News • 17.03.2017

Quantum key system could make mobile transactions far more secure

Prototype device communicates rapidly and securely with a receiver using unbreakable light-based encryption

This handheld device for transmitting and receiving quantum cryptographic keys...
This handheld device for transmitting and receiving quantum cryptographic keys was built from off-the-shelf components. The device could be miniaturized for use in a mobile device.
Source: Iris Choi, Oxford University

With the growing popularity of mobile phone apps to pay for purchases at cash registers and gas pumps, users would like to know their personal financial information is safe from cyber-attacks. For the first time, researchers have demonstrated a prototype device that can send unbreakable secret keys from a handheld device to a terminal.

In The Optical Society (OSA) journal Optics Express, researchers lay out a scheme for transmitting quantum keys at a high enough data rate to ensure data security while compensating for the inevitable movement of the human hand. Their prototype system uses ultra-fast LEDs and moveable mirrors to send a secret key at a rate of more than 30 kilobytes per second over a distance of 0.5 meters.

"The idea is that this gadget would be a mobile object that talks to something that is fixed," said Iris Choi of Oxford University, one of the paper's authors. If integrated into a cell phone, for example, the device could allow secure links to near-field communications mobile payment systems and indoor Wi-Fi networks. It also could improve the security of ATMs and help prevent ATM skimming attacks, which are estimated to cost the industry more than $2 billion annually.

Keys made from light

The technology is a quantum key distribution system. Quantum key distribution relies on characteristics of a single photon to provide a bit--a 1 or a 0--to build up a cryptographic key that can encrypt and decrypt information. Quantum keys are considered secure because if someone intercepts the quantum bits and then passes them on, the very act of measuring them will alter them.

"When an eavesdropper attempts to tap into the channel, it will change the content of the key," Choi said. "We're not saying this technology can prevent being eavesdropped on, but if you do eavesdrop, we know you're there."

The system contains six resonant-cavity LEDs, which provide overlapping spectra of light. Each of the six is filtered into a different polarization, split into pairs to represent 1s and 0s--horizontal or vertical, diagonal or anti-diagonal, circular left or circular right. The circularly polarized LEDs provide the bits for the key, while the other pairs are used to measure the security of the channel and provide error correction. Every four nanoseconds, one of the channels produces a one-nanosecond pulse in a random pattern. On the other end, six polarized receivers pick up the light from their matching LEDs and convert the photons into the key.

It's important not to let a potential adversary know which channel has which polarization, because that would reveal which bits were being sent, but there will always be some slight variation in the wavelength emitted by each LED, which could serve to identify them and give a hacker a way to break the code. The researchers solved this problem by equipping both the transmitter and the receiver with filters that select only a portion of the light, so they all shine with the exact same color, regardless of which polarization they produce.

Steering the beam

A quantum key must be long enough to ensure that an adversary cannot hack it simply by guessing randomly. This requires the system to transmit a large number of bits in less than a second. Achieving such a high data transmission rate in turn requires that most of the photons get to where they're supposed to go.

As a result, Choi said, the prototype's most important innovation is the steering system. Even someone trying to hold perfectly still has some motion in his hand. The research team measured this motion by looking at how the spot of a laser pointer jittered as a person tried to hold it steady. They then optimized design elements of the beam-steering system, such as bandwidth and field of view, to compensate for this hand movement.

To help the detector properly align with the transmitter and further correct for hand movement, both the receiver and the transmitter contain a bright LED with a different color than the quantum key distribution LED that acts as a beacon. A position sensing detector on the other side measures the precise location of the beacon and moves a microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) mirror to align the incoming light with the fiber optics of the detector.

The team tested their idea with a handheld prototype made from off-the-shelf equipment. Choi said the design likely could be easily miniaturized in order to turn the system into a practical component for a mobile phone from brands such as Nokia, which participated in the research. Improving the protocol while keeping the same hardware could also increase the transmission rate, and other changes could be made to let the device work over longer distances to, for instance, connect with a Wi-Fi hub.

Source: The Optical Society

related articles:

popular articles:

Thumbnail-Photo: Retail automation market soaring to reach $23.58 billion by 2026...
04.02.2020   #pos management #marketing research

Retail automation market soaring to reach $23.58 billion by 2026

Drivers: need for enhanced business procedures and inventory management

A recent research report added by Big Market Research states that the global retail automation market is expected to reach 23.58 billion dollars by 2026 and grow at a substantial growth rate of 9.6 percent from 2019 to 2026.The report explains the ...

Thumbnail-Photo: 3D product configuration: individualization online and in real time...
24.03.2020   #online trading #online marketing

3D product configuration: individualization online and in real time

Video interview with Yusuf Sahin, sales consultant at Derwid

The more attractive the presentation of a product, the more likely customers are to decide to buy online.One way of doing this is 3D product configuration, in which all the data and options of a product flow into the background. This allows the user ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Smart digital labels and pricing automation
07.02.2020   #displays #electronic shelf labels (ESL)

Smart digital labels and pricing automation

SES-imagotag at EuroShop 2020

For 25 years, SES-imagotag has been the trusted partner of retailers for in-store digital technology. SES-imagotag, the worldwide leader in smart digital labels and pricing automation, has developed a comprehensive IoT and digital platform that ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Compact for security
17.01.2020   #security #shopfitting

Compact for security

A new security antenna system specifically designed for convenience stores

Retail security systems to prevent theft are a big concern for retailers. Large supermarkets and clothing stores install EAS antennas at the entrance and/or exit areas. Installing this type of feature proves more challenging for stores with a ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Corona crisis: Contactless payment more popular than ever...
30.03.2020   #cashpoints #brick and mortar retail

Corona crisis: Contactless payment more popular than ever

Practical, fast, and, above all, hygienic

"Please make contactless payment if possible." These or similar notices are currently in the checkout area of many grocery stores. By reducing necessary contact points in the checkout zone, it is hoped to counteract the spread of the ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Poindus VariPOS TSE Solution
11.02.2020   #security #pos systems

Poindus VariPOS TSE Solution

TSE for German fiscal regulations

Kassensicherungsverordnung (KassenSichV) regulates the technical requirements for electronic recording and security systems, such as Point-of-Sale (POS) systems & electronic cash registers in order to end the manipulation and potential tax ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Effective and Independent
12.02.2020   #epos systems #cashpoints

Effective and Independent

Present and future of self-checkout

Better use of personnel, lowering overhead costs while still providing customers with a smooth and seamless shopping experience – that’s what every retailer strives to accomplish. For Thomas Dibbern, CEO of ALMEX GmbH, there is an ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Consumer survey: social distancing is changing shopping habits...
10.04.2020   #brick and mortar retail #payment systems

Consumer survey: social distancing is changing shopping habits

Touchless or self-checkout options preferred for instore shopping during COVID-19 pandemic

Nearly two-thirds of consumers are changing their grocery shopping habits in response to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, according to a recent consumer survey from Shekel, pioneers in advanced weighing technologies. And 87 percent of shoppers say ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Wirecard and Klarna launch joint payment solution for merchants...
27.03.2020   #payment systems #digitization

Wirecard and Klarna launch joint payment solution for merchants

Wirecard embeds all three Klarna payment methods into merchants' checkout

Wirecard, the global innovation leader for digital financial technology, and Klarna, a leading global payments and shopping provider, announced today the launch of a new enhanced joint payment solution. All three Klarna shopping methods, Pay Now, ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Light up the future with Posiflex at EuroShop 2020...
11.02.2020   #kiosk terminals #Trade fair special EuroShop 2020

Light up the future with Posiflex at EuroShop 2020

Serviced IoT solutions: personalized, flexible and connected

The Posiflex Group, a synergy of world-leading POS, kiosk, and industrial computing technologies — will bring its Serviced IoT solutions to EuroShop 2020, the leading Europe trade fair for the retail industry, from February 16th – 20th ...

Supplier

APG Cash Drawer
APG Cash Drawer
4 The Drove
BN9 0LA Newhaven
Nagarro Allgeier ES GmbH
Nagarro Allgeier ES GmbH
Westerbachstr. 32
61476 Kronberg im Taunus
SES-imagotag Deutschland GmbH
SES-imagotag Deutschland GmbH
Bundesstraße 16
77955 Ettenheim
Checkpoint Systems GmbH
Checkpoint Systems GmbH
Ersheimer Str. 69
69434 Hirschhorn a. Neckar
POS TUNING Udo Voßhenrich GmbH & Co KG
POS TUNING Udo Voßhenrich GmbH & Co KG
Am Zubringer 8
32107 Bad Salzuflen
Poindus HQ - Taiwan
Poindus HQ - Taiwan
5F., No.59, Ln. 77, Xing-Ai Rd.,Neihu Dist.
Taipei City 114
SALTO Systems GmbH
SALTO Systems GmbH
Schwelmer Str. 245
42389 Wuppertal
Delfi Technologies GmbH
Delfi Technologies GmbH
Landgraben 75
24232 Schönkirchen
GLORY Global Solutions (Germany) GmbH
GLORY Global Solutions (Germany) GmbH
Thomas-Edison-Platz 1
63263 Neu-Isenburg