The concept of a "quantum Internet" is like the holy grail of online security—any such system would guarantee that all communication is safe. Now it appears that researchers at Los Alamos have made real progress: They've been using an uber-secure system of their own design for about two and a half years. As you might expect, any system with the word "quantum" in front of it takes some explaining, and the MIT Technology Review starts with this:
- "The basic idea here is that the act of measuring a quantum object, such as a photon, always changes it. So any attempt to eavesdrop on a quantum message cannot fail to leave telltale signs of snooping that the receiver can detect."
This idea of using "quantum cryptography" to deter eavesdroppers isn't new, and Popular Science notes that a rudimentary system based on the principle is already on the market. The problem is that such systems have, until now, been limited. "They can send secure messages from A to B but cannot route this information onwards to C, D, E or F," says the Review. That is, they can't network. The Los Alamos researchers have gotten around the problem with a unique "hub and spoke-type network," and the results look promising. "It's not quite a quantum Internet—yet," is the first line of coverage at the Verge. It is indeed promising, adds Ars Technica, but the study doesn't mention one all-important factor: how much it would cost to translate this into the real world. (Read more Internet security stories.)