Implying Quantum Technique to Encrypt Internet Communicationby Adilin Beatrice September 10, 2020
The technology imitates Einstein’s ‘spooky action at a distance’
Cybersecurity attacks are a threat to online information sharing. Whether it is a small non-profit organisation or an MNC, information and data security is always at a hang. Companies have even opted for cyber insurance policies fearing to mitigate cyber-breach risk.
In 2019, India faced the most number of cyber attacks in the world for a continuous period of three months. However, the United States was the most targeted nation in the world in 2019. According to a report, the most affected countries by cybersecurity attacks were the US, India, UK, Singapore, Ukraine, UAE, Nigeria, Japan, South Korea and Spain.
What is a cyber attack?
A cyber attack is an online assault launched by cybercriminals using one or more connected devices against single or multiple computers or networks. A cyber attack on general can disable a computer, steal data, or use the malware affected device to attack other computers. Cyber attacks involve various methods of launching like malware, phishing, ransomware, denial of service, etc.
Most of the attacks were carried out through ‘botnets’ that are used to inject malware into a victim’s device, allowing those controlling the botnet to take control of the device, gather information of the device and even remotely make the victim’s device perform specific tasks such as sending information back to the person controlling the botnet.
A botnet is a set of devices with computing ability which can be connected with each other through the internet. Computers, drones, smartphones, etc can also be a part of botnets. These devices can be used as botnets without the knowledge of the owner if they are attacked.
However, now it is time for the world to be one step closer towards achieving a totally secure internet. The new quantum breakthrough seems to have answered the growing threat of cyber attacks.
Quantum technique for safe online communication
Scientists from the University of Bristol have founded a quantum solution for increasing security threats. They have revealed their invention in the Science Advances journal saying the quantum network can be used to secure people’s online communication, particularly in the internet-led times when Covid-19 pandemic has pushed everyone to do remote working.
The new technique complies by a simple law of physics that makes messages completely safe from interception while overcoming major challenges which have previously limited advances in this little-used bit much-hyped technology. This technology stands as an enlightening part for a quantum internet. Until now, building a quantum network has entailed huge cost, time, and resource, as well as often comprising on its security which defeats the whole purpose. This quantum technique to secure communication is cheap and impregnable. It paves the way to widespread rollout of its technology.
Currently, companies rely on complex code to protect their data assets and communication system. However, cybercriminals are as familiar to such complex codes as an expert making the job not worthy. Trillions of dollars are looted through online security breach every year. With increasing security breaches, the urge to find an alternative solution submerges scientists to look at other ways.
How does the technology work?
The scientists have developed a technology called ‘quantum key distribution.’ The technology utilises the particles of light named ‘photon’ to transmit information. The process allows two parties to share information without any interception. A security key is used to encrypt and decrypt the information.
A set back in the technology is that so far, it has only been effective between two users. If the encryption needs to be extended to a party of eight users who needs to send information to each other, each has to be establishing one-on-one communication with each other or third-party intervention. But the third party intervention is considered to be a risk. Henceforth, if the eight users want to communicate without a person in the middle, they need 56 individual connections and receiver boxes. On a 100 user scale, the technology would take 9,900 receiver boxes in total.
Quantum entanglement– In quantum physics, entangled particles remain connected so that actions performed by one affects the behaviour of the other, even if they are separated by huge distances. Entanglement takes place when a part of particles interact physically.
The quantum technique takes after Albert Einstein’s description ‘spooky action at a distance.’ Quantum entanglement means two different particles placed at diverse places, potentially at a very long distance, can simultaneously mimic each other. Every user will have a single glass fibre connected to a source of quantum entanglement. This minimises the physical connection.
Sharing messages in this way called ‘trusted nodes’ is not good enough as it uses so much extra hardware which could leak and would no longer be totally secure. Instead of replicating the whole communication system, the latest methodology called multiplexing splits the light particles emitted by a single system to make them be received by multiple users effectively.
The team’s unique system also features traffic management, delivering better network control which allows, for instance, certain users to be prioritised with a faster connection. In recent years quantum cryptography has been successfully used to protect transactions between banking centres in China and secure votes at a Swiss election. Yet its wider application has been held back by the sheer scale of resources and costs involved.