Cryptography and security applications make extensive use of random numbers and random bits, particularly for the generation of cryptographic keying material. A key to initiate a cryptographic algorithm needs to be unpredictable and statistically unique,that is, to have at most a negligible chance of repeating the value of a previously selected key. Selecting a key at random ensures that there is no known structure to the key selection process that an adversary might be able to use to determine the key, other than by an exhaustive search.
NIST is in the process of completing the development of approved methods for random bit generation. SP 800-90A specifies approved Deterministic Random Bit Generator (DRBG) mechanisms (i.e., algorithms) for generating random bits, given sufficient entropy in their seeding process. Two additional publications have recently been provided for public comment: SP 800-90B and SP 800-90C. SP 800-90B addresses the entropy sources needed to seed the DRBG mechanisms and includes both health tests and validation tests; SP 800-90C specifies constructions for creating random bit generators from entropy sources and DRBG mechanisms. The public comment period for these documents ends on December 3, 2012.This workshop discussed these documents and their validation by NIST's validation programs. It was expected that the primary focus of the workshop would be on the entropy sources discussed in SP 800-90B.