q/talk: Will our future be quantum?

q/uintessenz and Transforming Freedom present a q/talk by Thomas Länger (Austrian Research Centers Vienna):

Tuesday, 28 October 2008 – 8 PM (doors open: 7 PM)
Raum D, quartier 21, MQ Vienna

Will our future be quantum?
Quantum cryptography can provide unprecedented security –
Will citizens ever get their hands on it?
Quantum Cryptography, or more exactly Quantum Key Distribution (QKD), is the first application from the next generation technology field of quantum information technologies that is finding its way out of quantum physics laboratories into practical application. The technology claims to yield provably secure distribution of cryptographic keys – a property which could never be asserted for any other key distribution technology before. In this talk we will specifically look at this claim of perfect security and what it means in practice for different user groups.

We will explain the technology giving an account on the historical development of Quantum Cryptography – from the very beginnings in the 1970ies to the most recent achievements in fibre based and free space quantum key distribution. We will analyse the significance of QKD as building block for secure information systems – this while leaving out the very details of quantum physics in favour of concentrating on its high level functionalities and security properties, especially the ‘provable security’ of QKD. In that context, we will also address several common objections that are frequently quoted against the practicability and business value of QKD.

The last part of the talk is dedicated to the practical application of QKD. We will take a look at the market for QKD – which applications are already available today and what can be expected for the future. We will identify prospective user groups from the business, government, and intelligence domains, and evaluate their motivations for using the new technology. Last, but not least, we will raise the question whether QKD will likely be restricted to the aforementioned domains, and how the odds are that it eventually will be used to dependably secure the communication infrastructures of the future information society.

Thomas Länger works at the Austrian Research Centers in Vienna, business unit Quantum Technologies. He was responsible for design and implementation of the ‘Security Certification and Standardisation’ sub project of the EU Integrated Project SECOQC (www.secoqc.net) which was co-ordinated by the Austrian Research Centers. On the occasion of the closing of the SECOQC project the feasibility of integrating Quantum Key Distribution into a common optical fibre network was demonstrated live in Vienna on Oct. 8, 2008. (thomas.laenger at arcs.ac.at)