Random numbers are important in many fields of scientific research and real-life applications, such as fundamental physical research, computer science and the lottery industry. They are used as the foundation in many areas of security, which include encryption, authentication, signing, key wrapping and other cryptographic applications. Hackers can steal or guess keys, an action which is made easier by poor random number generators.
“While the rolling of dice has been essential to games of chance throughout the ages, the importance of random numbers has never been more apparent. Aside from its application in generating random numbers for reliable lotteries and gaming platforms, a truly random number generator will provide impenetrable encryption for communications – be they military transmissions, secure banking, or online purchasing – that underpin the modern connected world,” noted Dr. Sussman.
Most computer systems use a software random number generator (RNG) even though they are less secure, because a dedicated hardware RNG is costly, and bulky. Although software RNGs may be useful in some applications, they fail to provide an adequate security barrier in most applications where true randomness is required.
Hardware random number generator, is a device that generates random numbers from a physical process, rather than a computer program. Hardware random number generators or True Random Number Generator (TRNG) produce sequences of numbers that are not predictable, and therefore provide the greatest security when used to encrypt data.
Cryptography systems tend to rely on “pseudo random-number” generators (PRNGs) that uses deterministic algorithm to produce output sequences of numbers that are nearly random. These are used to create the “keys” that allow individuals to encrypt and decrypt sensitive information such as passwords and bank details.
The security of cryptographic protocols relies on the content of randomness of the keys, i.e. on the difficulty an adversary has to guess the key used to encrypt data. Although these pseudorandom sequences pass statistical pattern tests for randomness, by knowing the algorithm and the conditions used to initialize it, called the “seed”, the output can be predicted. Because the sequence of numbers produced by a PRNG is predictable, data encrypted with pseudorandom numbers is potentially vulnerable to cryptanalysis.
That’s why physicists prefer to use quantum processes to generate random numbers. These are thought to be random in principle and fundamental in nature which is important because it means there cannot be some underlying physical process that might introduce predictability.
The Tohoku University research group of Professor Keiichi Edamatsu and Postdoctoral fellow Naofumi Abe has demonstrated dynamically and statically unpolarized single-photon generation using diamond. This result is expected to play a crucial role in hardware random number generation using single photons (quantum dice or quantum coin toss), quantum cryptography and the testing of fundamental problems in quantum mechanics.
In their paper, published in Scientic Reports, the authors present the first demonstration that single-photon emission from a specially oriented compound defect (a nitrogen vacancy center) in diamond is dynamically and statically unpolarized with intrinsic randomness.
True Random Number Generator (TRNG)
Truly random number generators make measurements on physical systems that are inherently random – such as Shot noise, a quantum mechanical noise source in electronic circuits, a nuclear decay radiation source detected by a Geiger counter attached to a PC. Turbulence is thought to be entirely random so measuring that turbulent effects that the atmosphere has on a laser beam is another method of producing random numbers, albeit a rather slow one and one that could easily be biased by environmental factors.
However, existing measurement techniques tend to be either very expensive or too slow to be of practical use. Securing your mobile phone, for example, needs a generation rate of about 1 kbit/s.
EYL has developed a micro quantum random bit generator by extracting unpredictable randomness which naturally comes from radioactive isotopes inserted into a 5mm device, instead of using optical methods which are commercialized but prohibitively expensive and bulky. Since internally emitted alpha particles in the device are completely random, we can get perfect randomness from natural phenomena.
Using this technology, EYL provides not only USB, PCIe and server type quantum random number generator for security systems, but also it provides complimentary related hardware/software applications. This is the world s first patented technology of its kind, and can be deployed on security systems for diverse purposes with affordable pricing.
SKT Develops World’s First Ultra-Small Quantum Random Number Generator
It is difficult to mass-produce current QRNG due to its expensive price. Also it is not suitable for Smartphones and IoT products due to its size. SK Telecom succeeded in making QRNG as same side as a fingernail and also lowered QRNG’s price.SK Telecom is going to release IoT product that is equipped with chips that optimize performance and stability within this year and is going to expand areas of application of QRNG towards entire IoT fields such as self-driving cars and Smart Meters. If it succeeds in commercializing small chips that can be mass-produced, it will be recorded as the first ever QRNG that can be mass-produced.
“We have implemented ‘QRNG (Quantum Random Number Generator’, which is one of major technologies of quantum information communication, and are planning to produce prototypes in March at the earliest.” said a representative for SK Telecom. It is predicted that QRNG will have huge impact on entirety of ICT (Information Communication Technology) industries as it has better abilities to prevent possibilities of hacking than current coding systems.
SK Telecom invested about $2.13 million (2.5 billion KRW) into IDQ (ID Quantique) that holds major patents for QRNG and has acquired rights to use IDQ’s patents exclusively.
QUANTIS QRNG – delivering true randomness with quantum random number generation
One of the most popular is to send a stream of photons through a beam splitter, which transmits or reflects them with a 50 percent probability. Simply counting the photons that are reflected or transmitted produces a random sequence of 0s and 1s.
That’s exactly how the world’s only commercially available quantum random number generator works. Quantis produces random numbers at a bite rate up to 16Mbps. That’s because single photon detectors cannot count any faster than this.
Recently, physicists have begun to utilize a new technique based on ways photons are generated inside lasers. There are two different ways photons are generated inside lasers. The first is by stimulated emission, which is a predictable process producing photons that all have the same phase. The second is spontaneous emission, an entirely random quantum process. These photons are usually treated as noise and are in any case swamped when the laser is operating at full tilt.
World’s Fastest Quantum Random Number Generator Unveiled in China
The spontaneous emission is dominant when the laser operates at its threshold level, before stimulated emission really takes hold. If it is possible to measure these photons, then it may be possible to exploit their random nature.
You-Qi and co have done exactly that. These guys have created a highly sensitive interferometer that converts fluctuations in the phase of photons into intensity changes. That’s important because intensity changes can be easily measured using conventional photodetectors that work at much higher rates than single photon detectors.
That has allowed the team to measure these random changes and digitize them at a rate of 80 Gbps. This data stream then has to be cleaned up in various ways to remove any biases introduced by the measurement process. But after this, the team is still able to produce random numbers at the rate of 68 Gbps.
“Our demonstration shows that high-speed quantum random number generators are ready for practical usage, say You-Qi and co. “Our quantum random number generator could be a practical approach for some specific applications such as QKD systems with a clock rate of over 10 GHz.”
Quantum random-number generator from a mobile phone
Bruno Sanguinetti and colleagues Anthony Martin, Hugo Zbinden andNicolas Gisin have used an eight-megapixel camera from a Nokia N9 smartphone to create a device that can deliver random numbers at 1.25 Gbit/s.
Colleagues at the University of Geneva in Switzerland, have created a quantum random-number generator (QRNG) that uses low-cost electronic components including a mobile-phone camera. Their device can deliver powerful cryptography and secure credit card transactions using mobile phone only.
The system exploits the fact that the camera is so sensitive that it can be used to count the number of photons that impinge on each of its individual pixels. The light is supplied by a conventional LED, in which electrons and holes combine to create photons. This is a quantum mechanical process and therefore the number of photons produced in a fixed period of time is not fixed, but is random.
The camera and LED are adjusted so that each pixel detects about 400 photons in a short exposure time. The photon numbers of all the camera pixels are combined in an “extractor” algorithm that outputs a sequence of random numbers. In the Swiss experiment, the camera was used to create a 1.25 Gbit/s stream of random numbers.
One worry about any random-number generator is that the numbers could be influenced in a predictable way by non-quantum (classical) effects in the system. This could lead to a measurement bias, for example, which could favour certain numbers over others. If a potential eavesdropper knows everything about the generator, they could in principle predict the classical component of its output. This would make it easier to crack the system.
However, when such biases are factored in, the team reckons that a user would have to generate a mindboggling 10118 random numbers before they would notice a deviation from a perfectly random sequence.
Sanguinetti told physicsworld.com that all of the components of his team’s QRNG could be integrated on a chip that would cost a few dollars and could be easily integrated in portable electronic devices, including mobile phones. “If there is a quantum technology that everyone will soon have, this is it,” he says.
Laing also believes that the technology could be used in quantum cryptography systems, which in principle are unbreakable: “A QRNG can also be a key component for quantum key distribution protocols, where the communicating parties must be careful to choose their measurements in a genuinely random way.”
Researchers from the University of Geneva have developed a self-testing quantum method for generating random numbers
Powerful quantum random number generators are today available commercially. However, one limitation of existing devices is that it is impossible for the user to independently verify that the numbers generated are in fact genuinely random and not, for example, composed of digits of π. The user must trust the device (and so its manufacturer) to function correctly, even after years of use. So, it makes sense to ask if current systems could be improved from this point of view.
A new self-testing random number generators
“We wanted to create a device which can be continuously tested to ensure it functions correctly at all times and thus guarantee that the random numbers generated are reliable” says Nicolas Brunner. To achieve this, the UNIGE physicists have developed a “self-testing” quantum random number generator, which allows the user to verify in real time that the apparatus performs optimally and delivers unbiased random numbers.
“The generator should solve a tasks for which we have calibrated it. If the tasks is solved correctly, the output numbers are guaranteed to be random. If the apparatus does not find the correct solution, randomness is not guaranteed, and the user should then recalibrate the device. This avoids the risk of using numbers with little (or no) randomness for example to generate passwords, which hacker could then crack” professor Hugo Zbinden enthusiastically points out.
Indeed, the new generator allows to measure precisely the quality of the output random numbers. Perfectly random numbers can then be distilled and used for security applications, such as generating passwords which are safe against hacking.
Crypta Labs receives funding to develop true random number generating (QRNG) technology
Crypta Labs has been funded by the Centre for Defence Enterprise (CDE) to develop true random number generating (QRNG) technology. The aim is to develop a working prototype QRNG which will be an easy, cheap and unbreakable encryption solution to a military grade standard.
Crypta Labs has engaged with 2 leading academic groups in the field of quantum mechanics. One group in Singapore has been testing the suitability of different light wavelengths to act as the optimised light source and the sensitivity of various cameras – such as those within a mobile phone – to determine whether the number of photons hitting each pixel can be accurately measured.
The other group from the University of Bristol has independently developed a microchip that includes miniaturised light source and detectors which Crypta Labs is looking to combine with its software.
So far, the company has produced a data processing algorithm to transform raw data from a sensor into random bit stream and has tested this on a sensor module. It will now conduct an in depth analysis of the capabilities and optimisation of sensors to prove raw data produced from sensors are quantum-based. It then aims to finish building a prototype (which it’ll look to miniaturise into a microchip), and integrate the optimised working parameters of sensors with the processing algorithm.