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Strings of photons are the future of IT encryption

By Julian Worker     May 7, 2009 in Internet
Quantum physics can bring good news to all those who want to conduct totally secure communications over IT networks - particularly financial institutions. Strings of photons are affected when they are observed and this fact can be used in IT encryption.
In a study reported in the February 26, 1998 issue of Nature researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel conducted a highly controlled experiment demonstrating how a beam of photons is affected by the act of being observed. The experiment revealed that the greater the amount of "watching," the greater the observer's influence on what actually takes place.
Since this study was published there has been a rush to incorporate quantum encrypted communications within IT systems. It has proved a very difficult thing to achieve but now a British team of researchers, consisting of Toshiba's Cambridge Research Lab and Cambridge academics, think they have discovered a way to make it accessible to everyone.
In traditional cryptography, the data is encrypted using compex mathematical functions. In quantum encrypted communications a key is sent by beaming a string of photons, representing a code, from source to target. If the target receives what it’s expecting then the data gets unencrypted. However, if the string of photons is interfered with or "watched" then, because of the laws of quantum physics stated above, the stream of photons is changed and so it fails. In other words, with enough photons used in the encryption, data can essentially be made hacker-proof.
The problem has been trying to transmit the data over long distances. With quantum encryption you can get great transfer rates over very short distances, but the rates degrade the further the data is transmitted. Now, in a paper published in the New Journal of Physics, the Cambridge team show that they’ve improved the efficiency of quantum communications so that they can now achieve speeds of 10Mbps to a target 20km away.
More about Cryptography, Quantum physics, Strings photons, Hacker proof systems, Security
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