These Lava Lamps Help Encrypt the Internet

January 12, 2018


Ever wondered what’s encrypting all the data on the internet? Most would guess supercomputers loaded with a complicated algorithm.

In most cases, you’d be right.

But that’s not the case at cybersecurity firm Cloudflare, according to the recent post on Atlas Obscura. If Cloudflare is hosting a site you visit, it’s probably being protected by a wall of lava lamps.

You heard right – lava lamps.

A wall in the lobby features an array of over 100 lava lamps, swirling, bubbling and gurgling as lava lamps are known to do, and those lamps might very well be generating the random code that keeps the web safe.

As the lamps do their thing, a camera on the ceiling captures the random motion and connects the footage to a computer. Its their total randomness that creates the unhackable code.

The reasoning behind using lava lamps is that the lamps produce a more naturally unpredictable sequence, unlike computers that can generate predictable patterns that can be hacked.

The lamps are not hidden in a vault or stored in a clean room – they’re actually on display in Cloudflare’s lobby. Anyone can come see the display – just ask. And the reason people are allowed to interact with lamps just adds to the randomness of the footage captured and sent to the computer, adding another layer of variability.

So the next time you’re in San Francisco, visit the Cloudflare HQ and check out the lava lamps, You’ll be helping to make the internet more secure, in your own groovy way.

• Encryption Lava Lamps [Atlas Obscura]


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