Trivia

Hard

Cloudflare Uses Which Of These Items To Generate Random Cryptographic Data?

Lava Lamps
Moonbeams
Rock Candy
Hamsters
A view of Cloudflare's wall of lava lamps in San Francisco via a ceiling camera.
Cloudflare

Answer: Lava Lamps

Cloudflare, the U.S.-based company that specializes in content delivery networks, Distributed Denial of Service mitigation, Internet security services, and other internet-related services, has a very vested interest in providing top level security for the clients they work with and their own infrastructure.

Part of that security relies on using random data to generate secure encryption keys. As any computer scientist can tell you, computers themselves are not so great at generating truly random numbers, but that the world around us is pretty fantastic at it. Cloudflare has harnessed that fact in a rather clever and eye-catching way. In the lobby of their San Francisco office, there is a giant wall of lava lamps. The lamps aren’t there just for a hip Silicon Valley style aesthetic though (although they certainly accomplish that).

The lamps are there to provide a massive, constantly changing source of real world random data. All day, every day, the security cameras trained on the lava lamps are using the constantly shifting positions of the hundreds of blobs of molten wax “lava” to generate random data sets. The entire process is pretty fascinating and if you’d enjoy taking a break to read about the ins and outs of it, you can read about the details of their “LavaRand” setup here.

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