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SK Telecom takes up the quantum security challenge

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SK Telecom believes it has cracked the security conundrum for the ever expanding IoT world with a prototype ultra-small quantum random number generator (QRNG) chip.

Security is one of the biggest speed bumps the new connected world will face, as the more connected ‘things’ there are, the more entry points to a network there will be. With this prototype chip, the team have packed in a entropy source and Deterministic Random Bit Generator (DRBG), which improve cryptography at the device.

“Understanding the importance of data and data security, SK Telecom has focused on developing quantum cryptography technologies to guarantee secure transmission of data in areas including artificial intelligence (AI), IoT and autonomous driving,” said Park Jin-hyo, Head of Network R&D Center of SK Telecom.

“We will continue to work with partners, both home and abroad, to accelerate the popularization of quantum cryptography and strengthen our presence in the global market.”

The team claim the QRNG chip generates truly random numbers, with no currently-detectable pattern, meaning more secure keys can be created for encryption software. To date, manufacturing the chips has not been cost effective, while the chips have not been small enough either. This prototype measures 5mm by 5mm, making it more feasible for widespread use. The price is not known yet, but SK has said it will be the cheapest available.

Most encryption techniques work by hiding the key to read the message within very complex mathematical problems. The difficulty of the problems usually mean it is almost impossible to crack the message, but advances in compute power have made some encryption software more vulnerable.

Quantum computing could be the answer, essentially beating a hackers powerful computer with a more powerful algorithm, though progress has faltered over the last couple of years. Should SK have the answer, it might be quite a breakthrough for the IoT world.

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