Random number generators are the foundation of cryptography -- that's why the NSA secretly sabotaged the RNG standard that the National Institute for Standards and Technology developed.
The Tor Project faces serious, state-level adversaries, including the FBI, and so it needs all the randomness it can get -- randomness that can't be made predictable even if you've compromised the user's computer, even.
The project's breaking new theoretical ground by designing a real-world distributed random number generator that harnesses computers from around the world to collaborate on a random number that none of the individual computers could predict in advance, and that a compromised computer can't sabotage.
The RNG is now completed and is undergoing rigorous testing. It recently underwent its first non-simulated test at the Tor Hackfest in Montreal.
This allowed us to test scenarios that could make the protocol burp and fail in unpredictable ways. For example, we instructed our testing Tor nodes to abort at crucial protocol moments, and come back in the worst time possible ways, just to stress test the system. We had our nodes run ancient Tor versions, perform random chaotic behaviors, disappear and never come back, etc.
This helped us detect various bugs and edge cases. We also confirmed that our system can survive network failures that can happen on the real Internet. All in all, it was a great educational experience! We plan to keep our testing network live, and potentially recruit more people to join it, to test even more features and edge cases!
For what it's worth, here is a picture of the two first historic random values that our Tor test network generated. The number "5" means that 5 Tor nodes contributed randomness in generating the final random value:
Mission: Montreal! (Building the Next Generation of Onion Services)
For decades, it was a commonplace in western business that no one could afford to ignore China: whatever problems a CEO might have with China's human rights record could never outweigh the profits to be had by targeting the growing Chinese middle-class.
A little over a year ago, Bloomberg stunned the world with a report that claimed that Chinese intelligence services had figured out how to put undetectable, rice-grain-sized hardware implants into servers headed for the biggest US cloud and enterprise IT firms, and that when some of the victims discovered this fact, they quietly ripped out […]
How can a single, ill-conceived law wreak havoc in so many ways? It prevents you from making remix videos. It blocks computer security research. It keeps those with print disabilities from reading ebooks. It makes it illegal to repair people's cars. It makes it harder to compete with tech companies by designing interoperable products. It's even been used […]
Still using elbow grease to clean the sinks, tubs and other grimy surfaces around your house? Save your elbows, and some time. If you’ve got a power drill, the RevoClean® 4-in-1 Drill Brush Cleaning Kit will instantly turn it into a professional scrubber that can tackle any stain on any surface. Attach the 4″ nylon […]
Need data storage? Join the club. It may still seem like the wild west out there, and for many companies, it’s a tough choice between security and accessibility. Luckily, there’s a platform that gives you a lot of both: Polar Backup Cloud Storage. Whether you’re a busy private citizen or managing valuable company data, Polar […]
There are a lot of different language apps out there because nobody learns anything the same exact way – especially not something as complex as a new language. For some people, the best way is to dive in and start talking, but that’s easier said than done if you’re not around those natives you aspire […]