Quantum Internet Is Real And The U.S. Government Is Using It

Senior Contributor
05.07.13 11 Comments

If you’re not familiar with the concept, “quantum internet” is essentially a perfectly secure connection. As you probably familiar, observing a quantum event changes the results. So, with a quantum internet connection, if you try to intercept it or read it, the message is an impossible hash. You can’t “decrypt” it, because there’s nothing to decrypt. It’s also science fiction because of how the Internet is structured; you can’t route quantum traffic because that involves reading the traffic, which changes the message.

Unless, apparently, you work at a government facility in Los Alamos. Oh, and they’ve been doing it for two years. No biggie.

Yep, Los Alamos has just straight up admitted that they’ve been using the most perfectly secure Internet for about two years now. You might be wondering how they got around the biggest problem of quantum internet usage, which is the fact that you need to have a one-to-one connection, and can’t pass the message through multiple hands. Their solution is surprisingly classic:

Their approach is to create a quantum network based around a hub and spoke-type network. All messages get routed from any point in the network to another via this central hub… The idea is that messages to the hub rely on the usual level of quantum security. However, once at the hub, they are converted to conventional classical bits and then reconverted into quantum bits to be sent on the second leg of their journey.

Of course, this only works as long as the hub is secure, but if it’s not jacked into the regular internet, you’d have to break into one of the most secure government labs out there to read their email. And most of it is probably about Breaking Bad, anyway.

If this can be expanded to other ISPs, it might mean that truly secure communications, or at least communications with only three weak points, would be a real possibility sooner rather than later. Of course, that just means computers at either end of the communication would be subject to more attack, so perhaps invest in a firewall when you start using this.

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