SK Telecom unveils quantum security chip

  • The chip is the first product from SK Telecom’s recently formed quantum alliance 
  • The Q-HSM chip, developed by SK Telecom and cryptography specialist KCS, generates unpredictable encryptions and integrates post-quantum cryptography
  • The chip aims to prevent hacking through unique physical unclonable-function technology.
  • Q-HSM can be used in multiple products, including IoT devices, drones and CCTV systems 

South Korean telecom giant SK Telecom has unveiled a next-generation quantum cryptography chip, Q-HSM, designed to meet the requirements of future data encryption standards and bolster defences against future cyberattacks.

The chip has been developed in collaboration with Korean hardware-based cryptographic module specialist KCS and is the first product to be launched by SK Telecom’s recently announced quantum alliance (more on that development below). 

According to SK Telecom, the “world-first” chip integrates hardware-based quantum random number generator (QRNG) technology, which creates strong, unpredictable passwords, software-based post-quantum cryptography (PQC) functions and physical duplication protection (PUF) technology. This integration enhances cybersecurity measures by utilising complex mathematical algorithms to preemptively defend against potential quantum attacks. 

For the PQC functionality, SKT developed an algorithm based on the FIPS-203 (CRYSTALS-Kyber) and FIPS-204 (CRYSTALS-Dilithium) standard documents of the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

The Q-HSM chip is designed to be highly versatile, suitable for integration into various devices such as drones, CCTV, home networks, and low-power internet of things (IoT) devices, providing robust protection across multiple sectors. By leveraging quantum random number generation, the chip ensures a high level of security that is resistant to both current and future cyber threats, making it a groundbreaking development in the quest for more secure digital communication.

The Q-HSM chip is set to be commercially launched at the Quantum Korea 2024 event that runs 25-27 June in Ilsan (just north-west of Seoul). 

The chip is the first product to come from SK Telecom’s quantum technology alliance that was announced in March, when the telco joined forces with six other prominent companies – Nokia, SOS Lab, Xgate, Wooriro, KCS, and IDQ Korea – to form the Quantum Alliance. The aim of the strategic collaboration is to develop pioneering quantum solutions and engage in joint marketing and business development.

Now the alliance has been officially named as X Quantum, with the members set to pool their expertise and resources to secure a leading position in both domestic and global markets. For further details, see this announcement (in Korean).

Ha Min-yong, global solutions office manager at SK Telecom, expressed optimism about the launch, noting that with the official naming of the alliance as X Quantum and the launch of the first commercial product, the alliance is now embarking on full-scale activities. 

“X Quantum is the name that represents Korea’s quantum ecosystem… we will continue to introduce new quantum products and solutions together with our member companies that have never been seen before,” he added.

- Joana Bagano, Contributing Editor, TelecomTV

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