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Quantum Cryptography Hailed to be Unbreakable  (Source: BBC News)
Quantum encryption uses photons to deliver encryption keys

Data security is paramount in today's sensitive business environments. Hackers today can get into networks that store financial data like bank accounts or credit card numbers and make off with millions in stolen property.

Encryption is used on most networks that store this sort of data, but encryption is not unbreakable. A new form of encryption has been introduced at a scientific conference in Vienna. According to BBC News, the new encryption method is called quantum cryptography and it's unbreakable.

A demonstration of the quantum cryptography system was performed on a network connecting six locations around Vienna. The locations were connected using standard fiber optic cable. The quantum cryptography was devised by Charles Bennett of IBM and Gilles Brassard of Montreal University.

The basis for the cryptographic system is described by Brassard, "All quantum security schemes are based on the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, on the fact that you cannot measure quantum information without disturbing it."

He continued telling BBC News, "Because of that, one can have a communications channel between two users on which it's impossible to eavesdrop without creating a disturbance. An eavesdropper would create a mark on it. That was the key idea."

The system sends faint beams of light containing single photons fired a million times per second from which a numerical key can be recovered. The advantage of the system is that if anyone eavesdrops on the communication between nodes the key is disturbed and the node shuts down. At the same time the hacked node shuts down the network is routed to another node to keep it running.

Two different methods are available to send the encryption key in the quantum system. One looks at the direction the photons are polarized and the other looks at the precise timing of the arrival of the photons. Any network using quantum cryptography put into use would have to be able to work with both types of encryption methods.

Dr. Hans Huebel from the Vienna University said, " We are constantly in touch with insurance companies and banks, and they say it's nearly better that they lose 10 million euros than if the system is down for two hours, because that might be more damaging for the bank. So that's what we have to prove, that we have a reliable system that delivers quantum keys for several weeks without interruption, and then they might be more interested."

DailyTech first reported on quantum computers for cryptography in August of 2007.

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RE: Give it another year
By djkrypplephite on 10/9/2008 1:23:16 PM , Rating: 2
I think what these developers fail to realize is the will of hackers to break systems called "unbreakable". There is always a way around it. They're probably just not thinking of it.

RE: Give it another year
By Motoman on 10/9/2008 1:28:42 PM , Rating: 3
...the issue being that in this case, to "break" it would require a fundamental "breaking" of the laws of physics.

So...impossible? Technically, no - but it would mean that we've missed something truly basic about the way the universe works...and in this case, that is pretty hard to believe.

But I'd believe it if someone presented a peer-reviewed technique for breaking it. That's what science is for.

RE: Give it another year
By William Gaatjes on 10/10/2008 6:21:20 AM , Rating: 2
That would be fun news. "Heisenberg principle proved wrong by hacker group !".

But it would also mean progress for the scientific community. Sooner or later someone will discover the Heisenberg principle can be worked around on. I have great hope in it.

RE: Give it another year
By Iger on 10/10/2008 6:40:08 AM , Rating: 2
I love the use of the word "basic" in regard of quantum physics :)

RE: Give it another year
By Oregonian2 on 10/9/2008 1:49:23 PM , Rating: 5
Um... you just hook into data before or after it hits the encryption boxes. Voila! Tapped.

That was hard. Next challenge!


RE: Give it another year
By Muirgheasa on 10/9/08, Rating: 0
RE: Give it another year
By ebakke on 10/9/2008 2:42:15 PM , Rating: 4
DoS isn't a hack - it's a DoS. No information is compromised, it's just unavailable for a period of time.

RE: Give it another year
By ebakke on 10/9/2008 2:41:43 PM , Rating: 3
I wasn't aware that banks provide hackers physical access to their machines.

RE: Give it another year
By Spuke on 10/9/2008 3:15:35 PM , Rating: 3
I wasn't aware that banks provide hackers physical access to their machines.
That's why they're called "hackers". LOL!

RE: Give it another year
By ebakke on 10/9/2008 3:58:48 PM , Rating: 2
Well, you got me there!

"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov
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