TOKYO -- Toshiba has developed a new technology for quantum cryptography communication networks, paving the way for commercial use of cryptographic communication.
The major Japanese electrical machinery maker aims to have this technology in commercial use within five years. The purportedly "theoretically unbreakable" encryption technology is designed to protect data from cyber-attacks, which are becoming more complicated and malicious in nature.
Quantum cryptography communication transmits encrypted data and their secret digital keys on photons passing through optical fibers. When outsiders, such as hackers, try to access such data without authorization, the keys are broken due to changes in the photons, which then makes the data impossible to decode.
Toshiba and Britain's University of Cambridge have been jointly developing quantum cryptography communication technology for commercial use. This time, the Japanese company has verified that multiple users can use quantum cryptography communication on BT Group's commercial fiber-optic network. Until recently, the company had conducted such communications in a controlled environment by using a dedicated fiber line at its research facility.
The company has established the world's first technology for using quantum cryptography to combine data signals simultaneously from 64 different locations via dedicated fiber-optic lines. So far, such communication was possible only between two users due to the difficulties of controlling a photo detector in data communication with multiple locations.
But Toshiba's new technology will make it possible for major global companies to collect customer data at their head offices from overseas offices in a more secure manner. Moreover, it can also be used to share the latest information among partner firms more securely. If quantum cryptography communication can be performed on conventional lines with multiple locations, users will be able to use this technology on the Internet, too.
The company expects demand for this technology from government offices and medical institutions as they handle confidential information as well as personal data. At the same time, Toshiba will decide what kind of business areas it can use this technology in.
Major Japanese telecommunications company Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT), Mitsubishi Electric and NEC have also been working on research and development of quantum cryptography communication technology.