Companies undertake first Dutch commercial quantum cryptography project

Quantum cryptography allows users to distribute a cryptographic key across an optical network by using the laws of quantum physics to ensure secrecy.

The Dutch project will secure data transfers over optical fiber connections between Siemens data centers in The Hague and Zoetermeer. The project will be a hybrid cryptographic system combining conventional cryptography from Senetas and quantum cryptography from IDQ.

In Switzerland, the home base of IDQ, quantum cryptography is used to secure the transfer of referendum results. It is also used by other governments and financial institutions to exchange confidential and sensitive information.

The companies explained that quantum cryptography enables the detection of unauthorized persons during the distribution of the encryption key. Unauthorized intervention can be detected not only when the key is manipulated, but also if someone is eavesdropping on the key exchange. The keys are emitted as photons, which make them virtually impossible to copy.

While quantum cryptography promises virtual foolproof security, a study by Norwegian researchers has found a flaw. Working with IDQ, researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg, and the Max Planck Institute said that they have developed and tested a technique that exploits imperfections in quantum cryptography systems to implement an attack. The researchers and IDG have also developed countermeasures to prevent a cyber attack using this technique.

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