Data encryption essentially scrambles information to make it unusable, unless you have the virtual keys to unscramble it.
It is a technique that has been used to send secret messages since 600 BC when the Spartans used a wooden rod called a scytale to decipher words inscribed in leather that was wrapped around the stick.
Wrong stick size? Garbled nonsense. Correct scytale? Instant data.
Encryption was often used in times of war and conflict, culminating in the invention of the Enigma cipher machine, which was invented by German engineer Arthur Scherbius in 1918 and used by the German military. It took the invention of the first computer called Colossus to crack the Enigma code between 1943-45.
International Business Machines (IBM) began using encryption via a block cipher in the early 1970s to protect their customers’ data which was adopted by the United States Government as the Data Encryption Standard in 1977 – remaining as the standard until the year 2000.
It was then replaced by the DEA (Data Encryption Algorithm) which boosted the encryption strength.
But with the advent of cloud computing, more and more advanced data encryption methods are being developed every year.
So, how do lava lamps come into it?
The core of effective data encryption is true randomness that cannot be solved or cracked by advanced computing methods.
The problem is computers are rational creations and don’t cope well with generating the chaos that is true randomness.
Computers need something logical to latch onto, in order to create the chaos.
One day, a bright spark at US web-infrastructure and website-security company Cloudflare found just the logical tool of chaos – the lava lamp.
You see, a lava lamp never takes the same shape twice and are an excellent source of random data.
So, from the desk of a Cloudflare employee, came the genesis of modern data encryption.
Today, Cloudflare has a wall of 100 lava lamps all being monitored by cameras with the data fed into computers to create strong encryption algorithms. It is so effective; this wall of lava lamps is now responsible for the encryption of 10 per cent of the entire internet. Amazing.