First Practical Quantum Random Number Generator Could Revolutionize Internet Security

Lancaster University and Quantum Base have developed a quantum random number generator that can be embedded into any smart device.
Jessica Miley

The first practical quantum random number generator (QRNG) has been created by Quantum Base and Lancaster University, an invention set to revolutionize cybersecurity. The generator will provide 100% provable quantum security for authentication and communication when integrated into microelectronic products. 

The generator known as the Quantum Base QRNG defeats the current problems with standard QRNGs which are often expensive and slow. This latest QRNG can be embedded within any electronic device with no additional cost or complexity and can operate with really high speeds. 

Quantum Base CEO, Phillip Speed said: "We have created a small, low power device that produces pure random numbers. It can be incorporated into any electronic product with little or no incremental cost once volume production is achieved." 

Random numbers are an integral part of the algorithms required for electronic communication. Many current applications use what is known as ‘pseudo’ random numbers, but true security must have 'true' random numbers. The Quantum Base QRNG can be embedded into semiconductor chips such as those found in our smartphones, laptops and other IoT devices like personal assistant devices such as Google Home. 

Generator provides true random numbers

By using the power of quantum mechanics, the generator manifests true random numbers. Security of devices is becoming more and more important as they appear in all sort of places in our lives. 

It is expected the number of smart devices could reach more than 50 billion by 2020. Security of these devices is critical as hacking efforts become increasingly sophisticated at the same time that off-the-shelf IoT devices provide more opportunity for hackers access to private networks. 

There was even an instance recently when confidential data was stolen from a casino via the fish tank thermometer in the lobby. The global bill for cybercrime has been predicted to reach $6 trillion by 2021. 

Professor Rob Young, Director of Lancaster University's Quantum Technology Centre, describes the importance of the invention: “The technology we have created here is exciting not only because it solves an important problem, but it also represents the best possible solution to that problem. Flaws in the way current electronic devices produce random numbers weakens their security and makes them less efficient. Our solution fixes this, but it’s also incredibly small and efficient, which is very important.” 

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The simple semiconductor structure of the generator combined with its low power requirements make this invention a game changer for the future of smart device security. “Our simple electronic device uses the intrinsic uncertainty inherent within quantum mechanics to create a game changing product applicable to a vast array of volume markets such as the Internet of Things and the Industrial Internet of Things where size, cost and power consumption are critical factors that have inhibited the proliferation of quantum random number generators,” adds Speed. 

The generator has been included in the 2018 Royal Society Summer Exhibition. More details about the development of the generator can be found in the journal article published in Nature.

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