Twin Random Number Generators
For all methods of securing information available today, the strength of key generation and encryption foundations are based on the quality of random numbers.
Simply put, the more random a set of numbers chosen for the key and encryption process, the stronger the foundation it will have. A stronger foundation makes it harder for hackers to break the encrypted data and reveal the contents.
Thus, the more random the numbers used in the encryption process, the harder it is for a hacker to do their job. However, until now most computers have struggled in creating unique random numbers.
This is primarily because computers can not generate true random numbers on their own. They can only generate pretend random numbers, or pseudo-random numbers.
Pseudo-random numbers are created by using computer events to generate randomness; typically events such as user keystrokes on a keyboard or mouse movements are used. Whilst in theory this isn't such a bad way to create randomness, users tend to be very repetitive in their movement of the mouse and the type and speed of keys pressed on the keyboard. This repetition causes the pseudo-random numbers to develop repeatable patterns. Hackers can then use this repetition as a tool to crack the code of encrypted messages.
VIA PadLock eliminates random number repetition as a tool for hackers to use.
How does it work?
The VIA PadLock Security Engine integrates twin quantum based random number generators that produce truly random numbers at a sustained rate of 12 million per second. These random numbers can be used in the process of key generation and encryption to reduce the statistic trends that hackers use to exploit protected information.
NB: Below represents a simplified explanation of the VIA PadLock Security Engine RNG designed for readers with little or no prior knowledge of security techniques. For a more detailed explanation of VIA PadLock Security Engine RNG, please click here or read the VIA PadLock Security Engine Application Notes found here.
It does this by using its own internal random number generators, the VIA PadLock RNGs, that base their randomness on the movement patterns of electrons under certain conditions. Movement patterns in electrons are highly random. In fact, an entire field of physics exists to describe the behavior of electrons, called quantum mechanics.
Quantum mechanics scientists studied these electrons in some detail and discovered that there is no way of predicting how an electron will move. Indeed, just looking at an electron changes the way it moves (in science this is called the uncertainty principle).
This concept when applied to security means that the VIA PadLock Security Engine can output highly random numbers very quickly.
So quick is the VIA PadLock RNG that, depending on level of entropy (amount of randomness) required, generation is up to 12 million truly random numbers per second.
For all computing and especially mobile computing, this speed is an essential part of secure operation.
- Continuous secure wireless network transmissions require good random numbers as their foundation.
- Virtual private networks providing a sustained connection require good random numbers as their first line of defense against hacker techniques.
- Helps to create stronger keys used in hard drive encryption
| Figure 4 illustrates this concept of predictability in random numbers.
Figure 5: Software based random number generators produce statistically predictable random numbers, while the VIA PadLock RNG generates random numbers that are not predictable.
The VIA PadLock RNG uses quantum mechanics to ensure there is no group and repetition of random numbers generated by its engine.
Software based RNGs, however, can not do this because they base the calculations to extract random numbers on events that have varying levels of predictability.