Cryptography relies heavily on mathematics to encode messages; the codes are meant to be incredibly difficult to break but with modern computing systems the process is becoming easier. This has led to the development of quantum cryptography which relies on physics to create codes rather than maths – this makes them much harder to crack. Quantum cryptography stores information in the unknowability of nature itself rather than simply trying to beat a computer. You will still have a lot of questions about this technological advance like how does this work? Can it be implemented easily?
How Does It Work?
Quantum refers to the most fundamental behaviour of the smallest particles of matter and energy; quantum theory explains everything that exists. Quantum cryptography is based around the usage of individual particles or light waves and their quantum properties to create an unbreakable cryptosystem. This is because it is impossible to measure the quantum state of any system without disturbing and altering the system. Other particles could be used in quantum cryptography but because our understanding of light is well-developed and their usage in modern communication it makes them the best particles to use for a cryptography system.
Quantum Key Distribution is a subset of quantum cryptography that is used to create and transfer symmetric encryption keys between two locations. It allows the transfer of a key without a third party being able to infiltrate it and understand it. This is because it works with light particles that are polarised. Through measuring the polarisations in filters and feedback between the creator and user the cryptographic key can be discovered. If a third party infiltrates this they have to have it in the right order, hacking the system will change the key and the users will know. It is a randomly generated system that is truly unique and unbreakable. This is the most advanced area of quantum cryptography with some tests already having taken place.
Can I Use This Now?
Quantum cryptography is still very much theoretical. Advances are being made towards a useable system on a regular basis but do not expect to be able to implement this in your corporate systems anytime soon. Some of the issues still need to be solved, for instance, quantum keys distort over long distances and if this system is implemented most of the internet protocols will have to be rewritten. However, if these can be overcome quantum cryptography could have a wide array of applications from sending encryption keys, creating them and even the ability to check the location of readers for verification purposes. This will further secure computing systems but more importantly it will secure sensitive data.