March 23, 2020

University of St Andrews research will revolutionise communications privacy

A new unhackable security system created by a team of researchers from universities including the University of St Andrews is set to revolutionise communications privacy.

The international team of scientists – from St Andrews in Scotland, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and the Center for Unconventional Processes of Sciences (CUP Sciences) in the USA – have created optical chips that enable information to be sent using a one-time unhackable communication. This will allow confidential data to be protected more securely than ever before on public classical communication channels.

Speaking about this exciting new research, Professor Andrea di Falco of the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of St Andrews, explains, “This new technique is absolutely unbreakable, as we rigorously demonstrated in our article. It can be used to protect the confidentiality of communications exchanged by users separated by any distance, at an ultrafast speed close to the light limit and in inexpensive and electronic compatible optical chips.”

Meanwhile, leader of the study, Dr Andrea Fratalocchi, Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering at KAUST, says, “With the advent of more powerful and quantum computers, all current encryptions will be broken in very short time, exposing the privacy of our present and, more importantly, past communications.”

Dr Fratalocchi continues, “Implementing massive and affordable resources of global security is a worldwide problem that this research has the potential to solve for everyone, and everywhere. If this scheme could be implemented globally, crypto-hackers will have to look for another job.”

Dr Aluizio M Cruz, co-founder and CEO of CUP Sciences in California and study author, explains, “This system is the practical solution the cyber security sector has been waiting for since the perfect secrecy theoretical proof in 1917 by Gilbert Vernam. It’ll be a key candidate to solving global cyber security threats, from private to national security, all the way to smart energy grids.”

The new technique achieves ‘perfect secrecy’ meaning a hacker will never be able to access the information contained in the communication. The research paper ‘Perfect secrecy cryptography via mixing of chaotic waves in irreversible time-varying silicon chips’ is published in Nature Communications and available online.

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Content added on 23rd March 2020. 

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