Briefing: Nanotechnologies for secure communications

(Nanowerk News) The ObservatoryNANO project has released its latest briefing: "Nanotechnologies for Secure Communications".
The spectrum of threats and types of attackers targeting information systems are growing, creating security concerns for national security, businesses, and individuals. In this environment, attention to new measures that enhance security is growing at all levels. As a result, public and private standards relevant to information protection are becoming increasingly stringent.
Quantum Cryptography (QC) is one emerging security technology that offers radically new protection measures. Quantum key distribution (QKD) encryption, the most advanced recently developed method of QC aimed to distribute a secret key, can be used in conjunction with existing virtual private network service offerings for businesses needing communication services for content requiring a higher degree of confidentiality and protection.
Practical realisation of QKD technology relies on availability of systems providing production, propagation and detection of individual light particles - single photons. Single photon sources based on nano-structured materials such as quantum dots, carbon nanotubes and diamond nanowires that have enabled the development, and recent demonstration, of a small number of commercial products. The working distance of existing technologies is currently limited to around 100km; significant development in fibre optics is required to make further advances here.
The costs involved in developing QKD-based products also make it impractical for mainstream applications and, for now, these applications are limited to use by major financial institutions, national security and other government agencies.
Report Summary
  • Secure storage and transmission of sensitive information has become a growing risk for both business and private communications.
  • Quantum Cryptography is an emerging security approach that may offer radically new protection measures for processing information. The competitive advantage of QKD over conventional cryptography is quite solid as it is based on the fundamental laws of quantum mechanics. However, the theory-based promise of "100% security" needs to be critically and independently reviewed for the existing QC applications.
  • Europe has put a considerable effort into research in the field of quantum information processing that has resulted in the development of a strong scientific background and several commercial products.
  • Nevertheless, with current levels of EU R&D funding below average in terms ofworldwide funding support in the field of quantum informainformation processing, there is a considerable risk that European research, and the resulting commercial and defence technology developments, will not be sustainable.
  • Future competitiveness of the EU requires a significant effort both on the European and national levels. The structure of the funding must account for the interdisciplinary character of the field.
  • Governmental organizations, banks, armed forces, and national security departments are early adopters of QKD technology. As the market evolves and costs come down, the next group to apply QKD technology would be financial institutions, foreign embassies and online gambling companies.
  • Source: ObservatoryNANO