Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

NSA pursues quantum technology

Date:
January 30, 2014
Source:
Physics World
Summary:
Researchers explain how the revelation that the US National Security Agency is developing quantum computers has renewed interest and sparked debate on just how far ahead they are of the world's major labs looking to develop the same technology.

In this month's issue of Physics World, Jon Cartwright explains how the revelation that the US National Security Agency (NSA) is developing quantum computers has renewed interest and sparked debate on just how far ahead they are of the world's major labs looking to develop the same technology.

In 2006 the NSA openly announced a partnership with two US institutions to develop quantum computers. However, according to documents leaked by whistle-blower Edward Snowden, and published last month by the Washington Post, the NSA also wishes to develop the technology so that it is capable of breaking modern Internet security.

The $79.7m project, dubbed "Penetrating Hard Targets," could be made possible by the extraordinary potential of quantum computers to factorize large numbers in a short space of time, quickly deciphering encryption keys that are used to protect sensitive information.

For the NSA, this could mean deciphering banking transactions, private messages and government files; however, many physicists are not surprised and believe this is exactly the type of technology that the NSA is expected to develop.

Raymond Laflamme, a leading quantum information theorist at the University of Waterloo in Canada, said "If you put my level of surprise on a scale from zero to 10, where 10 is very, very surprised, my answer would be zero."

For many other physicists the news has confirmed the need to stay ahead of the game and develop more sophisticated encryption techniques, some of which also take advantage of quantum phenomena.

Quantum key distribution (QKD) is one such technique, which guarantees the security of an encryption key based on fundamental aspects of quantum mechanics, whereby the process of trying to measure or access an encryption key made from various quantum states will automatically destroy it.

The latest leaked documents, however, also reveal that the NSA is attempting to exploit practical loops in QKD under a programme known as "Owning the Net."

Cartwright concludes that quantum computers are still expected to be many years away, with the control of qubits -- the packets of information that quantum computers would process -- a major sticking point for physicists; however, the extent to which the NSA has developed the technology remains largely unknown.

Also in this issue of Physics World, and online today, 31 January, Matin Durrani, editor of the magazine, provides further details of the UK's 270m investment into quantum technology that was announced by the chancellor George Osborne in last year's Autumn Statement.

The initiative, which will begin in 2015, will focus on areas such as chip-scale atomic clocks for improved GPS communication, quantum-enabled sensors, quantum communication and quantum computing, while some 4m will go on equipment for the new Advanced Metrology Laboratory being built at the National Physical Laboratory.

The quantum-physics initiative, which has involved careful behind-the-scenes negotiations between the UK physics community, government and industry, was formally put to Osborne last year by a group of physicists led by Professor Sir Peter Knight from Imperial College London.

Jon Cartwright's analysis of NSA developments will be freely available on physicsworld.com from Thursday 6 February 2014.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Physics World. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Physics World. "NSA pursues quantum technology." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 January 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140130210837.htm>.
Physics World. (2014, January 30). NSA pursues quantum technology. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140130210837.htm
Physics World. "NSA pursues quantum technology." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140130210837.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Computers & Math News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Facebook Announces Location-Sharing Feature 'Nearby Friends'

Facebook Announces Location-Sharing Feature 'Nearby Friends'

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Facebook's pending Nearby Friends feature will give users the option to share their nonspecific or specific locations with certain friends. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Michaels Hack Compromises About 3 Million Credit Cards

Michaels Hack Compromises About 3 Million Credit Cards

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Michaels is now confirming that an eight-month security breach compromised about 3 million customers' credit and debit card data. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Twitter Introduces Facebook-Style App Install Ads

Twitter Introduces Facebook-Style App Install Ads

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) Twitter hopes to make money on app install ads, which has proven to be a successful strategy for Facebook. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Heartbleed Hack Leads To Arrest

Heartbleed Hack Leads To Arrest

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) A 19-year-old computer science student has been arrested in relation to a data breach of 900 social insurance numbers from Canada's revenue agency. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins