Nokia close to implementing quantum cryptography for mobile phones

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The leaks done by the infamous Edward Snowden about the NSA and ‘backdoor’ programs made headlines in the news and greatly affected people in different ways. Tech giants Microsoft, Google and others are supposedly involved in this program and have been getting blamed for aiding the government.

Although they are now suing the US government for more transparency, not many people trust these companies. People started being more careful online, using more secure services, and being aware of what they post online. Nokia has partnered with the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom to develop quantum cryptography on a mobile phone, which allows you to send encrypted messages to your recipients.

Nokia and the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom have been working on a technology recently that allows the consumer to send encrypted messages to others via mobile phones. This technology is called quantum cryptography and it is now being tested by a limited number of people who can actually afford this technology. Only banks and other organizations are able to use this technology because of its expensive price and extremely sensitive quantum-optical components at both communication links, the sender and the receiver.


This technology is being implemented in a single chip using simple and inexpensive client electronics to be able to perform “quantum key distribution”, which stands for QKD. QKD is already in the hands of consumers because it is a popular quantum-cryptography technique. According to Physics World, this technology “allows two parties – usually called Alice and Bob – to exchange an encryption key, secure in the knowledge that the key will not have been read by an eavesdropper (Eve). This guarantee is possible because the key is transmitted in terms of quantum bits (qubits) of information, which if intercepted and read are changed irrevocably, thus revealing the actions of Eve.”

This technology is being developed by Anthony Laing and his colleagues at Bristol’s Centre for Quantum Photonics and at the Nokia Research Center in the city of Cambridge, United Kingdom. The system developed by this team will be able to reach consumer hands earlier since it uses a variant of QKD called reference frame independent QKD (rfiQKD). rfiQKD allows for alterations, even if the relative motion is unknown, instead of measuring the properties of photon qubits to a fixed reference frame.

The technology works like this, “First, the server creates a very weak pulse of light that is sent to the client using an optical fiber. The client takes the weak pulse and passes it through an attenuator, which outputs a single photon. The client then sets the polarization of the photon and sends it back to the server via the optical fibre. The server then measures the polarization of the photon. Then, the client and server compare their measurements using a conventional link, which allows them to extract both the cryptography key and the purity of the link.”

Jeremy O’Briend who is the director of CPQ, believes this technology will be used in the near future because it will protect personal information such as passwords and credit card numbers transmitted by mobile phones against hackers. An example would be where rfiQKD servers can be setup instead of ATMs and allow a user to “simply point their phone at an optical system to receive a quantum key.”

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