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When quantum randomness meets cyber security

by IT on 14-12-2020
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IT research teams are embracing the opportunities of quantum cyber security, as they work towards a network server that can deploy truly random numbers to all research groups at IT.

Among growing demands for data security and encryption technologies in today’s connected world, random number generation remains a critical security element to ensure our safety and trusted communications. 

Randomness, quantitatively measured by entropy, is the measure of uncertainty or disorder within a set of data. The higher the level of unpredictability, the more random the data is and the more valuable it becomes, particularly for cryptographic operations.

To that end, the QuRunner project, led by Nuno Silva (IT/UA), aims to design and integrate a fast, secure, and cost-effective quantum random number generator (QRNG) into IT’s internal network.


Quantum-based technologies rely on QRNGs for securing the communications on telecommunication networks, since these generators have proven to maintain security at the highest possible level.

However, “in typical QRNGs schemes, random numbers are generated slowly and with very expensive equipment” says Nuno Silva.

“With this project, our goal is to explore the quantum uncertainty of the quadrature amplitudes of the vacuum state, so we can use the unpredictability and unrepeatability inherent in quantum mechanics to implement a truly random number generator.

“This technique avoids having to use expensive equipment, such as single-photon detectors, and opens the door to higher generation rates of random numbers, with simple integration with classical technology”. 

The QuRunner project is a joint effort between the Optical Quantum Communications and Technologies Group, at IT in Aveiro, and the Security and Quantum Information Group at IT in Lisbon. Their research is funded by the FCT (Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia) and the MCTES (Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia e Ensino Superior).

The project will implement a QRNG prototype, giving IT researchers acess to truly random number strings which they can use in computer simulations and in classical or quantum cryptography.

The research team will also make “considerable theoretical efforts to model the experimental devices, design efficient randomness extractors, and study new source device-independent protocols for the QRNG”.

As companies increase the digitalization of their business operations and virtual services expand in the COVID-19 era, new validated QRNG services are an important step towards the development of quantum computing technology.