Quantum encryption shows promise as the key to a future of hacker-proof communication

  • Scientists in China have revolutionized communication technology by introducing a “hacker-free” channel known as the quantum secure direct communication (QSDC) system.
  • QSDC systems use entanglement to eliminate the need to use encryption and decryption measures to protect data and also to track changes made in each particle.
  • In the long run, QSDC can be the foundation of a future of quantum internet services which will revolutionize the world and protect users from data breaches.

In an event meant to go down in the books as a milestone in technological innovations, a group of Chinese scientists from Beijing has seemed to have managed to unlock the key to a future of hacker-proof communication via quantum encryption.

The breakthrough

A quantum secure direct communication (QSDC) system is an important source of quantum communication that enables the successful transmission of messages in a direct fashion through a quantum channel. The benefit of such advanced systems lies in the fact that they eliminate the need for conventional encryption and decryption of data.

However, such QSDC systems are borne with their own shortcomings. Previously, the world record for a successful system was held at only a mere 18 km (11 miles). Now, the Chinese scientists have managed to create and stabilize a QSDC range over a total of 102.2 km (64 miles). This has indeed taken the world of technology and cyber security by storm as there is such a huge jump from the previous record. The scientists published their findings in a manuscript in the Nature journal.

A brighter future of hacker-proof communication

With modern science and technology making advancements by leaps and bounds every passing minute, the world of cryptography has been at the center pillar of innovation. Cryptography is the art of converting text into encrypted data for secret transmission and reception, or in simple terms, its measures are undertaken to protect sensitive data from hackers.

However, that being said, even cryptography seems to be a shield that isn’t without its holes. Hackers are keeping pace with the innovative measures and finding their way around unethical stealing of information. In a recent report, social media breaches accounted for 56 percent of data-stealing statistics worldwide. With the advent of QSDC, this can be stopped.

QSDC exploits an area of quantum physics called entanglement to secure communications networks. Entangled particles are intrinsically linked to each other. This means that when a hacker attempts to alter the property of one such particle, immediately the property of the other particles gets altered simultaneously, almost comparable to a domino effect. This also means that any attempt at hacking is immediately detectable.

The Chinese scientists believe that quantum secure direct communication through the means of fiber as is currently seen with the use of wi-fi services is a very much feasible possibility with present-day technology. They believe that parts of today’s internet could be replaced with quantum channels, preventing hackers from eavesdropping on communications. Moreover, In February, a team of scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Chicago maintained a quantum state for more than five seconds, a new record for the field of quantum science. This implies that eventually the world will be enabled to use a “distributed quantum internet” service that would drastically improve communications security.

The obstacles on the journey

In their feat to establish and maintain a suitable and safe QSDC network, the Chinese scientists also revealed in their reports that they were only able to do so while maintaining a transmission speed of 0.54 bits per second. That means this speed was even slower than many classical and discontinued computing devices. However, the speed was still fast enough for making phone calls and text messages encryption only covering a distance of 30 km or 19 miles.

That being said, we might still be far away from witnessing a quantum cryptography boom in the future. Quantum computers might be an even distant dream, however, the reality of infrastructure suitable for quantum internet might soon become a tangible reality. China as a nation has made leaps in the field with its Micius satellite in the past. Launched in 2016, the brainchild of physicist Jian-Wei Pan of the University of Science and Technology of China, the satellite has helped him and his colleagues achieve several groundbreaking results and introduce a secure system of quantum messaging in return.

In reality, the development of QSDC is one that could change the way organizations and individuals communicate online, allowing them to do so with much greater security all the while allowing cyber security measures in place to immediately detect if their communication systems have been tampered with or breached.

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