German researchers have developed a random number generator that uses a computer memory element, a flip-flop, to create an extra layer of randomness. The flip-flop switches randomly between two states of either one or zero. Just before the switch, the flip-flop is in a "metastable state" where its behavior cannot be predicted. After the metastable state, the contents of the memory are completely random. A larger array produces a more random number.
The University of Hagen's Bernhard Fechner and BTC AG's Andre Osterloh's experiments with arrays of flip-flop units found that the extra layer produces a number that is 20 times more random than conventional methods. The researchers say their random number generator can protect systems from third-party snooping, making private and sensitive transactions on the Internet more secure.
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