Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Keeping information secure with noisy light

07.11.2002


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 security’s 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 person’s information is secure.


"Our research team has succeeded in encrypting real information, sending the message over a University fiber optics system at very high speeds, and decrypting the information, which is no small feat. Other quantum cryptography methods are slow and impractical for long-distance or high-speed communication, whereas ours shows great potential for real-world applications."

The researchers transmitted encrypted data at the rate of 250 megabits per second. Because it uses standard lasers, detectors and other existing optical technology to transmit large bundles of photons, the Northwestern protocol is more than 1,000 times faster than its main competitor, a technique based on single photons that is difficult and expensive to implement.

"No one else is doing encryption at these high speeds," said Kumar, who has a secondary appointment in the department of physics and astronomy at the Judd A. and Marjorie Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.

The Northwestern method, which is geared toward securing the public fiber optic infrastructure, uses a form of "secret key" cryptography. In this type of cryptography, the two people communicating, say Alice and Bob, have the same secret key. If Alice wants to send a secure message to Bob, she sends a message in a "locked box," which Bob can open.

In the case of the Northwestern method, to encode her message Alice uses the key to manipulate the light, creating a pattern more complex than just "on" or "off." The method takes advantage of the granularity of light, known as quantum noise, which is integrated with the secret key’s pattern. (Random polarization is one way to change the light’s granularity.) To someone without the key, say the eavesdropper Eve, the information is indecipherable -- the stolen message contains too much "noise." Bob, with the secret key, has the pattern and can receive the signal with much less noise, allowing him to read Alice’s encoded message.

Having demonstrated that their high-speed encryption protocol works on a real network with real data, the researchers now are working toward speeds of 2.5 gigabits per second, which is the rate at which regular information is currently transmitted over the Internet’s fiber optic network.

"Current cryptographic schemes are vulnerable because as computers get more powerful the cryptography gets slower due to longer and longer keys," said Horace Yuen, professor of electrical and computer engineering with a secondary appointment in physics and astronomy. He is principal investigator and theorist on the cryptography project.

"What we offer is a quantum cryptography system that is unconditionally secure, fast, easy to manage and cost-efficient. Our technology promises a realistic security solution to increasing computing power. We expect to develop a practical application within five years."

The Northwestern research team is working with two industrial partners, Telcordia Technologies of Red Bank, N.J., and BBN Technologies of Cambridge, Mass., to develop prototype systems for integration into the core optical networks of the Internet.

Northwestern has filed a number of patents based on the technology developed at the University.

The quantum cryptographic research project is supported by a five-year, $4.7 million grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The communication protocol that is the backbone of today’s Internet came out of a computer networking system begun by DARPA in the 1960s.

Megan Fellman | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nwu.edu/

More articles from Communications Media:

nachricht New Technologies for A/V Analysis and Search
13.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Digitale Medientechnologie IDMT

nachricht On patrol in social networks
25.01.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Arbeitswirtschaft und Organisation IAO

All articles from Communications Media >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA Protects its super heroes from space weather

17.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Spray-on electric rainbows: Making safer electrochromic inks

17.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

17.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>