Cellular Automata Pseudo-Random Number Generators and Their Resistance to Asynchrony


Cellular Automata (CA) have a long history being employed as pseudo-random number generators (PRNG), especially for cryptographic applications such as keystream generation in stream ciphers. Initially starting from the study of rule 30 of elementary CA, multiple rules where the objects of investigation and were shown to be able to pass most of the rigorous statistical tests used to assess the quality of PRNG. In all cases, the CA employed where of the classical, synchronous kind. This assumes a global clock regulating all CA updates which can be a weakness if an attacker is able to tamper it. Here we study how much asynchrony is necessary to make a CA-based PRNG ineffective. We have found that elementary CA are subdivided into three class: (1) there is a “state transition” where, after a certain level of asynchrony, the CA loses the ability to generate strong random sequences, (2) the randomness of the sequences increases with a limited level of asynchrony, or (3) CA normally unable to be used as PRNG exhibit a much stronger ability to generate random sequences when asynchrony is introduced.

Villa del Grumello, Como, Italy

NOTE: Join talk with Luca Manzoni, who also prepared the slides. See the related conference paper