[ISN] Study shows how photonic decoys can foil hackers

InfoSec News isn at c4i.org
Fri Feb 24 01:51:29 EST 2006


FEBRUARY 23, 2006

A University of Toronto professor and researcher has demonstrated for
the first time a new technique for safeguarding data transmitted over
fiber-optic networks using quantum cryptography.

Professor Hoi-Kwong Lo, a member of the school's Centre for Quantum
Information and Quantum Control, is the senior author of a study that
sheds light on using what's called a photonic decoy technique for
encrypting data.

Quantum cryptography is starting to be used by the military, banks and
other organizations that seek to better protect the data on their
networks. This sort of cryptography uses photons to carry encryption
keys, which is considered safer than protecting data via traditional
methods that powerful computers can crack. Quantum cryptography is
based on fundamental laws of physics, such that merely observing a
quantum object alters it.

Lo's team used modified quantum key distribution equipment from Id
Quantique and a 9.3-mile fiber-optic link to demonstrate the use of
decoys in data transmissions and to alert receiving computers about
which photons were legit and which were phony. The technique is
designed to support high key generation rates over long distances.

Lo's study is slated to appear in the Feb. 24 issue of Physical Review

Lo notes that existing products, such as those from Id Quantique and
MagiQ Technologies, are for point-to-point applications used by the
military and security-sensitive businesses. "In the long run, one can
envision a global quantum cryptographic network, either based on
satellite relays or based on quantum repeaters," he says.

University researchers are fueling many advances in network security.  
A University of Indiana professor recently revealed technology for
thwarting phishing and pharming culprits by using a technique called
active cookies.

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