(SPONSORED from Quintessence Labs) The performance and characteristics of random number generators have a strong impact on security. Inferior quality or insufficient quantity of random numbers have the effect of making crypto systems vulnerable, reducing security to well below its designed level. As computing power increases so too will the importance of strong, reliable random number generation, particularly with a growing number of practical applications in quantum computing.
Some of the important parameters to look for in a random number generator are entropy density and throughput. Entropy is a measure of the randomness of the data, while throughput is a measure of the quantity of random delivered. For a given throughput, lower entropy will result in keys that are less random, making them more vulnerable to hacking. Similarly, the throughput for a given entropy density determines how much high quality random can be delivered over a certain time interval. This sets for example the frequency at which keys can be rotated. Some random number generators with seemingly high maximum throughputs and maximum entropy will only deliver those high entropy levels at exceptionally low throughputs.
Methods of random number generation have their strengths and weaknesses, but most approaches struggle to deliver high entropy and high throughput at the same time.
One technique for QRNG is quantum tunneling. Quantum tunneling is a well-known quantum phenomenon where charged particles travel (“tunnel”) through a barrier that classical (or Newtonian) physics predict they shouldn’t be able to cross. Within the QRNG, a voltage is applied to a forward-biased diode junction which serves as the barrier through which some of the charged particles tunnel.
This tunneling within the diode creates random fluctuations in the current flowing through it. Though many particles tunnel through the barrier, the exact number at a given time can’t be predicted, yielding a truly random quantum effect and an ideal source of natural entropy. This effect is measured, then digitized and processed to ultimately generate ultra-high-bandwidth random numbers.
The U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) currently does not have standards that result in certification for random number generators. NIST does have recommendations for random number generators that are described in Special Publications 800-90A (Deterministic Random Bit Generators), 800-90B (Entropy Sources Used for Random Bit Generators) and 800-90C (Recommendation for Random Bit Generator Constructions – Draft).
For information on qStream, the world’s fastest quantum random number generator (QRNG), or our portfolio of quantum-safe crypto solutions and services, visit www.quintessencelabs.com, or follow us on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/company/700055/admin/.
We also invite you to listen to our Founding CTO John Leiseboer, speaking on Quantum Encryption Hardware Evolution, November 1st at 1:00 PM ET.
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