The future of mobile security? Quantum cryptography

Can quantum computing result in an ultra-secure setup for your mobile device?

Quantum computing research is expanding, and now an international collaboration aims to bring quantum key distribution -- QKD -- into the realm of mobile device security.

The University of Bristol, Cambridge, Griffith University in Queensland and Xi’an Jiaotong University in China are developing the application of quantum cryptography laws to try and make the secure sending of messages from one location to another commercial.

Quantum cryptography depends on physics rather than mathematics. Messages can be sent using keys generated using photons -- tiny packets of light -- instead of mathematical codes, which renders the chance of cracking communication streams almost impossible.

However, the equipment required to use quantum cryptography is found in laboratories rather than households. Some companies offer this type of encryption, which interests governmental and military groups, but in order for it to work, the transmitter and receiver have to be carefully aligned at each end so attempts to modify communication threads can be detected.

The research teams believe that they can circumvent this problem, making it possible for our handheld devices to be securely encrypted in the future.

A new technique only requires one of the parties to have a set of quantum cryptography gear. As our mobile devices wouldn't be able to handle the normal procedure, one party ("Alice") creates the photons and then sends them down a standard optical fiber -- where it reaches the other location ("Bob"). The photons are then modified by Bob with information and sent back to Alice. Essentially, QKD has been given a client-server architecture.

To get around the equipment alignment issue, a robust quantum key distribution set has also been developed, described on MIT's Arxiv Blog:

"Instead Alice and Bob make measurements in random directions and then publish the list of directions for anyone to see. Only those measurements that happened to be aligned contribute to the code."

The new technique is called "reference frame independent quantum key distribution" or rfiQKD.

The researchers say that "the results significantly broaden the operating potential for QKD outside of the laboratory and pave the way for quantum enhanced security for the general public with handheld mobile devices."

The research is published on Arxiv (.pdf).

Via: The Register

Image credit: Flickr

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com