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Scientists advance quantum key distribution tech to strengthen cyber security

Prototype device creates 'quantum-entangled' photons at telecom wavelengths | Credits: Centre for Quantum Technologies, Singapore

Researchers from the Centre for Quantum Technologies in Singapore are helping advance a technique involving pairs of entangled light particles to enable stronger cyber security.

The project, driven by the NUS-Singtel Cyber Security Research & Development Laboratory, has long been in the making, but only now the final breakthroughs have made it into a paper available to the public.

Basically, the team has achieved an increase in accuracy and distance (10 kilometers / 6.2 miles of commercial-grade fiber optic) for a technology that promises to encrypt communications beyond hacking.

The technology is called Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) and it’s by no means a new development. QKD leverages a property of subatomic particles called “quantum entanglement” to generate unbreakable encryption keys.

Transmitted over fiber networks, it uses signals sent in pulses of light. Detection of individual photons creates the keys, and the data encrypted with the keys is allegedly resistant to any computational hack imaginable. The research paper may be a trying read for audiences untrained in scientific speak but the press release offers the gist of it in only a few paragraphs.

With these results, QKD is one step closer to becoming a commercially viable technology for cyber security purposes, but also for time-critical operations like financial trading, the team said.

In June of 2017, researchers from the Max Planck Institute used the “observer effect” (another neat principle in the quantum realm) to demonstrate it’s impossible to intercept QKD-encrypted communications without alerting the communicating parties that the keys have been compromised and should not be used. And later that same year, researchers at the University of Ottawa in Canada successfully sent the first-ever quantum-encrypted message in a real-world setting.

About the author

Filip TRUTA

Filip is an experienced writer with over a decade of practice in the technology realm. He has covered a wide range of topics in such industries as gaming, software, hardware, and security, and has worked in various B2B and B2C marketing roles. He likes fishing (not phishing), basketball, and playing around in FL Studio.

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