Another Look at Quantum Crypto

    Date10 Nov 2003
    CategoryCryptography
    3984
    Posted ByAnthony Pell
    On Friday, I voiced moderate scepticism about whether MagiQ's launch of quantum cryptography was the real thing. I've had an e-mail from a computer science lecturer at Massey University in New Zealand, Bruce Mills, which sheds some light on the topic . . . On Friday, I voiced moderate scepticism about whether MagiQ's launch of quantum cryptography was the real thing. I've had an e-mail from a computer science lecturer at Massey University in New Zealand, Bruce Mills, which sheds some light on the topic (with the weight of expertise rather than guesswork!). The short version is that the MagiQ product is feasible, but there's a gap between what it does and the hype it's attracted.

    Mills said he's been aware of prototypes of such systems in research laboratories for about four years. "The idea is conceptually very simple," he wrote. "In order to steal information from a communications link, you have to steal energy."

    Among other things, quantum mechanics describes the smallest amount of energy which can exist - one quantum - which in light equates to a single photon. Stealing information, in this context, means stealing at least one photon; and since there's only one there, the light goes out.

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