In an era where data security and privacy are paramount, the development of robust cryptographic systems and secure communication technologies has become a critical necessity. As conventional encryption methods face potential vulnerabilities from the rise of quantum computing, the integration of Quantum Random Number Generator (QRNG) technology emerges as a promising solution. This article explores the transformative potential of QRNG for post-quantum cryptography, mobile and IoT security, and ultra-secure military communications.
Random numbers play a crucial role in various scientific research fields and real-life applications, including fundamental physics, computer science, and the lottery industry. They serve as the foundation for many security applications, such as encryption, authentication, signing, and key wrapping in cryptography.
In cryptography, the one-time pad (OTP) is an encryption technique that relies on the use of a random and secret key. If the key is truly random, kept completely secret, and never reused, the resulting ciphertext becomes impossible to decrypt or break. The strength of an encryption system lies in the unpredictability and randomness of the cryptographic key.
By utilizing quantum random number generators (QRNGs), which harness the inherent randomness of quantum phenomena, organizations can enhance the security of their cryptographic systems.
To ensure robust security in various domains, including military communications, secure banking, and online purchasing, the use of truly random number generators is essential. A truly random number generator provides impenetrable encryption, protecting sensitive information from hackers and unauthorized access. The weakness of random number generators can be exploited by attackers to steal or guess encryption keys, emphasizing the need for reliable and secure random number generation. QRNGs offer unparalleled randomness and unpredictability, making them ideal for generating cryptographic keys that are resistant to attacks. This ensures the confidentiality, integrity, and resilience of sensitive data and communication channels.
In summary, the significance of random number generators extends beyond lotteries and gaming platforms. They form the basis of secure encryption systems and are essential for protecting sensitive information in various domains. Utilizing truly random number generators, such as QRNGs, strengthens the security of cryptographic applications, providing an impenetrable layer of protection against unauthorized access and cyber threats.
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Software Random Number generators
Random numbers can be generated by two approaches, a software approach termed as pseudo random number generator (PRNG) is based on mathematical algorithm and a hardware approach termed as true random number generator (TRNG) that can extract randomness from physical processes. But true randomness is not easy to achieve, and current solutions can lead to predictable results, as in the case of poorly designed mathematical algorithms, or can be biased if they depend on physical devices.
Software random number generators (RNGs) have been widely used due to their convenience and cost-effectiveness. However, they come with certain limitations and security risks. Pseudo random number generators (PRNGs) rely on mathematical algorithms to generate sequences of numbers that appear random. While these algorithms can produce statistically random-looking results, they are deterministic and repeatable. If the underlying algorithm is known, the generated sequence can be predicted, making them vulnerable to attacks.
Software RNGs are susceptible to various security vulnerabilities. Poorly designed algorithms can introduce biases or patterns into the generated numbers, compromising the randomness. Additionally, software RNGs can be vulnerable to backdoors, where malicious actors exploit weaknesses in the implementation to manipulate the generated numbers. Repeatedly using the same seed value in a software RNG can lead to predictable output, which is a significant security concern. Insufficient entropy, which is the measure of randomness in the system, can also compromise the security of the entire system.
Any flaw can have catastrophic results, as when 750,000 national ID cards and e-residency smart cards were compromised in Estonia in 2017.
To address these limitations and enhance security, the use of true random number generators (TRNGs) is recommended. TRNGs extract randomness from physical processes, such as electronic noise or quantum phenomena, providing a source of true randomness. Unlike software RNGs, TRNGs are not deterministic and cannot be easily predicted. They offer a higher level of security and are essential in applications where true randomness is required, such as cryptographic key generation, secure communication protocols, and gambling platforms.
While hardware TRNGs provide enhanced security, they can be costly and bulky, making them less feasible for widespread adoption. As a result, researchers and engineers are exploring techniques to improve the security of software RNGs by incorporating entropy sources from various physical processes, such as mouse movements, keyboard inputs, or network traffic. These approaches aim to enhance the randomness and strengthen the security of software-based random number generation.
In conclusion, software random number generators have limitations and security risks associated with their deterministic nature and potential vulnerabilities. True random number generators offer a higher level of security by extracting randomness from physical processes. While hardware TRNGs provide the best level of security, efforts are being made to enhance the security of software RNGs by incorporating additional entropy sources. Striking a balance between security and practicality is crucial in choosing the appropriate random number generation approach for specific applications.
True Random Number Generator (TRNG) and Quantum Random Generators (QRNG)
True Random Number Generators (TRNGs) and Quantum Random Number Generators (QRNGs) are both methods used to generate random numbers, but they differ in their underlying principles and implementations.
TRNGs generate random numbers by measuring physical processes that are inherently unpredictable and random. Examples include shot noise in electronic circuits, nuclear decay radiation detected by a Geiger counter, or measuring turbulent effects in the atmosphere on a laser beam. These physical processes are considered to be truly random and are not influenced by any underlying deterministic patterns. TRNGs provide a source of randomness that is difficult to predict or reproduce, making them suitable for applications where high-quality random numbers are required.
On the other hand, QRNGs utilize the principles of quantum mechanics to generate random numbers. Quantum processes are inherently random and fundamental in nature, making them a reliable source of randomness. QRNGs can exploit various quantum phenomena, such as photon arrival times, quantum vacuum fluctuations, or laser phase fluctuations, to generate random numbers. Quantum randomness offers unique properties, including inherent unpredictability and a high level of entropy, making QRNGs highly desirable for applications that require strong security and cryptographic protocols.
While TRNGs rely on classical physical processes, QRNGs leverage the principles of quantum mechanics, which can offer even stronger guarantees of randomness. QRNGs have attracted significant attention in fields such as cryptography, secure communication, and gaming, where the need for truly random numbers is critical.
It’s important to note that while both TRNGs and QRNGs offer random number generation, QRNGs are often considered to be more reliable and secure due to their quantum-based randomness. However, implementing QRNGs can be technically challenging and expensive, requiring specialized equipment and expertise. TRNGs, on the other hand, are more readily available and can still provide a sufficient level of randomness for many practical applications.
Traditional cryptographic algorithms, such as RSA and ECC, rely on mathematical problems that can be efficiently solved by quantum computers, rendering them vulnerable to attacks.
Post-quantum cryptography involves developing complex algorithms that can withstand attacks from quantum computers, particularly the powerful Shor’s algorithm. It has gained support from institutions like NIST and the National Security Agency, as it aims to advance encryption methods that can resist the computing power of future quantum machines. These algorithms provide a robust security layer against quantum-based attacks and ensure the confidentiality and integrity of sensitive information.
Post-quantum cryptography aims to develop algorithms resistant to quantum attacks. QRNG plays a crucial role in post-quantum cryptography by providing truly random numbers for generating secure cryptographic keys. These random numbers play a crucial role in encrypting messages and data, providing an unbreakable security layer. With QRNG-based encryption, sensitive data can be protected against both classical and quantum attacks, ensuring long-term security. Additionally, QRNGs form the foundation of Quantum Key Distribution (QKD), a technology that uses quantum principles to securely distribute random keys.
A hybrid approach combines quantum hardware with post-quantum cryptographic algorithms and software. This approach offers a practical and cost-effective solution for deploying secure systems in the post-quantum era.
Quantum eMotion, a Canadian company, exemplifies this hybrid approach by developing a QRNG-based solution that integrates seamlessly with existing technologies. Their portable USB keys or microprocessor chips, embedded with QRNG technology, provide plug-and-play security against cyber threats. This eliminates the need for expensive infrastructure and design architectures associated with traditional Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) implementations.
This eliminates the need for expensive infrastructure and design architectures associated with traditional Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) implementations. This makes hybrid QNRGs a practical and cost-effective solution for deploying secure systems in the post-quantum era.
Hybrid software-based approach
QuSecure has developed a hybrid software-based approach called Quantum Transport Layer Security (QTLS) to provide quantum-resistant encryption for data across the network. Unlike traditional methods that require replacing legacy PKI systems one by one, QuSecure’s approach allows every layer in the network to benefit from their software’s encryption protection.
One key aspect of QuSecure’s system is its compatibility with quantum random number generators (QRNGs). These QRNGs are used to generate genuinely random encryption keys within the software-based application. By incorporating quantum randomness, the generated keys are highly secure and resistant to attacks.
QuSecure’s system boasts a high key generation rate of up to 60,000 keys per second. This fast generation rate reduces latency and handshake time, referring to the time taken to authenticate users at each end of the secure link. The efficient key generation process ensures a smooth and secure communication experience for users.
With its hybrid software-based approach and integration of quantum random number generators, QuSecure aims to provide robust and efficient encryption solutions that are resistant to both classical and quantum attacks. Their system enables widespread encryption protection throughout the network, offering enhanced security without the need for complete infrastructure overhauls.
Mobile and IoT Security:
The proliferation of mobile devices and the Internet of Things (IoT) brings unprecedented connectivity and convenience but also increases the vulnerability of personal and sensitive data. QRNG technology offers a robust solution for enhancing mobile and IoT security. By leveraging the inherent randomness of quantum phenomena, QRNG provides a reliable source of random numbers for authentication protocols, secure key exchange, and encryption algorithms. Integrating QRNG into mobile devices and IoT systems fortifies their security, protecting against data breaches, unauthorized access, and tampering.
Ultra-Secure Military Communications:
Ensuring the confidentiality and integrity of military communications is of utmost importance for national security. QRNG technology offers a game-changing solution for ultra-secure military communications. By utilizing QRNG-based encryption algorithms, military organizations can establish impenetrable communication channels, safeguarding sensitive information from eavesdropping and interception. The unpredictable and random nature of QRNG-generated keys enhances the resilience of military networks against advanced cyber threats and hostile adversaries.
Commercial Quantum random number generators
There are a number of commercial quantum random number generators (QRNGs) available on the market. Some of the companies in Quantum Random Number Generator are BSI, BT, Cambridge Quantum Computing, Crypta Labs, Defense Research and Development Organization, DIEHARD, EITCI Quantum Standards Group, Hudson Institute, ID Quantique, InfiniQuant,
Interoute, JPMorgan Chase, KETS, Mt Pelerin, NetDocuments, NIST, NS&I, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, PokerStars, QRANGE and the EU Quantum Technology Flagship, Qrypt, Quantum Dice, Quantum Numbers Corp., QuintessenceLabs, Quside, Robert Bosch, Samsung
SK Telecom, Sterci, Toshiba Europe, Vsmart, Westpac Bank
Here are a few examples:
Quantum Dice is commercializing the world’s first compact and completely embedded, self-certified quantum random number generator (QRNG) to provide quantum security for any encryption system. Our unique technology assures the end-user of the reliability of the entropy output, even if the QRNG device itself was physically compromised. It ensures a cryptographically secure source of randomness whilst also protecting the QRNG device against external influences. This assurance is crucial when the random numbers are to be used to encrypt highly sensitive data or for research requiring the most precise results.
ID Quantique Quantis: The Quantis is a QRNG that uses the randomness of light to generate random numbers. It is one of the most popular QRNGs on the market and is used by a number of companies and organizations, including Google, NASA, and the European Space Agency.
Qubitekk QRNG-1000: The QRNG-1000 is a QRNG that uses the randomness of photons to generate random numbers. It is a high-speed QRNG that can generate up to 1000 bits of random data per second.
SwissQuantum SQ200: The SQ200 is a QRNG that uses the randomness of photons to generate random numbers. It is a compact and portable QRNG that can be easily integrated into a variety of systems.
EYL has developed a micro quantum random bit generator that utilizes radioactive isotopes to extract unpredictable randomness. This approach provides a cost-effective and compact alternative to optical methods for generating random numbers. By harnessing the randomness of internally emitted alpha particles, EYL’s device offers perfect randomness derived from natural phenomena.
EYL offers a range of products based on this technology, including USB, PCIe, and server-type quantum random number generators for security systems. Additionally, they provide complementary hardware and software applications. Their patented technology is the world’s first of its kind, enabling affordable deployment of quantum random number generation for various security purposes.
QuintessenceLabs qStream™ QRNG quantum number generator reaches speed of 1Gbits/second
QuintessenceLabs has developed qStream™, a true quantum random number generator (QRNG) that can generate encryption keys with full entropy. The qStream QRNG utilizes a quantum source, which is inherently unpredictable, to provide high-quality random numbers for commercial applications. With a speed of 1 Gbit/sec, it is the world’s fastest commercial true random number generator, catering to the need for high-throughput, quality random numbers in enterprise, cloud, and shared environments.
The first generation of qStream used lasers as the quantum source, but QuintessenceLabs later transitioned to leveraging quantum tunnelling in tunnel diodes. This approach enables the generation of full-entropy random numbers at the same rate as the first generation, but in a more compact and cost-effective manner. By utilizing the quantum property of quantum tunnelling, the qStream QRNG can measure and process the resulting random fluctuations in current flow, ensuring the generation of high-quality random numbers.
The qStream QRNG has various applications, including generating cryptographic keys, deterministic RNG seeding, initialization vectors, nonces, random challenges, authentication, and DSA signing. It can also be used for services such as Entropy as a Service (EaaS), simulations, modeling, and computer gaming.
Chinese Scientists develop World’s fastest real-time quantum random number generator with a photonic integrated chip, reported in June 2021
Chinese scientists have developed the world’s fastest real-time quantum random number generator (QRNG) using a photonic integrated chip. The device combines a state-of-the-art photonic integrated chip with optimized real-time postprocessing to extract randomness from a quantum entropy source. By integrating components within a chip, the device overcomes technical challenges and achieves high-frequency response performance beyond expectations.
The chip incorporates indium-germanium-arsenide photodiodes and a transimpedance amplifier, along with couplers and attenuators, to detect signals from the quantum entropy source. The detected signals are then processed by a field programmable gate array to extract truly random numbers, achieving a record-breaking generation rate of nearly 19 gigabits per second. The compact size of the chip, measuring only 15.6 by 18.0 millimeters, makes it significantly smaller than current QRNG modules or instruments. The random numbers generated by the device can be transmitted to computers via a fiber optic cable, enabling a wide range of applications.
Lancaster University’s quantum random number generator that can be embedded into any smart device.
Quantum Base and Lancaster University have developed a practical quantum random number generator (QRNG) that can be embedded into any smart device. The Quantum Base QRNG provides 100% provable quantum security for authentication and communication, offering a solution to the limitations of standard QRNGs that are often expensive and slow. The new QRNG can operate at high speeds, has no additional cost or complexity for integration, and is small and efficient. By utilizing the intrinsic uncertainty of subatomic particles, the QRNG ensures unbreakable randomness. The technology has potential applications in various sectors, such as the Internet of Things and the Industrial Internet of Things, where size, cost, and power consumption are critical factors. The invention is expected to revolutionize cybersecurity and contribute to securing many industries in the future.
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 QRNG developed by China measure the fluctuations in the phase of photons
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.”
DRDO and QuLabs develops Quantum Random Number Generator (QRNG) reported in 2020
The DRDO Young Scientist Laboratory for Quantum Technologies (DYSL-QT) in Mumbai, India, has developed a Quantum Random Number Generator (QRNG) based on a fiber optic branch path. The QRNG detects random quantum events and converts them into binary digits, utilizing the inherent potential of quantum mechanics to provide true randomness. The system developed by DYSL-QT has passed global randomness testing standards and achieved a speed of around 150 kbps after post-processing.
In a separate development in 2020, QuNu Labs Pvt Ltd. in Bangalore, India, generated high-quality quantum random numbers using a weak coherent source at the telecommunication wavelength. Their QRNG was based on the principle of time of arrival (ToA) of photons, utilizing InGaAs detectors for precise time measurement. This implementation enabled the generation of 16 random bits per arrival time, which is currently the highest reported precision.
SKT Develops World’s First Ultra-Small Quantum Random Number Generator
SK Telecom, a South Korean telecommunications company, has developed the world’s first ultra-small Quantum Random Number Generator (QRNG). The QRNG is the size of a fingernail and has been made more affordable, addressing the challenges of mass production and suitability for smartphones and IoT devices. SK Telecom plans to release IoT products equipped with optimized QRNG chips within the year, expanding its applications to various IoT fields such as self-driving cars and Smart Meters. If successful, it will be the first mass-produced QRNG.
Low cost QRNG that uses photon counting of mobile phone camera
Researchers at the University of Geneva have developed a low-cost Quantum Random Number Generator (QRNG) that utilizes the camera of a mobile phone. By counting the number of photons detected by individual pixels of the camera, the device can generate random numbers at a rate of 1.25 Gbit/s. The camera captures photons emitted by a conventional LED, and an algorithm combines the photon counts from each pixel to produce a sequence of random numbers.
The researchers addressed concerns about potential biases in the generated numbers, concluding that it would require an astronomically large number of random numbers before any deviation from true randomness would become noticeable. The team envisions integrating all components of the QRNG onto a low-cost chip, making it easily deployable in portable electronic devices such as mobile phones. This technology has potential applications in secure communication and quantum cryptography systems, ensuring genuinely random measurements for unbreakable encryption protocols.
Researchers from the University of Geneva have developed a self-testing quantum method for generating random numbers
Researchers from the University of Geneva have developed a self-testing quantum method for generating random numbers. Existing quantum random number generators lack the ability for users to independently verify the randomness of the generated numbers. To address this limitation, the researchers created a “self-testing” quantum random number generator that allows real-time verification of the device’s performance and the reliability of the generated random numbers. By solving specific tasks and verifying the correct solutions, the generator ensures the output numbers are genuinely random. This eliminates the risk of using non-random numbers for sensitive applications like password generation, which could be susceptible to hacking. The new generator provides a means to measure the quality of random numbers and offers enhanced security for various applications.
Researchers at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) have developed a quantum mechanical random number generator that could be integrated into mobile phones to provide quantum encryption for communication protection against hacking.
The spin-out company Alea Quantum Technologies, founded by DTU, has created a simple and ultrafast random number generator that can support encryption of 4 gigabytes per second. The generator, based on a laser diode and a detector, utilizes measurements of vacuum fluctuations of laser light to produce random numbers. The device has been developed into a prototype and will be tested by Quantum Telecommunication Italy. The EU has granted funding for further development, and the next step is to integrate the generator into a chip on a micrometer scale. Alea Quantum Technologies aims to sell the chip version to companies interested in testing it in their encryption systems. The company is also developing its own full encryption solution. Standardization and certification for quantum technologies are crucial for their integration into commercial communication systems, and efforts are underway to establish international standards. The mathematical proofs provided by Alea Quantum Technologies currently guarantee the security of their technology.
Future Directions and Challenges:
While QRNG technology holds great promise, there are still challenges to overcome. Improving the speed, efficiency, and scalability of QRNG devices is crucial for practical implementations across various domains. Continued research and development efforts are necessary to address these technical barriers and ensure seamless integration of QRNG technology into existing infrastructure. Standardization and certification processes are also vital for establishing trust and verifying the security of QRNG implementations.
Quantum Random Number Generator (QRNG) technology represents a groundbreaking advancement in securing the future of cryptography, mobile and IoT security, and ultra-secure military communications. As quantum computing continues to evolve, integrating QRNG into cryptographic systems becomes imperative for ensuring long-term security. By harnessing the inherent randomness of quantum phenomena, QRNG empowers organizations to protect sensitive data, fortify their networks, and establish impenetrable communication channels. Embracing QRNG technology paves the way for a secure and resilient digital future.