Feeds

Quantum attacks worry computer scientists

Today's network admins have it easy

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

Worrying about malicious software may be premature for a technology so young. The first digital electronic computer, ENIAC, went online in 1946 and the first known attacks against computer systems occurred about two decades later. Yet, in all likelihood, such attacks will become a reality, and that's reason enough to worry now, said USC's Lidar.

There is no telling what such an attack might look like. Destroying data or circumventing a calculation on a quantum computer is the easiest course. Attackers could operate a rogue computer on the quantum network or coopt the communications line, he said.

"We deliberately stay away from specifics of malware, such as Trojan horses, et cetera," Lidar said. "So, quantum malware to us just looks like any malicious instruction set sent to an attacker."

The defense proposed by Lidar and Wu is to give each legitimate node on the network a list of times distributed over a long period, during which the quantum computers can exchange information and possibly entangle qubits across the network. All other times, a set of decoy qubits are sending data on the network to mimic legitimate traffic flow. When not connected, the networked qubits transfer data back to a third set of qubits, known as the ancillary, or ancilla, qubits. Those registers are never connected to the network, so quantum computations can be carried out without worry of attack.

"As long as we can keep the local nodes free from malicious intruders and build a heavily fortified castle around them, we can assume the ancilla qubits are malware free," Lidar said.

Lidar and Wu found in a paper published earlier this year (PDF) that the number of network connections can never exceed the ratio of the average time between attacks over the length of time it takes to complete an attack.

In classical computing the result would be a poor tradeoff. Only connecting for one second out of every hundred or thousand would unacceptably slow down the calculation speed of, say, a grid computing system. However, in a quantum computing system, such a slowdown does not appreciably affect the speed gains of the system.

"The protocol shuts down the network for a certain period of time, say 99 per cent," Lidar said. "While that's a factor of 100, it doesn't matter, because it doesn't change the complexity of the problem."

In other words, for a computer that exists in multiple dimensions and uses a form of teleportation in its calculations, taking a hundred, or even a thousand, times longer means little.

This article originally appeared in Security Focus.

Copyright © 2006, SecurityFocus

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More from The Register

next story
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
Four fake Google haxbots hit YOUR WEBSITE every day
Goog the perfect ruse to slip into SEO orfice
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.