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Out-of-Band Electromagnetic Injection Attack on a Quantum Random Number Generator

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JournalPhysical Review Applied
DateSubmitted - 18 Sep 2020
DateAccepted/In press - 9 Mar 2021
DatePublished (current) - 27 Apr 2021
Issue number4
Number of pages12
Original languageEnglish


Random number generators underpin the security of current and future cryptographic systems and are therefore a likely target for attackers. Quantum random number generators have been hailed as the ultimate sources of randomness. However, as shown in this work, the susceptibility of the sensitive electronics required to implement such devices poses a serious threat to their security. We present an out-of-band electromagnetic injection attack on a photonic quantum random number generator through which an adversary
can gain full control of the output. In our first experiment, the adversary forces the binary output of the generator to become an alternating string of 1s and 0s, with near 100% success. This attack may be spotted by a vigilant user performing statistical tests on their output strings. We therefore envisage a second more subtle attack in which the adversary forces the output to be a random pattern known to them, thus rendering any protection based on statistical tests ineffective.

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