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NewsForge: The Problem with Random Number Generators

“It is a commonly accepted fact that computers by themselves
cannot generate truly random numbers, and so most software relies
on pseudo random numbers. This means that encryption and other
applied uses of ‘random’ numbers may not be as secure as users
think. However, it is possible to expand the boundaries of
generating random numbers using a computer. The most common way to
do that is to use indirect input, such as the system clock. Other
methods rely on direct human input.

“Google provides an interesting approach to generating random
numbers through indirect input. Since the Internet is constantly
changing, with Web pages and domains being continuously created,
modified, and deleted, databases such as Google provide an
extremely large dataset from which to seed a random number
generator. In this context, a seed is a number input as a starting
point for the generator’s algorithms…”


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