• A quantum leap for quantum communication

    Quantum communication, which ensures absolute data security, is one of the most advanced branches of the “second quantum revolution.” In quantum communication, the participating parties can detect any attempt at eavesdropping by resorting to the fundamental principle of quantum mechanics — a measurement affects the measured quantity. Thus, the mere existence of an eavesdropper can be detected by identifying the traces that his measurements of the communication channel leave behind. The major drawback of quantum communication today is the slow speed of data transfer, which is limited by the speed at which the parties can perform quantum measurements. Researchers have devised a method that overcomes this speed limit, and enables an increase in the rate of data transfer by more than 5 orders of magnitude.

  • Record-breaking efficiency for secure quantum memory storage

    Researchers have broken through a key barrier in quantum memory performance. Their work has enabled the first secure storage and retrieval of quantum bits. The researchers have more than doubled the efficiency of optical qubit storage—from 30 percent to close to 70 percent—making secure storage and retrieval possible. Quantum memory is essential for future quantum networks. The ability to synchronize quantum bits has applications in long-distance quantum communication protocols or computing algorithms. With efficiency at well over 50 percent, quantum storage now enables protocol security.

  • Novel solution to better secure voice over internet communication

    Researchers have developed a novel method to better protect Crypto Phones from eavesdropping and other forms of man-in-the-middle attacks. Crypto Phones consist of smartphone apps, mobile devices, personal computer or web-based Voice over Internet Protocol applications that use end-to-end encryption to ensure that only the user and the person they are communicating with can read what is sent. In order to secure what is being communicated, Crypto Phones require users to perform authentication tasks.

  • Making network-connected systems less vulnerable

    The rise of network-connected systems that are becoming embedded seemingly everywhere–from industrial control systems to aircraft avionics–is opening up a host of rich technical capabilities in deployed systems. Even so, as the collective technology project underlying this massive deployment of connectivity unfolds, more consumer, industrial, and military players are turning to inexpensive, commodity off-the-shelf (COTS) devices with general-purpose designs applicable for a range of functionalities and deployment options. While less costly and more flexible, commodity components are inherently less secure than the single-purpose, custom devices they are replacing. DARPA says it trains its sights on the expansive attack surface of commodity off-the-shelf devices.

  • Developing a secure, un-hackable net for quantum devices

    To date, communicating via quantum networks has only been possible between two devices of known provenance that have been built securely. With the EU and the United Kingdom committing €1 billion and £270 million, respectively, into funding quantum technology research, a race is on to develop the first truly secure, large-scale network between cities that works for any quantum device.

  • Why do we need to know about prime numbers with millions of digits?

    Prime numbers are more than just numbers that can only be divided by themselves and one. They are a mathematical mystery, the secrets of which mathematicians have been trying to uncover ever since Euclid proved that they have no end. An ongoing project – the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search – which aims to discover more and more primes of a particularly rare kind, has recently resulted in the discovery of the largest prime number known to date. Stretching to 23,249,425 digits, it is so large that it would easily fill 9,000 book pages. You may be wondering, if the number stretches to more than 23m digits, why we need to know about it? We need to know about the properties of different numbers so that we can not only keep developing the technology we rely on, but also keep it secure. But whether or not huge prime numbers, such as the 50th known Mersenne prime with its millions of digits, will ever be found useful is an irrelevant question. The merit of knowing these numbers lies in quenching the human race’s intellectual thirst that started with Euclid’s proof of the infinitude of primes and still goes on today.

  • Quantum speed limit may put brakes on quantum computers

    Over the past five decades, standard computer processors have gotten increasingly faster. In recent years, however, the limits to that technology have become clear: Chip components can only get so small, and be packed only so closely together, before they overlap or short-circuit. If companies are to continue building ever-faster computers, something will need to change. One key hope for the future of increasingly fast computing is my own field, quantum physics. Quantum computers are expected to be much faster than anything the information age has developed so far. But my recent research has revealed that quantum computers will have limits of their own – and has suggested ways to figure out what those limits are.

  • Proof of randomness for stronger future digital security

    Nearly all secure online traffic — from shopping to banking to communications — relies on a technique of randomly generating a number that serves as a key to unlock encrypted communication. The problem is that small programming errors can make these systems vulnerable, and those vulnerabilities can often be very difficult to detect. In an effort to block emerging threats to online security, researchers have developed a method to verify the strength of random number generators that form the basis of most encryption systems.

  • Nanomaterials’ cryptographic potential may be ultimate defense against hackers

    The next generation of electronic hardware security may be at hand as researchers introduce a new class of unclonable cybersecurity security primitives made of a low-cost nanomaterial with the highest possible level of structural randomness. Randomness is highly desirable for constructing the security primitives that encrypt and thereby secure computer hardware and data physically, rather than by programming.

  • High-speed quantum encryption may secure the future internet

    Recent advances in quantum computers may soon give hackers access to machines powerful enough to crack even the toughest of standard internet security codes. With these codes broken, all of our online data—from medical records to bank transactions—could be vulnerable to attack. To fight back against the future threat, researchers are wielding the same strange properties that drive quantum computers to create theoretically hack-proof forms of quantum data encryption.

  • The real risks quantum attacks will pose for Bitcoin

    Combining expertise in quantum technologies and cryptography, researchers have been projecting future dates that quantum computers could jeopardize the security of current cryptocurrencies, a market now worth over $150 billion, and assessing countermeasures to such attacks.

  • Real security requires strong encryption – even if investigators get blocked

    The FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice have been fighting against easy, widespread public access to encryption technologies for 25 years. Since the bureau’s dispute with Apple in 2016 over access to the encrypted iPhone of one of the two people who shot 14 victims in San Bernardino, California, this battle has become more pitched. This dispute is not about whether regular people can or should use encryption: The U.S. government is in favor of using encryption to secure data. Rather, it’s about the FBI’s demand that encryption systems include “exceptional access,” enabling police who get a warrant to circumvent the encryption on a device or on an encrypted call. The demand for exceptional access by law enforcement is a broad threat to fundamental parts of American society, and it poses a serious danger to national security as well as individual privacy. As technology changes, the jobs of police and intelligence workers must also change; in some ways, it will be harder, in others, easier. But the basic need for security supports the call for wide use of strong encryption – and without modifications that make it easy for Russians, or others, to break in.

  • Unbreakable encrypted messages

    Researchers recently announced a landmark advancement: They used a satellite orbiting Earth to beam pairs of quantum-entangled photons to two Tibetan mountaintops more than 700 miles apart. This distance blew the previous record out of the water. The researchers say this is only the beginning for quantum communication.

  • A first: High-dimensional quantum encryption demonstrated

    For the first time, researchers have sent a quantum-secured message containing more than one bit of information per photon through the air above a city. The demonstration showed that it could one day be practical to use high-capacity, free-space quantum communication to create a highly secure link between ground-based networks and satellites, a requirement for creating a global quantum encryption network.

  • Popular messaging apps: Encrypting is easy but authenticating is hard

    Most users of popular messaging apps Facebook Messenger, What’sApp and Viber are leaving themselves exposed to fraud or other hacking because they don’t know about or aren’t using important security options. Even though What’sApp and Viber encrypt messages by default, all three messaging apps also require what’s called an authentication ceremony to ensure true security — but because most users are unaware of the ceremony and its importance.