Apr 20, 2006

Quantum encryption - The new security frontier

What has Werner Heisenberg got to do with computer security? A lot, actually. Quantum encryption technology is maturing fast enough to replace the current encryption technologies employed in today's digital systems, and the best thing about this is that, it is theoretically unbreakable. The final frontier in security may not be too far.

We will go back to what Heisenberg has got to do with all of this. Werner Heisenberg, in 1927, discovered a very interesting property of elementary particles. Based on his experiments, he concluded that it was impossible to accurately measure the position and momentum of an elementary particle simultaneously. The key word is 'accurately'; you can predict either one accurately, but the other one would lend itself only with a degree of uncertainty. [Uncertainty principle]

Coming back to the normal world, current encryption technologies almost invariable use keys - public key encryption is the most preferred. However improbable breaking this security system may seem, with enough computing power on a parallel-processing system, it is possible to compromise the security by the classic "brute-force" attack.

Quantum encryption is immune to this because the photonic stream which carries the data is ruled by the Uncertianty principle and anyone trying to intercept the stream will alter the state of the photons in a way that it will be detected. Thus, in theory, it is impenetrable and can be proven mathematically.

Quantum encryption and NIST breakthrough

No comments: