Quantum mechanics can create devices to generate truly random numbers. This will make it impossible to crack login codes at banks.
According to developer Quantum Base, the device is nearly ready for mass production. In December last year, Quantum Base published an article together with the British Lancaster University about a method of retrieving random numbers from the tunnel effect that occurs in a diode (a one-way conductor of current).
The tunnel effect sometimes results in electric particles passing straight through the so-called potential barrier. This occurs randomly, which led the quantum researchers to think that such random action could be used to generate numbers.
These numbers are then truly unpredictable and therefore completely random. This could be useful in all kinds of cyber security situations. Examples include the randomly generated codes deployed by banks for Internet banking. The code you receive to confirm a transaction is generated by a small device (like the ones shown in the photo above) or by an algorithm. Until now, these codes could be cracked by criminals if they gained access to the underlying algorithms generating the numbers. Or if they knew how the device generating the semi-random numbers worked.
In the case of the quantum device, this is impossible as tunnelling is a fundamentally unpredictable phenomenon. The laws of physics will ensure that thieves cannot hack this device. At least until a true quantum computer is created that can make calculations so quickly that it can crack any current form of encryption. But that could take decades, while this device is currently already approaching market introduction.
Of course it is already possible to generate numbers randomly enough to offer sufficient security. However, what makes the quantum diode so useful according to its developers, is the fact that it easily fits on a semiconductor. And it can therefore be quickly and simply integrated on a chip.
In turn, this makes mass production simple and quickly upscalable. There would seem to be a market for the quantum generator, now that more and more devices can make use of a random number generator for security purposes. Thanks to the simplicity with which it can be integrated in a device, the makers hope that telephones, laptops and the Internet of Things will soon be fitted with a truly random number generator.
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