Press Esc to close
Thursday 23 October 2014
News updated at 11:28 PM IST
Weather
Max: 0°C
Min : 0°C
In Bangalore
Sunny day

Researchers develop digital snooping alarm

John Markoff, September 9, 2013, NYT:

Scientists reported recently that they had taken a step toward bringing improved security to computer networks, developing an encryption technique that will extend protection to a small group of computer users.

The researchers at Toshiba’s European research laboratory in Cambridge, England, in a paper published in the journal ‘Nature’, wrote that they had figured out a way to allow a group of users to exchange encryption keys - long numbers that are used to mathematically encode digital messages - through an experimental technique known as quantum key distribution.

The technique is believed to be more practical and less expensive than existing technologies. It also extends the scale of the current quantum key systems to as many as 64 computer users from just two users.


The system does not prevent eavesdropping - it simply serves as a kind of burglar alarm, alerting computer users that an outsider is listening to a transmission on an optical network.

Nevertheless, the advance comes at a time of growing concern about the relative ease of breaching computer security by the security agencies. One worry is that the initial exchange of the key material in modern encryption systems has become vulnerable.

Today many digital encryption systems are based on the ability of two computer users to secretly exchange a “key,” which is then used to establish a secure communication channel.

The encryption key is encoded in a special stream of photons or bits. The Toshiba work is based on the ability to make the infinitesimally short time measurements required to capture pulses of quantum light hidden in streams of photons transmitted over fibre optic links - and to do that in a network of dozens of users.

The key exchange is usually protected by the use of mathematical formulas based on the challenge of factoring large numbers.

In recent years public key cryptographic systems have been improved by lengthening the factored numbers used in the formula.

That, in principal, would require vastly more computing resources to break into the system.

Quantum cryptography relies instead on encoding the key in a stream of quantum information - photons that are specially polarised. If a third party eavesdrops on the communication, the fact will be immediately obvious to the parties of the secret communication.

Andrew J Shields, the assistant managing director for Toshiba Research Europe, acknowledged that a quantum encryption system solved only a portion of the problem.
“To be honest, quantum cryptography allows us only to know if someone is tapping the fibre,” he said. “There are other areas of concern.”

Go to Top

Photo Gallery
A major fire that broke out in the crackers market in Faridabad...

A major fire that broke out in the crackers market in Faridabad...

On the eve of Diwali Renowned sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik created a sand sculpture of Kali...

On the eve of Diwali Renowned sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik created a sand sculpture of Kali...

Indian passengers rest on a crowded platform ahead of Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights...

Indian passengers rest on a crowded platform ahead of Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights...

Indian soccer player Peter Biaksangzuala, center, performs flips as he celebrates a goal...

Indian soccer player Peter Biaksangzuala, center, performs flips as he celebrates a goal...

Woman buying earthen lamps at a market ahead of the Diwali festival...

Woman buying earthen lamps at a market ahead of the Diwali festival...

School children paint their faces during Diwali celebrations...

School children paint their faces during Diwali celebrations...

A huge rangoli in front of Swaminarayan Temple...

A huge rangoli in front of Swaminarayan Temple...

Volunteers of Azad Hind taking out a procession to mark the Azad Hind Foundation Day...

Volunteers of Azad Hind taking out a procession to mark the Azad Hind Foundation Day...

Family members paying tribute to police martyrs during Police Commemoration Day...

Family members paying tribute to police martyrs during Police Commemoration Day...

TRS activists set affire chairs at the TDP office in Nalgonda...

TRS activists set affire chairs at the TDP office in Nalgonda...

Copyright 2014, The Printers (Mysore) Private Ltd., 75, M.G Road, Post Box 5331, Bangalore - 560001
Tel: +91 (80) 25880000 Fax No. +91 (80) 25880523