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'Unbreakable' Encryption Unveiled

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posted on Oct, 9 2008 @ 11:53 AM

Perfect secrecy has come a step closer with the launch of the world's first computer network protected by unbreakable quantum encryption at a scientific conference in Vienna. The network connects six locations across Vienna and in the nearby town of St Poelten, using 200 km of standard commercial fibre optic cables. Quantum cryptography is completely different from the kinds of security schemes used on computer networks today. These are typically based on complex mathematical procedures which are extremely hard for outsiders to crack, but not impossible given sufficient computing resources or time. But quantum systems use the laws of quantum theory, which have been shown to be inherently unbreakable. .....

Numerical key

From the detected photons, a totally secret numerical key can be distilled, which encodes the users' data much like the keys used in normal computer networks do.

The advantage is that no-one else can know the key without revealing themselves.

As we saw in the demonstration: when an intruder did try to listen in on the quantum exchange, photons became scrambled, and a rise in the error rate at the node detectors signalled the attack. The system automatically shut down without being compromised.

More importantly, the demonstration also showed that the network is robust.

If one quantum link breaks down, the connections can be re-routed via other nodes, much as phone calls get re-routed automatically through a telecoms network, so that any two users on the network can remain in continuous secure contact.


Sounds pretty crazy to me ... seems pretty futuristic. I'm sure there will be plenty of people who will try and crack it ... sounds pretty impossible though ... it's just mind boggling thinking about it ... "ultimate secrecy"

[edit on 9-10-2008 by baseball101]

posted on Oct, 9 2008 @ 11:58 AM
well if they can ban some dvd copying sofware you can be sure that they will ban this technology (for public use) eventually.

'can't have 100% secure encryption as the terrorists might use it' will be the excuse and if it is allowed on the shelves then you can guarantee they know a backdoor into it. how will they spy on the ordinary user otherwise?

posted on Oct, 9 2008 @ 12:00 PM
reply to post by justyc

oh i agree with you %100 i definitely can't see this being sold to the public and ya there will be something done about it because there are plenty of ways for terrorists to get things ... i don't know just thought it was such a crazy thing with all the math etc. that's involved

posted on Oct, 9 2008 @ 12:43 PM
So they finally done it. This is truly Unpenetrable.
Basicly it works like this. When a photon of light is created, it shares its same characteristics with another photon through quantum entanglement.
Like conjoined twins or a clone. One is given a number and the only other thing in the universe that "knows" what that number is, is it's twin.
If someone tried to tap the line, just the act of observing a photon disturbs it and sends it flying off coarse. After all, to see something, light has to bounce off or be emitted by an object and go to our eyes.
After a threshold of errors has been reached (photons disturbed by monitoring them) the other end cuts the line.

I would not even think about civilians getting this Fedware.....ever.
Same goes for all the other secret software that can exploit Winders and see what I'm typing. Oh well, until someone hits the Reset button, privacy is long gone.

posted on Oct, 9 2008 @ 04:38 PM
are you sure it works on the principle of entanglement? i mean i thought our own understanding of such things was primitive.... I thought when i first read it that it worked on probability like quantum physics. Like there is a probability of each character, packet, or bit, being in each line of the code, but without an understanding of the "probability matrix" one could not possibly hope to pin down each packet or series of bits in any type of coherent way....

posted on Oct, 9 2008 @ 06:49 PM
Quantum Encryption as a theory has been around for a while, I remember doing a presentation on it at uni. The advantages is that it cant be eavesdropped, if Alice and Bob are transmitting a key and Malory tries to eavesdrop they have to guess the polarization of the photons, by doing this she will introduce errors into the stream. Once the key has been transmitted Alice and Bob can check their results, if there are discrepancies in the results they ditch the key and go again.

Wiki article on it here. Bennet and Bassard had already transmitted a key over a working model years ago although not really a practical implementation.

However, 'feasibly unbreakable' encryption is already here and has been for a long time. There are many open-source / public algorithms that if you tried to brute force by exhausting the key-space would require an incomprehensible amount of time or silicon. Remember a computer needs energy to store a 'bit' and change a systems state. When you start to bump into problems with the laws of thermodynamics you know your key is probably quite safe...

This is, of course, assuming the algorithm has been implemented properly. This means that when picking an encryption product you really should look into the technical team who are developing it. Also it requires you to choose a strong key.

At the end of the day though, there is always one way to break any encryption, be it quantum or otherwise, you just need a chair, some rope and rubber hose. Eventually, you will talk.

posted on Oct, 9 2008 @ 07:30 PM
Quantum encryption or quantum cryptography is vulnerable to a number of attacks.

It could be hacked by using a 'man in the middle' approach, a 'trojan horse' approach and standard methods, such as bribery or reading the message, or calling the sender on the phone and saying 'this is John, did your message say "blah-blah".

Mary, fooled into thinking it is John will frequently say "no, I said 'Blah'". Or conversely, a fake Mary can call John and say 'did you get my message' and then deduce what the content was from his answer.

The other downfall of any methods thought to be unbreakable is that the users tend to be too confident, overlook protocol, or just get fooled. IOW, any time humans are involved in the process there's a weak link.

The majority of hacks of systems like this are done by social engineering. You just go to the sender's location and look at the unencrypted message hidden under their desk blotter.

When cracking software a similar approach is used. If there are twenty locks to overcome you just change the "lock, if 'a is true', to 'unlock, if 'a is true'" and voila, all the locks are open. Doesn't matter if there were 20 or 120.

2 cents.

[edit on 9/10/2008 by Badge01]

posted on Oct, 9 2008 @ 07:34 PM
If it is unbreakable, that means it will take 5 adolescent computer geeks a whole three weeks to crack it,

Technically, that is one line and a half.

posted on Oct, 9 2008 @ 07:37 PM
Plenty of new developments over the years in data encryption and security always came with the statement in quotes .."unbreakable"..

If that were true, then there wouldnt be a need for an industry focused on data encryption theft prevention.

What goes up...must come down.

If it can turn to the left, it darn sure can turn to the right.

Forwards and backwards.

Safe and unsafe.

Secure and unsecure.

It has yet to be proven that any data encryption scheme can be totally 100 percent unbreakable.


posted on Oct, 9 2008 @ 08:30 PM
In my mind encryption is already unbreakable although I'm sure most of the commercial software has some backdoors in it and should probably be avoided.

Some encryption is crackable given enough resources of course but we still have messages from WW2 that have never been cracked successfully and that is going back a bit.

A lot of people seem to think the government can crack anything and that quantum computers will also make cracking easier I disagree all you have to do is double the keysize and it will take quantum computers just as long to crack it.

If you really have something to hide I think you would probably be best writing your own program and using multiple layers of the heaviest encryption available maybe making some tweaks the algorithms here and there.

Realisticly if it ever gets cracked it will not be in your lifetime.

posted on Oct, 9 2008 @ 10:29 PM
reply to post by Teknikal

The question isn't are there some cyphers in the past that haven't been cracked.

That doesn't speak to the system used to create them. For all we know, they could be nonsense.

The question is, are there uncrackable cyphers. Perhaps there are but the 'system' is not secure in that there are humans involved and as you state (good point there) some have backdoors.

Any cryptologist worth his salt will devise a way to crack his own cypher before publishing it, because he can look ahead and see that there may come a day when his system is used against him. Again, human nature provides the flaw and thus, the key.

posted on Oct, 10 2008 @ 01:16 AM
The method of encryption has a drawback that makes it unusable for the type of communication that must remain uninterrupted. The military wouldn't use this system unless the tests show that channels can be switched without loss of data no matter how small. The hacking into the system wouldn't be intended to eavesdrop; the purpose would be to disrupt the communication.

posted on Oct, 10 2008 @ 04:02 AM
Regarding back doors into crypto systems. The case of DES and the NSA is interesting. When IBM developed DES it was sent it off to the NSA to have have it analyzed, when it came back the S-Boxes had all changed. At the time that led to a lot off suspicion that the NSA had used a particular configuration of S-Boxes to introduce a weakness that only they would know about.

DES however has been through rigorous cryptanalysis and this has shown to be not the case. No-one uses DES though, but that's because the key length is too small nowadays to be secure and can be easily brute-forced.

posted on Oct, 10 2008 @ 04:16 AM
reply to post by stander

Good point. Military battlefield cyphers only have to remain uncracked for a short amount of time. They can use simpler methods and keep changing them. As long as the code isn't cracked during the campaign, then they've served their purpose.

After that it doesn't really matter that the code is decrypted. It's lost its value.

Might I remind everyone that there is a cypher that was never cracked by the enemy.

Non-speakers would find it extremely difficult to accurately distinguish unfamiliar sounds used in these languages. Additionally, a speaker who has acquired a language during their childhood sounds distinctly different from a person who acquired the same language in later life, thus reducing the chance of successful impostors sending false messages. Finally, the additional layer of an alphabet cypher was added to prevent interception by native speakers not trained as code talkers, in the event of their capture by the Japanese.

Thus a combination of spoken word, pictographic interpretations of common terms and an arcane language coupled with inflection was sufficient.

Navajo in particular was an attractive choice for code use because few people outside the Navajo themselves had ever learned to speak the language and virtually no books in Navajo had ever been published. Outside of the language itself, the Navajo spoken code was not very complex by cryptographic standards and would likely have been broken if a native speaker and trained cryptographers worked together effectively. The Japanese had an opportunity to attempt this when they captured Joe Kieyoomia in the Philippines in 1942 during the Bataan Death March. Kieyoomia, a Navajo Sergeant in the U.S. Army, was ordered to interpret the radio messages later in the war. However, since Kieyoomia had not participated in the code training, the messages made no sense to him. The Japanese Imperial Army and Navy never cracked the spoken code, and high ranking military officers have stated that the United States would never have won the Battle of Iwo Jima without the secrecy afforded by the code talkers.

At times, we may work too hard to accomplish things by high tech means when there are simpler methods available.

2 cents.

posted on Oct, 10 2008 @ 07:35 AM

Originally posted by Badge01
At times, we may work too hard to accomplish things by high tech means when there are simpler methods available.

In those times that went by, data acquisition was mostly the goal of deciphering. Today, data manipulation is the hot thing. Just hack your way in and delete any DUI glued to your name -- stuff like that. Or transferring money from someone's fat account into your account without leaving a clue who and where. I heard that the Feds are pumping lots of money into the financial system these days. That means the hackers might have advanced their craft to a divine level.

[edit on 10/10/2008 by stander]

posted on Oct, 10 2008 @ 08:17 AM
Interesting article. However, one small point: The US has had a Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) System up and operational for the last 5 years. See the following:

QKD at BBN Technologies

posted on Oct, 10 2008 @ 10:48 AM

Originally posted by Pyros
Interesting article. However, one small point: The US has had a Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) System up and operational for the last 5 years. See the following:

QKD at BBN Technologies

You mean it has been operational in a lab somewhere in the USA for five years, right?

When I coupled "microsoft and QKD," Google spat up a close look into the works:

(Erm. I came to the conclusion that the system is hackable, providing that someone else than I does the hacking.)

I wonder how expensive this technology could be as a part of the Internet security.

posted on Oct, 10 2008 @ 11:00 AM

Originally posted by zsrgt
However, 'feasibly unbreakable' encryption is already here and has been for a long time. There are many open-source / public algorithms that if you tried to brute force by exhausting the key-space would require an incomprehensible amount of time or silicon.

Excellent point! Not sure if this is any better than a one time pad type of encryption. That is also unbreakable (theoretically, if not in practice.)

It may be surprising to the reader that there exist simple ``perfect'' encryption methods, meaning that there is a mathematical proof that cryptanalysis is impossible. The term ``perfect'' in cryptography also means that after an opponent receives the ciphertext he has no more information than before receiving the ciphertext. The simplest of these perfect methods is called the one-time pad.

To clarify, a "one-time pad" is just an extremely long encryption key that is totally random, and never repeats itself. Picture exchanging a one gigabyte thumb drive, filled with random numbers.

At the end of the day though, there is always one way to break any encryption, be it quantum or otherwise, you just need a chair, some rope and rubber hose. Eventually, you will talk.

Even better point! Encryption is all about hiding information, and at some point it just becomes easier to torture the information out of a human being. Grim thought, but absolutely true.

Edit: Badge01 made this point earlier also, and suggested we don't necessarily have to resort to torture -- we can simply play a clever con game or three to get the information. Many different levels here.

[edit on 10-10-2008 by Buck Division]

posted on Oct, 10 2008 @ 11:29 AM
The beauty of Quantum Cryptography is the principles of key distribution.

In traditional cryptography, "keys" must be created, stored, and then distributed to all users of the system. Until the advent of QC, all known keys, both physical and electronic, could be passively observed, imaged, or studied without repercussions to the system. This allows a third party to construct their own key, after having successfully observed the master key, and then record the encrypted transmission. It is then a simple matter to run the recording through the decryption process to obtain true data.

In QC, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle allows the design of communication channels using photons to securely distribute keys that cannot be passively observed, because the act of observing the transmission itself changes the state of the transmission, thus invalidating it. If a key is observed in transit, it will reach the far end corrupted, and thus be discarded. The observer gains nothing.

You cannot steal a key protected by QC, because the act of stealing the key changes it.

posted on Oct, 10 2008 @ 11:57 AM
reply to post by justyc

We already have 100% secure encryption that anyone can use. The one-time pad.

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