When we think about cryptographic keys, we tend to think about closely guarded secrets. Keys are the only thing that keeps the attacker away from your encrypted data. Some keys are usually treated with the appropriate level of respect. Security professionals in the payments industry, or those that have deployed a PKI, know all too well about the importance... 

Richard Moulds

Scientists Demonstrate Perfectly Secure Cloud Computing Through Quantum Computing

Scientists Demonstrate Perfectly Secure Cloud Computing Through Quantum Computing

Recent research has demonstrated the perfect marriage of the hottest computing technology today – cloud computing – and the hottest computing technology of tomorrow – quantum computing. Now, readers of this website are well aware of what cloud computing is; however, quantum computing may be something new for them.

In simplest terms, unlike traditional transistor-based computing that depends on the basic units (bits) existing in any one of two possible values, quantum computing makes use of qubits that can exist in a superposition of multiple states at the same time. Although in its infancy, quantum computing is expected to far surpass the computers of today in speed of operation. However, that is not the only advantage of quantum computing.

Because of the logistics involved, quantum computers are expected to be present only in a few specialized facilities around the world – much like today’s supercomputers. Users would be able to access these computers remotely and outsource their calculating tasks. As is evident, this distributed structure is also followed by cloud computing. It is also well known than the latter suffers from security concerns, some of them on genuine grounds. Now, as a result of an experiment conducted at the Vienna Center for Quantum Science and Technology (VCQ) at the University of Vienna and the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information (IQOQI), scientists believe that quantum computing may be used to address this drawback of going on the cloud.

Quantum physics solves one of the key challenges in distributed computing. It can preserve data privacy when users interact with remote computing centers,” said Stefanie Barz, lead author of the study.

Here’s how the technique, called “blind quantum computing,” works: the user can prepare qubits in a state known only to the host machine, and then send a set of instructions to the computer in the cloud. The remote computer blindly entangles the unknown qubits, carries out the steps in the instructions, and sends the results back down the line, solving the problem without ever decoding the content – an event impossible with traditional computers. So while the cloud computer can determine an accurate set of ones and zeros as output, it cannot interpret the values, thereby making the process extremely secure.

According to an official statement, “Researchers have succeeded in combining the power of quantum computing with the security of quantum cryptography and have shown that perfectly secure cloud computing can be achieved using the principles of quantum mechanics. They have performed an experimental demonstration of quantum computation in which the input, the data processing, and the output remain unknown to the quantum computer.”

However, don’t start the countdown to the quantum cloud computer. Getting blind-based quantum security into the real world “is a highly complex task,” Barz said, with one University of California researcher suggesting a possible timeframe of 10 to 20 years. At the same time, there have been reports that HP, which recently organized Master the Cloud in Canada (See: HP ‘Master The Cloud’ Event (Montreal) – Part 3 ), is already working on this innovation. Exciting times lie ahead!

By Sourya Biswas

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