China pushes the frontiers of data security
naky www.diecastingpartsupplier.com 2016-08-19 14:13:53
China has launched its latest challenge to US supremacy in space: a satellite that will test whether communications can be rendered hack-proof.In contrast to previous Chinese initiatives, which replicated the achievements of US and Russian space programmes of decades ago, the satellite would — if successful — put China at the forefront of a new technology.
Micius, named after an ancient Chinese scientist and philosopher, was launched early yesterday from a military base in the Gobi desert. Photons, or light particles, will be fired at it to see whether quantum physics will allow the secure encryption of long-range communication.The theory being tested is quantum entanglement, in which two photons have an instantaneous connection — a property Albert Einstein described as “spooky action at a distance”.
If the entanglement endures over the distance between Micius and Earth, with information passing through a network of satellites, it will in principle allow for virtually unhackable communications.Project leader Pan Jian-wei, of the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei, said the $100m satellite was operating properly but that it would take several months of data collection before the experiment could be deemed a success. “We’re really happy today. It will open up a new avenue for quantum experiments in space.”
The project was “a landmark event for quantum technologies”, said Ronald Hanson, a quantum researcher at Delft University of Technology. “With this launch China has established itself as the leading pioneer towards a global quantum communications network.”In a quantum internet, made up of quantum computers, eavesdropping would be impossible. The satellite might also be used for experiments in quantum science over distances that were previously unachievable.
The Micius launch fits a global pattern of increased interest in quantum research, such as the EU’s ￠1bn Flagship programme for quantum technologies.China has poured money into scientific projects of a kind that lack funding elsewhere. Funding for basic research through the National Natural Science Foundation in Beijing rose to about $10bn in 2015, still far short of the $131bn budgeted by the US in 2015.
However, progress has been stifled by a bureaucracy that values Communist party patronage networks over scientific excellence, and by the need for co-operation with the military, which controls most of China’s satellite capability.The revelations of Edward Snowden, the former US National Security Administration contractor, of the extent of US spying on its own citizens and foreign powers have galvanised international efforts in secure communications.
Some countries mandate that servers be located domestically, creating huge expenses for US technology groups. Others have secured political mandates for costly shielding programmes.