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Oxford scientists achieve breakthrough in quantum computing security

Written by Thu 11 Apr 2024

Scientists at Oxford University Physics said they have made a breakthrough in next-generation quantum computing guaranteeing security and privacy.

In a new study published in the US scientific journal, Physical Review Letters, researchers employed ‘blind quantum computing’,  linking two distinct quantum computing entities securely. 

This approach allows individuals, whether at home or in an office accessing a cloud server, to interact securely. Crucially, these techniques are scalable for large-scale quantum computations.

Currently, the stability of quantum computing hinges on controlled environments, while concerns persist regarding data integrity and the adequacy of existing security measures and encryption protocols.

“We have shown for the first time that quantum computing in the cloud can be accessed in a scalable, practical way which will also give people complete security and privacy of data, plus the ability to verify its authenticity,” said Professor David Lucas, Co-Head at the Oxford University Physics research team and Lead Scientist at the UK Quantum Computing and Simulation Hub.

The researchers devised a system with a fibre network connecting a quantum computing server and a photon-detecting device on an independent computer accessing cloud services remotely. This enables blind quantum computing over a network. 

Each computation requires real-time correction to align with the algorithm, achieved through a blend of quantum memory and photons.

Study Lead at Oxford University Physics, Dr Peter Drmota, said by using blind computing, users can access remote quantum computers to process confidential data with secret algorithms without revealing useful information.

“Realising this concept is a big step forward in both quantum computing and keeping our information safe online,” said Drmota.

The Implications of the Quantum Discovery

Professor David Lucas said never in history have the issues surrounding the privacy of data and code been more urgently debated than in the present era of cloud computing and artificial intelligence (AI).

“As quantum computers become more capable, people will seek to use them with complete security and privacy over networks, and our new results mark a step change in capability in this respect,” said Lucas.

The findings could pave the way for commercial devices that can be integrated into laptops, ensuring data security during quantum cloud computing usage.

At Oxford University Physics, researchers investigating quantum computing and technologies utilised the advanced Beecroft laboratory designed to maintain stable and secure conditions by minimising vibration.

Funding for the research was provided by the UK Quantum Computing and Simulation (QCS) Hub. Collaborators include scientists from the UK National Quantum Computing Centre, Paris-Sorbonne University, the University of Edinburgh, and the University of Maryland.

In February, the UK Government announced it will invest £45 million ($56 million) in the nation’s quantum technology to improve energy, healthcare, and transport.

The funded projects involve the development of a high-tech brain scanner, which will utilise quantum technology to improve the diagnosis of disorders like epilepsy and dementia. A smart navigation system for trains will also be created to reduce costs and enhance safety, particularly in tunnels.

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Written by Thu 11 Apr 2024

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