Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Uncrackable quantum authentication uses photons to secure your data

Are they sure?

Multi-factor verification adds an extra layer of authentication to gain access to your data, but for hackers, that just amounts to an extra layer to bypass — a bump in the road. A new type of verification, quantum authentication, doesn’t just add an extra layer, but is nearly impossible to crack from the start.

The main problem with multi-factor authentication is that it’s easy to bypass once the authentication data is obtained — perhaps through social engineering to discover the answers to security questions, or stealing a phone and using someone’s authenticator app. Created by a team of researchers in the Netherlands, the new type of verification — dubbed Quantum-Secure Authentication — uses the quantum attributes of light to identify a pattern through an exchange of data that cannot be faked.

The quantum properties of a photon allow it to be in more than once place at the same time. Using a special surface that contains millions of nanoparticles, the researchers suggest shooting photons between the nanoparticles using a laser, bouncing them between those nanoparticles until they create an authentication pattern.

What prevents a hacker from replicating the pattern is that it isn’t observable. Since a photon can be in multiple places at once, observing the pattern wouldn’t reveal the “correct” photons, and instead would display too many points of data. This would make it impossible to discern what the original laser beamed onto the special surface.

If this method were attempted using normal light without the quantum nature of photons, a hacker could simply read the source that “prints” the points of light and reproduce it. Lead author of the paper Pepijn Pinkse likened the printing scenario to dropping 10 bowling balls on the ground, but instead of creating 10 separate impacts, it creates 200. You wouldn't be able to figure out which impacts were from the original balls just by picking them up, and due to the quantum nature of photons, you couldn’t see from where they were dropped.

Considering every method ever conceived has been cracked on way or another, it’s difficult to believe that there will ever be a completely protected method of authentication. If the researchers are right, though, the technology could be used in just about any authentication scenario, from credit cards to car keys, and it uses inexpensive technology to “print” the photons like lasers and projectors. Of course, researchers will have to figure out the whole quantum physics thing first.

Source: ExtremeTech

VB Kid

0 Codes:

Post a Comment