Nav: Home

WSU mathematician breaks down how to defend against quantum computing attacks

February 28, 2017

The encryption codes that safeguard internet data today won't be secure forever.

Future quantum computers may have the processing power and algorithms to crack them.

Nathan Hamlin, instructor and director of the WSU Math Learning Center, is helping to prepare for this eventuality.

He is the author of a new paper in the Open Journal of Discrete Mathematics that explains how a code he wrote for a doctoral thesis, the Generalized Knapsack Code, could thwart hackers armed with next generation quantum computers.

The paper clarifies misunderstandings about the complex field of public key cryptography and provides a common basis of understanding for the technical experts who will eventually be tasked with designing new internet security systems for the quantum computing age.

"Designing security systems to protect data involves experts from many different fields who all work with numbers differently," Hamlin said. "You are going to have pure and applied mathematicians, computer programmers and engineers all involved in the process at some point. For it to work in real life, all of these people need to have a common language to communicate so that they can make important decisions about how to safeguard online transactions and personal communications in the future."

Preparing for the future

Quantum computers operate on the subatomic level and theoretically provide processing power that is millions, if not billions of time faster than silicon-based computers. A hacker armed with a next generation quantum computer could in theory decrypt any internet communication that was sent today, Hamlin said.

In order to create an online security system better prepared for future demands, Hamlin and retired mathematics professor William Webb created the Generalized Knapsack Code in 2015 by retrofitting a previous version of the code with alternative number representations that go beyond the standard binary and base 10 sequences today's computer use to operate.

In his paper, Hamlin breaks down how the generalized knapsack code works in terms that computer scientists, engineers and other experts outside the field of pure mathematics can understand. He explains that by disguising data with number strings more complex than the 0s and 1s conventional computers use to operate, the generalized knapsack offers a viable security method for defending against quantum computing hacks.

"The Generalized Knapsack Code expands upon the binary representations today's computers use to operate by using a variety of representations other than 0s and 1," Hamlin said. "This lets it block a greater array of cyberattacks, including those using basis reduction, one of the decoding methods used to break the original knapsack code."

Hamlin said his hope is that his paper, Number in Mathematical Cryptography, clears up misunderstandings he has run into professionally so that the generalized knapsack code can be developed for future use.

"Quantum computing will change how we handle data and we, as a society, are going to have to make some important decisions about how to prepare for it," Hamlin said. "A code like this can be implemented on conventional hardware and yet it would also be secure from a hacker with a quantum computer. I think it is time for us to consider this code very seriously for adapting commerce and perhaps communication in light of the possibility of quantum computing."
-end-


Washington State University

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

#521 The Curious Life of Krill
Krill may be one of the most abundant forms of life on our planet... but it turns out we don't know that much about them. For a create that underpins a massive ocean ecosystem and lives in our oceans in massive numbers, they're surprisingly difficult to study. We sit down and shine some light on these underappreciated crustaceans with Stephen Nicol, Adjunct Professor at the University of Tasmania, Scientific Advisor to the Association of Responsible Krill Harvesting Companies, and author of the book "The Curious Life of Krill: A Conservation Story from the Bottom of the World".