Moving quantum cryptography inside your smart phone

Integrated orbital angular momentum devices array. Credit: University of Bristol Centre for Quantum Photonics

Quantum Key Cryptography, QKC, is already in use on physical communications infrastructures where an all optical connectivity is available, end to end. This is being used for secure links in banks data centres. The equipment needed is bulky and it relies on stable communications environment, such as the one that can be guarantee by an end to end optical communications.

Now researchers from the University of Bristol in cooperation with Nokia have demonstrated that by using a new protocol (they developed) it would be possible to use QKC through a single optical chip that would ensure robust enough quantum communications to be applicable to noisy links, such as the one we have in wireless communications. Since all it takes, from a hardware point of view, is a chip, one could move QKC into smart phones.

The protocol has been tested in the labs of the Center for Quantum Photonics at the University of Bristol. Now it needs to be taken in real wireless network environment.

It is good to see advanced technology making our communications secure. However, as a plain vanilla user, I should say that the likelihood of my communications being intercepted in the transport network (both in the wireless part and in the wired part) is negligible, with respect to the probability of my cell phone being hacked or my voice being eavesdropped. 

QKC will surely become important in securing banking transactions (including my use of remote banking of course) once PKC (Public Key Cryptography) will be made obsolete by quantum computers, but that will take a few more years. 

At the same time I also feel that education in the area of Security can lead to dramatic improvements in every day security. And it is not about changing our password frequently ...;-)

Author - Roberto Saracco

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