Researchers Say They Have Designed an 'Unhackable' Fiber Network

Discussion in 'hardware' started by lotuseclat79, Oct 3, 2015.

  1. lotuseclat79

    lotuseclat79 Registered Member

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  2. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    Unhackable? Like the Titanic was unsinkable? Amateurs built the ark, professionals built the Titanic.

    By saying it is unhackable, they are creating a challenge to the badguys to hack it. According to that article, they can detect if the photon has been "fiddled with" making data it contains unusable. Fine. That's great. But that is not the definition of being hacked. Hacked means there was an unauthorized access. It does not mean the data was copied. So while it is good the data cannot be copied, if a badguy is able to hack (gain access) to the network, and "fiddle with" the photons, that is disrupting the data, in effect, a massive DDoS attack which can be very effective as a cyber warfare tactic.
     
  3. RJK3

    RJK3 Registered Member

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    If you read the article, the photons are only altered due to third parties tapping the fiber network. Since tapping of optic fiber and copper networks is already a reality, then any relevant security measure to protect data and privacy is a good thing.

    Optic fiber can be tapped in a number of ways, and each method varies in how easily it can be detected, since they alter the characteristics of the light.

    The solution that these researchers and companies developed involves sending important data in encrypted form, and the encryption key as a photon. Because of the unique characteristics of photons, the researchers believe that any form of optic fiber tapping will alter the photon, thus rendering the encryption key invalid. In this way, the data can still be copied but not easily decrypted, and those sending the data will be alerted of the tapping.
     
  4. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    Yes, I read the article. And it is great the data cannot be "fiddled with" without being detected. But it can still be disrupted by "hackers".
     
  5. RJK3

    RJK3 Registered Member

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    So you're pointing out that any permanent taps on a fiber optic cable would mean that every cryptographic key sent as a photon along that cable would be disrupted? In this way tapping a cable becomes a denial-of-service attack for a whole class of encrypted communications along that cable.

    It's a good point, and it should occur to anyone reading that article. BT and the other companies involved might have an uphill battle given one of the main agencies behind tapping of fiber networks in the UK. Similarly, it's hard to police undersea cables with other governments. When/if big companies are unable to sent encrypted communications this way, then it'll raise all sorts of difficult questions.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/internat...ng-practice-of-undersea-cable-tapping/277855/
    http://siliconangle.com/blog/2013/07/19/how-the-nsa-taps-undersea-fiber-optic-cables/
     
  6. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    I did not say "any" tap. A tap does not imply malicious intent, or even disruption. But certainly it could.

    Yeah, very difficult with many 1000s of miles of cables.

    I guess I am just being nitpicky with their use of the word "unhackable". Okay, they may not be able to copy the data, but they could disrupt it. Yes, simply cutting the cable will disrupt it too, but finding a cut cable would be easier (in my mind) than finding the data disruption point.

    Plus, the article simply implies they (the good guys) could detect if the data was copied. That (again, in my mind) does not mean they will. I refer to events like today's notice that Scottrade hacked, customer data stolen. It was reported today, Scottrade found out about it two months ago when alerted by the FBI in August, but apparently the hack occurred sometime between late 2013 and early 2014! :gack:
     
  7. RJK3

    RJK3 Registered Member

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    Well logically it would regardless of intent, provided their grasp of the laws of physics is sound :)


    Well they're alerted simply because the cryptographic key is altered and no longer works, and thus the encrypted data is unreadable - but their internal response to that alert is something else altogether.
     
  8. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    Agreed.
     
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