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Hackers Blind Quantum Cryptographers

By Nature

September 1, 2010

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Quantum hackers have performed the first "invisible" attack on two commercial quantum cryptographic systems. By using lasers on the systems—which use quantum states of light to encrypt information for transmission—they have fully cracked their encryption keys, yet left no trace of the hack.

Quantum cryptography is often touted as being perfectly secure. It is based on the principle that you cannot make measurements of a quantum system without disturbing it. So, in theory, it is impossible for an eavesdropper to intercept a quantum encryption key without disrupting it in a noticeable way, triggering alarm bells.

Vadim Makarov at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim and his colleagues have now cracked it. "Our hack gave 100% knowledge of the key, with zero disturbance to the system," he says.

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