Quantum mechanics comes to security

Well, now I‘ve heard it all and maybe it’s time to retire. I was reading in Information Week that a group of UCLA computer scientists say they have developed technology that uses quantum bits rather than regular computer bits to secure communications between two devices based on the location of each device.

In other words, based on your authenticated geographic location, a secure encrypted communication channel can be created, on the fly, between two devices, that is spoof proof. To have the location-based encryption, authentication, and communication happen they used advanced quantum theory.

Now I always struggled in physics but here is a description of the difference between regular ole computer bits and quantum bits, (courtesy of Wikipedia).

In physics, a quantum (plural: quanta) is the minimum unit of any physical entity involved in an interaction. A photon, for example, is a single quantum of light, and may thus be referred to as a “light quantum”. The energy of an electron bound to an atom (at rest) is said to be quantized, which results in the stability of atoms, and of matter in general.

A bit or binary digit is the basic unit of information in computing and telecommunications; it is the amount of information that can be stored by a digital device or other physical system that can usually exist in only two distinct states, “true or false”.  In quantum computing, a quantum bit or qubit is a quantum system that can exist in superposition of two bit values, “true” and “false”.

What does that all mean? I don’t know it’s beyond my pay grade. But the important story here is that according to Rafail Ostrovsky, the UCLA professor of computer science and mathematics who headed the team, “securely proving a location where such a proof cannot be spoofed, and securely communicating only to a device in a particular location and nowhere else is extremely important” because it effectively allows two parties to communicate securely, using only geographical positions as their credentials.

One potential wireless security application, for example, would be to allow two military bases to communicate with each other over insecure channels, without sharing a key in advance or requiring a secure infrastructure. Don’t laugh but I think it’s only a matter of time before we really enter the age of Star Trek and start beaming up and beaming down physical objects based on such early technology.

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