Thursday, May 28, 2009

Computer Hackers R.I.P.: Making Quantum Cryptography Practical


Quantum cryptography, a completely secure means of communication, is much closer to being used practically as researchers from Toshiba and Cambridge University's Cavendish Laboratory have now developed high speed detectors capable of receiving information with much higher key rates, thereby able to receive more information faster.

New research details how quantum communication can be made possible without having to use cryogenic cooling and/or complicated optical setups, making it much more likely to become commercially viable soon.


One of the first practical applications to emerge from advances in the often baffling study of quantum mechanics, quantum cryptography has become the soon-to-be-reached gold standard in secure communications.

Quantum mechanics describes the fundamental nature of matter at the atomic level and offers very intriguing, often counter-intuitive, explanations to help us understand the building blocks that construct the world around us. Quantum cryptography uses the quantum mechanical behaviour of photons, the fundamental particles of light, to enable highly secure transmission of data beyond that achievable by classical encryption.


Using an attenuated (weakened) laser as a light source and a compact detector (semiconductor avalanche photodiodes), the researchers have introduced a decoy protocol for guarding against intruder attacks that would confuse with erroneous information all but the sophisticated, compact detector developed by the researchers.

As the researchers write, "With the present advances, we believe quantum key distribution is now practical for realising high band-width information-theoretically secure communication."

Governments, banks and large businesses who fear the leaking of sensitive information will, no doubt, be watching closely.

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