University of Calgary

Info security

February 9, 2010

Defending information security

Barry Sanders (top) and Wolfgang Tittel of the Institute for Quantum Information Science in the Faculty of Science.
Information security over the Internet is ephemeral as defenders and attackers battle in a world of bits—code that can eventually be broken. Scientists at the University of Calgary are part of a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and French partnership that aims to use quantum cryptography to make computational security impervious to attacks now and forever.

The research group, jointly headquartered at the University of Waterloo and Télécom ParisTech in France, involves the U of C’s Barry Sanders and Wolfgang Tittel of the Institute for Quantum Information Science in the Faculty of Science as well as partners from Waterloo and the Université de Montreal.

The federal government announced Monday that the Canadian project will receive a total of $750,000 from NSERC over the next three years. French researchers from Télécom ParisTech, Laboratoire de Photonique Quantique et Moléculaire and SeQureNet will receive 399,392 euros from France’s Agence Nationale pour la Recherche.

“Although quantum cryptography works today, we have to move to dynamic quantum communication networks for the technology to be widely adopted, and one focus of this project is on creating quantum networks,” says Sanders, director of the U of C’s Institute for Quantum Information Science and iCORE Chair of Quantum Information Science.

Quantum cryptographic security relies on the quantum uncertainty principle whereby an eavesdropper cannot avoid being detected. With this strategic bi-national project, scientists will push to develop fast, long-distance secure quantum communication within a network setting.

“We are moving from physics to engineering to make quantum cryptography practical,” says Tittel, the NSERC/GDC/iCORE Chair of Quantum Cryptography and Communication. Tittel was among the first scientists in the world to apply quantum information techniques to applications outside the laboratory.

“Instead of inventing an entire new network and infrastructure from scratch, our research looks at what we have today, such as fibre optic cables, and how we can build on that,” he says.

Sanders says the international group hopes to create a system whereby information can be sent over continent-wide secure quantum networks at the same rates as today’s non-quantum networks.

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