Researchers are wielding the same strange properties that drive quantum computers to create hack-proof forms of data encryption.

Recent advances in quantum computers may soon give hackers access to machines powerful enough to crack even the toughest of standard internet security codes. With these codes broken, all of our online data -- from medical records to bank transactions -- could be vulnerable to attack.

To fight back against the future threat, researchers are wielding the same strange properties that drive quantum computers to create theoretically hack-proof forms of quantum data encryption.

And now, these quantum encryption techniques may be one step closer to wide-scale use thanks to a new system developed by scientists at Duke University, The Ohio State University and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Their system is capable of creating and distributing encryption codes at megabit-per-second rates, which is five to 10 times faster than existing methods and on par with current internet speeds when running several systems in parallel.

The researchers demonstrate that the technique is secure from common attacks, even in the face of equipment flaws that could open up leaks.

“We are now likely to have a functioning quantum computer that might be able to start breaking the existing cryptographic codes in the near future,” said Daniel Gauthier, a professor of physics at The Ohio State University. “We really need to be thinking hard now of different techniques that we could use for trying to secure the internet.”

The results appear online Nov. 24 in Science Advances.

To a hacker, our online purchases, bank transactions and medical records all look like gibberish due to ciphers called encryption keys. Personal information sent over the web is first scrambled using one of these keys, and then unscrambled by the receiver using the same key. 

For this system to work, both parties must have access to the same key, and it must be kept secret. Quantum key distribution (QKD) takes advantage of one of the fundamental properties of quantum mechanics -- measuring tiny bits of matter like electrons or photons automatically changes their properties -- to exchange keys in a way that immediately alerts both parties to the existence of a security breach. 

Though QKD was first theorized in 1984 and implemented shortly thereafter, the technologies to support its wide-scale use are only now coming online. Companies in Europe now sell laser-based systems for QKD, and in a highly-publicized event last summer, China used a satellite to send a quantum key to two land-based stations located 1200 km apart.

The problem with many of these systems, said Nurul Taimur Islam, a graduate student in physics at Duke, is that they can only transmit keys at relatively low rates -- between tens to hundreds of kilobits per second -- which are too slow for most practical uses on the internet.

“At these rates, quantum-secure encryption systems cannot support some basic daily tasks, such as hosting an encrypted telephone call or video streaming,” Islam said.

Like many QKD systems, Islam’s key transmitter uses a weakened laser to encode information on individual photons of light. But they found a way to pack more information onto each photon, making their technique faster.

By adjusting the time at which the photon is released, and a property of the photon called the phase, their system can encode two bits of information per photon instead of one. This trick, paired with high-speed detectors developed by Clinton Cahall, graduate student in electrical and computer engineering, and Jungsang Kim, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Duke, powers their system to transmit keys five to 10 times faster than other methods.

“It was changing these additional properties of the photon that allowed us to almost double the secure key rate that we were able to obtain if we hadn’t done that,” said Gauthier, who began the work as a professor of physics at Duke before moving to OSU.

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In a perfect world, QKD would be perfectly secure. Any attempt to hack a key exchange would leave errors on the transmission that could be easily spotted by the receiver. But real-world implementations of QKD require imperfect equipment, and these imperfections open up leaks that hackers can exploit.

The researchers carefully characterized the limitations of each piece of equipment they used. They then worked with Charles Lim, currently a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the National University of Singapore, to incorporate these experimental flaws into the theory.

“We wanted to identify every experimental flaw in the system, and include these flaws in the theory so that we could ensure our system is secure and there is no potential side-channel attack,” Islam said.

Though their transmitter requires some specialty parts, all of the components are currently available commercially. Encryption keys encoded in photons of light can be sent over existing optical fiber lines that burrow under cities, making it relatively straightforward to integrate their transmitter and receiver into the current internet infrastructure.

“All of this equipment, apart from the single-photon detectors, exist in the telecommunications industry, and with some engineering we could probably fit the entire transmitter and receiver in a box as big as a computer CPU,” Islam said.

This research was supported by the Office of Naval Research Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative program on Wavelength-Agile QKD in a AQ12 Marine Environment (N00014-13-1-0627) and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Defense Sciences Office Information in a Photon program. Additional support was provided by Oak Ridge National Laboratory, operated by UT-Battelle for the U.S. Department of Energy under contract no. DE-AC05-00OR22725, and National University of Singapore startup grant R-263-000-C78-133/731.

CITATION:  "Provably Secure and High-Rate Quantum Key Distribution With Time-Bin Qudits," Nurul T. Islam, Charles Ci Wen Lim, Clinton Cahall, Jungsang Kim and Daniel J. Gauthier. Science Advances, Nov. 24, 2017. DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1701491

Source: This article was published today.duke.edu By AKARA MANKE

Categorized in Internet Privacy

Mozilla has unveiled a new browser called Firefox Quantum, which is supposedly twice as fast as the older version of the program as it uses a new core engine, coupled with the significantly reduced use of memory space. Firefox Quantum represents the largest upgrade Mozilla has made to its web browser since it rolled out version 1.0 of Firefox thirteen years ago. The new version of Firefox is now rolling out to desktop and laptop computers running Windows, Linux or Mac, as well as mobile devices powered by Android and iOS.

One of the most noticeable upgrades that comes with Firefox Quantum is that opening a website or web page happens very quickly, with the current tab no longer showing the rotating icon for page loads in most cases. The non-profit organization boasts of Firefox Quantum as the fastest browser compared to all other browsers it produced in the past. As well as the improved speed, the new Firefox browser also includes a fresh user interface called Photon, which gained its new look based on the way internet users surfed the web, thanks to Mozilla’s user research team which conducted the study. Mozilla said a lot of work has been brought into play as part of the development efforts for Firefox Quantum. For instance, over 700 authors have written code for Firefox since its initial release in August, with contributions from some 80 other code authors from across the globe. A beta versionof Firefox Quantum went live in September, having already demonstrated significantly improved performance. In fact, Mozilla backed its claim with a web test benchmark called Speedometer 2.0 as well as a video clip showcasing that Firefox Quantum performed better than Google Chrome.

Additionally, Mozilla also introduced a new CSS engine to the browser called Stylo, which uses hardware with multiple cores that work best for tasks that require less power. Additionally, although subtle, Firefox Quantum prioritizes a tab that a user is on above the rest by optimizing system resources. As to the default search engine for the browser, users in the United States and Canada will have Google as the automatic search tool once they launch Firefox Quantum. This is after Mozilla teamed up with Google to provide its search engine as the default option for Firefox in the United States, Canada, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, though users can also browse with other search engines of their choice as usual.

Source: This article was published androidheadlines.com By Manny Reyes

Categorized in Search Engine

What if you could behave like the crew on the Starship Enterprise and teleport yourself home or anywhere else in the world? As a human, you're probably not going to realize this any time soon; if you're a photon, you might want to keep reading.

Through a collaboration between the University of Calgary, The City of Calgary and researchers in the United States, a group of physicists led by Wolfgang Tittel, professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Calgary have successfully demonstrated teleportation of a  (an elementary particle of light) over a straight-line distance of six kilometres using The City of Calgary's fibre optic cable infrastructure. The project began with an Urban Alliance seed grant in 2014.

This accomplishment, which set a new record for distance of transferring a  by teleportation, has landed the researchers a spot in the prestigious Nature Photonics scientific journal. The finding was published back-to-back with a similar demonstration by a group of Chinese researchers.

"Such a network will enable secure communication without having to worry about eavesdropping, and allow distant quantum computers to connect," says Tittel.

Experiment draws on 'spooky action at a distance'

The experiment is based on the entanglement property of , also known as "spooky action at a distance"—a property so mysterious that not even Einstein could come to terms with it.

"Being entangled means that the two photons that form an entangled pair have properties that are linked regardless of how far the two are separated," explains Tittel. "When one of the photons was sent over to City Hall, it remained entangled with the photon that stayed at the University of Calgary."

Next, the photon whose state was teleported to the university was generated in a third location in Calgary and then also travelled to City Hall where it met the photon that was part of the entangled pair.

"What happened is the instantaneous and disembodied transfer of the photon's quantum state onto the remaining photon of the entangled pair, which is the one that remained six kilometres away at the university," says Tittel.

City's accessible dark fibre makes research possible

The research could not be possible without access to the proper technology. One of the critical pieces of infrastructure that support quantum networking is accessible dark fibre. Dark fibre, so named because of its composition—a single optical cable with no electronics or network equipment on the alignment—doesn't interfere with quantum technology.

Towards quantum Internet: Researchers teleport particle of light six kilometres

A group of physicists led by Wolfgang Tittel have successfully demonstrated teleportation of a photon, an elementary particle of light, over a straight-line distance of six kilometres.  Credit: Riley Brandt, University of Calgary


 

The City of Calgary is building and provisioning dark fibre to enable next-generation municipal services today and for the future.

"By opening The City's dark fibre infrastructure to the private and public sector, non-profit companies, and academia, we help enable the development of projects like quantum encryption and create opportunities for further research, innovation and economic growth in Calgary," said Tyler Andruschak, project manager with Innovation and Collaboration at The City of Calgary.

"The university receives secure access to a small portion of our fibre optic infrastructure and The City may benefit in the future by leveraging the secure encryption keys generated out of the lab's research to protect our critical infrastructure," said Andruschak. In order to deliver next-generation services to Calgarians, The City has been increasing its fibre optic footprint, connecting all City buildings, facilities and assets.

Timed to within one millionth of one millionth of a second

As if teleporting a photon wasn't challenging enough, Tittel and his team encountered a number of other roadblocks along the way.

Due to changes in the outdoor temperature, the transmission time of photons from their creation point to City Hall varied over the course of a day—the time it took the researchers to gather sufficient data to support their claim. This change meant that the two photons would not meet at City Hall.

"The challenge was to keep the photons' arrival time synchronized to within 10 pico-seconds," says Tittel. "That is one trillionth, or one millionth of one millionth of a second."

Secondly, parts of their lab had to be moved to two locations in the city, which as Tittel explains was particularly tricky for the measurement station at City Hall which included state-of-the-art superconducting single-photon detectors developed by the National Institute for Standards and Technology, and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

"Since these detectors only work at temperatures less than one degree above absolute zero the equipment also included a compact cryostat," said Tittel.

Milestone towards a global quantum Internet

This demonstration is arguably one of the most striking manifestations of a puzzling prediction of quantum mechanics, but it also opens the path to building a future , the long-term goal of the Tittel group.

The Urban Alliance is a strategic research partnership between The City of Calgary and University of Calgary, created in 2007 to encourage and co-ordinate the seamless transfer of cutting-edge research between the university and The City of Calgary for the benefit of all our communities. The Urban Alliance is a prime example and vehicle for one of the three foundational commitments of the University of Calgary's Eyes High vision to fully integrate the university with the community. The City sees the Alliance as playing a key role in realizing its long-term priorities and the imagineCALGARY vision.

../img/sprite/This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.";) -1180px 0px / 1233px 160px no-repeat scroll transparent; display: inline; float: none; vertical-align: middle;"> Explore further: New approach enhances quantum-based secure communication

More information: Raju Valivarthi et al. Quantum teleportation across a metropolitan fibre network, Nature Photonics (2016). DOI: 10.1038/nphoton.2016.180

Qi-Chao Sun et al. Quantum teleportation with independent sources and prior entanglement distribution over a network, Nature Photonics (2016). DOI: 10.1038/nphoton.2016.179

Original source of this article is Phys.Org

Categorized in Online Research

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