aren’t sure which it is), then the total amount of entropy produced by the image is 100x100x3 = 30,000 bits (the x3 is because each pixel comprises three values – a red, a green, and a blue channel).”

Lava lamps used to be found in a great number of households but are not seen much of late. Cloudflare has secured their future for the time being at least. You can see it in the video below:

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