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£2.8m awarded to improve random number generator security

Posted on 16 June 2020

The University of York and its partners are using quantum physics to improve the security of systems used to generate random numbers.

Data is one of the world’s most valuable commodities and its security is paramount. Most of the world’s cybersecurity infrastructure relies on Random Number Generators (RNGs). Yet there isn’t a process that can assure the numbers generated are unique, which is an essential requirement for security.

Unique 

Quantum Random Number Generators (QRNGs) may be the answer. These are superior given their ability to produce truly random numbers, unique to each device. Professor Tim Spiller, from the Department of Physics and Director of the Quantum Communications Hub, will be co-leading York’s contribution.

He said: “The aim of this particular project is to bring together the expertise and knowledge of industrial and academic partners to develop an assessment process for these improved random number generators based on quantum effects. This will help create a certification process which can provide end-user confidence in the use of these new devices.”

Commercialisation

This major interdisciplinary project, funded as part of the UK government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, will be used to encourage greater commercial and industrial use of QRNGs.

Dr Roger Colbeck, from the Department of Maths and York’s other co-lead, said: “Quantum processes are needed to generate fundamental randomness, making QRNGs a natural prospect for commercialisation. Through this project we will take some of the next steps towards making this happen. The wider goal is also to stimulate similar assurance and standards for other quantum technologies.”

Further information: The consortium is led by the National Physical Laboratory, the UK’s National Metrology Institute. Key partners include leading developers of optical quantum random number generators – Cambridge Quantum Computing, Crypta Labs, KETS Quantum Security, Nu Quantum, Quantum Dice, Toshiba Europe Limited – and ID Quantique. Academic expertise is provided by the University of York and the University of Kent.