(ZDNet) Amazon’s research scientist Mario Berta put together Rigetti’s and IonQ’s quantum processors, which are both available through the company’s cloud-based quantum computing services, to generate random numbers that are the basis of cryptography keys.
These keys can in turn be used to encrypt critical data, by encoding information into an unreadable mush for anyone but those who are equipped with the appropriate key to decode the message.
Modern cryptography relies on new technologies known as random number generators, which create streams of bits that are used to produce strong cryptography keys.
This is what Berta has now achieved thanks to quantum processors. “Quantum random number generators (QRNGs) hold promise to enhance security for certain use cases,” said Berta in a blog post.
Security experts have not waited for quantum computers to come along to start working on random number generation for cryptography keys.
Berta leveraged a property that is intrinsic to quantum physics by which quantum particles exist in a special quantum state called superposition. In a quantum computer, this means that quantum bits (or qubits) can be a value of zero and one at the same time – but that they collapse to either value as soon as they are measured.
Whether qubits collapse to zero or one, however, is random. This means that, even equipped with complete information about the quantum state, it is impossible to know in advance to which value the qubit will collapse when measured.
A given number of qubits, therefore, can provide a string of bits with an equal number of completely random values. “Unique quantum features thereby allow the creation of freshly generated randomness that provably cannot be known by anyone else in advance,” said Berta.