Hackers beware: quantum encryption is coming

Tuesday, 12 November 2002, 1:56 PM EST

Quantum encryption pioneers promise to put the world's first uncrackably secure networks online by early 2003. Based on the quantum properties of photons, quantum encryption guarantees absolutely secure optical communications.

Three independent experiments recently have demonstrated such systems. Geneva-based id Quantique SA encoded a secure transmission on a 70-kilometer fiber-optic link in Europe; MajiQ Technologies Inc., here, used a 30-km link; and researchers at Northwestern University (Evanston, Ill.) demonstrated a 250-Mbit/second quantum encrypted transmission over a short link.

"Our quantum random-number generator and our single-photon detector module are available now and are in use by several customers around the world," said Gregoire Ribordy, a manager at id Quantique. A beta version of a third product, a quantum-key distribution system, "has been fully tested, and we are in advanced discussions with several potential launch customers," he added.

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