Researchers have successfully developed a high-speed quantum encryption system that could prevent hackers from penetrating computers.
The new quantum encryption system represents a new level in cryptography, which is quite ironic since the advent of quantum computing has been considered a threat to current encryption methods, but it might just hold the key to keeping the internet safe and secure.
Securing The Internet
According to the researchers' study published this week in Science Advances, the new system can create and distribute encryption codes at a rate of megabits per second, which means it transmits quantum key distribution five to ten times faster than existing methods.
The team, composed of researchers from Duke University, Ohio State University, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, demonstrates that the technique is immune from common attacks even in a situation where the equipment itself has exhibited a flaw that could open up leaks.
"We really need to be thinking hard now of different techniques that we could use for trying to secure the internet," said Daniel Gauthier, a physics professor at the Ohio State University.
The frequency of data breaches is no laughing matter. Just this month, there were two reported high-profile cases of hackers breaching servers: one is the massive Uber data breach last year — which Uber just recently confessed to — that had put 57 million accounts at risk. The ride-hailing company tried to guise it as a bug bounty program achievement. Then there's the Imgur data breach, which had affected 1.7 million accounts yet went unnoticed for years.
High-Speed Quantum Encryption: How Does It Work?
The trick, according to the researchers, is to put more information on the photons or light particles used in quantum key distribution and in most quantum networks today and combine it with high-speed detectors.
To achieve a high-speed quantum encryption system, the researchers had to adjust the moment when photons are deployed, which enables encoding two bits of information on a single photon as opposed to just one. Because of this, the distribution is much faster than current techniques, which can only facilitate tens to hundreds of kilobits a second.
In theory, quantum key distribution would be perfectly secure. Any attempt to circumvent a key exchange would cause transmission errors that the receiver will spot with no difficulty. Even so, implementing it in real-world situations would require imperfect equipment. Such imperfections might open up leaks that hackers could exploit, the researchers said.
Quantum key distribution remains the best attempt to improve the current state of cybersecurity, which has failed repeatedly to deal with data breaches and hacks. More importantly, the new system can run on commercially available equipment, which means the transition wouldn't be troublesome.
What do you think? Have we reached the future of cybersecurity? As always, feel free to sound off in the comments section below!