Quantum cryptography tested

Photon technology trialled

Researchers at North-western University in Chicago have joined forces with BBN Technologies to demonstrate what they are calling the first truly quantum cryptographic data network.

The university has combined its quantum noise-protected data-encryption technology with quantum key distribution technology from research and development services provider BBN on an 8.8km SONET link between BBN headquarters and Harvard University.

Quantum cryptography uses single photons of light to distribute keys to encrypt and decrypt messages. Because quantum particles are changed by any observation or measurement even the simplest attempt at snooping on the network interrupts the flow of data and alerts administrators.

Prem Kumar, professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Northwestern’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, says such technology is needed to safeguard the growing volumes of data being sent across increasingly fast networks.

Previous tests of Kumar’s technology involved use of pre-shared encryption keys, whereas the quantum key distribution system is considered much more secure because it constantly provides refreshed keys.