LONDON (Reuters) – British telecoms group BT and Japanese conglomerate Toshiba on Wednesday launched the first commercial test of a network designed to thwart attacks carried out using quantum computing.
The network will be used by the EY services group to connect two facilities in London, the companies said.
Quantum computers are expensive, but the technology, which is being developed by companies including Google, IBM and Microsoft, offers the potential to process data millions of times faster than current supercomputers.
Instead of storing information in bits – or zeros and ones – quantum computing uses a property of subatomic particles that allow them to exist simultaneously in different states. Furthermore, particles can be “entangled”, meaning they can influence the behavior of others in observable ways, leading to exponential increases in computing power.
BT vice president of technology Howard Watson said quantum technology could potentially be used to break encryption keys of data as it is transmitted.
The “quantum key distribution (QKD)” technology, however, uses photonics to transmit encryption keys over fiber-optic networks, he said. If the QKD is invaded in the transmission in a hacker attack, the state of the particles changes and with that the intrusion can be detected in real time.
(By Paul Sandle)