A wall of lava lamps, seismic measurements of earthquakes in Chile, Twitter posts, and the Ethereum blockchain are among the sources being used to generate random numbers by a new consortium.
DDoS mitigation and CDN provider Cloudflare is one of the backers of the new League of Entropy: An alliance operating a network of beacons producing random outputs that that can be used by applications that require verifiable randomness.
Cloudflare’s beacon is provided courtesy of its famous ‘LavaRand’ wall: Dozens of lava lamps in the lobby of its San Francisco office that have acted as a secondary source of randomness for the company’s production servers for a number of years.
Cloudflare freely admits to being inspired by Silicon Graphic’s Lavarand, which was patented in 1996 (the patent expired in 2016).
A value can be obtained from the Cloudflare beacon via an HTTP request.
The League of Entropy is based on the open source Drand and comprises eight beacons.
In addition to Cloudflare, it’s supported by Protocol Labs, Random UChile, École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne , Kudelski Security, Nicolas Gailly, and EPFL researchers Philipp Jovanovic and Ludovic Barman.
“Our founding members are contributing their individual high-entropy sources to provide a more random and unpredictable beacon to generate publicly verifiable random values every sixty seconds,” states a blog entry by Cloudflare product manager Dina Kozlov.
“This global network of servers generating randomness ensures that even if a few servers are offline, the beacon continues to produce new numbers by using the remaining online servers.”
Random values can be obtained from leagueofentropy.com. Because the random values are public, they shouldn’t be used for cryptographic keys, but Kozlov noted that private random numbers can be requested from the Drand nodes.
Possible uses for the new service include election auditing and lotteries, Kozlov said.
“The league is open to accepting new members,” Kozlov blog entry states.
“The League of Entropy is out there now, creating the basis for future systems to leverage randomness. Our goal is to increase user trust and provide a central point for obtaining trustworthy public randomness. Come, join us!”