EU seeks quantum cryptography response to Echelon
The goal is to create unbreakable encryption keys
IDG News Service - The European Union plans to invest $13 million during the next four years to develop a secure communication system based on quantum cryptography, using physical laws governing the universe on the smallest scale to create and distribute unbreakable encryption keys, project coordinators said today.
If successful, the project will produce the cryptographer's Holy Grail -- absolutely unbreakable code -- and thwart the eavesdropping efforts of espionage systems such as Echelon, which intercepts electronic messages on behalf of the intelligence services of the U.S., Britain, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.
"The aim is to produce a communication system that cannot be intercepted by anyone, and that includes Echelon," said Sergio Cova, a professor from the electronics department of Milan Polytechnic and one of the project's coordinators. "We are talking about a system that requires significant technological innovations. We have to prove that it is workable, which is not the case at the moment."
Major improvements in geographic range and speed of data transmission will be required before the system becomes a commercial reality, Cova said.
"The report of the European Parliament on Echelon recommends using quantum cryptography as a solution to electronic eavesdropping. This is an effort to cope with Echelon," said Christian Monyk, the director of quantum technologies at Austrian company ARC Seibersdorf Research GmbH and overall coordinator of the project. Economic espionage has caused serious harm to European companies in the past, Monyk noted.
"With this project, we will be making an essential contribution to the economic independence of Europe," he said.
Quantum cryptography takes advantage of the physical properties of light particles, known as photons, to create and transmit binary messages. The angle of vibration of a photon as it travels through space -- its polarization -- can be used to represent a zero or a one under a system first devised by scientists Charles H. Bennett and Gilles Brassard in 1984. It has the advantage that any attempt to intercept the photons is liable to interfere with their polarization and can therefore be detected by those operating the system, the project coordinators said.
An intercepted key would therefore be discarded and a new one created for use in its place.
The new system, known as SECOQC (Secure Communication based on Quantum Cryptography), is intended for use by the secure generation and exchange of encryption keys, rather than for the actual exchange of data, Monyk said.
"The encrypted data would then be transmitted by normal methods," he said. Messages encrypted using quantum mechanics can currently be transmitted over optical fibers for tens of miles. The European project
- Radicati: Cloud Business Email - Market Quadrant 2013 Google was named the top cloud business email provider in a recent report by research firm Radicati. Out of 14 key players, Google...
- Tablets in the Enterprise: A Checklist for Successful Deployment How can you enterprise manage and secure tablets in order to protect corporate data while providing access to the information and applications employees...
- Enterprise Mobility: A Checklist for Secure Containerization The advantages and disadvantages of the multiple approaches to containerization. Learn More>>
- Enterprise File Sync & Share Checklist File sync and share has changed the way people work and collaborate in today's tech-savvy world. Gone are the email roadblocks, clunky FTP...
- Live Webcast LIVE EVENT: 5/7, The End of Data Protection As We Know It. Introducing a Next Generation Data Protection Architecture. Traditional backup is going away, but where does this leave end-users?
- LIVE EVENT: 5/7, The End of Data Protection As We Know It. Introducing a Next Generation Data Protection Architecture. Traditional backup is going away, but where does this leave end-users?
- On-demand webinar: "Mobility Mayhem: Balancing BYOD with Enterprise Security" Check out this on-demand webinar to hear Sophos senior security expert John Shier deep dive into how BYOD impacts your enterprise security strategy... All Security White Papers | Webcasts