Researchers discovers a new way to harness the properties of Quantum Physics to eliminate credit card theft. The technology, dubbed Quantum encryption uses photons of light to create an authentication system that is impossible to hack.
As cybercrime escalate, protecting our banking information banking information over the internet is proving difficult. Credit and Debit cards theft over the years have not only perplexed services providers but also security researchers who most often find themselves a step behind cyber criminals. In search for solutions, Cyber experts have now found themselves in the land of physic geeks where Quantum physics is promising a lasting solution.
According to the optical Society Journal, Optica, two Dutch researchers are able to harness peculiar propertied of Quantum mechanics to create a new authentication system in credit and debit cards that is impossible to crack even when the card is lost or stolen.
The secure technology, dubbed Quantum-Secure Authentication (QSA), uses a photons of light to create a virtual Question and Answers which are used to authenticate a persons or objects such as a credit card. The card is “authenticated by illuminating it with a light pulse containing fewer photons than spatial degrees of freedom and verifying the spatial shape of the reflected light,” read Optica Journal.
Currently, banks use an embedded microprocessor to authenticate credits and debit cards with help of a PIN. Although the Chip and PIN smart cards are a significant progress from the outdated Magnetic strip cards, they too don’t solve the problem, because hackers are still able to copy or emulate them.
QSA solve this problem because principles of Quantum physics prohibits the attacker from emulating the incident light pulse. In other words, the hacker cannot copy the contents of a credit card, because any attempt to illuminate the card will always give a wrong optical response. In that case, you don’t have worry about a stolen credit card because it is practically impossible to hack it.
“Quantum-physical principles forbid an attacker to fully characterize the incident light pulse. Therefore, he cannot emulate the key by digitally constructing the expected optical response, even if all information about the key is publicly known. QSA uses a key that cannot be copied due to technological limitations and is quantum-secure against digital emulation,” read Optica journal.
All said and done, the practicality of Quantum physics in real life is always a debatable subject. Nonetheless, to employ QSA technology in real world, it would require adding a thin strip of white paint containing nano particles to a credit card or passport. Authenticating the card would require using a laser beam to project individual photons of light on the white paint. When illumined, the nano particles bounce around creating the correct pattern used to authenticate the card.
Asked whether it is possible for hacker to inept the response optic and manipulate it to create the expected authentication pattern, Pepijn Pinkse, a researcher from the University of Twente and lead author on the paper, says such an attempt would only capture only a small fraction of the information need to authenticate the card.
“It would be like dropping 10 bowling balls onto the ground and creating 200 separate impacts,” said Pinkse. “It’s impossible to know precisely what information was sent (what pattern was created on the floor) just by collecting the 10 bowling balls.”
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