Random Number Generator (was Re: brainstorming on cpunks' eve)

Matthew J Ghio mg5n+ at andrew.cmu.edu
Sun Mar 20 13:17:30 PST 1994

Matt Thomlinson <phantom at u.washington.edu> wrote:

> Other possible net services: random number services, which don't keep
> logs of the numbers it produces -- have it spit a statistically-correct
> random stream each time a port is opened? Would this be that useful?

Well, I don't know if it's useful or not, but for sake of
curiousity/experimentation, I set up a random number server.  Send mail
to mg5n+random at andrew.cmu.edu and it'll spit out 256 bytes of random
data.  :)

The RNG is the same one I use for my remailer.  The random numbers are
generated from (among other things) taking a hash of a listing of the
users who are currently logged-on, so it's impossible to predict what
will come up from one minute to the next.  (Try fingering

wcs at anchor.ho.att.com
 (bill.stewart at pleasantonca.ncr.com +1-510-484-6204) wrote:

> For crypto use that's not very helpful - if the numbers go across
> the net, other people can see them.  But they may be somewhat
> helpful as seed material for your own random number generator,
> along with hashes of your memory, random Ethernet traffic, etc.

Right.  Always crypto-launder random number files before and after
each use.  :-)

Bill Stewart wrote (re timestamps/digital notary):

> There's certainly a need for such services.  You have to be
> careful to avoid stepping on Bellcore's work, since I think it's
> patented, but related services may be practical and profitable.
> You have to decide how much you're willing to trust the
> timestamp that the service generated, as you would for a
> human notary.  With a digital notary, there's a risk someone
> could hose the clock on the notary's machine, get something
> notarized, and reset the clock, so even if the notary's being
> perfectly honest it's not risk-free.

This shouldn't be too hard to do.  Considering many of the remailers
already support PGP, it shouldn't be too much work to modify the current
remailers to take a message, add a date/time, sign it with PGP, and send
it back.

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