The quest for quantum-proof encryption just made a leap forward


Quantum computers could make encryption a thing of the past, but 15 contenders are trying to prove they have what it takes to safeguard your data.

Many of the things you do online every day are protected by encryption so that no one else can spy on it. Your online banking and messages to your friends are likely encrypted, for example—as are government secrets. But that protection is under threat from the development of quantum computers, which threaten to render modern encryption methods useless.

Quantum machines work in a fundamentally different way from the classical computers we use today. Instead of using traditional binary code, which represents information with 0s and 1s, they use quantum bits, or qubits. The unusual properties of qubits make quantum computers far more powerful for some kinds of calculations, including the mathematical problems that underpin much of modern encryption.

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Google quantum computer leaves old-school supercomputers in the dust


Google’s Sycamore chip powers a quantum computer

 The era of practical quantum computers has begun — at least on one speed test showing “quantum supremacy.”

A Google quantum computer has far outpaced ordinary computing technology, an achievement called quantum supremacy that’s an important milestone for a revolutionary way of processing data. Google disclosed the results in the journal Nature on Wednesday. The achievement came after more than a decade of work at Google, including the use of its own quantum computing chip, called Sycamore.

“Our machine performed the target computation in 200 seconds, and from measurements in our experiment we determined that it would take the world’s fastest supercomputer 10,000 years to produce a similar output,” Google researchers said in a blog post about the work.

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10 technology predictions for 2014

How will technology play out in 2014?

Silicon Valley may again need to watch out for Microsoft, cheap smartphones will hit markets, and the Edward Snowden revelations will launch the Year of Encryption. Those are a few predictions from Mark Anderson, founder and publisher of the Strategic News Service newsletter, long a must-read for industry leaders and venture capitalists, and host of Future in Review, an annual gathering for tech leaders, investors, and policymakers The Economist called “the best technology conference in the world.”



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Tim Berners-Lee denounces encryption cracking by spy agencies

Sir Tim Berners-Lee

The computer scientist who created the world wide web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, has called for a “full and frank public debate” over internet surveillance by the National Security Agency and its British counterpart,GCHQ. He warns that the system of checks and balances that oversee the agencies has failed.



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Google now triple-encrypts all data in Google Cloud Storage

Until all pieces of the cloud — and the internet — are known secure, it’s hard to trust that any level of server-side encryption will completely do the job.

You would probably think that the NSA and other shadowy government agencies are the world’s biggest cloud proponents: all your data, all the time, in the cloud, where Prism and XKeyscore can, apparently, access it.



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Antenna’s can steal your smartphone’s secrets

eavesdropping antenna

The processors in smart phones and tablets leak radio signals that betray the encryption keys used to protect sensitive data.

Gary Kenworthy of Cryptography Research held up an iPod Touch on stage and looked over to a TV antenna three meters away at the RSA computer security conference last week. The signal picked up by the antenna, routed through an amplifier and computer software, revealed the secret key being used by an app running on the device to encrypt data. An attacker with access to this key could use it to perfectly impersonate the device he stole it from—to access e-mail on a company server, for example.

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Spam decreases 82% since last year


225 billion emails were sent per day in July 2010.

There was a whole lot less spam sent today than there was a year ago. The graphic above illustrates how there were more than 225 billion spam emails sent per day in July, 2010.  It also shows in June, 2011, that number has dropped to approximately 40 billion. That’s an 82.22% decrease in spam over a year.


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