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Can Data Security Keep Pace with Quantum Computers?


Computer scientists from Ohio State University, Duke and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory have discovered ways to possibly connect quantum computers and also to keep the data they transmit secure. This development is a milestone in quantum computing. It is also a positive development. By harnessing quantum technologies, the team is able to improve encryption while making it affordable and practical.

As recently as 2014, researchers believed that true quantum encryption would be far too expensive for most organizations. They foresaw a future of tiered security levels, with only government and military organizations capable of securing the hardware that is necessary to run quantum computers and encryption. But with only out-of-the-box equipment, and a single-photon detector, the collaborative team has figured out how to encrypt rapidly transmitted data.

Because the current mode of security is based on encryption keys, hackers are finding ways to exploit weaknesses. Some attackers are able to penetrate systems using backdoors or side channel attacks. Both these techniques manage to intercept security keys while they are being transmitted. Since quantum computers are much faster than other computers, they are able to crack even the hardest encryption codes. This is why researchers are seeking to create secure connections between quantum and other computers.

Quantum keys are more secure than traditionally encrypted keys because they are transmitted via photons. These fast moving light particles transfer a key between users. Even when intercepted they cannot be copied. The researchers from OSU, Duke and Oak Ridge have discovered a way to transmit the photons quickly, using a laser. The single-photon detector, or superconductor, can encode two pieces at once which speeds the transmission and keeps it secure. As this technology becomes available, older forms of encryption may become obsolete. All the more reason to keep your data security updated.

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