A team of researchers from the Netherlands claim to have created a physical “key” that can’t be forged and a related fraud-proof mechanism for authenticating that physical “key” using the quantum mechanical behavior of light.
The paper published in the The Optical Society’s (OSA) new journal Optica, indicates that the team of researchers from two universities in the Netherlands have discovered how to create an optical key that can be embedded on a payment card and a mechanism for authenticating that key that is fraud proof:
“As reported in The Optical Society’s (OSA) new high-impact journal Optica, a team of researchers from the Netherlands has harnessed the power of quantum mechanics to create a fraud-proof method for authenticating a physical “key” that is virtually impossible to thwart.
This innovative security measure, known as Quantum-Secure Authentication, can confirm the identity of any person or object, including debit and credit cards, even if essential information (like the complete structure of the card) has been stolen. It uses the unique quantum properties of light to create a secure question-and-answer (Q&A) exchange that cannot be “spoofed” or copied.”
The press release includes this description of how the solution operates:
“ ‘Single photons of light have very special properties that seem to defy normal behavior,’ said Pepijn Pinkse, a researcher from the University of Twente and lead author on the paper.’When properly harnessed, they can encode information in such a way that prevents attackers from determining what the information is.’
The process works by transmitting a small, specific number of photons onto a specially prepared surface on a credit card and then observing the tell-tale pattern they make. Since — in the quantum world — a single photon can exist in multiple locations, it becomes possible to create a complex pattern with a few photons, or even just one.
Due to the quantum properties of light, any attempt by a hacker to observe the Q&A exchange would, as physicists say, collapse the quantum nature of the light and destroy the information being transmitted. This makes Quantum-Secure Authentication unbreakable regardless of any future developments in technology.”
So the two aspects that Mercator would like to receive greater clarity on includes the suitability to purpose for both the materiel the light pattern “key” is etched into and the reader that modulates the photons shined onto the key to establish its authenticity. Or perhaps more importantly, who will absorb the cost of deploying new cards and new POS devices on a worldwide basis