Feeds

Holy Grail of crypto to arrive in three years, say UK boffins

Quantum cryptography taken to new lengths

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

UK boffins have demonstrated unbreakable quantum cryptography over fibre links longer than 100km for the first time.

Researchers at Cambridge-based Toshiba Research Europe say their work paves the way for commercial quantum cryptography systems within three years.

Future development will now be partially funded by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). The focus of the DTI initiative, which also includes the University of Cambridge and Imperial College, London, is to build a quantum cryptography system which is secure from every type of hacking.

Potential users of quantum cryptography include any organisation using IT and communications technology to send, receive and store sensitive information - from banks and retailers to central and local Government organisations.

Dr Andrew Shields, who leads the Toshiba group developing the system, said: "As far as we are aware, this is the first demonstration of quantum cryptography over fibres longer than 100km. These developments show that the technique could be deployed in a wide range of commercial situations within a timeframe of less than three years."

Much of the interest in quantum cryptography stems from the fact that it is fundamentally secure. This contrasts with today's code-based systems which rely on the assumed difficulty of certain mathematical operations. Ultimately, quantum cryptography seeks to deliver a method of communication whose secrecy does not depend upon any assumptions.

Quantum cryptography allows two users on an optical fibre network to form a shared key, the secrecy of which can be guaranteed. This takes advantage of the particle-like nature of light. In quantum cryptography, each transmitted bit is encoded upon a single light particle (or 'photon'). The impossibility of faithfully copying this stream of encoded photons ensures that a hacker can never determine the key without leaving detectable traces of their intervention.

Until now, the major constraint on the appliance of quantum cryptography is that these light particles could be scattered out of the fibre.

In theory, this is not critical as only the tiny fraction of photons that reach the other end are used to form the key. In practice, however, the rate of photons surviving long fibres can be so low that they are masked by the noise in the photon detector.

By developing an ultra-low noise detector, the Toshiba team has been able to demonstrate a system working over much longer fibres than achieved previously.

Professor Michael Pepper, joint MD of Toshiba Research Europe, said: "The advance of semiconductor technology allows us to implement quantum effects which were previously thought to be only theory. One can foresee that this is the beginning of a process which will lead to a revolution in Information processing and transmission."

Toshiba announced it breakthrough at thee global Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics (CLEO) in Baltimore, USA this week. ®

Related Stories

Team demos 'first quantum crypto prototype machine'
Quantum crypto edges closer
Quantum crypto secrets from Japan

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
'Kim Kardashian snaps naked selfies with a BLACKBERRY'. *Twitterati gasps*
More alleged private, nude celeb pics appear online
Home Depot ignored staff warnings of security fail laundry list
'Just use cash', former security staffer warns friends
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
UK.gov lobs another fistful of change at SME infosec nightmares
Senior Lib Dem in 'trying to be relevant' shocker. It's only taxpayers' money, after all
Who.is does the Harlem Shake
Blame it on LOLing XSS terroristas
Snowden, Dotcom, throw bombs into NZ election campaign
Claim of tapped undersea cable refuted by Kiwi PM as Kim claims extradition plot
Freenode IRC users told to change passwords after securo-breach
Miscreants probably got in, you guys know the drill by now
THREE QUARTERS of Android mobes open to web page spy bug
Metasploit module gobbles KitKat SOP slop
BitTorrent's peer-to-peer chat app Bleep goes live as public alpha
A good day for privacy as invisble.im also reveals its approach to untraceable chats
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.