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In today’s technological world, the information passed through optical fiber networks every second is as valuable as currency, but often the security is not adequate for growing network capabilities and the threats against them.
LANL researchers are helping address these cyber security threats through two recently unveiled technologies.
Jane Nordholt, Richard Hughes, Charles Peterson, and Raymond T. Newell of the Lab’s Applied Modern Physics group have developed unique cyber security technologies based on quantum key distribution that can provide both communications and transmission security: Quantum Smart Card (QKarD) provides communications security; Quantum Enabled Security (QES) provides transmission security. While fully capable of operating independently, these technologies also can operate as one
complete system for encryption and authentication.
The new technologies represent a paradigm shift in practical cryptography. Unlike current cryptography techniques, which rely on the difficulty of mathematical problems to generate security, quantum encryption techniques rely on the laws of quantum mechanics.
By placing cryptography on the solid foundations of physical laws, quantum-key distribution provides encryption that is provably secure versus that which is probably secure.
Quantum Enabled Security uses single photon (quantum) communications integrated with optical communications to provide strong, innate security for optical fiber networks.
QES provides unbreakable security to digital data traversing a fiber optic network. Quantum-generated cryptographic keys encrypt data at the source.
The laws of physics ensure that successful decryption can only take place at the authorized receiver.
This technique is readily extensible over large networks, and it is backwards-compatible with existing transparent optical networks.
The Quantum Smart Card is a hand-held device and supporting network tool to provide individuals with quantum-generated cryptographic keys on the go. With a personalized set of quantum keys in secure memory, a QKarD holder could encrypt telephone calls, text messages, e-commerce transactions, etc.
Any digital transfer can be protected from eavesdropping.
LANL has filed two separate patents for intellectual property related to the secure quantum communications, and a call for technology commercialization partners has been announced.
The work supports the Laboratory’s Global Security mission area and the Information Science and Technology and the Science of Signatures capability pillars.