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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

5/13/2014 (2 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

NSA is already working to crack a potential 'quantum code.'

Nobody likes other people going through their private communications. When you send an email, there's an expectation that only those you include in the conversation will read the message. Despite this, there's still a risk that someone will intercept and read your message, which is a problem for both private citizens and the military. However, a solution is in the making.

Researchers are still looking for the ultimate in private communications.

Researchers are still looking for the ultimate in private communications.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

5/13/2014 (2 months ago)

Published in Technology

Keywords: codem NSA quantum, secret, email


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Private communication is a highly-valued commodity. In ancient times, letters were sealed and delivered by trusted couriers. Codes have been employed since antiquity. Today, we encrypt many of our communications to prevent snooping by third parties.

Despite these measures, our communications are still insecure. A determined spy or hacker can find a way to decrypt communications. And when our communication is not encrypted, it's a simple matter of listening in. 

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While these are important concerns for private individuals, the question becomes a matter of life and death in the military.

Intercepted communications can have lethal results. For example, nearly 90 percent of the German U-boat arm was killed in the line of duty, most men going to their icy death because unbeknownst to the Kriegsmarine, the Allies were intercepting and deciphering their secret communications which told them where the U-boats were operating.

Today, researchers are looking for ways to send communications that are impossible to intercept and even if intercepted, impossible to crack.

According to Patrick Tucker writing in Defense One, new methods for secret communications have been detailed in a paper called "Covert Optical Communication."

The idea is to create communications that are so secret that their transmission can't even be detected. Tucker points out that even if an enemy cannot decipher the message, simply knowing a communication was sent gives them valuable information.

Researchers propose hiding communications in the microwave spectrum where a lot of background noise already exists. By sending the communications slowly, the transmission becomes indistinguishable from background noise, essentially camouflaging the communication itself.

Other techniques involve how to encode the message using individual photos of light over fiber optic systems.

If both sides have a digital key that allows them to decipher the message, then they can read messages that are virtually impossible to detect and even harder to decipher.

Other ideas include using quantum physics to communicate.

Some of these methods have already been demonstrated but according to Tucker who cites the Washington Post, "the NSA is spending nearly $80 million on a program called Penetrating Hard Targets to build a quantum computer to decrypt the most expertly encoded communications."

The future of military communications is almost certainly more secure than ever before, however it will be awhile before such benefits reach the general public, if at all.

For now, ironically, the best form of private communications still includes pen, paper, and a postage stamp. The NSA doesn't read snail mail - that we know of, yet.

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