The Quantum Internet Could Be Immune To Cyber Attack

We have become used to the current state of the Internet and most users have a general understanding about how things work online. But the Internet is not always secure and the risk of falling victim to cyber attacks is increasing daily, especially for those users not taking adequate precautions.

The quantum computing age is coming and with it a serious threat to encrypted communications. Current cryptography protocols used to secure our data can be swiftly decoded by a quantum computer.

A new type of computer, based on quantum physics rather than standard electronics, could break most modern cryptography. The effect would be to render communications as insecure as if they weren’t encoded at all - meaning that state secrets, medical records and banking systems would all be vulnerable once the quantum computer becomes a reality.

But the power of quantum technologies could also be used against quantum technologies, with the aim of protecting our data against quantum hacking and researchers have now discovered a new quantum computing method that will allow for safer and more secure connections in many applications.

Eindhoven University of Technology is currently setting up a unique testbed to validate this technology in several societal settings, thus paving the way for a fast and unhackable quantum Internet. 

Taking autonomous driving as the first use case, the researchers aim to have the world’s first quantum-secured autonomous driving car ready by next year. Idelfonso Tafur Monroy, TU/e Professor at the Electro-Optical Communication group and the Center for Quantum Materials and Technology Eindhoven (QT/e) recognises the particular threat to systems that require a lot of accurate control, such as autonomous driving. “For example, a hack could trick others into thinking your car is in a different location, slowing down, or changing direction,” he says. “It is even possible that your car is hacked and commandeered by someone external to the vehicle.”

The immense computing power of quantum is especially useful in calculations with many different outcomes: these can be done in one operation at the same time. 

To crack current encryption, a conventional computer takes an unacceptable length of time to test every possible solution. A quantum computer tries them all at once and cracks it in the blink of an eye. In Quantum Key Distribution (QKD), quantum properties of photons such as polarisation state and entanglement can be used to create crypto-graphic keys. These keys can be seen as recipes that tell the recipient of some secret data what measurements of the photons are needed to properly decode and access the data.

The current problem is that, right now, there is no existing infrastructure to determine if a QKD system is actually safe when integrated into existing telecommunication infrastructure. 

Hence, the new testbed will help ascertain if a QKD system is viable and safe for societal use and a number of existing research projects at TU/e are already conducting tests with autonomous driving cars, on the campus and its environments. 

The promise for quantum technology is enormous. But it will require significant development before we reach the potential of a totally secure quantum Internet connecting everyone around the globe.

Eindhoven TU/e:    QuantumXC:    NIST:   American Scientist:    I-HLS:   Investment Monitor:   Vista Insurance:  

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