In a bid to fight against the future cyber threats, scientists have developed a new system with high-speed encryption properties that drives quantum computers to create theoretically hack-proof forms of data encryption. The novel system is capable of creating and distributing encryption codes at megabit-per-second rates, which is five to 10 times faster than existing methods and on par with current internet speeds when running several systems in parallel. The technique is secure from common attacks, even in the face of equipment flaws that could open up leaks. “We are now likely to have a functioning quantum computer that might be able to start breaking the existing cryptographic codes in the near future,” said Daniel Gauthier, Professor at The Ohio State University. “We really need to be thinking hard now of different techniques that we could use for trying to secure the internet,” Gauthier added, in the paper appearing in the journal Science Advances.
For the new system to work, both the hacker as well as the sender must have access to the same key, and it must be kept secret. The novel system uses a weakened laser to encode information or transmit keys on individual photons of light, but also packs more information onto each photon, making the technique faster. By adjusting the time at which the photon is released, and a property of the photon called the phase, the new system can encode two bits of information per photon instead of one. This trick, paired with high-speed detectors powers the system to transmit keys five to 10 times faster than other methods. “It was changing these additional properties of the photon that allowed us to almost double the secure key rate that we were able to obtain if we hadn’t done that,” Gauthier said.