Start-up MagiQ Technologies, from Somerville, Massachusetts, has released the first commercial implementation of quantum cryptography, the much-heralded solution to the perfect encryption cipher. Theoretically, encryption ciphers created using quantum physics are unbreakable.
While MagiQ Technologies’ product, Navajo, isn’t itself a quantum device it uses one of the fundamental tenets of quantum theory: Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, to create a Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) network. Werner Heisenberg first published his theory in 1927, stating that the more precisely the position of is known, the less precisely the momentum is known. This succinct statement addresses the uncertain relationship between the position and the momentum (mass times velocity) of a subatomic particle, such as an electron, and has profound impact on the development of future information systems.
MagiQ’s Navajo creates encryption keys that change up to 1,000 times a second to prevent eavesdroppers from deciphering the transmitted data packets. The keys are transmitted over a secure fiber optic link in a stream of polarized photons. If an eavesdropper (or other transmission failure) interrupt the flow of polarized photons, the data is immediately altered, and the encryption system can detect the change. Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle comes into play in that even if the eavesdropper only looks at one of the polarized photons, the data stream will be changed, and the intrusion detected. Navajo works with off-the-shelf encryption ciphers, such as the U.S. Government-supported AES (Advanced Encryption Standard). While AES is very secure, the combination of AES and Navajo is theoretically absolutely secure: unbreakable.
Okay, you’ve been reading my prophecies about quantum cryptography for almost a decade, so you can probably imagine how excited I am that the technology is moving from the research facilities to the corporate IT department. I look forward to products like Navajo being available to the masses.
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