News Column

'Uncrackable' Data Encryption Using Smartphone

May 30, 2014

A way to make encrypted phone calls, emails and online communications "uncrackable" using a smartphone camera has been developed by scientists.

Modern encryption techniques rely on generating sequences of random numbers, which are then used to create 'keys' that allow individuals to encrypt and decrypt sensitive information such as passwords and bank details.

But computers are not capable of creating truly random numbers – meaning it is possible to hack the system.

Now a team of researchers from the University of Geneva say they have used an eight-megapixel camera from a Nokia N9 smartphone to create a device that delivers truly random numbers.

By illuminating the camera of the device, "quantum effects" were caused which can be used to generate the random numbers needed.

The team's scientific paper explained: "Most light sources emit photons at random times.

"Thus, it is impossible to perfectly de?ne the number of photons emitted per unit time.

"This quantum effect is usually called 'quantum noise' or 'shot noise'."

Existing quantum number generators are expensive, and the team believes their discovery could be adapted to create a cheap encryption device which could be paired with or added to a smartphone.

Their paper concluded: "We believe that the simplicity and performance of this device will make the widespread use of quantum random numbers a reality, with an important impact on information security."

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Source: Sky News (UK)

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