China launches the world’s first quantum communication satellite to battle cybercrime. Researchers believe the Quantum Experiments at Space Scale (QUESS) spacecraft with quantum communication capabilities will revolutionize cybersecurity and possibly eliminate risk of intercepting digital communication. Quantum research has enabled unprecedented new ways to transmit digital information without succumbing to cyber-attacks.
China Leads the Quantum Race
China is regarded as a key player in the game of state-sponsored warfare – both as a victim and an attacker. Accusations against the country fuel the journalistic fodder and tend to obscure any threat vectors facing digital communications in China. At the same time, strong economic growth and foray into digital innovation makes China a prime target for financially motivated cybercriminals.
China looks to leapfrog competition and pioneer quantum communications as a true enabler of secure digital data transmission. The country is treating quantum research as a top strategic focus with a multi-billion-dollar endowment to establish sophisticated security capabilities. In 2015 alone, the Chinese government allocated $101 billion for basic quantum research. In comparison, the US allocates only $200 million per year.
Why Quantum Communications?
Traditional communication systems use radio signals to transmit data. The digital information is encoded into radio waves that can be intercepted and decoded to retrieve original information. Despite strong encryption and security protocols, sophisticated cyber-attacks effectively intercept traditional satellite radio transmission.
Quantum cryptography is a hot topic in the world of cybersecurity. The technique exploits quantum mechanics to yield hack-proof digital encryption. The quantum communication satellite transmits digital information in the form of entangled photons generated by a quantum crystal. The beam of photons is considered as hack-proof because any interception would alter the quantum state of photons and scramble the encoded messages.
Don’t worry if it all sounds very confusing. Scientists and researchers all over the world are rushing to understand how this stuff works, and China is the only country that has developed a 1400 lb. satellite to bring this concept to reality. Even China has a long way to go before quantum communications is adopted as the primary medium for digital data transmission. The satellite nicknamed as “Micius” after a 5 century B.C. Chinese scientist is aiming for even greater technological breakthroughs. During the two-year mission, QUESS will also test out the concept of Quantum Teleportation.
Are You Secure Enough?
Organized cybercrime rings compromise data during transit, before you get the chance to secure it. Traditional data transmission systems are prone to interception. Your organization may not be prepared to battle state-sponsored warfare – and it shouldn’t have to, in the first place. Yet, your organization can unexpectedly get caught in the line of fire and facing the attacks head-on is a sure-fire way to lose the battle of cybersecurity.
Until quantum communications becomes a standard for data transmission, the least you can do is to follow current best practices. Leverage private networks and strong encryption protocols to secure your data in transit. End-to-end encryption and encrypting data at rest are two practices we enable with the software we’re developing here at Scram.
On the bright side, when quantum communication becomes the norm, we can look forward to a hack-proof cyber world where all of your data is invulnerable during transmission.