A research team led by University of Toronto Professor Hoi-Kwong Lo has found a new quantum encryption method to foil even the most sophisticated hackers. The discovery is outlined in the latest issue of Physical Review Letters.
Quantum cryptography is, in principle, a foolproof way to prevent hacking. It ensures that any attempt by an eavesdropper to read encoded communication data will lead to disturbances that can be detected by the legitimate users. Therefore, quantum cryptography allows the transmission of an unconditionally secure encryption key between two users, "Alice" and "Bob," in the presence of a potential hacker, "Eve." The encryption key is communicated using light signals and is received using photon detectors. The challenge is that Eve can intercept and manipulate these signals.
"Photon detectors have turned out to be an Achilles' heel for quantum key distribution (QKD), inadvertently opening the door to subtle side-channel attacks, most famously quantum hacking," wrote Dr. Charles Bennett, a research fellow at IBM and the co-inventor of quantum cryptography.
When quantum hacking occurs, light signals subvert the photon detectors, causing them to only see the photons that Eve wants Bob to see. Indeed, earlier research results by Professor Lo and independent work by Dr. Vadim Makarov of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology have shown how a clever quantum hacker can hack commercial QKD systems.
Now, Professor Lo and his team have come up with a simple solution to the untrusted device problem. Their method is called "Measurement Device Independent QKD." While Eve may operate the photon detectors and broadcast measurement results, Bob and Alice no longer have to trust those measurement results. Instead, Bob and Alice can simply verify Eve's honesty by measuring and comparing their own data. The aim is to detect subtle changes that occur when quantum data is manipulated by a third party.
Specifically, in Measurement Device Independent QKD, the two users send their signals to an untrusted relay – "Charlie" ¬– who might possibly be controlled by Eve. Charlie performs a joint measurement on the signals, providing another point of comparison.
"A surprising feature is that Charlie's detectors can be arbitrarily flawed without compromising security," says Professor Lo. "This is because, provided that Alice and Bob's signal preparation processes are correct, they can verify whether Charlie or Eve is trustworthy through the correlations in their own data following any interaction with Charlie/Eve."
A proof-of-concept measurement has already been performed. Professor Lo and his team are now developing a prototype measurement device independent QKD system, which they expect will be ready within five years.
As a result of implementing this new method, quantum cryptography's Achilles' heel in the fight against hackers has been resolved. Perhaps, a quantum jump in data security has now been achieved.
University of Toronto Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering: http://www.engineering.utoronto.ca/home.htm
This press release was posted to serve as a topic for discussion. Please comment below. We try our best to only post press releases that are associated with peer reviewed scientific literature. Critical discussions of the research are appreciated. If you need help finding a link to the original article, please contact us on twitter or via e-mail.
Drones are being used to capture video footage that shows construction progress at the Sacramento Kings’ new stadium in California.
It’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep track of online reading material. That’s why physical print-outs sometimes trump a digital copies
Websites try to suggest everything from your next best friend to your next best shirt. But are these recommendations a help or a hindrance?
A new app called Infltr taps into a smartphone's graphics processor to generate filters on the fly, allowing for the perfect shot in one step
Windows 95, the operating system update that changed the way millions of people interacted with their computers, was released 20 years ago today.
Atmospheric CO2 can be turned into carbon nanofibres for high-tech uses a method that may also hold promise for profitable carbon capture
Atlas, a humanoid robot, can run on natural terrains such as soil and rocks. Here it is seen navigating through woodland and jogging along a nature trail. This promotional film from Atlas’s maker Boston Dynamics, owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet, is narrated by company founder Marc Railbert and formed part of the FAB 11 conference at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Investors see riches in a cryptography-enabled technology called smart contracts–but it could also offer much to criminals.
A California automotive start-up is hoping their prototype supercar will redefine car manufacturing. The sleek race car dubbed 'Blade' didn't come off an assembly line - but out of a 3D printer.
Technology could create -- or stop -- a disaster in the sky