Quantum Hardware Security and Near-term Applications

Hardware security primitives are hardware-based fundamental components and mechanisms used to enhance the security of modern computing systems in general. These primitives provide building blocks for implementing security features and safeguarding against threats to ensure integrity, confidentiality, and availability of information and resources. With the high-speed development of quantum computation and information processing, a huge potential is shown in constructing hardware security primitives with quantum mechanical systems. Meanwhile, addressing potential vulnerabilities from the hardware perspective is becoming increasingly important to ensure the security properties of quantum applications.

The thesis focuses on practical hardware security primitives in quantum analogue, which refer to designing and implementing hardware-based security features with quantum mechanical systems against various threats and attacks. Our research follows two questions: How can quantum mechanical systems enhance the security of existing hardware security primitives? And how can hardware security primitives protect quantum computing systems? We give the answers by studying two different types of hardware security primitives with quantum mechanical systems from constructions to applications: Physical Unclonable Function (PUF) and Trusted Execution Environments (TEE).

We first propose classical-quantum hybrid constructions of PUFs called HPUF and HLPUF. When PUFs exploit physical properties unique to each individual hardware device to generate device-specific keys or identifiers, our constructions incorporate quantum information processing technologies and implement quantum-secure authentication and secure communication protocols with reusable quantum keys. Secondly, inspired by TEEs that achieve isolation properties by hardware mechanisms, we propose the QEnclave construction with quantum mechanical systems. The idea is to provide an isolated and secure execution environment within a larger quantum computing system by utilising secure enclaves/processors to protect sensitive operations from unauthorized access or tampering with minimal trust assumptions. It results in an operationally simple enough QEnclave construction with performing rotations on single qubits. We show that QEnclave enables delegated blind quantum computation on the cloud server with a remote classical user under the security definitions.