Put aside images of World War II espionage and codebreaking. Today cryptography is vital to the security of a form of communication and commerce never imagined 60 years ago: the Internet. Researchers at Northwestern University now have demonstrated a new high-speed quantum cryptography method that uses the properties of light to encrypt information into a form of code that can only be cracked by violating the physical laws of nature.
In the open and global communication world of the Internet, information security is a critical issue because conventional cryptographic technologies cannot be relied upon for long-term security. Once optimized, the Northwestern method could replace the mathematical cryptography currently used by businesses, financial institutions and the military for secure communication. The innovative protocol promises security even against information securitys greatest foe: the not-yet-invented but still-feared powerful quantum computer, which could break almost any conventional code.
"As computing power and data traffic grow and information speeds get faster, cryptography is having a hard time keeping up," said Prem Kumar, professor of electrical and computer engineering at the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science and co-principal investigator on the project. "New cryptographic methods are needed to continue ensuring that the privacy and safety of each persons information is secure.
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