What Is Entropy In Cryptography?

What Is Entropy In Cryptography?

In cryptography, entropy refers to the randomness collected by a system for use in algorithms that require random data. A lack of good entropy can leave a cryptosystem vulnerable and unable to encrypt data securely.

If you are familiar with the laws of thermodynamics, you may recognize the second law as dealing with entropy. In the realm of physics, entropy represents the degree of disorder in a system. Because systems tend to degrade over time, thermodynamic energy becomes less available to do mechanical work. In cryptography, entropy has a distinct but similar meaning.

In cryptography, entropy refers to the randomness collected by a system for use in algorithms that require random data. A lack of good entropy can leave a cryptosystem vulnerable and unable to encrypt data securely.

For example, the Qvault app generates random coupon codes from time to time. If the coupon codes weren’t generated with enough randomness, attackers could pre-compute the codes and steal all the gems!

Computers are Deterministic

Deterministic machines are machines that do exactly what we tell them to do.

Every.

Single.

Time.

In mathematics, computer science, and physics, a _**_deterministic system**_ is a system in which no randomness is involved in the development of future states of the system. A deterministic model will thus always produce the same output from a given starting condition or initial state_

Wikipedia

In order to coax a machine into doing something random, we have to introduce a source of random input from outside the machine. Typically operating systems are primarily responsible for supplying sources of entropy to programs.

Linux – A Dive Into Randomness Source Code

The average Linux machine can generate secure random numbers. Because Linux is conveniently open-source, here is a link to random.c, a file responsible for a randomness driver. By taking a look at the comments at the top of the file, we learn:

We must try to  gather "environmental noise" from the computer's environment, which must be hard for outside attackers to observe, and use that to generate random numbers. In a Unix environment, this is best done from inside the kernel.

Sources of randomness from the environment include inter-keyboard timings, inter-interrupt timings from some interrupts, and other events which are both (a) non-deterministic and (b) hard for an outside observer to measure.

cryptography security crypto cryptography devops secops

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