Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New method of producing random numbers could improve cybersecurity

17.05.2016

With an advance that one cryptography expert called a "masterpiece," University of Texas at Austin computer scientists have developed a new method for producing truly random numbers, a breakthrough that could be used to encrypt data, make electronic voting more secure, conduct statistically significant polls and more accurately simulate complex systems such as Earth's climate.

The new method creates truly random numbers with less computational effort than other methods, which could facilitate significantly higher levels of security for everything from consumer credit card transactions to military communications.


An important application for random numbers is in generating keys for data encryption that are hard for hackers to crack.

Credit: James Bowe, via Create Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Computer science professor David Zuckerman and graduate student Eshan Chattopadhyay will present research about their method in June at the annual Symposium on Theory of Computing (STOC), the Association for Computing Machinery's premier theoretical computer science conference.

An invitation to present at the conference is based on a rigorous peer review process to evaluate the work's correctness and significance. Their paper will be one of three receiving the STOC Best Paper Award.

"This is a problem I've come back to over and over again for more than 20 years," says Zuckerman. "I'm thrilled to have solved it."

Chattopadhyay and Zuckerman publicly released a draft paper describing their method for making random numbers in an online forum last year. In a field more accustomed to small, incremental improvements, the computer science community hailed the method, suggesting that, compared with earlier methods, this one is light years ahead. Oded Goldreich, a professor of computer science at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, commented that even if it had only been a moderate improvement over existing methods, it would have justified a "night-long party."

"When I heard about it, I couldn't sleep," says Yael Kalai, a senior researcher working in cryptography at Microsoft Research New England who has also worked on randomness extraction. "I was so excited. I couldn't believe it. I ran to the (online) archive to look at the paper. It's really a masterpiece."

The new method takes two weakly random sequences of numbers and turns them into one sequence of truly random numbers. Weakly random sequences, such as air temperatures and stock market prices sampled over time, harbor predictable patterns. Truly random sequences have nothing predictable about them, like a coin toss.

The new research seems to defy that old adage in computer programming, "Garbage in, garbage out." In fact, it's the latest, most powerful addition to a class of methods that Zuckerman pioneered in the 1990s called randomness extractors.

Previous versions of randomness extractors were less practical because they either required that one of the two source sequences be truly random (which presents a chicken or the egg problem) or that both source sequences be close to truly random. This new method sidesteps both of those restrictions and allows the use of two sequences that are only weakly random.

An important application for random numbers is in generating keys for data encryption that are hard for hackers to crack. Data encryption is critical for making secure credit card purchases and bank transactions, keeping personal medical data private and shielding military communications from enemies, among many practical applications.

Zuckerman says that although there are already methods for producing high-quality random numbers, they are very computationally demanding. His method produces higher quality randomness with less effort.

"One common way that encryption is misused is by not using high-quality randomness," says Zuckerman. "So in that sense, by making it easier to get high-quality randomness, our methods could improve security."

Their paper shows how to generate only one truly random number -- akin to one coin toss -- but Zuckerman's former student Xin Li has already demonstrated how to expand it to create sequences of many more random numbers.

The website where Zuckerman and Chattopadhyay posted their draft last summer, called the Electronic Colloquium on Computational Complexity, allows researchers to share their work and receive feedback before publishing final versions in journals or at conferences. Computer scientists and mathematicians have been carefully reviewing the article, providing suggestions and even extending the method to make it more powerful.

Media Contact

Marc Airhart
mairhart@austin.utexas.edu
512-232-1066

 @UTAustin

http://www.utexas.edu 

Marc Airhart | EurekAlert!

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions
12.12.2018 | Universität Zürich

nachricht NIST's antenna evaluation method could help boost 5G network capacity and cut costs
11.12.2018 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.

Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...

Im Focus: An energy-efficient way to stay warm: Sew high-tech heating patches to your clothes

Personal patches could reduce energy waste in buildings, Rutgers-led study says

What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...

Im Focus: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

Im Focus: Topological material switched off and on for the first time

Key advance for future topological transistors

Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

14.12.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Tangled magnetic fields power cosmic particle accelerators

14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

In search of missing worlds, Hubble finds a fast evaporating exoplanet

14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>