Nav: Home

Protecting quantum computing networks against hacking threats

February 03, 2017

As we saw during the 2016 US election, protecting traditional computer systems, which use zeros and ones, from hackers is not a perfect science. Now consider the complex world of quantum computing, where bits of information can simultaneously hold multiple states beyond zero and one, and the potential threats become even trickier to tackle. Even so, researchers at the University of Ottawa have uncovered clues that could help administrators protect quantum computing networks from external attacks.

"Our team has built the first high-dimensional quantum cloning machine capable of performing quantum hacking to intercept a secure quantum message," said University of Ottawa Department of Physics professor Ebrahim Karimi, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Structured Light. "Once we were able to analyze the results, we discovered some very important clues to help protect quantum computing networks against potential hacking threats."

Quantum systems were believed to provide perfectly secure data transmission because until now, attempts to copy the transmitted information resulted in an altered or deteriorated version of the original information, thereby defeating the purpose of the initial hack. Traditional computing allows a hacker to simply copy and paste information and replicate it exactly, but this doesn't hold true in the quantum computing world, where attempts to copy quantum information-or qudits-result in what Karimi refers to as "bad" copies. Until now.

For the first time, Professor Karimi's team was able to clone the photons that transmit information, namely the single carriers of light known as qubits, as well as quantum theory allows, meaning that the clones were almost exact replicas of the original information. However, in addition to undermining what was previously thought to be a perfect way of securely transmitting information, the researchers' analyses revealed promising clues into how to protect against such hacking.

"What we found was that when larger amounts of quantum information are encoded on a single photon, the copies will get worse and hacking even simpler to detect," said Frédéric Bouchard, a University of Ottawa doctoral student and lead author of an open access publication that appeared this month in the renowned journal Science Advances. "We were also able to show that cloning attacks introduce specific, observable noises in a secure quantum communication channel. Ensuring photons contain the largest amount of information possible and monitoring these noises in a secure channel should help strengthen quantum computing networks against potential hacking threats."

Karimi and his team hope that their quantum hacking efforts could be used to study quantum communication systems, or more generally to study how quantum information travels across quantum computer networks. To read their paper, visit the Science Advances website.
-end-
The University of Ottawa -- A crossroads of cultures and ideas

The University of Ottawa is home to over 50,000 students, faculty and staff, who live, work and study in both French and English. Our campus is a crossroads of cultures and ideas, where bold minds come together to inspire game-changing ideas. We are one of Canada's top 10 research universities -- our professors and researchers explore new approaches to today's challenges. One of a handful of Canadian universities ranked among the top 200 in the world, we attract exceptional thinkers and welcome diverse perspectives from across the globe.

Media inquiries

Amélie Ferron-Craig
University of Ottawa
Media Relations Officer
Cell: 613-863-7221
aferronc@uOttawa.ca

University of Ottawa

Related Quantum Computing Articles:

New method could enable more stable and scalable quantum computing, Penn physicists report
Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, in collaboration with Johns Hopkins University and Goucher College, have discovered a new topological material which may enable fault-tolerant quantum computing.
Stanford team brings quantum computing closer to reality with new materials
Quantum computing could outsmart current computing for complex problem solving, but only if scientists figure out how to make it practical.
Computing -- quantum deep
In a first for deep learning, an Oak Ridge National Laboratory-led team is bringing together quantum, high-performance and neuromorphic computing architectures to address complex issues that, if resolved, could clear the way for more flexible, efficient technologies in intelligent computing.
Legacy of brilliant young scientist is a major leap in quantum computing
Researchers from the University of Bristol and Université Libre de Bruxelles have theoretically shown how to write programs for random circuitry in quantum computers.
WSU mathematician breaks down how to defend against quantum computing attacks
WSU mathematician Nathan Hamlin is the author of a new paper that explains how a code he wrote for a doctoral thesis, the Generalized Knapsack Code, could thwart hackers armed with next generation quantum computers.
Protecting quantum computing networks against hacking threats
As we saw during the 2016 US election, protecting traditional computer systems, which use zeros and ones, from hackers is not a perfect science.
Electron-photon small-talk could have big impact on quantum computing
In a step that brings silicon-based quantum computers closer to reality, researchers at Princeton University have built a device in which a single electron can pass its quantum information to a particle of light.
Bridging the advances in AI and quantum computing for drug discovery and longevity research
Insilico Medicine Inc. and YMK Photonics Inc. announced a research collaboration and business cooperation to develop photonics quantum computing and accelerated deep learning techniques for drug discovery, biomarker development and aging research.
New technique for creating NV-doped nanodiamonds may be boost for quantum computing
Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed a new technique for creating NV-doped single-crystal nanodiamonds, only four to eight nanometers wide, which could serve as components in room-temperature quantum computing technologies.
Exploring defects in nanoscale devices for possible quantum computing applications
Researchers at Tokyo Institute of Technology in collaboration with the University of Cambridge have studied the interaction between microwave fields and electronic defect states inside the oxide layer of field-effect transistors at cryogenic temperatures.

Related Quantum Computing Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Changing The World
What does it take to change the world for the better? This hour, TED speakers explore ideas on activism—what motivates it, why it matters, and how each of us can make a difference. Guests include civil rights activist Ruby Sales, labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta, author Jeremy Heimans, "craftivist" Sarah Corbett, and designer and futurist Angela Oguntala.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#520 A Closer Look at Objectivism
This week we broach the topic of Objectivism. We'll be speaking with Keith Lockitch, senior fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute, about the philosophy of Objectivism as it's taught through Ayn Rand's writings. Then we'll speak with Denise Cummins, cognitive scientist, author and fellow at the Association for Psychological Science, about the impact of Objectivist ideology on society. Related links: This is what happens when you take Ayn Rand seriously Another Critic Who Doesn’t Care What Rand Thought or Why She Thought It, Only That She’s Wrong Quote is from "A Companion to Ayn Rand"