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Why it’s time to re-think your source of entropy

  • Blog

In the ever-evolving landscape of cybersecurity, the critical role of entropy as a source for cryptographic systems is often understated. Entropy, in the context of cryptography, refers to the randomness collected by a computer system for use in cryptographic algorithms. While this might seem like a technical detail, the quality of entropy significantly impacts the overall security of cryptographic systems. Before delving into the specifics of True Random Number Generators (TRNGs) and Quantum Random Number Generators (QRNGs), it’s important to understand the common source of entropy in most systems: the operating system.

Traditionally, most systems derive their entropy from the operating system (OS). However, this method has notable limitations. The randomness provided by an OS is often not as unpredictable as required for high-security applications. Since it typically gathers entropy from predictable sources like mouse movements or keyboard strokes, there’s a risk that the entropy could be insufficiently random, making cryptographic systems vulnerable to attacks. Furthermore, OS-derived entropy is not always assured; its quality can vary significantly depending on the system’s environment and the OS itself.

As we shift our focus to TRNGs, which have been the standard in generating randomness for encryption keys, their shortcomings become apparent, especially when compared to quantum alternatives. TRNGs are limited in scalability and often struggle to keep up with the increasing demands of modern computing systems. This limitation leads to bottlenecks in cryptographic operations. Moreover, the entropy provided by TRNGs is often limited, and without ‘random proofs’, there’s no reliable way to validate the security of the generated random numbers.

Contrastingly, Quantum Random Number Generators (QRNGs) represent a significant advancement in ensuring cyber resilience. Leveraging the inherent unpredictability of quantum mechanics, QRNGs generate true randomness, which scales effectively with the needs of contemporary cryptographic systems. QRNGs provide a level of entropy that is fundamentally more secure and come with proofs of randomness, offering a higher assurance of security.

The integration of QRNGs into cryptographic systems is a leap towards robust cybersecurity. Initially, QRNGs can be integrated into systems via buses like PCIe, USB, or SPI, offering an upgrade to existing infrastructure. The ultimate goal is their direct integration onto motherboards, ensuring every bit of data processed benefits from the highest level of entropy security.

Cost is a crucial factor in the widespread adoption of QRNGs. We at
Crypta Labs are pioneering in providing affordable QRNG boards without compromising on performance. The non-blocking architecture of these QRNGs ensures a continuous and rapid supply of random numbers, enhancing overall system efficiency and security.

In summary, the reassessment of entropy sources is imperative for robust cybersecurity. The limitations of OS-derived entropy and traditional TRNGs call for a shift towards QRNGs. This transition is not just advisable; it’s essential. QRNGs represent the future of randomness in cryptographic systems, offering scalability, reliable randomness, and robustness against physical and cyber threats. Embracing QRNGs is a critical step towards fortifying our digital world against the evolving array of cyber threats.