Quantum crypto targeted in attack of the clones

Holy Grail of security further tarnished


Japanese researchers have put another dent in Quantum cryptograpy's reputation as the final word in secure communications.

Transmissions sent using the technique are protected from eavesdroppers by the fundamental rules of quantum physics, at least in theory.

In practice, implementation weaknesses can leave a narrow door for attackers, and Japanese boffins have developed an idea for a quantum eavesdropping device that can exploit one such weakness.

Quantum cryptography is designed to allow users to exchange secret keys. The polarisation of individual light photons determines one bit of a key. The rules of quantum mechanics mean that any attempt to intercept this data irreversibly alters it.

Because of this effect, any attempt to eavesdrop a key would be detected as a unacceptably noisy communications path.

The loophole exploited by Japanese boffins is that it might be possible to make a partial copy of a quantum key without tripping an alert that a communications path has been compromised. This partial copy might be used in subsequent cryptoanalysis. The technique relies on constructing an optical cloning circuit and a measuring device, as explained in a paper by the researchers here (pdf).

Boffins led by Yuta Okubo at the University of Tskuba in Japan have not yet built a device that implements the approach. Nonetheless the research is a concern for banks and government agencies that bought quantum cryptography systems in the belief they were inherently secure.

The Japanese research follows an earlier study by boffins in Sweden examining another practical shortcoming with quantum cryptography systems. As previously reported, the weakness identified by the Swedish team involved shortcomings in how systems verify that the content of a message has not been altered in transit. ®

Similar topics

Broader topics


Other stories you might like

  • NASA installs a new and improved algorithm to better track near-Earth asteroids

    Nearly 20 year-old software used to protect humanity gets an upgrade

    NASA has upgraded its near-Earth asteroid monitoring algorithm to model hazardous space rocks more accurately after nearly two decades, it announced on Tuesday.

    The new system, dubbed Sentry-II, is more powerful than its predecessor, Sentry. Astronomers working at the space agency's Center for Near Earth Object Studies can now automatically calculate thermal influences that nudge an asteroid’s orbit, potentially sending it hurtling towards our home planet.

    The so-called Yarkovsky effect describes the subtle and gradual change of motion when asteroids are heated by the Sun’s light. When asteroids spin, one side of its surface exposed to the star gets heated. As it continues to rotate, the hot region enters shade and cools down. Infrared energy is radiated outwards; the photons carry momentum and impart a tiny thrust on the asteroid. Over long periods of time, these small kicks can change their paths and knock them out of their original orbit.

    Continue reading
  • Facebook slapped with an eyepopping $150B lawsuit for spreading hate speech against Rohingya refugees

    Lawsuit claims social media giant's algos helped Myanmar military crackdown on the Rohingya

    Meta was sued on Tuesday for a whopping $150 billion in a class-action lawsuit for allegedly amplifying hate speech and aiding the Myanmar military in the genocide of the Rohingya people.

    The case, led by an anonymous Rohingya refugee living in the US, accuses the entity formerly known as Facebook of inciting hatred and inflicting real harm on the predominantly Muslim group for years. Not only did the social media platform ignore hate speech posts, it's alleged that the service's algorithms actively promoted anti-Rohingya propaganda as hundreds of thousands of people fled from Myanmar to escape persecution.

    Facebook has already acknowledged its role in the campaign, which saw an estimated 25,000 people perish and 700,000 forced from the country. The lawsuit also comes after ex-employee and whistleblower Frances Haugen leaked internal documents demonstrating how its algorithms prioritized engagement over safety.

    Continue reading
  • Power management IC shortage holding cars, laptops, hostage

    Couple of cents-worth of kit causing big problems for the year to come

    The shortage of power management chips is worsening and holding back companies from building cars, PCs and items with batteries or an on-off switch, Trendforce said in a study this week.

    Power management ICs cost just a few cents, and are among cheap chips that include display driver and USB-C components that are in short supply. These chips are as important to PCs and other electronics as CPUs or memory.

    The demand for PMICs has gone through the roof with the emergence of electric cars and growing demand for PCs and consumer electronics during the past 20 plus months. Trendforce expects the prices will go up by 10 per cent to a six-year high of $0.23.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021