This tiny chip could revolutionize smartphone and IOT security

The tiny chip generates truly random numbers -- the basis for cryptography

IDG

IDG

Engineers at South Korea's SK Telecom have developed a tiny chip that could help secure communications on a myriad of portable electronics and IOT devices.

The chip is just 5 millimeters square -- smaller than a fingernail -- and is capable of generating mathematically provable random numbers. Such numbers are the basis for highly-secure encryption systems and producing them in such a small package hasn't been possible until now.

The chip, on show at this week's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, could be in sample production as early as March this year and will cost a few dollars once in commercial production, said Sean Kwak, director at SK Telecom's quantum technology lab.

The device works by exploiting something called quantum shot noise, he said. Inside the chip two LEDs produce photons that bounce off the inner walls of the chip and are detected by a CMOS image sensor that's also built inside the chip. The shot noise is a result of that detection and is random in nature.

Random numbers are incredibly important in cryptography because they are used to generate encryption keys. If the numbers are not absolutely random then sophisticated analysis could be used to determine the original number and break the encryption.

The ability to generate truly random numbers inside such a small package could significantly improve security of smartphones, intelligent cars and IOT devices. In the latter, the low cost nature of the products often means developers use quasi-random number generators or even a fixed key that never changes over the life of the device.

SK Telecom has been active in quantum encryption and security systems since 2011 when it formed a lab at its R&D center in Seongnam, near Seoul.

On Monday, the company kicked off a push to develop interoperability standards for quantum encryption systems.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?