Researchers have uncovered clues as to how to protect quantum computing networks from hacking by becoming hackers themselves.

Unlike traditional computer systems, quantum computing networks code data beyond ones and zeroes. Hacking threats become trickier to tackle this way but researchers from the University of Ottawa still managed to acquire clues on how to protect quantum computing networks, building the first high-dimensional quantum computing cloning machine to intercept secure quantum messages.

"Once we were able to analyze the results, we discovered some very important clues to help protect quantum computing networks against potential hacking threats," said Ebrahim Karimi, one of the authors for a study published in the journal Science Advances.

Securing Quantum Computing Networks

Quantum computing systems are believed to perfectly secure transmission because it was not possible to copy transmitted information precisely, resulting in deteriorated or altered forms of the original data. Traditional computers were much easier to hack because it was easy to copy and paste data and replicate information exactly. Quantum computers certainly had an edge over traditional computing systems but that was until Karimi and colleagues were able to copy qudits flawlessly.

When the researchers analyzed their quantum computing cloning machine, they were also presented with clues as to how to protect quantum computing networks from the hacking they just did.

According to Frédéric Bouchard, a doctoral student from University of Ottawa, when larger chunks of quantum information were encoded onto a photon, copies of that information had a tendency to get worse, allowing hacking attempts to be detected more easily.

What the researchers were able to show with their work was that cloning attacks insert specific and observable noise in a secure channel for quantum communication. Making sure that photons have the largest amount of possible information and then monitoring the resulting noise from copying attempts in a secure channel should make it possible to bolster quantum computing networks and boost protection to keep hacking threats at bay.

In the future, the researchers are hopeful that their work can be used to study quantum communication further or more generally evaluate how information is able to travel across networks for quantum computers.

Karimi and Bouchard were joined by Robert W. Boyd and Robert Fickler for the study.

Quantum Computing Breakthrough

In November 2016, researchers from the University of Sussex successfully came up with a new way to simplify the production of large-scale quantum computing systems. In a paper published in the journal Physical Review Letters, they claimed that producing large-scale trapped-ion quantum computers can be easy if the right voltage is applied to microchips necessary for quantum gates.

Traditionally, limitations in making quantum computers can be overcome by aligning trapped ions using laser beams and converting the ions into quantum bits. However, billions of quantum bits are needed in building large-scale quantum computers and pairing them up will prove to be challenging.

The researchers' work comes into play to simplify quantum computer production by applying voltage to quantum computer microchips instead of aligning laser beams in order to get the same desired effect. Logic gate locations with controlled voltages activate actual gate operations that look a lot like how transistors are arranged in classical computer processors.

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