Scientists Create Prototype Internet Network That Can’t Be Hacked
A team of international scientists led by the UK’s University of Bristol have made significant steps towards bringing about a completely secure internet network.
This unique prototype could well transform online communication, and is reported to be the ‘largest-ever quantum network of its kind’.
With the potential to serve millions of internet users, securing online communication and ensuring that messages remain ‘completely safe’ from the threat of interception.
An article published today in the journal Science Advances reveals how the team used a principle known as entanglement to exploit the power of two separate particles placed in different locations to mimic each other at the exact same time.
This process reportedly opens the way for much better opportunities in the areas of quantum computers, sensors, and information processing.
Lead author Dr Siddarth Joshi, who headed the project at the University of Bristol’s Quantum Engineering Technology (QET) Labs, stated:
This represents a massive breakthrough and makes the quantum internet a much more realistic proposition. Until now, building a quantum network has entailed huge cost, time, and resource, as well as often compromising on its security which defeats the whole purpose.
Our solution is scalable, relatively cheap and, most important of all, impregnable. That means it’s an exciting game changer and paves the way for much more rapid development and widespread rollout of this technology.
Current internet systems rely upon complex codes for information protection. However, hackers are getting better and better at outsmarting these systems, resulting in worldwide cyber-attacks that can lead to significant privacy breaches and fraud.
The costs of such losses are projected to soar as hackers become more adept, and the need to find an alternative has become increasingly important.
For decades, quantum has been viewed as a revolutionary replacement for standard encryption techniques. Physicists have already developed a type of secure encryption – called quantum key distribution – that transmits particles of light, known as photons.
This process means that two users can share a secret key to encrypt and decrypt information, without the risk of being intercepted. However, to date, this technique has only proven to be effective between two users.
Instead of making physical connections – for example glass fibre – between every single user, the team were able to build a system whereby each user only had a single glass fibre connected with a source of quantum entanglement.
Dr Joshi continued:
Until now efforts to expand the network have involved vast infrastructure and a system which requires the creation of another transmitter and receiver for every additional user.
Sharing messages in this way, known as trusted nodes, is just not good enough because it uses so much extra hardware which could leak and would no longer be totally secure.
[…] Instead of having to replicate the whole communication system, this latest methodology, called multiplexing, splits the light particles, emitted by a single system, so they can be received by multiple users efficiently.
Previous quantum systems have taken years to create, with costs adding up to millions or even billions of pounds. However, this new network was created within the space of a few months for less than £300,000.
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CreditsUniversity of Bristol and 1 other
University of Bristol