BOULDER, Colo.--Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have developed a method for generating numbers guaranteed to be random by quantum mechanics.
Described in the April 12 issue of Nature, the experimental technique surpasses all previous methods for ensuring the unpredictability of its random numbers and may enhance security and trust in cryptographic systems.
That experiment showed conclusively that what Einstein derided as "spooky action at a distance" is real.
Random numbers are used hundreds of billions of times a day to encrypt data in electronic networks.
Running statistical tests can help, but no statistical test on the output alone can absolutely guarantee that the output was unpredictable, especially if an adversary has tampered with the device.
"Our quantum source and protocol is like a fail-safe.