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Improved online security for a tenth of the cost

11 May 2010 Hertfordshire, University of

Computer scientists at the University of Hertfordshire have found a way to share information online securely for a fraction of the cost of existing systems.

Professors Bruce Christianson and Alex Shafarenko at the University's School of Computer Science, working in collaboration with Professor Sergei Turitsyn at the University of Aston, have been awarded a UK patent for a fibre optics system which uses a 'beacon' to enable cryptic communication between two users online.

The beacon broadcasts a continuous stream of information around the communication loop, which allows users with a secret key to share a large amount of additional information without it becoming available to anyone else.

"It is like using background noise to allow two users to share a secret that no one else knows," said Professor Christianson. "This development means that we can offer a high level of security for less than a tenth of the cost usually involved in buying specialised quantum technology for this purpose."

According to Professor Christianson, the unique advantage of their system is the introduction of a leak-proof error correction-based protocol for ensuring integrity.

“Various people have proposed similar ideas in the past; but our system has introduced a novel error correcting scheme, which means we can use cheap fibre optic technology and make it work at amazingly high transmission rates,” said Professor Christianson.

An international patent is pending for this system.

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