A THEORY first proposed by Albert Einstein 70 years ago has provided the basis for a new electronic “key” that could spell the demise of computer hackers. Physicists at the Australian National University (ANU) have successfully used bright lasers to prevent transmitted data from being hacked.
Their breakthrough was based on work done by Einstein and his colleagues in 1935 who uncovered a phenomenon known as entanglement, a theory which described the way particles of energy interacted predictably with each other. Applying this theory in the field of quantum cryptography had allowed the ANU group to generate a secret key that prevented data from being hacked. Their discovery was expected to be of particular interest to defence and intelligence organisations, governments and the finance sector because it allowed communication between two groups without the possibility of eavesdropping of any kind.
The security of quantum cryptography was guaranteed by the laws of physics where the security of conventional cryptographic methods relied on the complexity of mathematical operations. The ANU scientists, led by Dr Ping Koy Lam, have developed an experimental prototype demonstrating this futuristic technology and were currently investigating the potential commercial applications.
“The technology employs specially generated secret electronic data, or keys, to encrypt a message,” the ANU team said.
“Upon receipt of the encrypted message, the recipient uses a precisely matching decoding key to recover the original message.
“Only a receiver with an identical secret key can correctly decipher the encoded message and the information cannot be intercepted between these points.”
The team said it believed it was among the first using bright lasers to have demonstrated the successful transmission of a secret key.
“Governments around the world in particular are paying close attention to this research area,” said research fellow Dr Thomas Symul.
“It has the potential to revolutionise information security in the way that the world wide web revolutionised the availability of information.” S