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Quantum Mechanics: The Answer to Cybersecurity?

Quantum Mechanics: The Answer to Cybersecurity?

The discovery that the NSA is collecting our online data has led some to say there’s no such thing as privacy any more. Many credit card companies, government agencies, banks and others have been hacked: How “secure” and “protected” is anything stored online or digitally?

Scientists are seeking to devise new technologies to protect data securely. A team from the Australian National University and Quintessence Labs is using quantum mechanics to create what could be “the most powerful and impenetrable security method ever conceived.”

Quantum cryptography could prevent hacking because such a security system relying on quantum mechanics could destroy or change messages at the same time as hackers are trying to break into them, as ABC says. Hackers can now intercept messages and data or destroy or alter these without the sender knowing. In quantum cryptography, the very act of hacking would destroy the data at that very moment.

At least, that’s how quantum cryptography would work in theory. The challenge is to build a computer that could perform such operations. Scientists at Australia’s University of New South Wales have been working on developing a silicon chip with quantum memory; this involves putting a single phosphorous atom onto a regular silicon chip. Through this process, scientists say that they have been able to read and write information on the nucleus of a single atom.

While conventional silicon chips control electronic current, quantum chips “manipulate particles of light, photons,” to perform what could be vast quantities of calculations, even trillions of equations at a time. Quantum chips can therefore store and process a vast amount of information. As ABC comments, ”to give an idea of scale, a computer with 300 quantum bits is thought to be able to contain a level of classical information equivalent to all the elementary particles of the universe.” A computer with such processing power could “decrypt today’s most elaborate coding with ease.”

Quantum mechanics are already being used to create secure communication via quantum key distribution. In this, two separate parties  ”produce a shared random secret key known only to them”; this key can be used to both encrypt and decrypt messages.

The use of quantum computers to break widely-used security systems such as the scientists in Australia are working on remains hypothetical for now. As what some are calling “Prism Data-Gate” has shown, there is a huge need for new and better types of online security, especially in view of our increasing reliance on “the cloud” to store all types of personal and other data.

While civil liberties advocatespoliticians and technology companies are sorting through how extensive the NSA’s surveillance of users’ data has been, the average user of the Internet is simply trying to figure out how much about themselves to post and store online. Quantum crytography suggests there are ways to make the online communications and interactions more secure. But what about when hackers figure out how to hack these?

 

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81 comments

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10:36AM PDT on Jun 28, 2013

Why do people 'blame the government' for having access to data that private communication companies collected?And if news reports get their stories wrong, the Government again gets the blame for 'doing wrong'.There's a lot of people, and private companies out there that have no personal integrity or values, yet when 'the government' works to catch the theives, it's always 'government interference into the private secter'. Don't people ever consider that just MAYBE all this 'don't trust the government' in general stuff is propaganda? The STRUCTURE of government is different than some of the criminal minded,ignorant, phonies in government. Please, make that difference obvious before you give a blanket judgement.

4:47AM PDT on Jun 27, 2013

Thanks for sharing.

10:32PM PDT on Jun 26, 2013

Fascinating and intriguing but it can also often difficult to fully trust various governments.

6:38PM PDT on Jun 26, 2013

thanks

2:03AM PDT on Jun 26, 2013

thank you for sharing this important article

10:39PM PDT on Jun 25, 2013

I read somewhere that the Swiss are already using this so that voting can't be fooled around with. If the SWISS can do so can we.

10:04AM PDT on Jun 25, 2013

An Added note about Quantum Mechanics. A. IT SHOULD NOT BE ADVERTISED OR BE MADE PUBLIC!! if you take into consideration that our government has been "striving" for peaceful relations with the Nigerian leadership, Many in Nigeria are turning around and biting the hand that is feeding them!
People are not aware of the fact that Nigerian Cyber King Pins run money laundering rings that facilitate Psychological Strategic Teams for conning people out of MILLIONS OF DOLLARS ONLINE! There are Americans who have lost their lives upon communicating with the EFCC, right down to traveling to Nigeria to attempt to get their money back through an online scam! Scammers are going so far as to download the pictures of deceast U.S. military soldiers, (claiming to still be alive) scamming lonely women into false relationships, and then conning them out of money. They are also downloading pictures from an international modeling agency called "Focus Hawaii," pulling the same stunt, as well as using the pictures for falsified passport pictures. Quantum mechanics?? YOU BET WE NEED IT!!

9:06AM PDT on Jun 25, 2013

thank you ...

9:00AM PDT on Jun 25, 2013

Personally, I think Quantum Mechanics is a very necessary security measure that should have been put in place YEARS ago!
If you go online and research the world wide statistics regarding online scamming, especially through Online dating sites, The amount of people world wide, who are loosing their whole life savings IS STAGGERING!!! Dating sites WILL NOT COMPLY with the FBI regarding 419 Nigerian scammers and con artists due their security policies. Between this problem, online hacking, the growing banking ATM thefts and POS check out scanning machine thefts, Quantum mechanics needs to be active to detec and deter the many forms of "Cyber" and Digital crime!

8:53AM PDT on Jun 25, 2013

Phillipa and Lawrence and others here who pose a big doubt on how this (or any other leap in digital communication) would be used by the Govt are, in my opinion, quite right. As long as power struggles over profit (not the needs of the people BUT profit) is the base for production, this will be a huge part of humankind history and may be, sadly, a leading reason for our species demise. Before getting a grip on economics, people need appropriate knowledge of their own country's history. Just for a small example, among numerous ones, it's alarming people are appalled at USA's concentration camps and illegal jails such as Abu Gharib and Guantanano, as though they were a new development in USA's history. Doesn't Manzanar ring a bell? Good Grief!

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