Good cryptography requires good random numbers. This paper evaluates the hardware-based Intel Random Number Generator (RNG) for use in cryptographic applications.
Almost all cryptographic protocols require the generation and use of secret values that must be unknown to attackers. For example, random number generators are required to generate public/private keypairs for asymmetric (public key) algorithms including RSA, DSA, and Diffie-Hellman. Keys for symmetric and hybrid cryptosystems are also generated randomly. RNGs are also used to create challenges, nonces (salts), padding bytes, and blinding values. The one time pad – the only provably-secure encryption system – uses as much key material as ciphertext and requires that the keystream be generated from a truly random process.
Because security protocols rely on the unpredictability of the keys they use, random number generators for cryptographic applications must meet stringent requirements. The most important is that attackers, including those who know the RNG design, must not be able to make any useful predictions about the RNG outputs. In particular, the apparent entropy of the RNG output should be as close as possible to the bit length.