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Cryptography Techniques

Rice University_122422A
[Rice University]


- Overview

Barely a week goes by without reports of some new mega-hack that’s exposed huge amounts of sensitive information, from people’s credit card details and health records to companies’ valuable intellectual property. The threat posed by cyberattacks is forcing governments, militaries, and businesses to explore more secure ways of transmitting information.

Today, sensitive data is often encrypted and then sent over fiber-optic cables and other channels along with the digital "keys" needed to decode the information. Data and keys are sent as classical bits—streams of electrical or optical pulses representing 1s and 0s. This makes them vulnerable. Clever hackers can read and copy bits in transit without leaving a trace. 

Quantum communication uses the laws of quantum physics to protect data. These laws allow particles—typically photons that carry data along fiber optic cables—to assume a state of superposition, meaning they can represent multiple combinations of 1s and 0s at the same time. These particles are called quantum bits, or qubits.

From a cybersecurity perspective, the beauty of qubits is that their ultra-fragile quantum states can "collapse" to a 1 or 0 if a hacker tries to observe them in transit. This means hackers cannot tamper with the qubits without leaving them behind. A clear sign of activity. 

Some companies have exploited this property to create networks to transmit highly sensitive data based on a process known as quantum key distribution, or QKD. These networks are super secure, at least in theory.


[More to come ...]



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