Cracking Quantum Encryption: A Working Theory
Author: Eric Everson, MBA, MSIT-SE
It is said to be the future of impenetrable data encryption, but could this new horizon of digital security be tainted from the onset? Quantum encryption is being billed as the revolutionary future of digital security, the problem is I believe it can be cracked.
As detailed by CNET Staff Writer, Michael Kanellos, the basic idea behind this new encryption technique is characterized as such, “Quantum encryption involves sending data by way of photons, the smallest unit of light. The photons are polarized, or oriented, in one of four different directions. Eavesdroppers cause detectable changes in the orientation, which in turn prevents them from getting secret information.” (Kanellos, 2004) More to the point, “the very act of measurement in quantum mechanics changes the nature of the quantum system being observed. Thus, if an eavesdropper listens in on a quantum message between two parties, he or she changes the message in a way that is detectable.” (Das, 2008)
Here is the thing about digital security, if it is digital in design, it can always be compromised. Just as this technology was introduced into the market, you may remember the very public epiphany of the “man-in-the-middle” hack that was published via Jan-Ake Larsson. My working theory again challenges the very physical infrastructure of such quantum encryption protocols. My model introduces a hack I’ve dubbed “Inner Conduit Mirroring” to introduce an undetectable eavesdropping.
My professional experience is rooted in broadband fiber optics, so I’ve borrowed a bit of insight from my days of splicing fiber. Inner Conduit Mirroring (ICM) essentially introduces a physical piece of mirrored surface hardware into this system designed to reproduce the exact orientation of the encryption as a mirrored signal on a parallel plane. From the parallel plane the mirrored signal can be captured via a digital recorder to be cracked without disrupting the maiden signal, thus no detectable changes are recognized within the system.
Simple right? Not really; to be effective on a large scale this hack requires that sophisticated ICM hardware is fused into the fiber itself without detection, which in lit fiber means this must be accomplished without introducing more than a 60 millisecond lightwave interruption. Is quantum encryption the holy grail of digital security? Well, probably not, but it’s probably safer than your current firewall. I introduce this working theory in the spirit of inspiring academic debate on the topic, I encourage your comments and email on the topic.
About the Author: Eric Everson is the Founder of MyMobiSafe, LLC and holds graduate degrees in software engineering and business administration. To contact him directly, please email: EricEverson@Hotmail.com.
Das. 2009. http://spectrum.ieee.org/computing/it/quantum-cryptography-cracked
Kanellos. 2004. http://news.cnet.com/Quantum-encryption-inches-closer-to-reality/2100-1029_3-5204725.html