Skip to comments.Government Lab Reveals It Has Operated Quantum Internet for Over Two Years
Posted on 05/06/2013 6:00:49 PM PDT by LibWhacker
A quantum internet capable of sending perfectly secure messages has been running at Los Alamos National Labs for the last two and a half years, say researchers
One of the dreams for security experts is the creation of a quantum internet that allows perfectly secure communication based on the powerful laws of quantum mechanics.
The basic idea here is that the act of measuring a quantum object, such as a photon, always changes it. So any attempt to eavesdrop on a quantum message cannot fail to leave telltale signs of snooping that the receiver can detect. That allows anybody to send a one-time pad over a quantum network which can then be used for secure communication using conventional classical communication.
That sets things up nicely for perfectly secure messaging known as quantum cryptography and this is actually a fairly straightforward technique for any half decent quantum optics lab. Indeed, a company called ID Quantique sells an off-the-shelf system that has begun to attract banks and other organisations interested in perfect security.
These systems have an important limitation, however. The current generation of quantum cryptography systems are point-to-point connections over a single length of fibre, So they can send secure messages from A to B but cannot route this information onwards to C, D, E or F. Thats because the act of routing a message means reading the part of it that indicates where it has to be routed. And this inevitably changes it, at least with conventional routers. This makes a quantum internet impossible with todays technology
Various teams are racing to develop quantum routers that will fix this problem by steering quantum messages without destroying them. We looked at one of the first last year. But the truth is that these devices are still some way from commercial reality.
Today, Richard Hughes and pals at Los Alamos National Labs in New Mexico reveal an alternative quantum internet, which they say theyve been running for two and half years. Their approach is to create a quantum network based around a hub and spoke-type network. All messages get routed from any point in the network to another via this central hub.
This is not the first time this kind of approach has been tried. The idea is that messages to the hub rely on the usual level of quantum security. However, once at the hub, they are converted to conventional classical bits and then reconverted into quantum bits to be sent on the second leg of their journey.
So as long as the hub is secure, then the network should also be secure.
The problem with this approach is scalability. As the number of links to the hub increases, it becomes increasingly difficult to handle all the possible connections that can be made between one point in the network and another.
Hughes and co say theyve solved this with their unique approach which equips each node in the network with quantum transmittersi.e., lasersbut not with photon detectors which are expensive and bulky. Only the hub is capable of receiving a quantum message (although all nodes can send and receiving conventional messages in the normal way).
That may sound limiting but it still allows each node to send a one-time pad to the hub which it then uses to communicate securely over a classical link. The hub can then route this message to another node using another one time pad that it has set up with this second node. So the entire network is secure, provided that the central hub is also secure.
The big advantage of this system is that it makes the technology required at each node extremely simpleessentially little more than a laser. In fact, Los Alamos has already designed and built plug-and-play type modules that are about the size of a box of matches. Our next-generation [module] will be an order of magnitude smaller in each linear dimension, they say.
Their ultimate goal is to have one of these modules built in to almost any device connected to a fibre optic network, such as set top TV boxes, home computers and so on, to allow perfectly secure messaging.
Having run this system now for over two years, Los Alamos are now highly confident in its efficacy.
Of course, the network can never be more secure than the hub at the middle of it and this is an important limitation of this approach. By contrast, a pure quantum internet should allow perfectly secure communication from any point in the network to any other.
Another is that this approach will become obsolete as soon as quantum routers become commercially viable. So the question for any investors is whether they can get their money back in the time before then. The odds are that they wont have to wait long to find out.
Ref:arxiv.org/abs/1305.0305:Network-Centric Quantum Communications with Application to Critical Infrastructure Protection
I want one.
Was the sex poodle involved?
This is where the messages reach the receiver two weeks before they’re sent, isn’t it?
They need it for the Obamacare bill collection system.
I think it will be made illegal - unless the gov can crack it.
im going to bookmark this for later so i know what it is about but in the meantime i can say i positively trust them without a doubt when they say they can make my communications secure i gotta go write some more bad checks now see ya
Wow, this is going into the novel I’m writing.
If you cant route - it is NOT an Internet. Not even an Intranet.
Good for honest people and... terrorists.
So... if I understand correctly.
We already knew how to create a perfect, unbreakable cipher. It simply requires knowing the key.
The problem, until now, has been an inability to transmit a perfectly-unbreakable cipher key, in such a way that it could not be intercepted.
This system solves that problem by relying on the principle that quantum information can't be read without being destroyed.
End points generate a key for perfect, unbreakable encryption and transmit it, using quantum information, to the central hub.
Now the central hub shares a common unbreakable key with every end point. Voila. Perfectly secure communication can take place in either direction. And two end points can communicate by going through the hub.
So as long as the hub's secure, all communications is secure.
I’m guessing the United States Government would hire a Chinese company to design the security for the hub....
I was wondering what Al Gore was doing with his free time and money. That guy is SO smart.
Or... as long as you don’t try to read the encryption key, you can read all the data.
If I read the data stream by light leakage off of a fiber with a photodiode, it would not change the quantum data one bit. This is horse pucky.
So because the key is perfectly random (and the same length as the message) the only information that is conveyed by having the text is the maximum length of the message.
The completely random key completely randomizes every character of the message. So it doesn't matter if your opponent has all the computing power in the entire universe. Until the key is known, or at least part of it, the message can't be cracked.
The end result is like, "I sent a message to Bob that's 225 characters long. Or maybe less. Maybe I put some filler in just to make it even more inscrutable. So guess what I said?"
Not at the level this stuff operates.
We're talking stuff kind of on the order of individual photons of light type stuff. You read it, it's gone.
Or at least destroyed.
How do you ensure that the central hub is secure?